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I thought we would go the distance, but when he turned his back on me, I moved on and made something of myself. Now, the very thing I made of myself has brought me back into his life. But I’m over him and refuse to let him back into my heart again.


I tried not to be so obvious while watching Kendra taking her piece of cake. Damn, she’s beautiful. Somehow, she looked exactly like she had back then and different, all at the same time. She was tall and curvy. Her jet-black hair was longer. Her face was a little rounder. And fuck…her full, pouty lips stirred up wicked, carnal thoughts.

The last time I’d seen Kendra, we had both been at the end of high school, technically adults but only just barely. Now, there was something sexy about her that hadn’t been there when we’d been in school together—or maybe I just hadn’t noticed it back then. Either way, she was definitely a woman, but she still looked like the fierce girl who’d frequently been in my corner.

Shaking myself out of my thoughts, I drifted away to get some food and a beer since I wasn’t on the clock. I thought about talking to Kendra, but I couldn’t make myself do it. What would I even say? I’d disappeared right after my mother’s funeral, without even saying goodbye to Kendra or anyone else. Over the years since I’d been back in town, I’d made things right with most of the friends I’d had who were still around, but Kendra was the one person I desperately wanted to apologize to. But would she forgive me?

“Lukas, get over here,” Pearl said, spotting me in the crowd. Kendra was right next to her. I grinned, making my way over in long strides.

“How’s the cake, Mrs. Hornsby?” I asked.

Pearl laughed, shaking her head. “As good as any cake from Harlequin Bakery.” She patted my arm. “Now that I got you over here, you and Kendra can catch up. Maybe you can talk her into staying for a good long while.” Pearl moved away from Kendra’s side faster than I would have thought possible for a seventy-five-year-old woman to do.

For a second, neither of us said anything. It was weird, seeing her again. I hadn’t thought I’d ever really see Kendra after I first came back and heard she’d moved down to New York City. Her life in the city agreed with her.

“She’s got a point, you know,” I said, smiling.

Kendra laughed. “Yeah, I’m not sure she’s ever even met subtlety. How long have you been back in town, Lukas?” She looked me over. “I guess probably a while now.”

“A few years,” I answered. “And you’ve been down in New York all this time, right?”

Kendra nodded. “Yes, I went to the NYPD after I finished my degree. Just recently worked my way up to detective.”

“Congratulations. But you’ve always been smart, ambitious, and beautiful,” I said.

“Thank you,” she replied. “But it was hard work. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get the job.”

“Let me guess.” I arched a brow. “They surprised you when you got it, but no one else was?”

Kendra rolled her eyes, but she was grinning. “And you, Mr. Big Bad Firefighter. I never figured you’d be back in town. You could have at least called me—maybe I’d have visited sooner.” She placed her hands on her hips.

“Work keeps me busy,” I said. “But you know what that’s like. I’m sure they keep you busy down there in the big city.”

“Yes, very busy. There hasn’t been too much time for anything but work,” Kendra agreed.

I was smiling despite myself. Just being around her again reminded me of when I’d been in school. The good stuff—not the things I’d worked so hard to forget and put behind me. Around Kendra, there was that familiar feeling, something I hadn’t felt with any of the women in the past.

“Not even dating?” I asked boldly. I wanted—no, needed—to know.

“No.” Kendra shook her head. “But I finally have some time on my hands, so maybe it’s time to change that.” She winked at me saucily.

Was she always this hot? We’d only ever been friends, but with both of us grown up a bit…

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