When sixteen year old Richard Sloane left Amanda Jameson stranded while he ran off with her best friend, Amanda was left wondering if love would ever find her again.
Now, ten years and a whole world of heartbreak later, Richard has returned to take up where he left off. In chapter one we are introduced to slef sufficient single mother Amanda at a moment when the ghost from her past walked back into her life. A much grown and successful construction company owner, Richard Sloan has returned to try and make amends with the love he never truely lost. But can Amanda forgive him?
Amanda’s heart pounded in earnest as she stared out the open door. Sunlight poured in around the tall figure before her, a warm breeze wafted in with it. Carrying the scent of summer sun on the grass as it lifted her strawberry blonde curls. Burning heat erupted in her as her gaze flickered over his toned body.
Muscular legs, firmly encased in faded denim topped by a black leather jacket with a soft white t-shirt that peeked out from where it stretched taught over his chest beneath. The deeply tanned flesh of one who spends most of his time out of doors showed above the jacket and at the worn cuffs. His face marked by dark stubble on his chin and a wavering group of faint laugh lines around his eyes.
Her breath caught in her throat, drawn out by a faint gasp as her eyes met his. Pale gray-blue like the summer sky after a storm.
‘I know you.’ She thought. An odd sense of deja vu clambering through her head as her eyes searched his. “Can I help you?” She asked slowly, fighting to control the husky tone in her voice.
Warm and soothing like butter, his voice slithered over her flesh. “Mandy? You don’t recognize me, do you?”
There was that subtle déjà vu again, nagging her from the back of her mind as she stared unabashed at him. She thought for sure that she did know him. More now that he’d spoken. She shook her head negatively and swallowed hard at the lump that’d just stolen her voice away. Blonde streaked curls bounced giddily against the rose stained flesh on her cheeks.
She had rehearsed it over and over in her mind during those first few weeks. What shed say and do to him if he ever dared reappear. Back when the pain was still fresh. Not that the years had changed that. She realized slowly as it reared its ugly head once again.
She fought against the urge to do the first thing that popped into her head. Her heart screamed at her to slam the door. Run away and hide herself against the agony.
“Mandy. It’s me. Rick. Rick Sloane.” He began slowly. She felt the hope rise inside as she heard his voice stumble on her name. “I know you must be wondering what I am doing here. I am sure you are still angry with me but it has been twelve years. Can you at least hear me out?”
She grasped on his pleading like a woman sinking. Using it to drag up the anger over the pain she swallowed. “I know very well who you are Rick. I was just a little surprised to see you.”
“I realize that Mandy. I hoped you would be willing to hear me out and maybe forgive me. I was just a kid.”
”Stop calling me that! It’s Amanda. And I am not sure I can Rick. Not after what happened.” She snapped surprising herself at the harshness in her voice. Somewhere in the back of her mind she remembered they weren’t alone even as her conscious thought drifted back to another day.
Twelve years ago he’d left without a trace. Left her waiting on the very porch where he now stood. Without a trace or a word. Along with her supposed best friend Rebecca.
In the months that followed there had been whispered rumors. Stories that no one wanted to freely share with her only accidentally had she heard anything. Comments about a baby and Ontario. A few even about New Foundland.
Now with him standing on my steps, a heartbeat away Amanda was left feeling like that lost sixteen-year-old girl all over again. With nothing but her anger to hold her together against the onslaught of pain.
She gazed past his now tall frame and focused on the pine-lined lane behind him. Silvery gravel in the drive before them with the purple mountain behind looking to the world like a painted picture. Standing squat in the shimmering heat behind my old pick up was a bike. The shining black and chrome Harley must belong to him. The sunlight off the chrome nearly blinding her eyes.
Amanda dragged her gaze back to clash with his. For a moment the loneliness and pain reflected there made Amanda want to give up and pull him close. She shook her head and pulled ever ounce of emotion in check. “What do you want Rick?”
His eyes flickered as freely over her figure as hers had his moments before. Amanda could only imagine what he found before him. Gone was the scrawny little blonde with glasses three sizes too big for her face. She’s grown up and filled out. Lots. When Rick had left he fled on a sixteen-year-old girl whose body had only begun to develop. She knew she had grown up well. Having a baby had helped her bust develop. Gone were the frizzy blonde curls. They’d been replaced by much smoother spirals of golden red. She had also done what she could to throw away her glasses as soon as it had been her choice. Now the deep green of her eyes sparkled back at his gaze.
He opened his mouth to speak and then clapped his teeth together as surely as if he’d been slapped. At the same time a tiny voice echoed through the seemingly empty hall behind Amanda. “Who’d dat mama?” Shock registered on Rick’s handsome features as his eyes looked past Amanda.
Spinning on her heel, Amanda turned to shoo her daughter back. Blue eyes sparkling with innocence and curiosity met her gaze. A cloud of blonde curls gleamed in the filtered sunlight, making her face seem to glow with angelic light.
“Tasha honey. This is an old friend of mommy’s. Could you be a big girl for me and go watch the bread while we talk? Make sure it gets big for me ok.” Amanda smiled softly, praying that her daughter wouldn’t see the pain in her eyes. Children could be too observant sometimes.
Tasha flipped her curls and said “Ok mama.”
“That’s a good girl.” She murmured as her daughter passed her one more honeyed smile and danced back toward the kitchen.
Once she was gone Amanda turned back to the man in her doorway. His gaze finding hers once again as he spoke softly. “I’m sorry Mandy. If I’d known. Jeff didn’t tell me when he said you still lived here.”
Amanda sighed with resignation. She wanted to hate him but with the appearance of her daughter she’s lost the strength to fight him now. “It’s ok Rick. Really. A lot can change in twelve years.” She looked back out at the shadowed mountain in the distance. Wishing for a moment for some of its immovable strength. “I haven’t spoken to Jeff since…Well, it doesn’t matter.” She leaned on the door slowly, eyes locating the pattern on the floor and inadvertently opening it more.
“I will tell you what. Karen’ll be taking Tasha out later for a walk to the park. It’d be better if you came back then.” She hesitated realizing that for an instant he may have changed his mind. “That is, if you still want to talk.”
“Of course. Is six-thirty all right? If not I can make it later.” Rick asked with a gentle smile arriving on his lips for the first time since he’d arrived. He looked as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
“Yes, that is fine. We’ll talk then.” Amanda stepped back and closed the door fighting the urge to jump out and kiss him. Despite the knowledge of everything he still had the power to arouse her with just a look. She could only imagine what he would be like now that they were older and had both had some experiences under their belts. She sighed and sank against the door as it clicked shut.
Hearing the sound of the motorcycle fire to life outside she stood and watched his broad leather encompassed shoulders disappear. His bike sending up a billowing cloud of dust as it took off out of her drive.
The soft melody of Tasha’s voice called out from the kitchen. Subtle hints of confusion tingeing the usually high-pitched sound of her voice as she called out. “Mommy?”
“I am here hun.” Amanda called reassuringly and hurried back into the sunlit kitchen. Light shone in through the skylight brightening the lemony yellow linoleum and peach walls. The top of the honeyed wood on her table top gleamed softly in the afternoon sunlight while the smell of yeast and flour floated on the air. ‘My kitchen’ she thought proudly as she surveyed the room.
It had been her mothers before her mother had passed away the year before. Ever since she was a little girl this room had made Amanda think of a hospital. It had been utilitarian white then. Gleaming white tiles and sterile counter tops.
Her mother had been a sweet woman but there was no way she’s have ever allowed Amanda to assist her in the kitchen. She could hear her mother’s crisp voice echoing off the walls “You’ll make a big mess. Let me do it.”
The old house had been clean to a fault back then. More like a museum than a home.
That was why, as soon as she’d received the place, Amanda had redecorate it. From top to bottom, front to back. Now the colors were a soft range of earthy tones. Warm and cozy. Home.
“Is the bread rising kitten?” Amanda said allowing her hand to slide over the soft cap of curls topping her head. Rick’s intrusion was forgotten for the moment as love filled her.
A small smudge of flour streaked the rosy cheek of her daughter’s bright face as she stood proudly on the stool before the counter. Her face on the fluffy pile of dough in front of her. “Yes mama. Can we have some now?”
“No silly it has to bake first. Remember? We’ll have some with supper ok.”