Never look back. Clarissa Hartman left her miserable life behind the day she graduated high school, the same day she turned 18. Driving for days, the road led her to Marfa, Texas. Right away, she knew she'd found home. Seven years later, she's found her place in life plus the one thing she never expected to find: love. Dylan Wall's everything she ran away from. So why can't she stay away from him? Never give up. Dylan Wall is at the top of his game. His PR firm's sought out by brand name companies, but he's so busy spinning everyone else's reps, he doesn't realize his personal life's taken a downhill turn. Deep down, he knows that somewhere, the perfect someone is waiting for him. The woman who'll accept him for who he is - if he's ever able to reveal it. When he lands in Marfa for his best friend's wedding, Clarissa's sharp tongue puts everything in a different perspective. She draws out a side of himself hidden away for too long. She's everything he wants, in the wrong package. So why does she feel like home? In Marfa, appearances are deceptive. Discovering the truth beneath the surface is the first step toward finding yourself, and joy.
“J. D. didn't run into any trouble in the air, did he? Someone at the café said the plane pitched forward at one point.”
And sideways and up and backward. Dylan had had no idea a glider could imitate a roller coaster. Had Clarissa known beforehand what the cowboy had in mind? She'd argued against him going, and her concern seemed genuine. None of it made sense. “The control slipped in J. D.'s hand. I'm not really sure; it's all kind of a blur.”
“He's normally very precise with his flying.”
He withheld a wince. “I gathered that.”
“I'm so sorry.” Her shyness returned. “He…looks out for me.”
“I know.” Definitely something he wouldn't forget.
“We never….” She bit her lip.
“I know.” He said it softly, no judgment. He'd gathered as much from Jeff. So why did hearing her say it fill him with such a heady sense of triumph? When she released her lip and it uncurled, he almost forgot to say, “If you need to go change, I can stay here and hold down the fort till you get back.”
She studied him a beat longer than seemed necessary, then glanced at the clock. “Guess I should. I can't wear my work clothes.”
“No one would notice.” When she furrowed her brow, he hastened to add, “You look great in anything.”
She backed away. “I'll be back soon.” She hesitated at the kitchen doors, then disappeared, growing smaller with each swing of the doors.
Curious, he went to watch through the small window in the swinging door, then through the kitchen to the back door. She disappeared again down a path and past a flowery trellis. She lives close by? He resisted the temptation to follow and instead took a seat at the coffee bar with his cell. No need to check messages, really. He'd caught up on the backlog yesterday and taken care of a few more this morning. Weird that he still couldn't shake the feeling about the new guy, Randy. Something about him set off alarms in Dylan's head, but he couldn't pinpoint it. And couldn't do anything from here, so he'd have to let it go until he returned.
Within a few minutes, the back door slammed. “I'm back,” Clarissa called. “Want to help me bring out the food?”
“Sure.” He entered the kitchen. Noise at the rear drew him to the large refrigerator, its door wide open.
“Harvey made too much, I think.” She straightened and held three lidded glass containers toward him.
Dylan reached for them but his grasp slipped as he took her all in. “Wow.”
A white flower tucked behind her ear, pale yellow sundress, Marilyn Monroe-style, tied behind her neck. Backless. Smooth skin over muscle and bone, her body elegant but with a bearing of strength.
She steadied the containers in his hands. “Whoa, careful. Those are breakable.”
“Sorry. I wasn't….” Part of a tattoo swirled out from beneath the dress, and he wanted to find the rest of it. Trace the lines and colors with his tongue, his mouth.
“Are you all right?”
He gulped. “You look amazing.”
A rose tinge along her cheeks made her even lovelier. “Oh. Thanks.”
If he wasn't holding these damn containers, he'd grab her instead.