Come Home to Me

By: Brenda Novak

1

Aaron Amos was in the bookstore, too. Presley Christensen could tell by the prickle that skittered up her spine. Maybe she’d subconsciously recognized his voice amid the babble of the others, or there really was such a thing as a sixth sense, because when she turned and glanced across the crowded room, she confirmed what her body had already told her. He was standing off to one side, looking right at her.

It’d been two years since she’d seen him, and almost the same length of time since she’d shared his bed. But it felt like much longer. Her pregnancy and the first eighteen months of her son’s life had been hard, harder than anything that had come before—which was saying something for a girl who’d lived out of a car or a motel for most of her childhood.

Although she’d known when she decided to return to Whiskey Creek that she might bump into Aaron, and had tried to prepare herself for that moment, her eyes locked with his as if he held a high-powered magnet that drew them there against her will. Then it was all she could do not to stumble back; the sight of him hit her like a blow to the chest.

Damn it! Her reaction—the way her breath jammed in her throat and her stomach knotted—was ridiculous. Why couldn’t she get over him?

Gritting her teeth, she jerked her gaze away and slipped behind the people standing in line to get Ted Dixon’s autograph. She was a big fan of Ted’s work. Once she’d moved to Fresno to start over, his thrillers, along with a lot of other novels, had helped keep her mind occupied so she wouldn’t fall back into her previous lifestyle. And after she found work at the Helping Hands Thrift Store, which was the best job she could land with so little education, books—second-hand, mostly—had provided the only entertainment she could afford. They’d especially been a blessing after Wyatt was born and she was up walking the floor so often with a colicky baby.

Still, Ted was local. It wasn’t as if she wouldn’t have another chance to see him. She’d wanted to come but probably wouldn’t have if not for the urging of her sister. Cheyenne had insisted on watching Wyatt so Presley could get out for a few hours. She said it was important for her to take a break. And Presley was grateful. After the effort she’d put into cleaning her small rental house, getting settled and finding the perfect retail space to lease for her new yoga studio, she’d been eager for the chance to clean up and feel like something other than a mom.

But that was when she’d believed, as Cheyenne and Cheyenne’s husband, Dylan, had believed, that Aaron would be a hundred and forty miles to the northeast. He planned to branch off on his own and open a franchise of Amos Auto Body, the collision repair shop he owned with Dylan and his other brothers. According to Cheyenne, he’d been spending a great deal of time in Reno looking for the best location.

“Excuse me.” She pressed against the closest bookshelves in an attempt to squeeze past two men who were deep in conversation.

“Presley!”

She’d been so intent on her escape that she hadn’t even looked up, but this caught her attention. Kyle and Riley, two of her sister’s closest friends, were standing there. Ted Dixon, the author, belonged to their clique, so it was no surprise to see them here. If she searched hard enough, she’d likely find a handful of the others who’d hung out with Ted since kindergarten.

“Hello.” She managed a smile, although her heart was pounding. Was Aaron, at this very instant, threading his way through the people standing between them?

There wasn’t any reason he should feel uncomfortable approaching her. Maybe they hadn’t kept in touch while she was gone, but there’d been no expectations along those lines. Their former relationship hadn’t involved any commitment or obligation. They’d partied a great deal, and they’d had the hottest sex she’d ever experienced, but as far as he was concerned it was all in fun. They hadn’t even had a fight when she left. The death of her mother and the knowledge of her pregnancy had set her off on a self-destructive odyssey that led her to an abortion clinic in Arizona. She’d felt sure that ending her pregnancy was what Aaron would want if he knew about it, which was why, when she decided to keep the baby, she didn’t feel she owed him anything, even notice that Wyatt was his.

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