The Heart of Winter, 2
For Winter Shae Perri there is only one man meant for her, Austin Carlyle. That is, until their fairy tale life is shattered the night before they are to be married.
Winter retreats deep within herself, hiding behind her romance novels, until sixteen years later she is startled to life by none other than Hollywood heartthrob, Cayden Cain.
Cayden will have her questioning reality, because when she looks at him, she sees the face of Austin looking back at her.
Note: The Heart of Winter is a 4-book continuing series. It is best read in order.
“Please know I am truly sorry for tonight, and appreciate all of your concern….” I felt my cheeks flush hot from embarrassment, and knew I must seem insane. Unable to stop myself I stared at him, completely mesmerized by the resemblance of Cayden to Austin.
His hair, nowhere near the pitch black color of Austin’s, but so much about Cayden was like looking back in time. The perfection and beauty of my past life became real, once again present. I never imagined, never thought possible, to see such splendor again. Cayden’s beauty rattled through every thought, dislodging long ago memories from my mind. Looking at him became difficult, as if I could not process such images, so I tore my eyes from him only to bring them back.
Cayden appeared to be the same height, his build exact, and his voice was shockingly close in texture, tone, and inflection. If that’s not strange enough, he spoke with the same cadence. And there was the same perfection to his face, but what’s truly unbelievable are those liquid blue eyes. Cayden captured me within his eyes, looking at me, gazing straight into my soul. Cayden’s eyes were haunting, calling to me so much so, they seemed to pull me forward into his heat.
I don’t know how. I don’t remember moving, but I stood inches from him. His warmth crossed over me. My skin tingled. The pulse in my throat thrummed almost out of control. I wanted to touch him. The urge raged through me. The energy that swirled around my body was blatant, alive, charged. For an instant I wondered if he felt what I was feeling. I couldn’t move. His eyes, the pull of his eyes, were not going to release me.
In this moment of complete and total immersion into the never-ending liquid blue of Cayden Cain’s eyes I felt him brush the palm of his hand down my cheek, pressing it firm, cupping my cheek into the warm strong palm of his hand. The experience, like being baptized in fire. Lightning crackled across my skin. Every breath within me halted.
“Winter,” he murmured. I could not answer, but it wasn't as though he wanted me to. It was an awareness between us.
But this just can't be.
“Please, get out of those wet clothes, take a hot shower, and get some rest.” With that he smiled all the while seemingly conflicted, hesitant to exit my room. I stared at him. “Winter,” he said softly, his hand on the doorknob. “I….” He hesitated. I watched him run his fingers through his hair. “I need....” He hesitated once more. His eyes shot to my eyes. We were caught in the moment, locked.
For that second time stood still. My heart screamed out. I know him, somehow I know him but my mind fought against the knowledge.
“I need to see you again,” he said. He opened my door. “In the morning. We will talk in the morning.”
When Cayden left I completely fell apart, flung myself onto the bed then curled myself up into a ball. I wrapped my knees up to my chest, holding my arms tight around them. I crumbled, literally in every sense of the word. My body shook, my head hurt, my voice muffled into my chest. This was worse than any déjà vu I had experienced tonight. I would take the pain of any memories, even the memories of the crash over this current emotion. And it did not matter I was soaking wet or if I got sick. My eyes were overflowing in traitor tears, and I didn’t wish to move.
“Oh God!” I cried out.
I was in more pain than I had experienced since the loss of my love and the ending of my life. My breath had been knocked from me. I could not find my lungs. It did not matter Cayden Cain looked so much like Austin because he wasn’t the man I loved. So for this, I knew those fault lines within my heart, which from time to time would shift and quake had broken open again.
What did matter was the way I felt with Cayden’s simple touch. The kind, reassuring gesture when he reached out and touched the surface of my cheek, set my skin on fire. Lightning struck. It caused a fire which caught. The fire ran the entirety of my body until it found a home between my thighs. For this I was worse than a charlatan, worse than a cheater, worse than a liar. I should not have felt the burn, the desire, the sensation of sin which flowed like an electric current through me. Pure agony riddled my body. Cayden’s touch should be blasphemy to my flesh but God help me, it was not.
“What have I done!” I screamed.
Austin was the only man I have ever loved. The only man who could set my skin on fire yet I felt something in which I should not. I knew I had betrayed the love of my life for the weakness of my flesh. There would be no forgiveness, no absolution. No ending to this disloyal destruction of my deceitful soul.
I cried out in heart wrenching protest. “What is wrong with me? This cannot be possible. Not possible!”
For the desire of my heart, my love, my need for Austin, was in direct conflict to the desire I experienced still burning upon my flesh.
Other Books in the Heart of Winter series: