Childhood sweethearts Lori and Cal reunite after years of hurt and disappointment, but it's on less than good terms.
Alora 'Lori' Metcalf doesn't want to reignite anything with Cal Fortiss. When she returns to her hometown to run a barn raising, she doesn't expect to see her old high school boyfriend. Or to still find him so appealing. The intensity that still lingers between them frightens her, and when Cal awakens more than just nostalgia in her heart, she knows it will risk more than just her employment.
Cal has spent twenty years getting over Lori, but even his hard-won cynicism can't keep his desire at bay, especially when he sees her trotting out of his son's coffee shop in a snug business skirt. But Lori isn't interested in rehashing the past, and he's willing to let her have her way.
Can they put old grudges behind them and act on a passion they shared once, years ago, but long buried? Or will they choose to remain haunted by what could have been?
"Dammit, Alora. Will you stop? I'm not going to chase you all over town."
"Then go home, Cal."
Goddamit, her voice was the same. How could her voice be the same? He hadn't seen her in twenty years, and she still sounded exactly the same.
"You can't be civil to me on the street?" He increased his pace a bit, but he wasn't going to run after her like some damn solicitor. He just wanted to talk to the woman.
She finally stopped. Her skirt rode up enough that he could see the edge of the snakey scar on her left thigh. This was his Lori, for sure. Even though she looked a little different, smelled different. Wore a wedding ring.
She was still his Lori.
"I didn't expect to run into you." She smoothed her golden waves back into place and crossed her arms. Those coppery eyes still pinned him the way they always had. "How are you?"
He laughed. "That's a loaded question, isn't it?" He stuffed his hands in his pockets and realized how tight his jeans were. Good thing on a horse. Bad thing when you're in front of a pretty lady whose habit was to make your blood flow into places you'd rather it didn't.
"It's just a nicety, Cal. You asked me to be civil. That's what you get."
"All right." He put hands up in surrender. "No need to be civil if that's what you want."
Lori sighed and looked past him. "What do you want, then?"
Cal pulled his eyebrows together and a wave of frustration swept him into the past. He hadn't known what he wanted when he chased after her, except he wanted to see her, again, and to talk to her. But whatever it was he'd been after, this wasn't it. "How long you in town for?"
"No. Absolutely not."
He backed up a step at her vehemence. Cal wasn't sure what that was all about, but he wasn't going to touch it, even with his longest cattle prod. She just kept going, though, so he didn't have to guess anymore.
"I am not going to have coffee or dinner or breakfast or anything else. I don't want to catch up, and I don't want to do anything for old time's sake. I'm here to work, and I'm going to do my job..." She paused as though she wanted to say something else, but finished with a flare, "and then leave."
Cal badly wanted to let loose a retort about whatever her job was, but the challenge in her eyes called up a vigor inside he'd thought long dormant. He loved to see this fiery side of her. He missed the gut-wrenching turmoil of a defiant woman, and had missed it since Lori left for New York twenty years ago.
The rush of arousal took him by surprise and his pants got more uncomfortable than they had been. He needed to get away from her, or he would find himself in a bad way before he could hide it.