Skylar Donaghue has no memory of the night her parents died. When the perfect career opportunity arises, she ignores her brother’s superstitious warnings, choosing to leave the Choctaw reservation where she grew up and return to the place of her birth.
Widowed and caring for his young daughter, relationships are the last thing on Jack Langham’s mind. A chance encounter finds him intrigued, then captivated by a beautiful, but mysterious, violet-eyed woman and before he realizes it, he’s falling faster than fate may ever allow.
Stephen Donaghue holds the key to that long ago night, but never speaks of it. Now that Skylar is being pulled into the past, he fears its ghosts will darken their future and claim his sister forever…
The doorbell rang and she swore again.
She quickly dispensed of the mess and ran her finger under the kitchen tap, drying it with a paper towel and crossed to the front entry. Her mind and eyes fuzzy from crying, she opened the door without thinking.
Jack stood on the other side of the door and she blinked several times, trying to clear her vision. His brows were drawn together in a scowl. His face was angles, shadows, and full of anger, but as they stared at one another, his fury eased. A more natural expression of concern peered out from the anger, extinguishing it completely. “Are you okay?”
She hugged the side of the door, wanting to step into his embrace but refraining. “If you must know, I just broke my Mawmaw’s bear. What are you doing here, Jack?”
The ridiculousness of her comment made her want to smile through her tears, but she didn’t dare.
He just looked puzzled. “May I come in?”
Sky knew she needed to tell him no. She’d expected they’d eventually come face to face—it was a small town after all—and she’d prepared to tell him it just wasn’t working for her. It was an egregious lie because she wanted him more than ever, but it needed to be done. She had no choice. Instead, as if on autopilot, she nodded.
Jack stepped past her and she caught the whiff of soap and deodorant. He sported a couple day’s stubble and his hair was damp from a recent shower.
“Is Avery okay?” She shut the door behind him.
“She’s fine. She’s staying over with Bailey tonight. She seems to do that a lot lately.”
“Bailey. Mr. Mistoffelees, I believe.”
“Yeah, Mr. Mistoffelees.” Jack repeated in a murmur.
They were falling into a familiar, comfortable exchange, but she couldn’t allow it. “I’m sorry I wasn’t clear with you. Things have been a little hectic.”
“You didn’t even try to be clear.” He gazed into her eyes, a spark of his initial anger returning. “Everything seemed to be fine. You and I seemed to be fine. And then you practically lay rubber outside my house Halloween night and that’s that. Do you think you can help me understand? I think I deserve it, don’t you?”
“Of course you do.” Tears tried to return and she gritted her teeth against them.
“Are you married?”
“Of course not.” She stammered, shocked.
“Are you going to say ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’?” Because if you are, I’m going to blow a blood vessel right here in the middle of your living room.” His words bit out at her, demanding truth when she couldn’t give it to him.
Sky opened her mouth and closed it again. That had been exactly what she’d been about to say, as clichéd as it was. It wasn’t a lie though. “I … I don’t think I can explain.”
He smiled, but it wasn’t a pleasant one. “You can’t explain. Now, that’s just awesome.”
Saying nothing, her heart stuttered in her chest. So damned unfair. She didn’t want him to hurt. She wanted to put her arms around him and pull him close. An alien, yet deep-reaching emotion had taken hold, but she didn’t dare look too close. Not now. Instead, Sky just stood rooted to her living room floor.
Jack shook his head and turned from her to step toward the door. He stopped and she watched his shoulders heave as he pulled in one full, slow breath after the other. Frustration, and confusion radiated off him in furious waves and if he were anyone else, alarm would have already risen inside her.
She gasped when he spun toward her and closed the distance in two long strides. Before she could react, he’d cradled her face in his elegant hands and pressed his lips to hers.