First love, last love, only love
Travis Barnes isn’t looking for a happy ever after
Unlike his brothers, he doesn’t think he deserves one. As a teenager, he broke the heart of the girl he’d fallen in love with and he’s never forgiven himself. He sure as hell doesn’t expect her forgiveness.
Since then, he fell into a dangerous double life, one nobody, not even his twin, could begin to guess at. He accepts the risks, hoping to atone for his sins and save others like he couldn’t save his former love. When an assignment lands him in the hospital with a near fatal injury, his handler gives him a choice, take a break…or he’s out.
The last thing Travis expects is for his handler to put him up in a house next to her, the woman he’s never been able to forget…
Bella Franklin was once known as Isabel Steele, daughter of a high-powered, corrupt U.S. District Attorney. Meeting Travis Barnes had been the one good thing in her life—then he’d abandoned her.
Years later, living in witness protection, she takes care of foster kids and pretends she’s forgotten him…until the day she finds herself face to face with an unforgettable gaze the color of the ocean. Travis Barnes, the boy who nearly broke her, is now a man who carries shadows in his eyes and holds far too many secrets.
The fire still burns between them. But can she forgive his betrayal, forgive his abandonment? And can she trust the secretive man he’s become?
Trigger warning: this story involves miscarriage, infertility and off-page references to abuse suffered by the heroine (not caused by the hero). This book also touches on teen transgender issues such as bullying and dysphoria as one of the heroine’s foster children is trans. It also involves found family, forgiveness and two battered souls who find their way back to each other.
The intensity that had lived just under his skin as a teenager had only grown.
Isabel had caught glimpses of it in the days since she’d found out her temporary neighbor was none other than the boy she’d once loved—a boy who’d grown into a devastatingly handsome man with eyes so full of secrets and pain, it stole her breath.
Now, all that intensity was focused on her and she thought she might be terrified … if he’d left any room for anything else to exist inside her head.
But he took over with that kiss, pushing his hands into her hair and craning her head back, adjusting the angle until he had her exactly as he wanted her.
And then he took.
She didn’t know how he’d done it, but she was sprawled on his lap on the steps of the deck, lost in the shadows cast by the house. When she tore her mouth from his to gasp for breath, she shoved her hands to his shoulders. “Your side … your wound.”
“I can’t even feel it,” he said, pushing his hands back into her hair and pulling her mouth back to his.
She couldn’t resist him. With a moan, she sank back into his kiss.
He cupped her breast, his hand sliding under her sweater and tank to find her flesh, his touch sure and confident, and her breath stuttered out of her in a gasp as he teased her nipple until it was pulsing in time with her heart.
“Travis … ”
“Iz … ” His lips painted a path down her neck, found the sensitive spot just above her pulse.
When he bit her there, she arched and cried out.
The hand on her breast traveled lower and she went still as he toyed with the waistband of the ankle-length skirt she wore paired with the summer-weight sweater and tank top.
“I want to touch you,” he whispered against her lips.
“I … Travis, we can’t.”
“I know … I just want to touch you. Let me.”
She lifted her head and stared into his eyes, fell so, so deep into the endless blue-green. Gripping his wrist, she hesitated. Then, cheeks flaming, she nodded and dropped her head onto his shoulder.
He nuzzled her as he spread his hand wide over the dip of her waist but he didn’t do anything else.
He just rubbed his lips over her skin and murmured to her, voice too low for her to hear, but the rhythm of the words, the cadence of his speech was both erotic and soothing. Soon, she lifted her mouth to his, needing more of his taste.
Isabel found herself rocking against him and he slid his other hand down her back, fingers sliding under her shirt to splay wide over her bare skin. She shivered and pressed closer, only to gasp as she felt his fingers trailing up over her bare thigh.
He’d pulled her skirt up and she’d never noticed.
“I’ll stop if you want,” he murmured. “Just tell me.”
“I don’t want you to stop.” Brow pressed to his, she gripped his biceps and watched him as he circled ever closer to the drumbeat that seemed to have settled between her thighs.
She whimpered he grazed one finger over her clitoris, a harsh growl escaping him. “Baby … you’re so wet.”