They made a promise to the same man but will guilt over their feelings for each other get in the way of keeping it?
He’s a soldier home for the holidays, his brother’s last wish for him to take care of his wife and baby weighing heavily on his mind. Keeping promises are important, but this one will be hard. Ryan has been secretly in love with Shannon for years. Their attraction is hot and consuming, but will they be able to get over the guilt that threatens to keep them apart?
Excerpt – She pulled back the curtain, her eyes rounding when she recognized Ryan’s form heading down the front steps with his bag in his hand. Was he leaving because of her? That would crush Marsha! Without thinking, Shannon whipped the door open and stepped onto the porch.
“Ryan!” If he heard her, he ignored her, and continued walking toward the garage. “Ryan!” Shannon picked up her robe and dashed down the steps and into the snow. The cold immediately went through her slippers. “Ryan, please wait!”
He rounded the garage and disappeared. Shannon couldn’t believe that he didn’t hear her. She rushed to catch up with him, almost falling when she stepped on an icy patch of snow. She entered the garage just as he opened the door to his jeep. “Ryan!”
He stiffened but didn’t turn around as she expected. Shivering, Shannon stepped in front of him, putting herself between him and the open door. She didn’t know what she was going to do; only that she had to stop him in some way. “What are you doing?” she asked, flinching from the unwelcome coldness in his eyes. It was just getting light enough for her to see his expression, hard and set as usual.
“I would think that’s obvious,” he said flatly, a tic appearing in his jaw. His gaze was focused somewhere over her head.
“Your leaving will ruin everyone’s holiday. Every year, all they ever talk about is you coming home.” His gaze zeroed in on hers with deadly accuracy. He looked so angry, as if he was about to explode. Shannon felt the urge to reach up and kiss away the firmness of his mouth until it was soft and friendly. “Are you leaving because of, ah, what happened?” She didn’t have to spell it out; they both knew what she was referring to.
“I think it’s better this way.”
“I’m not blaming you,” she began. “It’s something that just happened, a moment that got away from us.” Trying to sound as if it was insignificant didn’t come off as convincing as Shannon wanted it to. She could barely look Ryan in the eye because of the heat filling her cheeks.
“What makes you think it won’t happen again?”
Shannon’s eyes rounded in surprise. The little thrill his words caused evaporated quickly when she realized he wasn’t happy about his earlier loss of control. Would it happen again? She didn’t have the nerve to ask. Deep down part of her wanted it to. She could tell he wanted to leave, but she was in his way.
“Ryan please, if you can’t stand being under the same roof with me then I’ll leave. Just, please, don’t hurt your family this way.” It surprised Shannon that his leaving would hurt her, too.
Their gazes held for a long moment. Shannon wasn’t beneath begging to get him to change his mind. She loved Marsha and the rest of the family too much to cause them undue pain. “Please, stay.” To her mortification, she felt the hot sting of tears fill her eyes. It occurred to her that she was asking as much for herself as for them. Did he feel the pull between them? The intensity of it astounded her.
*Previously published. New cover and new content!
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