Still Running is about real people and real "stuff", and how life itself sometimes comes to our rescue and conspires to make us face things. I like Josie – she's tough and gutsy and has integrity. This is her story, and it's about pain and joy, but mostly it's about love, and the power it has to heal and set free.
Josie Tate has been running for a long time – from her past, from a tragic secret, and mostly from herself. Then her life is suddenly upended, and she finds herself back in the one place on earth she doesn't want to be. Worse, she is suddenly caught between an unforgiving past and Cade Harper's unrelenting pursuit.
As determined as she is desperate, he seems hell-bent on making sure that her running days are over. It doesn't help that Cade is the most gorgeous man ever. Or that the uncanny attraction between them seems to have a life of its own.
But Josie is determined to keep her distance from Cade. He is equally determined to shatter the walls she is raising up between them. And when her ghosts reappear in the flesh Josie's life finally implodes. The only way out seems to be to...
"Nothing's going to happen?" Cade gawked at her, his face incredulous as if he couldn't decide whether she'd gone utterly delusional or he had suddenly developed a chronic hearing problem "You know as well as I do that a minute ago anything could have happened. No, everything could have happened. It's as plain as a pikestaff that this thing is way more than just a bit of heat. I don't know what it is exactly, but I do know that it's a mighty powerful something. For both of us."
"Even if that's true—and I'm not saying it is—nothing will happen. Nothing can happen, for a whole lot of very good reasons."
"Care to share?" A little sarcasm echoed in there this time, evidence of his growing exasperation. "Because for the life of me I can't think of a single one."
"That's because you don't want to," she snapped back. Then, taking a deep breath, hanging on to reason and logic with a mixture of desperation and difficulty, she tried again. "For starters, it's not appropriate. You're my employer."
"Wrong. Technically, anyway. You work for my father. That's one down."
"Then there's Matt and Emmy." He looked at her blankly, like he didn't get it at all so she rushed on to clarify. "How confusing would it be for them? Think about it. No parents, a new home, a new family, and already they're getting ideas. And then you and I—" She broke off, couldn't bring herself to actually say the words because they conjured a dangerously tempting picture. She plunged on. "And then, when it's all over, what then? How will that affect them?"
"Okay," he conceded reluctantly. "You have a point there. If, of course, it got to the all over point which it might not. But we're adults, for heaven's sake. Whatever happens, we can make sure they aren't hurt in any way." He paused, ran a hand through his still damp hair in a gesture of enormous frustration. "Look—don't you think we owe it to ourselves to at least explore this?"
Josie shook her head. "That's not even an option, because I'm not prepared to go there." This was the hard part, the last and highest hurdle. "I have plans for my life. Plans that don't, can't, include you. Or any other man, for that matter. Soon the twins won't need me any more, and I'll have to move on. I don't need extra complications to make that harder than it's going to be already. You'll just have to trust me on this."
"Maybe if you told me a little more—"
"No." She hauled back her dark and shuttered look with supreme effort, deliberately closing him out like a garage door clanging shut. She could read the flare of anger in his eyes, but there was an odd undercurrent beneath it that spoke of desperation.
"Dammit, Josie. Don't do that. I need to know, to understand."
"No, Cade All you need to understand is that I'm not the sort of girl you want to be with. Not even for a while. Things have happened in my life, things I'm not proud of. But I can't rewrite history." A rush of immeasurable sadness swept through her. From his shocked look she realised that the deep, aching emptiness that chilled her to the bone had somehow manifested itself in her eyes for him to see.
He made one last, desperate, appeal. "What could possibly—"
"Shhh." Josie put a small finger to his lips, silencing him. "Don't. Let it be, Cade. Just, for God's sake, let it be. It's for the best."
She set her face deliberately into a determined expression so that Cade could see that he wouldn't get anywhere. She saw the anger and frustration flare briefly in his eyes, then settle into a kind of grim obstinacy that told her that he wasn't going to give up.
Josie gasped as his lips descended on hers, instinctively pulling away. But he held her close in the steel-tight band of his arms, crushing the distance between them as if it was the only way he knew how to reach her.
She struggled at first, but the outward fight really only reflected the battle raging within. His kiss seemed hard, almost brutal, a bruising, punishing intimacy that persisted, was as relentless as the fears crowding her mind.
Then he groaned, a low sound against her lips, as a hand slipped up her spine to twist itself in her hair. He pulled her head back gently and eased the pressure of his mouth, so that his kiss turned soft and teasing, but persistent in its demands.
Josie felt the change, sensed the rising need in him, and her traitorous body softened even as her mind raged in protest. A throaty, almost animal, moan escaped her, and her lips parted for him, willingly, invitingly, drawing him deeper. She felt herself drowning, her resistance sliding away as the need engulfed her, hot and strong, melting her against him. She was lost in that moment. Every caution, every warning, burned itself out and she wondered if she would ever find herself again.
Then it ended. Cade pulled away a little, his eyes still smoldering with the intensity of his need. "Run, Josie Tate." The words tumbled out, thick and slow. "Run if you must. But take that with you. And when you think of this moment—and you know you will—remember that it's not over yet. Not by a long shot. Now run, before I change my mind."