The small-town CPA can't forget how Blake Mitchell jilted her and left their hometown without an explanation. But when her first love returns to
Since his parents' deaths six years ago, Blake's been raising his little sister on his own. But he's never forgotten the woman he left behind. Now, he can't undo the past, but maybe he can change the future…if he can convince Susan to give him one more chance.
Susan Hill waved goodbye to her best friend, Keira, as she walked out the door of Keira’s candy shop. “See you.” She laughed at the silly look on her friend’s face then turned and smacked into a hard body. Oof.
Strong fingers gripped her arm and a masculine voice close to her ear held remorse. “Susan, you okay?”
She jerked free of his touch, yet her skin tingled where his fingers had held her arms. She let her breath out slowly then braced herself to look into the deep mocha eyes that still haunted her dreams. “Blake.” Why had he returned to
She took a step back. “Um. What are you doing here?”
“Katie wanted candy.” A corner of his mouth lifted, lighting a smile in his eyes. “You look good. I see you’re still into Goth. The purple streaks are cool.”
The young girl standing beside him couldn’t be more than eight or nine, but Susan was never good at guessing ages. A sick feeling gripped her stomach as she counted the years since she had last seen him. He wouldn’t—it’s not possible.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
His gentle voice softened her defenses and almost lulled her into forgetting their past—almost. She tightened her lips and balled her hands into fists. First thing tomorrow she’d dye her hair a solid color. She pulled her attention from the child and glanced down at her long lacy skirt and black platform sandals. One of her favorite combos. “It’s not really Goth. I just like wearing black.” Crossing her arms, she narrowed her eyes. “What brings you back to town?” The young girl standing beside him slipped her hand into Blake’s. Her dark wavy hair hung to her shoulders and her sundress showed off a light tan.
“I’m here to fix my house up. It’s time to sell.” He rubbed the back of his neck.
He looked good. His bad-boy look drew her to him like a child to candy. No, she couldn’t go there—not with the man who’d broken her heart. “Were you…” her voice cracked. “Were you planning to tell me you were in town or just slink in and out without even saying hi?”
“Of course not. I figured Keira would be able to tell me where to find you. Guess that won’t be necessary now.”
“So you’re only in town temporarily?” Please say yes. Or rather, no. Ugh, he was barely back, and she was already confused.
“We’re here for the summer.” He motioned to the girl. “This is—”
“Can we go now, Dad?” The girl tugged his hand.
He grinned. “Sure. Maybe we can catch up later, Susan.”
Her heart beat a rapid staccato. “It looks like you have your hands full.” She nodded toward the girl trying not to frown, but sensing she’d failed.
He stepped aside allowing her to pass. “Yeah, I do. Okay then, maybe I’ll see you around.”
“Please, no.” Susan muttered under her breath. She strode past him with her head high and her jaw jutted out. A whiff of his cologne tickled her senses. She’d always loved the scent of Obsession and melted just a bit. She strode across
Street on shaky legs. Did she dare glance back?
It had been years since she’d last laid eyes on Blake Mitchell. Back then he didn’t have a child in tow—a child that clearly belonged to him. She straightened as anger seared through her. She’d had a feeling there’d been someone else, but he had reassured her there wasn’t. Apparently he’d lied, because that child was Blake’s spitting image and she’d called him dad.
Blake looked into Katie’s troubled eyes. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“I want to go home to
Maine. Why’d we have to come to this stupid
place, anyway?” She sniffed. “What was up with that lady? She didn’t seem very
happy to see us.”
To say Susan wasn’t happy to see him was an understatement. Blake squatted to Katie’s level, wincing at her watery eyes. Her emotions had been all over the place since he’d announced they were spending the summer in
“Susan’s really a very nice lady but she’s angry with me. I did something a
long time ago that hurt her, but it has nothing to do with you. Okay?” He
watched her blink away unshed tears. “All good now? Or should we go to the
Katie nodded. “I’d still like candy.”
He stood and took her hand. Together they opened the door to his old buddy Michael’s shop. Relief at Katie’s quick recovery washed through him, but quickly vanished when he replayed her words in his mind. Why did Katie have to call him dad in front of Susan? Sure, it was a running joke between them since so many people assumed he was her dad because of the huge gap in their ages. He’d have to warn her not to call him that in public, though.
He would explain to Susan later—if she would talk to him. After her icy reception, it seemed unlikely. Hesitating, he took a deep breath and braced himself. The rich smell of chocolate, and cool air washed over him as Katie led him inside.
Keira stood wide-eyed behind the counter with her lips pressed together. She was always more the silent type. She returned her attention to the customer at the register. Blake cleared his throat. “Go ahead and pick something out, Katie,” he said softly before walking to the display counter filled with enticing rows of gourmet chocolates.
He looked around the store and couldn’t help admiring the changes. They’d increased the inventory and it looked a hundred times more inviting than it had the last time he’d been here. Business must be good. He waited until the other customer left then nodded to Keira.
“Long time no see, Blake. What brings you to
Leavenworth?” A guarded
look covered her face.
He couldn’t blame her. Blake hesitated. Keira was close to Susan. Would she kick him out? “I need to fix up my place to sell it. Is Michael around?” Blake regretted losing touch with his friend. But when he left
he’d severed all ties, unable to deal with his parents’ deaths or life in
general. He’d even gone so far as to change his cell number and email. He shook
his head, swamped by regret. He’d made so many mistakes.
“You’ve been gone a long time, Blake. Michael was killed in a car accident five years ago.”
Blake’s stomach knotted. “I didn’t know. I’m sorry.” He wanted to ask what happened, but didn’t. He understood the pain of loss and how hard talking about it could be. Maybe someone else would be able to fill in the blanks. Michael…dead. Pain at the loss of the friend he hadn’t seen in six years filled him.
“Thanks. I would’ve contacted you, but you dropped off the planet.”
“Yeah. Things were pretty messed up then. I’m sorry you couldn’t reach me.” More sorry than she could ever imagine. He’d hurt so many people, including himself.
She shrugged and a sad smile touched her lips. “It’s just me and Cody now.” She held out her left hand. “But I’m engaged to an awesome man.”
“Congratulations. Who’s Cody?”
“My son. He’s five.”
Blake nodded. “Things have changed around here more than I realized.” Maybe coming back had been a bad idea. It wasn’t too late to hire someone to fix up his house and return home to
Maine. Katie would be thrilled, but he hated
to pay someone to do what he could handle on his own. Besides, it was time he
faced his past and dealt with the mess he’d left behind.
Katie brought a candy bar to the counter.
“Seems your life has changed, too.” She raised an eyebrow toward Katie.
“Yeah.” He pulled a dollar from his wallet and placed it on the counter. Keira handed him the change and he pocketed it. “Thanks. See you.”
Keira’s voice stopped him.
He turned. “Yes?”
“Welcome back.” A soft smile lit her face. “Michael liked you, so you and I are good, but if you hurt Susan again—”
“Point taken. Thanks.” He strode from the store with Katie trotting along beside him. Bavarian music streamed from speakers placed throughout the quaint village. Flower boxes and hanging baskets scented the air and he sneezed.
hadn’t changed much since he’d been gone. At least the stores all looked the
same. Maybe a few had come and gone, but for the most part the German-themed
storefronts had remained the same. But everything else had changed—including
A Romance Rekindled is the second book in my series that takes place in Leavenworth, WA a Bavarian themed village nestled in the Cascades. This story stands alone as do all the books in the series.
Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and is a graduate of Northwest University. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two teenage sons and their yellow Lab. Kimberly is an avid reader and loves romance, suspense, and romantic suspense. She enjoys playing the piano, hiking and coffee with friends. She loves hearing from her fans. You can connect with her on her website at www.kimberlyrosejohnson.com.
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Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart