Three years after her boyfriend's mysterious disappearance, Clarissa has finally recovered enough to move on with her life. She's graduated from college, found a good job, and is engaged to someone else now. She is happy once again.
So why has Jake, her long lost first love, suddenly turned back up in Key West, Florida at their favorite sidewalk café? Where had he been and what had he been doing during his absence? But most important of all, what could he possibly want from her after all this time?
Clarissa looked up from her espresso to suffer a shock of disbelief. She blinked several times, thinking her eyes must be deceiving her. It couldn't be him. It just couldn't be.
Yet, there he sat three tables away from her—the lost love of her life—having returned to Key West and their favorite sidewalk café from…? She honestly couldn’t say because she didn't know where he'd disappeared to or the reason behind his sudden abandonment of her three years ago.
She trembled in the warm morning air as a plethora of emotions assaulted her beleaguered mind in quick succession: anxiety, intrigue, longing, regret, anguish, love, sorrow, and finally…indignation.
With every passing second that she resisted the tremendous urge to get up from her seat and walk over to make her presence known, the more equilibrium she regained. She could not, would not, go to him. At twenty-five years of age, with more life experience than most women her age, she knew all about the virtues of having patience.
To help sustain her resolve, she looked up at the clear blue sky, the other patrons enjoying their morning coffee, a lone car coming down the street, the group of retirees huffing along the sidewalk for exercise, everywhere except at him.
When she couldn't take the suspense any longer, her gaze returned to her former lover. He remained sitting there all alone, head tilted down as he texted on his cellphone. He looked pretty much the same as she remembered.
In fact, he still parted his dark, wavy hair on the left side, although it was now cut short. He was very tan and his clean shaven, angular face still matched his lean muscular body perfectly. The board shorts, T-shirt, and sneakers he wore lent an impression of youthful vitality. Yeah, his early thirties looked really good on him.
In comparison, she hadn't changed much either, although she now colored her curly blond hair a soft light brown. She'd also grown it out to mid-way her back but still kept it cut around her oval face. She thought this hairdo best suited her voluptuous, hourglass figure. And the pants suit with heels she wore today fit her better than the tank tops, cut-off shorts, and flip-flops ever had.
As she continued staring at him and obsessing over his reappearance, she couldn’t help remembering how safe she'd felt within his strong embrace…how lucky she'd believed she had been at finally having met a man to share her whole heart with…how well their bodies had fit together…and lastly, of how much soul-connecting lovemaking they'd indulged in. What had gone so wrong for him to abandon her without an explanation? And why had he suddenly turned up again?
Under her patient gaze, it became inevitable that he would eventually look up and see her. The moment it happened, his blue eyes widened, his face went slack, and then he mouthed her name in silent recognition. She only stared back at his stunned expression, trying her best to hide her own inner turmoil.
He promptly got up and came over. In a deeply masculine voice, he said, "Hello, Clarissa. I was hoping I'd run into you here. May I sit with you?"
She stared up into his pale blue eyes, melting a little on inside. But still, she somehow held onto enough of her composure to say, "I don't know, Jake. You'll probably disappear on me if I turn my back for a second. So maybe you shouldn't."
"I have a very good explanation for my disappearance." He pulled out the patio chair across from her and sat without permission.
"Men always do, don't they?" She'd looked across the street at an elderly couple walking along holding hands. An old scar burst open inside her heart. She'd once envisioned Jake and her growing old together.
"I went away because—"
"Don't care to hear it." She cut him off, wanting to hurt him like he'd hurt her. She kept looking at the old couple while absently twisting her coffee cup around and around. "Besides, I'm getting along just fine without you. In fact, have you heard the news? I'm getting married in three weeks."