Jesse’s Girl

previously published as A Forever Kind of Love

JG

You can always come home. Second chances come a little harder.

Jesse and Zoe were the high school golden couple. Football captain, cheerleader, prom royalty. After graduation, though, Jesse couldn’t resist the urge to experience life outside their small town. He didn’t exactly expect Zoe to wait twelve years for him, but now that he’s back, he finds some small part of him hoping she did.

It’s no big surprise she’s married. The kick in the face is she married his best friend.

Zoe was devastated when Jesse left, but she’s filed those bittersweet memories under “Moved On”. She loves her life, and loves her husband. She has all she needs. And Jesse keeps an honorable distance.

One cold, wet, miserable day, tragedy turns Zoe’s world upside down. Jesse never expected her to simply fall into his arms, but a man can dream. Except his dream doesn’t include the fact that this time, she’s the one hitting the road…and he’s the one left behind.

Warning: This story contains heartbreak, heartache and one last chance for two lovers to find each other.

 

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Some days just went from bad to worse. They started out miserable and just went to outright fucked up as the day progressed.

This had been one of them—it had started out shitty, and hit the fucked-up stage well before lunch had rolled around. Jesse hadn’t even gotten around to eating lunch, something his hollow stomach wasn’t about to let him forget.

He had been back home for six months.

Six lousy, awful months and every damn day, he thought about just leaving. He could sell the car he’d bought, load up his bike and just leave. One of the reasons he’d come back no longer existed…at least not for him.

And because of that, he’d deliberately created himself another reason—he’d bought the town’s sole bookstore. He didn’t know jackshit about running a business, although thank God the store’s manager did and she’d been delighted to hang around, not to mention delighted to hang around with somebody who wasn’t opposed to bringing the store into the current century.

But that was a nightmare of work and today was the pinnacle of those nightmares.

But Tiffany finally had things under control and as she chattered with customers, he slipped into the back office and took five seconds to swear under his breath.

“Lousy day,” he said. “Lousy fucking day.”

The day was done, he could go home, eat. Collapse.

No, he had some books to sort through, he remembered as he stared at the box sitting on his desk. Okay, go home, eat, sort through the books, then collapse.

Hefting the bag of books onto his shoulder, he headed out of the office and slipped out the back door.

The Book Nook had been Warren’s only bookstore for as long as he could remember. Now it was his bookstore. It had gone up for sale just two days after he’d come back home, when he’d seriously been considering whether he’d should get the hell out or really trying making this place his home.

In the end, there hadn’t been much of a contest.

Warren had always been home.

Even if he wanted to snarl or break something every time he saw Zoe and Roger together, he couldn’t leave just for that. He hadn’t come back just for Zoe. Even though part of him had hoped…

He’d come home because it was home.

Her being married—to his best fucking friend—didn’t change that.

Get over it, he told himself. Just like he’d told himself a hundred times over the past few months. Easier said than done.

Easier said than done.

But he managed. So what if he hadn’t gone out on a single date since he’d been here? It had only been six months.

It wasn’t that he was obsessing over her…not exactly.

He was just not too interested in anybody else.

That was all.

He was busier than hell anyway. Trying to learn the ropes of being a business owner and running a bookstore. The only thing he’d previously known about bookstores was that he loved to read. On top of that, he had to bring it into a new century, keep it afloat during a struggling economy and it took plenty of time, plenty of energy.

When did he have time to think about dating?

He dumped the books in the back of his car, thinking they could wait a few minutes when he got home. The bottle of wine he had in the fridge was the first thing he’d open. Not a book, not the mail, not the bills, not something to eat.

The wine. Then maybe he’d start a fire. A nice way to end a rainy day.

The cold, wet drizzle had lasted throughout the day—it was great for bringing in customers, but now it was turning into a downpour. When he got home, he might call Tiffany and tell her she could close up if she wanted. This wasn’t the sort of weather that would bring out the customers.

People wanted to spend nights like this inside, curled up with a good book, a movie, a lover…

Zoe…

Sometimes, he thought he was just used to looking for her…everywhere.

Maybe that was why he saw her so easily.

Sitting on a bench on the green, even though the weather wasn’t exactly ideal. Mid-forties and the rain was colder than ice.

Sitting there, staring at nothing.