Embracing Her Heart

By: Melissa Foster

But she’d kicked him to the curb once, he reminded himself. Why was he giving her any consideration at all? He had a job to do, and sure, he’d momentarily lost his footing and checked her out, but it wasn’t like that was a crime. She was hot, and they had history. That’s as far as it goes.

“I asked you why you’re here,” she repeated, her green eyes shooting spears he didn’t deserve.

He stepped closer, curious about how she’d react, and yeah, he just fucking wanted to be near her. “I’m fixing your parents’ porch. Obviously.”

“Not here, Reed. Why are you back in Virginia?”

“That’s not really any of your concern,” he said, stepping deeper into her personal space despite his brain telling him to back off. “You’re so frustrating, demanding answers. How about a hello?”

“Me? I’m the frustrating one? You…” she stammered, and he grinned, pleased he was having the same effect on her that she had on him. “Damn it. Why do you smell so good when you’re sweaty?” She pushed at his chest. “Back up. Get away from me.”

He grabbed her wrist, unwilling to let her get away, despite knowing he should. But how could he? He couldn’t believe after all these years she was right there in front of him. His first love, the first and only person he’d ever truly given his heart to. He couldn’t just pretend his heart wasn’t going crazy or that he wasn’t suddenly flooded with emotions he hadn’t felt in forever. He stepped even closer, testing himself, expecting the spell to break, but it only got stronger.

Oh yeah, baby, you still feel it, too.

He had no idea why he was pursuing her when she had the power to destroy him, but as was the case in high school, he was powerless to resist her. Alina had never affected him half as intensely as even thoughts of Grace always had. Maybe that’s why he’d lost no sleep over ending his relationship with Alina. She’d been convenient, and maybe on some level he’d loved her the only way he’d been able to, but nothing—nothing—compared to the immensity of his feelings for the woman before him. The one he now realized he’d never moved on from.

“Back up,” she repeated, her voice thinner now, a little shaky.

“Why should I? You’re the one who came out here.” He raked his gaze down her body. “Dressed like that.”

They’d been surrounded by rivalries from the get-go. Opposite teams all the way—until a day just like this, when she’d challenged and he’d pushed.

She pressed her lips together, holding his stare. Her eyes still tore straight to his heart. Another challenge he wasn’t about to back away from. He closed the minuscule distance between them. Her breasts grazed his chest.

She sucked in a sharp breath and stepped back. He followed her onto the threshold of the door.

“You might as well get used to seeing me,” he said in a low voice, pausing to let his words sink in. It took all his willpower not to ask if she’d thought of him as often as he’d thought of her. But this was a dangerous game he was playing, and he knew the answer could make it even more so. She’d walked away once, and he’d been forced to leave town. He was never going to leave his family again. Not for her or anyone else.

“I’m not leaving again, Grace.” He released her wrist and took a step back as all that lust morphed to anger, and a rush of cold air filled the space between them.

“It doesn’t matter anyway,” she said with too much venom, “because I am.”

They stared at each other, challenging, sizing up, remembering—wishing? He shifted his gaze away in an effort to reclaim his sanity and squinted up at the sun, pushing aside the fact that she was making him a hell of a lot hotter than the sun ever could. She was a big-city girl now, he reminded himself, just like Alina. He’d followed Grace’s career over the years despite himself and knew she had achieved what she’d always wanted.

At their expense.

Hadn’t he learned his lesson?

With that uncomfortable thought, he turned his back and reached for his tools, needing the distraction. But he felt her presence, hot and alluring, behind him and had to take one more look. She stood with her hands on her hips and didn’t seem concerned over her lack of clothing. There was some type of disconnect between Reed’s brain and his body, and it took all his effort to keep his eyes locked on hers when they were begging for another quick sweep of the womanly curves his first love had developed.

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