Allison Thompson isn’t going home to see the man who broke her heart four years ago. She has an idea she wants to talk to her brother about that could change both their lives, for the better. A change that would mean she’d never step foot in Ainsworth again.
Cole Matthews let her go once, and he has no intention of letting her go again. But meddling family, a broken car, and an old man aren’t the only things coming between them.
Ally will have to stop running long enough to give Cole the chance he needs to apologise and explain, and catching the king’s alley cat has never been easy.
She took a deep breath and shook her head. Well, she was here now, she may as well go in and get it over with. Ally twisted the handle and pushed the door open.
A rush of cool, crisp air flooded out and was as welcome as an icy beer sliding down her throat on a hot day. The air con was new, as were the two sofas and coffee table in the waiting area she saw when she stepped through the door and closed it without a hint of noise.
Two large images on the wall behind the sofa snagged her gaze and held it fast. Troy as she'd never seen him before and beside it a photo of Cole.
Ally stood transfixed by the photo, blown up to poster size, on the wall behind the sofa. Immortalised as he looked up from working on the back of a client, Cole had his trademark wicked grin in place and tattoo machine in hand. Her heart fluttered, the same as it always had since the day she’d turned fourteen and fallen in love with that grin.
Nothing had changed, inside her at least. After four years away and all the crap he’d said to her before she’d left, she still loved him, but outside? Things were going to be very different.
“You after some work?” a deep masculine voice asked.
Ally startled, dropping her sunglasses back into place. That was not Troy. Where was her brother, and oh god, why was Cole Matthews at work at ten in the morning? Troy’d said he didn’t start until twelve. She turned away from the photo on the wall, and stared at him, her eyes wide behind her glasses, trying to decide if she wanted to run or throw up.
Pain speared through her chest, making it hard to breathe. God, he looked good. He looked like he’d been working out, or just working. There was more ink on his arms, and he'd grown a beard. The skinny teen and young man she’d grown up with who’d stolen her heart had turned dangerously sexy.
He lifted one eyebrow and stared back at her. Damn, she had to say something, or she’d look like a nut case. He obviously didn’t recognise her, and she didn’t blame him. The overly plump country teen was gone, and in her place was the person she wanted to be.
“Hello, Cole. I thought Troy worked in the mornings.”
His icy blue gaze raked up and down her, lingering on the bare stretch of her legs below her cutoff jean shorts, only to come back to her face. He tilted his head to the side, just a little, in that sexy way he had that had always made her breath catch before she’d left to go to Brisbane.
She wasn’t supposed to be home for another month. Not until the end of December, but…things had changed. Depending on what happened in the next twenty-four hours she might be getting straight back into her car and leaving again. She already had plan B all sorted, and although she hated living on the coast, a firm in the city had already offered her a position.
“Do I know you?” he asked.
She turned away before he could see her sad smile. No, he didn’t really know her. He never had. She’d always put on a front with him, been the good little sister of his best friend, except for once, and it had ruined everything.
The fact that he didn’t recognize her cut her to the quick. Losing twenty kilos didn’t change a person that much. Nor did changing the colour of your hair, wearing different clothes, and having your nose pierced.
“You know, I always loved that photo of you. I always thought it showed the real you,” she said, staring at his photo.
Cole said nothing, but heavy footsteps rushed towards her, and a rough hand gripped her upper arm. He spun her around and ripped the sunglasses from her face. She glanced up into his eyes, a gasp caught in her throat, and saw the recognition in his eyes.
“You broke your promise, alley cat.”