Author's Note: This series is NOT to be considered Christian Fiction
~All Allie Daniels ever wanted was a family of her own--until her doctor informs her she'll never be able to have children. She hides her desolation, refusing to let any man close enough to see her broken heart. Most certainly not the town veterinarian, who's cute three-year-old son reminds her of what she'll never have.
Rick Wilde had a serious crush on Allie back in high school, but life took them in different directions. Now a single parent, he returns to Redemption several years later to raise his son, Lukas. His interest in Allie is renewed, but her shoulder is colder than the bitter winter wind.
Brought together by an orphaned kitten, Allie finds herself helpless to resist Lukas's impish innocence--not to mention Rick's warm charm and sexy good looks. Does she dare take a chance on an impossible dream, or will Rick's desire for more kids devastate their future?
"Seriously?" he asked after a long moment, his brows arched. "That's why you avoid me--why you walk the other direction when you see me at the grocery store or on the sidewalk? Because you think I was mean to you back when we were in high school, over fifteen years ago?"
She glanced away.Sounded petty and absurd to her too, but it wasn't like she could tell him the real reason why, so she kept her mouth shut.
"You want to know why I acted like that back then?"
The low question made her stomach lurch and brought her gaze back to his. Her heart started racing again, especially when he crowded her in the corner, darkening it with his shadow.
"Even as a freshman, you were the smartest person I knew. You were in all the college classes with me and got better grades than I did. Every time I opened my mouth around you, nothing came out right, and you'd give me this...look, and I felt stupid. Not the most mature way to handle it, but there you have it."
Allie fought to keep her mouth from hanging open in surprise. She'd had no clue. In fact she'd always felt stupid around him.
He leaned closer. Palms and back flattened against the wall, she stared at his chest, unable to say a single word. Besides, if she looked up, she'd see his mouth so close to hers and want to rise on her tiptoes. He'd been drinking beer earlier, but now he smelled winter fresh.
He braced one hand against the wall beside her head. The other he tunneled through her hair to cup the back of her head while his thumb tipped her chin up. Her heart banged into her ribs. Gum. He'd been chewing gum in the truck. She swallowed as if a piece were stuck in her own throat when his gaze locked with hers.
"And then there's this.I've wanted to do this since the day you corrected Mr. Counsell's equation in advanced chem the second week of class."
She'd guessed he was going to kiss her, but, Oh, my, God, Rick Wilde was kissing her! She closed her eyes and savored the moment she'd waited for since grade school. The feel of his warm, firm lips on hers. His strong, calloused fingers caressing the nape of her neck.
The faint smell of the bar was quickly overwhelmed by his scent that rose up in the heat from his closeness. She inhaled woodsy scented soap mixed with the leather of his jacket, and no hint of overpowering cologne. Just clean, hot male.
As a first kiss went, it was pretty tame, but all the more remarkable for the fact that he simply explored the contours of her lips, almost as if tasting them, instead of trying to shove his tongue down her throat like Brent had earlier. It lived up to and far surpassed the many daydreams she'd had in high school.
She lifted her hands to pull him closer when a blast of frigid air blew through her thin nylon Packer jersey. When his lips left hers, and she sensed he'd drawn back, she opened her eyes to find him watching her.