Published by Forever on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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In the tradition of New York Times bestselling authors Susan Wiggs and RaeAnne Thayne comes an emotional second chance love story about redemption and finding your way home, the first in a new series by debut author Jen Gilroy.
Some mistakes can never be fixed and some secrets never forgiven . . . but some loves can never be forgotten.
Charlotte Gibbs wants nothing more than to put the past behind her, once and for all. But now that she's back at Firefly Lake to sell her mother's cottage, the overwhelming flood of memories reminds her of what she's been missing. Sun-drenched days. Late-night kisses that still shake her to the core. The gentle breeze off the lake, the scent of pine in the air, and the promise of Sean's touch on her skin . . . True, she got her dream job traveling the world. But at what cost?
Sean Carmichael still doesn't know why Charlie disappeared that summer, but after eighteen years, a divorce, and a teenage son he loves more than anything in the world, he's still not over her. All this time and her body still fits against his like a glove. She walked away once when he needed her the most. How can he convince her to stay now?
“Do you still want to sell the cottage?” He took a shallow breath and leaned forward. Which was a mistake because now he was in touching and tasting distance of her.
“Of course.” Charlie looked down, but not before Sean caught the flicker of uncertainty in her eyes. “But my mom loved Firefly Lake. Maybe we can come up with a better option, one that won’t change everything she loved. What do you think?”
Sean’s breathing sped up. By working with her and Mia, he might be able to protect Carmichael’s. Protect his family, his community, and his way of life. But he’d also have to spend more time with Charlie. “I guess I could talk to the chamber of commerce and the Rotary Club.”
“You’re president of the Firefly Lake Rotary Club.” Charlie’s eyes twinkled. “I saw a picture in Nick’s office of the two of you at some Rotary dinner. You have influence.”
“Maybe I do, but why should I use it to help you and your sister?”
“This isn’t about helping us. It’s about Carmichael’s and Firefly Lake, and this whole special area.” Her eyes were wise, seeing through him like always. Seeing what mattered to him.
“I’ll think about it.” His gaze locked with hers and something sizzled between them. The heat that had always been there—but had deepened because they weren’t the kids they’d been.
“We don’t have anything against you.” She took a business card from the holder on the desk and traced the letters of his name. “But Mia. . . she’s dealing with . . .some stuff . . . She’s the only family I’ve got.”
Sean knew all about family loyalty. How it could suffocate you and force you into choices you didn’t want to make. “What kind of stuff?”
“I can’t . . . ” She swallowed, and a pulse worked in her jaw. “A Tat Chee development would hurt a lot of people. Mom wouldn’t have wanted something that hurt people who were her friends. Hurt the place she never forgot. Mia and I don’t want that either.”
“It has nothing to do with you and me?” Sean looked into her face, the girl he’d loved still there beneath the woman she’d become.
“Of course not.” Charlie’s voice trembled.
“Deny it all you want, but we’re still hooked together.” He gave a harsh laugh. “Beyond trying to get it out of our systems, I don’t know what the hell we can do about it.”
Charlie came around the desk. She licked her lips and his body leaped. “Even if there is still something between us, we can’t do anything about it.”
“Starting something again would be a bad idea.” Sean pushed the words out, over the tightness in his chest.
“A very bad idea.” Her voice was a sensual caress.
“What if we can’t help it?” He stood and shoved the chair away, sending it crashing into the wall to overturn. He reached for her, and the shock of her warm, bare skin jolted through him.
“I shouldn’t . . . ” But even as she spoke, she leaned into him, soft, like the Charlie he remembered. Her head fit into the curve of his shoulder like it belonged there.
“Me neither.” He dipped his head and brushed his mouth against her neck, peaches and her scent greeting him. The one he could have picked out blindfolded even after all these years.
“Your mom told me to stay away from you.” She angled her neck toward his mouth.
“I told her to butt out.” He licked the sensitive cord in her neck, and she gasped.
“You did?” She whimpered as he intensified the caress.
He drew back. “You and me, we’re none of her business.”
“There isn’t a you and me. There can’t be. I’m only here for just over two more weeks.” Her words came out in a breathy moan. “Whatever this is, it can’t go anywhere. I don’t want anyone to get hurt.” Her small hands were gentle on his forearms. That gentleness was a side of her she didn’t let many people see.
“I know the rules.” He pulled her close again…