Let Me Love You Again (An Echoes of the Heart Novel Book 2)

BOOK: Let Me Love You Again (An Echoes of the Heart Novel Book 2)
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A
LSO BY
A
NNA
D
E
S
TEFANO

E
CHOES OF THE
H
EART
S
ERIES

Here in My Heart: A Novella

S
EASONS OF THE
H
EART
S
ERIES

Christmas on Mimosa Lane

Three Days on Mimosa Lane

Love on Mimosa Lane

D
AUGHTER
S
ERIES

The Unknown Daughter

The Runaway Daughter

The Perfect Daughter

A
TLANTA
H
EROES
S
ERIES

Because of a Boy

To Protect the Child

To Save a Family

The Firefighter’s Secret Baby

R
OMANTIC
S
USPENSE

Shattered Witness

S
CIENCE
F
ICTION
/F
ANTASY

Secret Legacy

Dark Legacy

N
OVELLAS
/A
NTHOLOGIES

“Weekend Meltdown” in
Winter Heat

“Baby Steps” in
Mother of the Year

“A Small-Town Sheriff” (Daughter series)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Text copyright © 2015 Anna DeStefano
All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle

www.apub.com

Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Montlake Romance are trademarks of
Amazon.com
, Inc., or its affiliates.

ISBN-13: 9781477829158
ISBN-10: 1477829156

Cover design by Mumtaz Mustafa

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014958168

To the warriors of the heart who never give up on love.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Chapter One

Oliver Bowman surveyed the spectacle beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows of his Midtown Atlanta loft. Disappearing before its setting sun, the dusky sky was a twilight miracle. It made him think of home.

Another high-stakes IT project was behind him, his second since he’d returned to the South. He’d conquered a kick-ass gauntlet of anticipated challenges, more than earning the ridiculous hourly rate he’d quoted his client. Plus a bonus for juggling last-minute crises and beating his deadline.

Two potential deals were in the pipeline awaiting his next pitch: one in Seattle, the other in Toronto. Within the hour he’d pull the trigger on his top prospect. And he would land it, beating out competing contractors—other guns for hire who’d good-naturedly curse him in their congratulatory e-mails. By the first of next week he’d relocate. There’d be no time to focus on anything but work.

But tonight, staring at his sunset view after a nerve-settling run through town, there was nothing to distract him from looking back. From wanting to
go
back—if for no other reason than
to silence the question he couldn’t stop himself from asking. What did it say that all these months he’d lived and worked only miles away from the foster family he’d crashed out of at eighteen? Yet no one from seven years ago knew he was back except for Travis, the foster brother Oliver had been closest to.

He was focused on the right things, he reminded himself. And working his ass off to make those things possible. Dwelling on the past was a pointless distraction for a man who made his not-inconsiderable living grinding out the day-to-day present. His demanding career fed his drive to compete and achieve. It kept him on track and freed everyone else to focus on what they needed to—including his foster parents. It kept quiet, nostalgic nights like tonight to a minimum.

He’d just ridden the elevator up after jogging through streets heavy with May’s suffocating humidity. The temps in Georgia weren’t what got to you this time of year. The moisture in the air, rain or shine, made you think you needed a snorkel to breathe. And while he’d been away, he’d missed even that for some godforsaken reason.

He was drenched in sweat, logging five miles in under forty minutes. He’d left himself plenty of time to shower before his conference call to a top-shelf West Coast CIO whose six-month contract would solidify the rest of Oliver’s business year. Now he was going to smell like a locker room when he Skyped about cloud computing data solutions. Because he couldn’t stop wrestling with the impulse to turn a brief blip of downtime into an excuse to visit Chandlerville—a suburb twenty miles northeast of the A-T-L.

It was natural to want to see how his foster parents were helping a new crop of kids learn they were worthy of love—one hug, one gently set boundary at a time. And if he were being honest, to want to be seen by Marsha and Joe Dixon now that Oliver had “made it.”

Grunting, he scanned his sparsely decorated apartment with an objective eye. It was a flashy penthouse unit, its staggering lease covered by the latest corporation needing his expertise. The top-of-the-line 4x4 in an underground garage was another high-end perk, freeing up his cash for better uses. But beneath the glossy surface he was still the guy who’d walked away from his last chance at a family with a threadbare backpack over his shoulder and the entire contents of his life inside. Just like he’d have to be wherever and whatever a new client wanted him to be next week.

Joe and Marsha’s world was rocking on just fine without him. They didn’t need him barging in and mucking with that. They
needed
the money he sent home every month to help them raise a fresh crop of parentless boys and girls. And it was a sweet deal for a man who’d nearly pissed away the second chance he’d been given.

Enough delaying the inevitable. Time to rip off the Band-Aid. One firm pull. A rush of pain, followed by the soothing relief of having done what he’d dreaded. Because living this close to Chandlerville, he’d never stop wondering whether his foster parents were proud of what he’d accomplished. Or if the beautiful girl he’d lost on another late spring night might smile one of her perfect smiles if she could see him now.

He rocked on the heels of the worn running shoes he kept forgetting to replace. The light beyond his windows faded, purple bleeding to gray. Barely realizing what he was doing, he rubbed a hand over the tattoo he’d had inked above his heart after he’d left the Dixon home. The ball-busting teen still lurking inside him sneered.

Why would Selena Rosenthal be thinking of him after all this time?

Since they were eighteen, they’d been as over as two people could be who’d sworn to love each other forever. Travis had said
she’d left Chandlerville not long after Oliver. His first love had married, had another man’s baby. She’d created a totally new life for herself, light-years from the small-town reality she and Oliver might have made together.

Meanwhile in the last year and a half he’d satisfied two right-place, right-time, big-dog Atlanta clients. He’d regrouped and was working harder and better than ever for his foster family. Work that kept him perpetually on the move. Which made it out of the question—his getting any closer to the people it would gut him to have to walk away from again.

His apartment phone rang, ripping his gaze away from the final streaks of light dusting the horizon. The handset in the kitchen sounded off a second time.

Only one person on the planet knew how to contact him on anything but his cell. Wherever Oliver moved for business, he maintained a landline and the international messaging service it fed into. He’d shared the number with no one but Travis, who knew better than to use it except for emergencies. Their sporadic conversations over the years had been the result of Oliver contacting his foster brother, not the other way around.

Oliver headed across the loft’s Berber carpet, his insides twisting. He ripped the phone from its receiver.

“Hello?”

“You need to come home,” said the ragged voice on the other end of the line. Travis still lived in Chandlerville, surrounded by the court-appointed family whose love had saved them both. “It’s Dad. It’s bad, man.”

BOOK: Let Me Love You Again (An Echoes of the Heart Novel Book 2)
7.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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