Reunited by a question: Will he be her baby’s father?
Living in LA brought Sable Sutton everything she thought she could possibly want. Just not what she truly desires—a family.
Then she realizes the answer could be back in her small Australian hometown with her first love, brooding bachelor Rafe Thorne.
He’s the only man she’s ever felt at home with, but will he be prepared to take a leap of faith on her outrageous proposal?
Hands wrapped around the streaming hot cup of coffee, bones thawing in the warmth of The Coffee Shop, Sable began to feel better about things.
Until there came a rush of cold air from outside, right as the brass bell rang over the door.
Bear – the maker of the coffee - looked up, his smile appreciative. Flirtatious.
And by the way the hair on the back of her neck stood on end Sable knew—someone dark, strong and hot had just walked through his door.
“Hey, Bear,” an all too familiar voice rumbled behind her. “What’s the big emerg—?”
Like a subtle shift in the air, a vibration that sang through her bones, Sable felt the moment Rafe saw her. Recognised her. Even before his words slammed to a halt.
Had he heard she was back? Or did he simply know the shape of her, the way she’d have recognised the shape of him anywhere?
Bear cleared his throat. Motioned to her with his eyes. Reminding her that wanting to be invisible and actually achieving it were two very different things.
Sable turned slowly on her stool. Her cheeks burning. Blood roaring behind her ears.
And she looked up to see Rafe Thorne—the boy next door, her first love, the man who held her future dreams in a simple yes—standing right in front of her for the first time in nearly a decade.
She’d prepared herself for this moment. Practising conversations with herself in the mirror in the bathroom on the plane. But seeing him, in the flesh, it all went out of the window.
For the boy she’d known was no more as he’d been honed into a man with fierce abandon.
She was powerless to stop herself—her eyes roved. Taking in the curl of his cowlick. The bumps of his knuckles. The solid strength of his throat. Hair still thick, still curled, still wild. Stubble covering a hard, tight jaw. Lips that had always made her knees go weak.
Dark chambray shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbows showcasing forearms laced with the kind of roping veins that made a girl swoon. Collar unironed, top button undone—no, missing, having fallen from its length of unspooled cotton. Jeans softened in places where they’d been made to work hardest—knees, pockets, zipper. Rugged brown boots with the toes scuffed, the laces fraying.
Twinge, went her heat. Skitter, thump.
Now that there was no longer a planet between them her heart went on a rampage behind her ribs.
In both hands he held a piece of…something. She couldn’t tell what. But it was a habit he’d had, even as a kid. Picking flowers, or grass stalks, as he’d passed, knotting them, stripping them, folding them… Those ingenious hands of his always needed to be occupied.
The flash of familiar brought her consciousness back into her body. Until she could feel the stool beneath her backside. The uncomfortable heat in her cheeks. The tremble in her legs.
For this was why she’d come home.
Not to flee the disintegration of her old life. Not even to see Mercy.
She’d come home for Rafe.
To ask a favour of him she’d never consider asking of anyone else. A favour that would change her life.
For she planned to ask him to father her child.
Not to help her raise it, or even know it for that matter. She wanted nothing from him bar his DNA. Then he’d never have to see her again.
She slid from the stool, the clack of her heels on the tiled floor jarring in the heavy silence. “Rafe,” she said. “Hello.”
Rafe, on the other hand, didn’t say a word. His eyes cavernous, the deep dark depths giving nothing away.
She hungrily searched his face for a way in. For anger. Hurt. Surprise. For pleasure. Something.
Anything but ambivalence. It was the one emotion she’d never been able to match.
Rafe’s gaze lifted away from hers, caught on the big man behind him, and he said, “You, I’ll talk to later.”
Then he turned on his boot and walked out of the door. The brass bell singing prettily before the door shut with a decisive snick.