To safely raise her daughter, Samantha Hollister must join wounded U.S. Army veteran Morgan Lawrence in rediscovering an old love that never truly disappeared.
Samantha Hollister is done relying on other people to take care of—or abuse—her. Her ex-husband is out of the picture now…like her family home, the haven she intended to seek. Her father just sold it to her high-school sweetheart, the man who abandoned her many years ago for the army. The man who still makes her heart flutter. But Samantha has vowed to never be led astray again. She has a daughter.
Despite being injured in action, Morgan Lawrence lives life to the fullest. Each day is a gift, and after five years he is finally one step away from opening a resort for wounded veterans like himself. Unfortunately, a woman stands in his way. And while she has changed, Samantha remains everything he’s ever wanted. Now it’s a matter of helping her see which promises are meant to be broken, and that being strong doesn’t mean one has to fight alone.
By BETH RHODES
Her little car bumped down the drive, almost got stuck in a muddy bog, and skidded to a halt behind Morgan’s oversized Chevy truck. Getting out of her car, she stepped onto the little bit of grass left in the front yard and called out, “Morgan Lawrence.”
He couldn’t be far. His engine was still clicking.
When he didn’t appear, she slipped off her ridiculous high-heeled shoes and headed for the back porch. “Morgan!”
The silence was deafening and the farther she went, the more agitated she became.
She was sick and tired of making excuses. For her father when he was on a drinking binge, and for herself with her controlling husband, who had wanted everything just so—to the point of sociopathic OCD.
She would not start her new life by apologizing and rationalizing her actions. She pounded on the back door then opened it onto the porch without an invitation.
They’d been friends once, and he’d been her first love. Maybe she’d left him hanging when she ran off and got married. But she’d been so young and stupid… and scared.
“May I help you?” Morgan asked, coming through the door from the kitchen. There was an edge to his voice that hadn’t been there the last time they’d stood in this very spot.
It sent a shiver down her spine. “I won’t apologize.”
“Well, good for you.”
“You said I would regret it.” Now that she was standing in front of him, she could feel her emotions taking over her attempt to remain calm, and she worked to control her reaction. “Don’t count on it.”
A fire blazed in his eyes. “You came all the way out here to challenge me?”
He drew close to her, the masculine scent of him overwhelming her. She might have backed up if she wasn’t already at the door, but she was…and she didn’t like encountering the mouse she’d become. Drawing up to her full height, she blazed back, “I just want a chance to make things right for my daughter. I will not have my entire life ripped out from under me. For once, I am not giving up something I love without a fight.”
Angry tears pricked at the back of her eyes, and she stood up to him, poking him in the chest. “I will fight for what is mine.”
“You’re fighting the wrong person. I do not have what is yours.”
“You have my home!”
Morgan grabbed her shoulders, firm yet decidedly gentle. Her insides quaked, remembering a different time, a different hold. His gaze dropped to her mouth.
He wanted to kiss her. She remembered his eyes. The look that shot desire straight to her core. She hated the pounding in her chest, the anticipation that flowed through her arteries with oxygen-rich blood. Oh, lord, have I ever really gotten over this man? “Please, I need—”
Morgan cut her off, staking her mouth with bruising pressure. She met his punishing embrace, tasted his lips, and tasted his frustration. His hands went into her hair and held her.
Lord, have mercy. Her hands went loose and the shoes she’d been clutching fell to the hollow floor with a thud. Her mind shut down.
He slowed his assault on her senses, scraping his teeth along her bottom lip as he backed off.
She licked at the trails of heated abrasion and sucked her lip into her mouth. How had she forgotten his touch? Lips like honey and—
“Need anything else?” Animosity rolled from him in waves.
“I—” I can’t think. She cleared her throat, bringing a hand to her mouth where she attempted to rub the memory away. “I—”
She was at a loss for words.
“Honey, if you’ve got nothing else to say, maybe it’s best you leave.”
His slow twanging comment pushed her back to reality. His sandy colored hair was messy, like it got when he ran his hands through it. His hazel eyes—more green than gold—watched her with guarded wariness and disappointment. He stood at the ready, ready to move, ready to react. On the balls of his feet—foot.
He’d lost, too. Yet while he’d been able to move on and live, she was still struggling to survive. There was life beyond survival. How did she get to it? “I just need to find out how to get back what is mine.”
Morgan lifted a hand.
She jerked back but knew in an instant he’d merely been gesturing.
Shit. Where had that come from? It had been months since she’d reacted at her most basic level. She controlled her exhale, reminding herself of where she was and who she was and how she was the strong one. But she didn’t feel strong.
Morgan frowned, stuffing his hand into his pocket. “Some things you can never get back.
Beth Rhodes is a woman, imperfect yet trying—a wife, mother, friend, and lover. She lives with her army husband and their six children at the base of the mountains in Colorado. She loves the cold, coffee, camping, and sunshine. Her stories are full of life, family, and love. You can find her reading just about any genre of romance, but her favorite books are fast-paced suspense, where life is on the line and love is the only saving grace. She wants a story that makes her heart pound and her pulse race.