by: Norah Wilson
Series: The Standish Clan
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Something Shiny Press
Ember Standish and Jace Picard had their lives together planned before they graduated high school. But that was before he cheated on her. Ember went on with her life, and their paths never crossed again…until now.
Home for the Thanksgiving weekend, she’s dispatched to carry meds out to an injured hiker holed up in a hunting camp on the Prince River. Newly certified as a doctor, she plans to put her skills to work on that sprained ankle. Yet when she finds out who’s at the end of that long hike, it’s her heart that may be in need of repair…all over again.
When a storm blows in, she’s forced to stay the night. Jace, who has habitually hermited himself away during her holiday homecomings, can no longer dodge her. It soon becomes obvious that what happened that long-ago night is shrouded in more mystery than either of them knew.
Ember’s mission of mercy to a faceless hiker turns into a quest for answers with the one man she could never forget. The only thing they know for certain is that the long-buried passion between them is still there, just waiting for a spark.
They sat in silence for a few moments. Except it wasn’t really silent. Outside, the roar of the wind in the trees was unceasing and rain pattered against the window. Though the cabin was still reasonably warm, the sound made Ember get to her feet, cross the room, and put some more wood in the fire. She pulled her shirt closer around her as she watched the flames dance through the ceramic glass door.
“I’m going to get to the bottom of this.”
At Jace’s words, she turned to face him.
“Whatever it takes, I’m going to find out once and for all what really happened that night.”
Her chest tightened. Was she ready to know the truth? Oh, hell, what if she’d been wrong?
“Can you arrange a medical evacuation?”
A med-evac? She met his gaze. “Theoretically, I could, but I’m not going to. You don’t need it, Jace. It’s not a taxi service.”
Spoken like a Picard. She crossed her arms over her chest. “It’s not about that. What if someone really needed the service while it was tied up out here? Hell, what if Titus finds trouble in the mountain and needs it?”
His expression sharpened. “You’re expecting trouble?”
“No one ever expects trouble. Lacey Douglas didn’t.” Poor Lacey. So young; such a tragedy. “But it has a way of finding people just the same.”
He sat back, his expression grim.
“Jace, what’s this really about? Why the urgency?”
“I have to know.”
Despite herself, she felt for him. He looked so bleak sitting there.
“I want to know the truth about what happened that night just as much as you do.” She went back to the love seat, perched on the front edge of the cushion so she could face him. Close enough so that he could reach out and touch her if he wanted to. And God help her, she wanted him to.
“The night I lost you...” He cleared his throat. “Ember. I’ll never forgive myself. I’m not trying to shift the blame or get off the hook. I’m trying to find out what happened, how it happened. Why I lost you. How I could have messed things up so royally.”
She looked down at her clasped hands. “We both lost.”
His hand covered one of hers, his thumb grazing her knuckles. Her heart jumped, but she kept her gaze on their hands. Hers so small by contrast, his darker, the skin rougher.
He lifted his hand to her chin, tipping her face up to meet his eyes. She was prepared to see desire there and steeled herself against it. But she wasn’t prepared to see it mixed with so much sorrow. So much pain. She had no defense against that.
He slid his hand behind her neck and pulled her toward him. She went willingly. Going up on one knee and placing a hand on his chest to support herself, she leaned into the kiss.
His mouth was warm and mobile beneath hers, familiar and strange at the same time. She pulled back after a moment to look at his face.
The hoarseness of his plea carried her back, erasing the years. She pressed her lips to his again, seeking that old, delicious friction. He gave it to her, and when his tongue sought admission moments later, she parted for him. The taste of him rocked her senses, flooding her with yearning. A yearning that only grew with his intimate exploration. But so did the sadness, the sense of loss.
She pulled back, looking into his face. Hand splayed on his chest, she felt the powerful pounding of his heart. “You have no idea how much I wanted that night with you.”
Something flashed in his eyes and his face hardened. Before she could process the change, he closed a hand around her wrist and removed it from his chest, easing her away from him.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he said, his voice as tight as his face.
She pulled back, smarting. How could he look so pissed off? So angry? She was the one who’d been betrayed.
And he’d been the one to call a halt to that kiss when it should have been her spurning him.
“Relax, Jace. We’re adults.” She pushed to her feet, smoothing her jeans. “We stirred up some old memories. Nothing more.”
The silence stretched again.
She turned back to him. “You really want to find out what happened that night?”
“All of it?”
“All of it,” he confirmed. There was a fierce determination in his eyes. And a warning in his words, “But Ember, if we start overturning stones…”
“Then we turn them all over,” she agreed. “All secrets pulled out of the dark corners and placed on the table.”
He hesitated. “Agreed.”
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A USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance, Norah lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, with her husband, two adult children, two dogs (Ruby and Neva) and two cats (Ruckus and Milo).
Norah is a three-time finalist in the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart contest. In 2003, she won Dorchester Publishing's New Voice in Romance contest.
In addition to writing romance, Norah also writes in the mystery and YA genres with writing partner Heather Doherty. The mystery is the cozy variety, not the thriller variety (they dare you to read a Dix Dodd mystery and not laugh out loud).
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