Returning home for her father"s wedding was never going to be easy for Adele. If being sent away at eighteen hadn"t been bad enough, the mess she left behind when she made a pass at her dad"s business partner sure was.
Fifteen years older than her, Pete had been her crush for as long as she could remember. But she"d misread the situation"confusing friendliness for undying love. Awkward. Add her father to the misunderstanding, and Pete had been left with a broken nose and a business on the edge of ruin. The man had to be just as glad as everyone else when she left town.
Seven years on, things are different. Adele is no longer a kid, but a fully grown adult more than capable of getting through the wedding and being polite. But all it takes is seeing him again to bring back all those old feelings.
Sometimes first loves are the truest.Books by Author:Kylie Scott Books
In a fair and just world, he"d have looked like shit. The years would have ground him down to all but a shell of his former glory. Of course, this hadn"t happened. My luck just wasn"t that good.
"You made it," he said, walking barefoot down his front steps.
"Don"t sound so surprised. You taught me how to drive."
Pale blue eyes gazed at me flatly. No visible gray in his dark hair. Not yet, anyway.
"Hi, Pete," I said.
"I come in peace."
More of the same.
I climbed out of my car, muscles protesting the movement. My sundress was a crumpled ruin. What had looked hopeful, happy, and bright in the wee hours of the morning didn"t hold up so well under the late-afternoon light. A twelve-hour drive from Sydney to South East Queensland"s north coast will do that to you. I pushed my sunglasses on top of my head, ready to face my inevitable doom. A light breeze smelled of lush foliage and flowers. And the heat and humidity beat down on me, even with the sun sinking over the hills. I"d forgotten what it was like being in the subtropics during summer. Should have worn more deodorant. Should have faked a communicable disease and stayed home.
"What"s it been," he asked, "seven years""
"Thought you were bringing a boyfriend with you."
I paused. Dad must have given him that idea. God knows where Dad, however, had gotten it from. "No. No . . . he"s ah, busy."
He looked me over; I guess we were both curious. Last time we"d been in the same room was for my eighteenth birthday party. My hair had been short and my skirt even shorter. What a spectacularly awful night that was. As if he too, remembered, he suddenly frowned, his high forehead filling with lines. Victory! The man definitely had more wrinkles. Unfortunately, they kind of suited him. Enhanced him, even. Bastard.
"Better come inside," he said.
"If you"re still pissed at me, then why am I staying here""
"I am not "pissed at you."" His tone was light and just a bit haughty. A sure sign he was pissed. "I just was expecting your boyfriend too, that"s all."
I crossed my arms.
"Look," he said, "you"re staying here because we"re both doing a favor to your dad. I know you haven"t met her yet, but Shanti"s a nice woman. She"s good for him. They make a great couple and I want their wedding to be hassle free."
"I didn"t come to cause trouble."
"But with you, from what I recall, it just seems to magically happen." Hands on slim hips, he gave me a grim smile. "It"s just a few days, kid. Apparently, your old room is filled with bomboniere, whatever the fuck that is. So you"re staying here with me."
I"d heard worse ideas in my life, but not many. Also they usually involved the risk of possible loss of limb, death, or incarceration. I"d tried to talk Dad into alternatives, but he"d stood firm, dammit. "That"s kind of you, but not necessary. I"ll go get a room at a hotel, this isn"t""
"They"re probably booked," he said. "It"s peak season so even if you could find somewhere, you"d pay through the roof. Anything nearby is going to already be busy with other wedding guests. Look, your dad wants you close so he can spend some time with you."
I said nothing.
"It"s only five days," he repeated in the tone of voice he usually reserved for those dancing on his last damn nerve. "Let"s just get through it."
With a nod, I headed for the back of my car. All the better to hide and take a second to pull myself together.
"Did you bring much stuff"" he asked, following.
"No. I"ve got it."
Except, of course, I didn"t. As the hatch opened, he was there, reaching for my suitcase. Muscles flexed in his arms, slightly straining the sleeves of his white T-shirt. The man had always been strong, solid. Unfortunately, he hadn"t shrunk any either. I was around average height, but he still had at least half a head on me. Just perfect for looking down and putting me in my place.
"Lock up your car." He headed for the house, tugging my wheeled suitcase behind him. "We might be in the country, but things still happen."
"Yeah, I know to lock up my car," I whisper bitched.
"I heard that."
"I don"t give a shit."
He laughed grimly. "Oh, kid, this is going to be fun."
Out of options, I followed. Up the stone steps and into the house. Pete had never been much of a gardener, but someone had done a wonderful job with the grounds. Not that I was willing to say as much. We were apparently at war, and I couldn"t even blame him since it was all my fault. God, I hated the old familiar feeling of guilt. Life would be so much easier if I could hate him, push some of the blame his way. But the truth was, he hadn"t done a damn thing wrong. Not back then. Not even really now.