Embracing Her Heart

By: Melissa Foster

At least he had been until she’d ended their relationship to pursue her dreams.

Then he’d left town for good.

Or so she’d thought.

That still stung, even now, as his deep voice carried in the air, bringing with it memories of the secrets they’d shared and the stolen sensual nights they’d enjoyed.

“I thought you were over him,” Sable accused.

“I am!” Grace huffed. She absently touched her lips, remembering the taste of spearmint and teenage lust mixed into one delicious kiss after another. Kisses that had never failed to leave her body humming with desire. Great. Now she couldn’t stop thinking of him. This was bad. Very, very bad. She never should have allowed her sisters to drag her out and unearth memories she’d rather forget.

“Over who?” Brindle demanded as she traipsed through the grass beside Grace.

Grace ignored her question, unwilling to reveal her decade-old secret.

“Then what’s the problem?” Sable snapped, also ignoring Brindle’s question. She grabbed Grace’s arm, stopping her in her tracks.

Unlike Grace, Sable had no qualms about one-night stands or taking what she wanted from a man. Any man, it seemed to Grace, as long as he struck her fancy for the moment. Even though Sable hid nothing when it came to her sexuality, she and Grace had a deep bond, and she was the only one of Grace’s five sisters Grace had ever trusted with her sexual secrets. Sable knew how hard it had been for her to break up with Reed all those years ago. Grace’s heart slammed against her chest as they stared each other down. She’d thought she was over Reed Cross. She was over him. She’d put him out of her mind. Mostly.

Sure, it was Reed’s face she conjured up on lonely nights, and it was his lopsided grin and easy laugh she recalled to pull her through the toughest of productions. But that was her secret, not one she’d shared with Sable.

She should have stuck to weekend visits home, as she had for the past several years. Weekend visits were safe. Fast. Brindle never would have dragged her out if she’d be facing a long drive home in twenty-four hours. She couldn’t stay for three weeks, especially now that she knew Reed was back in town. Tomorrow she’d tell Amber she couldn’t teach the class after all, and she’d drive back to the city, where there was no chance of running into Reed Cross.

Brindle threw her arms up toward the sky. “Will someone please tell me what the problem is? Why are you storming off? And why are you mad at Sable? It was me who wanted to come out and see Trace tonight. Not her! I thought it would be fun, like old times. We’d laugh and joke and talk about how sexy he was.”

“Grace.” Sable’s tone softened, her eyes imploring her for forgiveness Grace couldn’t give.

“There’s no problem, Brin,” Grace managed, holding Sable’s gaze. “I just…” I’m confused and angry by my body’s stupid reaction to a man I don’t need in my life. “I’m just exhausted.” As unreasonable as it was, since she’d caused their breakup, she still felt the sting of his betrayal after they’d broken up, when he’d left his beloved family—and her—behind.

Chapter Two

THE MORNING SUN beat down on Reed Cross’s back as he climbed the porch steps of the Montgomerys’ old Victorian home and began removing the ceiling, trying to ignore the memories that assaulted him every time he stepped foot on the property. He used to leave orchids on this very porch every month for Grace, his first love. It was bittersweet, coming back to Oak Falls and taking over renovation projects for his uncle Roy, who had suffered a heart attack and needed help completing the jobs to which he’d already committed. He’d been back for four months, and still he felt Grace’s presence everywhere, just like he had after they’d broken up all those years ago.

Pushing thoughts of the past aside seemed a constant battle, and once again he tried to do just that and focus on the job at hand. He’d already removed a good bit of the decking to check out the joists and get a handle on the extent of the damage and was knee-deep in debris when he heard the sliding doors open. He wiped his brow, expecting to see Cade or Marilynn, the owners of the house. His eyes caught on a pair of gorgeous long legs and traveled north, over silky pajamas skimming a scorching-hot curvaceous figure. His gaze slowed at full breasts peeking out from beneath tumbles of thick dark hair, awakening every nerve in his body. Nerves that had been unexcitable for months.

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