Author: Candis Terry
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: December 31, 2013
When friends become lovers . . .
Firefighter and former Marine Jackson Wilder has tough guy down to an art, but he’s learned the hard way that promises were made to be broken. Abigail Morgan was once his best friend, his first kiss, his first love, his first everything. He’d just forgotten to mention all that to her and she blew out of his life. Five years later, she’s back and he’s battling a load of mistrust for her disappearing act. But for some reason he just can’t keep his lips—or his hands—to himself.
It can lead to disaster or . . .
When her stint as a trophy wife abruptly ends, Abby returns home to Sweet, Texas, and comes face-to-face with Jackson—her biggest and sexiest mistake. Time and distance did nothing to squash her love for the act-first-think-later stubborn hunk of a man, and when he suggests they renew their old just-friends vow, Abby realizes she wants more. She’d cut and run once. Could she do it again? Or could she tempt him enough to break his promise?
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By the time Abby came out of the barn with Jana Wilder and the antique clock chosen for her son’s return, there were trucks and cars parked all over the place. Indeed it looked like a party was in full swing.
Abby knew she needed to find a quick escape. She wasn’t ready to face the entire Wilder family.
“I really should go,” she said. “You don’t need a party crasher.”
Jana took her arm and gave her a comforting smile. “Nobody’s gonna bite, sugarplum,” Jana said. “Don’t you worry about a thing.”
She wasn’t so sure about that.
Abby took deep breaths to calm the dread and stepped up onto the veranda that surrounded the big ranch style home. Before they even got to the door enthusiastic chatter from inside drifted through the screen. Reluctantly she followed Jana into the house. Behind them the screen door banged. All heads snapped in their direction.
Their entrance was met with the echo of crickets.
A quick scan of the crowded room revealed that not only had the impromptu celebration included a spread of take-out pizza and tin containers piled with salad mix, it had also gathered everyone in one place to easily pass judgment. Then again, to most of the people in this room Abby wasn’t much more than another body taking up precious floor space. So who was she to think she’d warrant such curiosity?
To her relief Jackson appeared conveniently absent. He’d probably bailed the moment she’d gone into the barn. She couldn’t blame him. She’d like to pull a vanishing act too.
Jana broke the brittle silence by sweeping into the room with a grand gesture of welcome to Reno and the gorgeous brunette on his arm.
Abby took the moment to inconspicuously inch toward the door. Surely in the commotion of welcoming Reno back to the fold no one would notice she’d bolted. They’d probably be glad. Relieved.
When Jana moved on to greet others in the room Reno stepped forward in all his dark-haired handsomeness and put a halt to her escape. “I knew you’d come back someday.”
She noticed he didn’t say he was happy to see her. “Well I certainly didn’t.”
A brief smile tipped his mouth. “I can see that by the sheer panic on your face.”
“As your old friend, take it from me, Abby. Everything happens for a reason.”
He nodded. “Just make sure you pay closer attention than I did. Because it took me a while to realize that some of the best things in life are surprises.”
The gorgeous brunette appeared at his side. “I hope you’re talking about me,” she said with a smile. Then she extended her hand. “Hi. I’m Charli. Reno’s surprise.”
Abby returned the gesture of the woman she’d seen once or twice on the cable design show.
“As soon as we unpack and get settled,” Charli said, I’d love to meet up for lunch.”
“I’d like that,” Abby returned. “But I’m not really sure how long I’ll be here. I only came back to fix up my parents’ house and put it on the market.”
“Really?” Reno lifted a dark brow. “That’s the only reason?”
“You keeping thinking like that, sparkplug,” he said, using the name he and the other Wilder boys--minus Jackson--had always called her. “And I guarantee you’ll be in for a surprise.”
Charli gave her a wink as arm-in-arm she and Reno walked away to chat with a silver-haired gentleman Abby didn’t recognize.
As polite as Reno and Charli had been, Abby couldn’t help feeling like the ugly stepsister at the prince’s ball. She gave another longing glance to the front door and the freedom beyond.
“Hey, sparkplug.” Jesse came forward wearing his typical woman-eating grin. “Good to see you.”
Really? Jesse had always been a professional bullshitter so Abby wouldn’t know if he was sincere or lying to the bone. “You too.” How was it that all the Wilder men had only gotten more breathtaking over the years? “How are things at the clinic?”
“Keeping me on my toes. Old Doc Michaels finally retired. I bought the place from him about a year after my time with the Marines ended.”
“I was really sorry to hear—”
“I know.” He lifted a hand. “Dad and Jared both adored you. They’d be happy to see you back home where you belong.”
“Oh. I don’t—”
“Sure you do.” He gave her a kiss on the forehead. “And now it’s time for you to figure out the rest.” He gave her arm a squeeze then wandered off to join the others in the pizza line.
Jesse had never been the philosophical guru type. But now both he and Reno had made ambiguous comments that had her scratching her head.
Before she could take that thought any deeper, the silver-haired man came up and shook her hand. He introduced himself as Martin Lane—“Jana’s friend.” The smile on his face when he made the claim had Abby wondering exactly what kind of “friend” he might be.
And then she caught Jana’s affectionate smile from across the room.
Ah. Well, good for Jana.
Chatting amongst themselves were a few neighbors plus Gladys Lewis with her cottony blue hair, lipstick smeared mouth, and traditional floral dress and, of course, old bowlegged Chester Banks, who’d given up on eyebrow waggles and was now tossing Abby a few winks. Lost in the shuffle, Abby figured it to be as good a time as any to get the hell out of Dodge.
About the Author
Candis Terry was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She’s experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to chasing down wayward steers. Only one thing has remained the same: her passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after.
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