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Phillipa Gray never expects to see Johnny McMurray again. But the haunting strains of a violin lure her where she'd sworn never to go: to him.
Ian Murray changed his name and his life the night he ran away. Now Phillipa sits next door and tempts him to turn back the clock and try for happiness again.
“Let your hair down, Philli. Please.” He wanted to do it, to touch her, but it seemed too intimate a gesture, to reach over and smooth her hair, draw the band from the ponytail, let his fingers comb it out, stretch it over her shoulders, down to her breasts. He didn’t have the right to do that. He might not even have the right to ask.
But she hesitated only a moment, then reached up and pulled the band slowly, shook the curls down, let them float below her shoulders, cover her breasts. A little slower motion and it could have been a shampoo ad. A little slower motion and he would have stopped breathing.
He nodded, too unsure of himself to answer more than, “Perfect.”
She bit at her lower lip. “Now what, Johnny? Where do we go from here?”
Bed. He caught the word before it escaped his lips. “Philli, this morning…”
“Yes, this morning. What were we thinking this morning?”
“Well, I wasn’t.” There, he’d admit it, admit that she had overwhelmed him, had given him hope by merely being there. “You touched me, Philli, and I, ah, I couldn’t help touching you back.” Her eyes were large, her lips pouty. Did she think he’d accused her of leading him on? “I would have touched you first if I’d had the nerve.” And that was the crux of it, wasn’t it? It didn’t matter his experience, his worldly ways. When it came to Phillipa, he was stuck in a time warp of his own making. God, if he didn’t kiss her soon…
He stood abruptly. “I’m sorry, Phillipa. I had no idea that seeing you again would take me back to that last summer, to all those demons I thought I’d buried.” He started away from her, then turned. Why not say it all? He might not be granted another chance. “I loved you then. As much as I was capable of love, I loved you.” Her brows drew together, her mouth opened. In protest? “I know we were kids. I know we were probably on the verge of some self-fulfilling prophecy from your mother or mine. But losing you changed my life, and I don’t know if it was for the good or the bad.” He shook his head. “My life became a string of all those things I offered to tell you about this morning--long hours, easy women, loose morals. I have no right to ask you to do anything for me, not even something as seemingly simple as taking down your hair.”
He walked away, was two feet from the hall door when her voice stopped him.
“Why? Why don’t you have that right?”
“I didn’t fight for you, Philli.” He couldn’t turn and face her.
But I fought for you, Johnny. I lost. But I fought. She couldn’t make the words pass her lips. Did he have a right to know that, to know what she did? Yes. No. Maybe.
She walked over to him. He jumped as she touched him, splayed her fingers across his back, rested her forehead on his spine. “I adored you. I thought you hung that moon up there.”
“Philli.” He hung his head, as if in shame.
“I did. Leaving here. Knowing you’d go. I thought I’d die.” She let her voice drift off. “Please turn around, Johnny. Please kiss me. Please let me know I’m not a fool.”
“Oh, Philli, then we’re a pair of fools.”
Writing is second nature to Kay Sisk, and she’s been doing it since she wrote stories with her fourth grade friends as heroines. She enjoys writing about her native Texas, where she lives with her husband of 35 years and “third family” of three cats, the first family of dogs and second family of sons, having left the nest years ago.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 346
Paper Weight (lb): 14.6
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