Seven years earlier, a young and serious Tessa Calitz wrote a letter to free spirit Ryan le Roux promising her undying love. As time passed she forgot about that letter...but Ryan did not. When he walks back into her life, Tessa is in a relationship and busy setting up her art gallery in Johannesburg. She has plans to start a family, and the arrival of Ryan throws her for a spin. He is the worst thing that could happen to her dream of stability...or is he? When everything she clung to starts to crumble, Ryan is right beside her to inspire her to greater things. But her compulsion for having marriage and children on her terms alone pushes Ryan away--until she falls in love with an orphaned baby. What can Ryan do to make Tessa realize that being with him is what her heart has longed for all along?
“You’re making a mistake, Ryan. Coming in here and trying to bring up the past. It’s too late now. I’m committed to Mark and have found a life for myself. You never wanted me then. You loved Annie.”
“I didn’t love her. I loved you. And you promised forever….”
His voice was resigned, and then he winked at her as if to dispel the tension. It did no such thing.
The letter at the back of the sketch had promised she would love him forever, hadn’t it? She had believed she would never love anyone as much as Ryan, and that he showed her what true love was.
“You never loved me.” She dropped her gaze onto her lap. “We were just good friends.”
Pushing up her chin to pretend that her heart wasn’t zinging with emotion, she rose up and walked toward the one wall to adjust a painting. He grabbed her hand. She tried to pull away, but he firmly pulled her close.
Heat and energy radiated off him, and his manly scent encompassed her. Even his breath was a sweetness she wanted to drink in. She took in the shape of his face—his mouth, which drooped slightly to the left, his skewed jaw line and the prominent cheek bones. His eyebrows were dark and perfectly shaped, and he had such long eyelashes. Yanking her burning hand away, she made sure her back was facing him.
“I was blind to the true treasure. All the time when I was going out with Annie, I really wanted you, but I couldn’t do that to her—dump her for her best friend. I’ve loved you for years, Tess. I’ve been trying to find you. No other woman has measured up, and I’ve had several relationships. And you’ve become so beautiful.”
She faced him, her mouth partially open, devoid of words. He’d loved her? Why didn’t he tell her then before it was too late?
His gaze followed her from head to foot, and heat branded her face while a spark ignited her body.
“But I wasn’t then. You thought I was ugly. You must have because Annie was so beautiful, and you never looked at me.”
“I did. Besides the kohl and black clothes, you were adorable, especially in your pajamas.”
Tessa wasn’t usually one to blush easily, but fire lapped up her whole face and neck. “But the way you used to look at Annie. She had the most stunning legs. Long and muscular.”
Ryan smiled. “You have better legs than Annie.”
She pulled back. For a moment, he had her in a trance. Maybe she should leave Mark and pursue this. Jump right in. No, of course not. Who was Ryan now, anyway? She hardly knew him. He could disappear. Mark cared for her, and he was the perfect match to build a family. That’s all she needed.