The hardest second chance they'll ever take.
For six years, Sydney Davis has completely avoided the man who broke her heart. Now she needs a favor, and ranch owner Cam Thatcher is the only one who can do it. She thought she was over him -- but when she sees him again after all this time, her powerful attraction returns stronger than ever.
Cam wants nothing to do with the woman he used to love -- especially when he finds out she's marrying the man who's trying to destroy him and take his ranch. But he soon realizes his feelings aren't as buried as he thought. When he learns Sydney doesn't know about her fiancé's dark side, he races to stop her from making the biggest mistake of her life.
If you love contemporary romance and romantic suspense, don't miss this steamy, emotional story of first loves, second chances, and the healing power of love.
Heat level: Steamy **Standalone book, no cliffhangers**
Cam didn’t say a word for a long time. Sydney couldn’t see him, though she heard him clanking around somewhere beyond the glow of the flashlight he was using. Eventually he came around to the window holding a little hose with a metal clip at one end, and what looked like an oversized thermometer at the other.
“You might have a bad spark plug,” he said. “When I tell you, crank the engine. But only for a few seconds. You keep grinding it over, your battery’s going to die.”
She nodded. “What’s that?”
“A spark tester.” He started back for the engine.
He stopped without turning. “What?”
“I…” It was on the tip of her tongue to apologize for what she’d said. But she didn’t know if he’d heard it, and maybe he didn’t want an apology. It might even piss him off more. So she settled for saying, “Thank you.”
“I haven’t done anything yet.”
He kept going, and Sydney leaned back against the seat with a sigh. She really didn’t know how to take this. After all this time, to have Cam Thatcher help her not once, but twice in the same day was disconcerting at best. It galled her even more to think that Tommy had tried to forbid her from talking to him.
He’d been right about one thing, though. Cam didn’t have any friends. And for the first time, she started to wonder why—how much of it was Cam keeping to himself, and how much was the whole town assuming he wanted it that way.
“Okay. Crank it.”
She started, reached for the key, and gave it a single hesitant twist. The engine barked once.
Cam leaned over and stared at her. “A few seconds. Not half a second.”
“Right, sorry. Tell me when.”
He disappeared behind the hood again. “Okay, go.”
She turned the key and counted to four before she switched it off. Cam didn’t stop her, so she figured that must’ve been right. Then he muttered under his breath, and she heard him rustling through his tool box.
“Cam? Was that it?”
When he didn’t answer, she took a deep breath and got out of the truck. “Hey,” she said as she headed for him. “Can I help…”
She caught sight of him in the wash of the light that was settled on the edge of the hood, and her heart skipped a beat or three. He knelt in front of the tool box on the ground, looking up at her with a tight expression. And his eyes were burning.
“No. You can’t.” He grabbed the biggest socket wrench she’d ever seen, then stood and stared at the engine. “I can probably get it going,” he said without looking her way. “Just need to clean and gap the plug. But you should get it replaced as soon as possible. I don’t have the right size here.”
“Okay.” The single word sounded lame and pathetic. She wanted to say something more—anything, really. Thanks for rescuing me. Sorry I said that. Why do you hate me so much? But he didn’t seem in the mood to listen, so she stepped back to give him space.
He picked up the flashlight and stood there another minute before he tucked it under his arm and leaned forward. As he fitted the socket over one of the spark plugs, the flashlight dropped and hit the edge of the frame with a hollow clunk. It bounced off and rolled across the ground a few feet.
Cam hung his head and sighed. “Could you hand me that?”
“Sure.” Sydney grabbed the light and hesitated a second. “I can hold it for you,” she said. “It’d probably be easier.”
“Fine. Just keep it still.”
She watched him work the wrench, trying not to pay attention to the way his arms flexed with the movement. The rhythmic ratcheting sound was almost soothing, and definitely a lot more pleasant than the bitterness that etched his every word. There was no trace of the easygoing, quick-to-smile person he’d been in high school—up until the end, at least. Not that she’d paid any attention to him after he humiliated her.
Well, maybe a little. And hadn’t she been just the tiniest bit satisfied that he seemed to be losing his popularity? He’d gone downhill pretty fast over the last month of his senior year, even before he lost his father.
“Got it.” Cam straightened and extracted a mostly black spark plug from the socket. “Christ, Sydney. When’s the last time you had this thing tuned up?”
“Um. It was around…never.”
“What a surprise.” He knelt to the toolbox again, sprayed something all over the plug from a small, clear bottle, and then started wiping it with a rag. Black grime slowly gave way to off-white. “Listen, you have to replace this plug, and get your truck in for a tune-up,” he said without looking at her. “Engines are like people. They need some TLC, or they’ll up and quit on you.”
“My engine is a person,” she said. “Got it.”
“Why do I bother offering advice? Especially to you.” He slammed the rag back in the toolbox and stood. “Just hold the flashlight over here.”
She bit her lip. “I’m sorry. I was trying to make a joke. A bad one.”
He sighed and leaned on the truck. “Okay. I guess I’m sorry, too.”
“I’m sorry your jokes are bad.” He smiled, just for an instant—and her heart stopped. God, what was wrong with her? “And I could be a little nicer,” he said. “So let’s get this beast started.”
She managed to hold the flashlight without letting her hands shake. All of a sudden, being this close to Cam seemed dangerous. She had to forcefully remind herself that she hated him.
It only took a minute for him to get the spark plug back in. “Okay,” he said. “Hand me the light, and go ahead and give it a try.”
She nodded, leaned into the truck and turned the key. The engine started right up.
“Oh, God,” she said. “Thank you so much. You’re…you really are a genius.”
“I just know machines.” He closed the hood and stood back. For a long moment he looked at her, but she couldn’t read anything in his expression. Finally, he said, “Make sure you get that serviced. It’s not going to stay running for long.”
“I will. Cam…”
He raised an eyebrow. In that split second, she could’ve kissed him.
And a huge part of her wanted that more than anything.
“Thank you,” she said on an exhale. “I really appreciate it.”
After they exchanged awkward goodnights, Sydney climbed in the truck and waited until he moved his. She headed out of the parking lot and forced herself not to look back. The last thing she needed right now was to remember just how sexy Cam Thatcher was, and how badly she’d wanted him.
She was practically a married woman. And that was just the way she wanted it.