Callie Kirkpatrick promised herself she’d never fall in love again.
After catching her boyfriend Ethan cheating on her, Callie decides to retire from the dating game at the ripe old age of twenty-four. Unfortunately for Callie, she’s going to have to see Ethan at her best friend’s upcoming wedding. Stranded in the airport during a weather delay on her way to the nuptials, Callie meets Nate Wright. He’s sexy and uncomplicated, and a one-night stand is just what the doctor ordered for a girl with a broken heart. Callie thinks she’ll never see Nate again —until he shows up at the wedding.
Nate is hell-bent on making Callie forget about her ex, and he makes her question whether she was ever really in love with Ethan at all. As she begins to fall for Nate, Callie wonders if promises were meant to be broken…
“He really did a number on you, didn’t he?” Nate says, not even trying to hide his anger. “You’re still torn up over it.” And the way the words come out, they’re a statement of fact. I have to set the record straight.
“I’m not torn up over it,” I tell him, looking him right in the eyes. And that’s the truth. I mean, it’s part of the truth, but things aren’t that simple.
“I’m not. See, the thing is that I thought this would be us, you know? Me and Ethan getting married. Having a wedding, spending the rest of our lives together. I thought that’s where we were headed. I let myself believe I had forever with him, and then I came home and found him in bed with another woman. In our bed. And I just…I couldn’t believe it.”
“Cheating isn’t usually about the sex,” he says, like that matters at all.
“That doesn’t make it any better, Nate. That makes it worse.”
He nods, looking down, and I’m not sure if he doesn’t say anything because he wants me to keep going or because he just doesn’t know what else to say. There’s a part of me that’s ready to say this, to admit it out loud, and I want to admit it to him.
“Six months later, it’s not the sex that bothers me. Well, not really. It’s that I never thought he could do something like that to me. I didn’t think he was even capable of it. I was supposed to be the person who knew him better than anyone else, and I wonder how deep would I have gotten before I found out? Would we have gotten married? Would we have had children? How long would it have taken me to figure out that I didn’t know him at all? That’s what scares the hell out of me. So it’s not about him, you know? It’s about me. I don’t trust myself to know who it’s safe to give my heart to.”
Nate takes a deep breath, and his face is so full of understanding that I could cry. He reaches up and pushes a strand of hair behind my ear, and his expression is so tender that I can’t help but press my cheek into the palm of his hand and close my eyes. He makes me feel safe, and I don’t know if it’s right, but I want to allow myself the comfort that he offers, even though that’s so dangerous. It would be so easy for me to let myself fall in love with him. So easy to let him in. So easy for him to break my heart.
Nate’s hand slides down the side of my neck, and he traces the strap of my swimsuit with his fingertip. I can feel the trail of heat his touch leaves all the way down in my toes. “You won’t ever know who it’s safe to give your heart to. Falling in love is a risk.”
I laugh bitterly. “I think it’s well documented that I’m not much of a risk taker.”
He smiles, putting his hand back on the edge of the pool. “Not every guy is like Ethan.”
I know he’s dying to tell me that he isn’t like Ethan, but he doesn’t do that. I don’t know why his silence makes me believe him more than his words ever could, but everything in my brain is just a big swirl of confusion right now.
“But some guys are, Nate. How will I know the difference?”
He waits for me to look into his eyes before he speaks. “You’ll feel it.”
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Cassie Cross is a Maryland native and a romantic at heart, who lives outside of Baltimore with her two dogs and a closet full of shoes. Cassie’s fondness for swoon-worthy men and strong women are the inspiration for most of her stories, and when she’s not busy writing a book, you’ll probably find her eating takeout and indulging in her love of 80′s sitcoms.
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