Excerpt Her heart beat faster with each step she took anticipating what he’d look like. What they’d say and also what they’d talk about on the journey home. A group of older women obscured her view of the baggage claim area, but as they parted ways she could a glimpse of a man holding his cowboy hat in both hands while leaning against a wall in the car rental area. He was standing in profile, but she knew it was Wade. She’d recognize that fine looking bone structure anywhere. Time hadn’t changed or taken it away. She stopped walking, wondering if she could actually do this. Face him again. However, she had to for her grandmother. And after all, he’d driven all this way to collect her.
She took a deep breath, willing her feet to start moving again. The closer she got, the more her heart picked up speed. It pounded in her ears, almost deafening her. He turned her way but hadn’t noticed her quite yet because he seemed to be looking at the carousel that had just started up.
Yes, he was a mature grown man now. His shoulders were wider, and he’d bulked up in a good way. He’d suddenly caught sight of her and mouthed her name.
Sophie’s heart missed a beat as she ran at top speed toward him, and he ran toward her.
When they met she put her hand out to shake his, thinking that was the safest thing to do. However, when he failed to accept it, and instead pulled her in close, she knew she was in love with him all over again. She wondered if he felt the same way, too.
Would that be stupid of us or romantic?
“Sophie, it’s so great to see you. You look really good.”
They pulled away. “You do, too.”
Now that they’d got past the hugging stage she thought about giving him a kiss on the cheek for old times, but he made the first move and kissed her lips instead.
She closed her eyes. How long had it been since they’d kissed? Seemed like eternity. Sophie thought it would be just a quick peck. She wasn’t expecting anything more, but Wade’s lips lingered on hers.
Sophie had always loved the way he kissed. No other guy, including her ex-husband, had kissed quite like Wade. He was the first boy she’d ever kissed, and it had been the summer of her sixteenth birthday. Yes, they’d kissed before, play sort of ones, quick ones where their lips smacked together for a few seconds. But on that birthday things had gotten more serious, and the kiss had been longer; mouths had opened, and eager tongues had slipped beyond their lips. When they’d finally pulled away Wade had said something she still remembered to this very day.
“You’re going to be my only girlfriend, and I’ll be your only boyfriend, so we won’t have any other first kisses, which officially makes that our last first kiss.”
Wade had finally pulled away, and Sophie smiled, remembering his words verbatim. He hadn’t broken that promise. She had.
“You look so mature,” he said, running his hand down her left cheek.
“Does that mean old?”
“No, it means you’ve turned from a pretty girl into a beautiful young woman.”
Wade had always had a way with words. Compliments seemed more special when they spilled off his tongue.
The buzzer on the carousel sounded, and it began moving.
“I guess we should get your luggage and start the journey home. You must be tired.”
He put his arm around her waist as they walked along.
“Yeah, I was up at 5 a.m. this morning because I started work on a new client’s living room at seven. Well, at least it’s only 10 p.m. in Seattle, so my body doesn’t think it’s quite time for bed yet.”
“I’m betting your head will hit the pillow fast and hard once you get back to Greenville. Hey, do you still snore?”
Sophie playfully smacked him on the arm but then suddenly felt sad. Sad about all the years that had gone by and the fact they hadn’t even spoken to one another. Embarrassment washed over her, too. She’d done a really shitty thing to him.
Has he forgiven me? I hope so.
“You still crazy about clothes? I mean how many bags are we waiting for here?” He asked as they stood in front of the carousel.
“Just the one.”
“I can’t believe that.”
“I can always buy more things while I’m home.”
“Ah, ha, I knew it, Soph.”
Only Wade had ever called her that, and it took her by complete surprise hearing it after all these years.
An oversized black suitcase with a red stripe running down its middle slid down the chute and headed toward them.
“That’s my bag,” said Sophie, pointing to it.
“Just the one bag she said, but failed to mention that it’s big enough to fit a man inside.”
Wade being six feet three inches in his stocking feet was able to extend his reach and grab its handle long before it approached them. He eased it off the metal ledge and set it on the ground.
“And it feels like you have a man inside here, too. Yep, you’re still a girl who loves her clothes. Okay, I think I’ve spent enough time in Casper airport. Let’s hit the road.”
He put his hat back on and smiled. Wade was one fine looking cowboy. Sophie had always had a weak spot for a man in a cowboy hat and boots. Unfortunately sightings of them in Seattle were far and few between.
“How’s Grans doing?”
“I think she was a little upset when she realized that she was going to jail and not just to the police station to have her photo taken.”
“Will I be able to see her tomorrow?”
“Sure, and I know she’s going to be real excited when she sets eyes upon you.”
“How did she get into this mess?”
“Beats me, but that’s what she’s hired me to find out.”
The sliding glass doors opened, and Sophie enjoyed the first of the Wyoming air. She took a deep breath. She wished she’d come home under better circumstances, but nevertheless she was happy to be back in the state where she’d been born and raised.
“I’m parked over in that ramp,” he said pointing across the street.
“You said she’s hired you,” said Sophie while they waited at the crosswalk.
“Yes, guess you haven’t heard that I decided to become a private investigator when I moved back to Greenville.”
Sophie smiled and turned to look at him. Wade a private eye. A cowboy PI. She could imagine him on surveillance wearing his hat, sitting on horseback and looking through some binoculars.
“How many clients do you have?” she asked as they crossed the road.
“Don’t tell anyone, but Emily’s going to be my first client.”