It’s been two years since Cason McPherson watched his best friend die in his arms. With shrapnel in his hip and a war behind him, he keeps focused on building a civilian life and not on what he wants most: the woman of his dreams, Savannah. If only she’d stop bringing up topics he has to keep secrets about.
Savannah Sparling has no time for baggage, and Cason McPherson brought home a matching set in scathing green—with a carry-on duffel bag full of lies. He’s the childhood friend who enlisted with her brother. He came home, and her brother didn’t.
Balancing work with demanding clients while fulfilling a personal vendetta against Cason consumes Savannah’s already full schedule—until a series of unstoppable events leads to a collision between Savannah’s work and personal lives. Her carefully structured path in the world is crushed, her own blood is spilled, and passion between her and an unlikely bedfellow ignite.
Cason and Savannah find the only the people strong enough to save them from themselves is each other. But will either one of them accept the help—and the love—that’s offered?
Scene setup: Cason has an attack of conscience and needs to apologize to Savannah for his behavior the day before. He goes to Savannah’s posh condo before work and to his surprise catches her in the midst of her morning routine.
When it didn’t open after a few minutes, he knocked again and called her name. Cason looked down as he waited. There on her step, damp from morning dew, was a package from her cell company. He bent over, grimaced at his hip, and picked it up just as the muffled padding of footsteps sounded inside.
The door yanked open, slamming against its chain. “What?” she asked.
“Oh,” he said, taken aback, looking at her from bare foot to robe to towel on her head.
“Yeah, I’m getting dressed, but nothing you haven’t seen before. What do you want?”
Cason knew then, looking at her, that he was kidding himself on why he was there and felt instantly grateful for the bargaining chip he had just picked up. “I’ve got something to say,” he said, holding up her package, “in exchange for your cell.”
Her eyes narrowed in irritation. “You can put that back down and leave. I don’t need another demeaning lecture this morning on how to be a better person from Mr. Military Hero McPherson, so buzz off.”
“I know,” he said, believing he had earned that comment.
She looked at him, and there was a brief second when he was optimistic she’d not slam the door in his face.
“Can I come in? I’ll be nice,” he added for good measure.
After a long pause, she shut the door in his face. He heard the chain being removed, and then the door cracked open. The padding of her footsteps sounded on the polished hardwoods, walking away from the door.
Cason slowly opened the door, feeling the tenuous truce between them, and then closed it behind him. He scanned the room as he took his boots off. The floors were dark polished wood. Huge white leather couches in the middle of the room looked out over the golf course woods. There was a white fur rug on the floor, and on the far side of the room a metal-and-clear-plastic dining set with a whacked-out ruffled white chandelier thing hanging over it. The kitchen was open to his left; a white marble-topped bar ran the length of it. Polished stainless-steel appliances dominated; the rest of the condo was all windows and black-and-white photographs. It was icy cold compared to Savannah’s mother’s house, which felt like a warm, straight-from-the-oven cookie.
He saw her across the condo go back into the bathroom and begin putting on her makeup; she’d changed into one of her starched white collared shirts that fit her snugly. He felt a tug in his belly when he realized she’d hastily buttoned it, but only halfway. It was untucked over one of her kneelength black skirts. He was definitely interrupting her morning routine, and it felt like just because he was there she wasn’t going to alter it one iota. And he didn’t blame her; if it were him, he would have already punched himself in the face.
She turned her head to look at him. “You can put that on the counter and go,” she said and then turned back to the mirror.
Cason did put the package on the counter, but he wasn’t going; he still had something on his mind. Instead, he busied himself. She had a fancy coffeemaker, but it hadn’t been programmed to make coffee that morning. He spotted the coffee grounds next to the machine and set to work. As he dumped grounds into the filter and added water, he felt his palms begin to sweat.
What am I doing?
A few moments later, Savannah, her hair wet but her shirt now buttoned and a black knee-length skirt on, came out to the kitchen. She tore open the cell phone box. “You’re still here. So, what is it that you wanted to tell me?” She powered the phone on.
Cason wanted to start with an apology but couldn’t. “Did you know your mom is dating?” he asked, resting his good hip against the counter and crossing his arms. As he looked at her, he remembered the way they were before he’d been discharged. They’d been friends. Good friends. Maybe even best friends. Being friends, high-fiving good platonic friends wouldn’t break the promise. Before he could think better of it, Savannah responded, eyebrows raised as she looked up at him, making his gut do that thing again.
“Are you kidding me?”
“Last night I got back to the house—she was doing the crossword with some guy.”
Savannah’s warm-chocolate gaze studied his face. He felt himself swallow, as if gulping down words that would get him into hot water of the non-platonic kind.
About the Author
Becky Banks grew up, like the generations of Bankses before her, in the Hawaiian Islands. With the islands as her roots, Becky was raised within the time-honored tradition of “talking story” before a backdrop of grassy fields, blue waters, and cloud-clad mountains. She moved to the mainland after high school to attend Oregon State University, where she studied forestry, natural resources, and science education. One fateful day she realized that her decades of scribblings promised the makings of a romance writer. Becky’s first novel, The Legend of Lady MacLaoch, achieved the Night Owl Reviews Top Pick Award and Amazon’s Best Seller for Historical Romanc
Becky lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Keith, and their wild toddler, Sammy.
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