Return to Summer

Five years earlier she was a girl on the brink of womanhood and he was a washed-up master artist, spending a summer together on Mackinac Island in Michigan…when they meet again, has life turned out the way either one of them expected it to?

With a strangled cry, Summer gulped the last of the wine in her glass. “Memories” was far too mild a word. The details of sitting for Kyle Sebastian were burned into her soul. The searing kisses awakening yearnings she hadn’t known existed. His unsteady voice telling her how beautiful, how perfect she was. But not that he loved her. Never that he wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

“Earth to Summer?” Tim’s touch on her elbow brought Summer back to the gallery with an emotional jolt. “You didn’t tell me you knew Kyle Sebastian.”

Had she ever truly known Kyle? She flicked a glance at him, then back to Tim. “It must have slipped my mind.”

Adjusting her features, she met Kyle’s even stare. The amused light in his eyes suggested he knew exactly where her mind had been. Touché, pal. She cast him a demure smile and raised her wine glass in a toast.

“Actually, it’s a little more than knows.” That deep, smooth voice she’d once enjoyed now grated on her remaining nerve. “She offered me her body once.”

A startled cry worked its way out of Tim’s throat. “Wait, what?” Poor Tim. Behind as usual.

“Yes, it’s true, I did. But if memory serves, he had to paint my portrait instead.” Summer tilted her head toward the lady in white on the canvas before them. “It’s been . . . nice . . . seeing you, Kyle. I hope we catch up with you again before we leave.” Within the next two minutes.

Kyle inclined his head. “Maybe I’ll see you after the auction. It’ll be nice to catch up.”

Summer’s smile felt stiff. Any moment now she was going to barf. Laying her hand on Tim’s arm, she snugged herself against him, pinching his wrist when he tried to pull his arm away. She paused, turned to face him, and angled her face toward Tim’s. With a completely phony smile pasted on her lips, she whispered in his ear. “Kiss me right now or I’m going to stomp on your foot with my incredibly spiky heels.”

Shock registered in his eyes just before she planted her lips on his.

The steady stream of people divided around them. Her lips still stuck to those of her best friend, Summer ignored everything but the man across the room. Through half-closed eyelids, she studied the man who had awakened her to love and then ditched her. He watched them for a moment, an indefinable emotion showing on his face. When he turned away, Summer waited for the thrill of the win.

Nothing.

And Tim was still kissing her. She pushed her hands against his chest.

“Blech. Stop. That was like kissing my baby brother.”

“Geez, Summer. What the heck? You told me to kiss you.”

Briefly, she considered stomping his foot anyway, but the moment passed. “Well, now I’m telling you to stop.”

Confusion clouded Tim’s eyes but Summer didn’t care. She needed fresh air. She needed to leave the gallery and never come back.

“What was all that about?” Tim stopped walking. “You never told me you knew Kyle Sebastian.”

Too close! They had to get further away before she would have this conversation. She tugged on his hand. “I’m leaving.”

“But the auction!”

“The last thing I plan to do is stay for that.” Summer’s glare quelled his protests. “Take me home, Tim. Now.”

“Uh-uh.” He stood unmoving and unmovable, shaking his head. “Not until you tell me what just happened.”

Irritation sparked. Summer leaned in close. “You want to know what just happened? You just met the reason I don’t do this scene anymore. Now, are you taking me home or do I call a cab?”

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