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When United States Marine Tyler Collins is injured in the line of duty and sent home, the first thing he does is to go see the girl he left behind. He wants peace and to escape from the memories of violence and war. Instead, what he finds might change his life forever.
Their time together was supposed to be a fun summer fling, but in the three years since Tyler's been gone, he's never far from Pam Foster's thoughts or heart, even though the last thing she did before he left was lie to him. She has to right the wrong, but can a man with such integrity and honor forgive her? Especially when she hasn’t forgiven herself.
Is rekindled love enough, or will the secrets of the past ruin any hope of a future together?
“Should we sit?” He nodded toward a log that had fallen in the perfect spot to make a bench.
He set down the basket, and she opened it to take out the plastic containers of chicken and potato salad.
He opened his and forked a piece of chicken into his mouth, followed by a scoop of potato salad. He swallowed. “I can’t tell you how good this tastes after countless MREs. Not to mention the hospital food since I’ve been back.”
In contrast, her meal had all the flavor of sawdust. He’d been through so much. She swallowed the tasteless bite.
“Aren’t you hungry?” He pointed his fork at her untouched container.
“Not really.” The tangled knot of nerves in her stomach didn’t leave any room for food. “Do you want mine?”
The longing was apparent as he eyed her meal. “Are you sure?”
“Positive.” She handed it to him. It was a sin to let anything Zach made go to waste. Someone might as well enjoy it.
When Tyler finished, he slid off the log to rest his back against it, stretched his legs, and crossed his feet at the ankles. He looked out over the water: the epitome of happy contentment.
Damn. She didn’t want to ruin the peaceful moment. Lord knows, they were probably few and far between in his life. But she had to tell him. He deserved to know. “Tyler, there’s something I—”
“Come sit by me.” He patted the ground next to him.
Like always from the very beginning, she couldn’t resist him. She scooted off the fallen tree and mimicked his pose against the log. The sense of absolute rightness when he put his arm around her and drew her closer shook her to the very core. Her head dropped to his shoulder.
The sweet familiarity took her back to a simpler time. Before he’d headed off to a war halfway around the world. Before she’d known just how drastically her life would change. Before she lied to him.
Pam straightened. She couldn’t get caught up in the past. Not when there were still so many things unspoken in the present. “I need to tell you something.”
Tyler looked at her with those clear blue eyes. “Okay, but me first.” He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I just want you to know that I thought about you every single day when I was over there. Every time I was home on leave I had to fight the urge to come here to see you. As badly as I wanted to see you, I also wanted to protect you from the chaos and uncertainty of my world. When I got out of the hospital, I wasn’t strong enough to resist anymore. This was the only place I wanted to be. I needed you.” The pad of his thumb brushed her lower lip.
Pam’s pulse raced. Her breath caught. An odd combination of anguish and joy surged through her.
“I can’t believe I’m really here. With you. It’s like nothing’s changed.” His mouth quirked. “I know I promised I wouldn’t try anything, but…I can’t help myself. I missed you.” His lips claimed hers in a tender kiss that ignited her body and melted her heart.
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