Kirsten is thrilled to return to the place where she spent so many summers as a child. Here she can forget the episode that nearly ruined her last year of college. Was it unreasonable to suppose that this far from the scene of her crime she would be safe from meeting the man who knew all about her worst moment?
After six months of nonstop traveling, Trey is happy to trade living on the road for the peace and quiet of Tybee Island. In such surroundings, he should be able to work undisturbed. These plans are interrupted by the appearance of a former student. Running into Kirsten is a disturbance of the worst kind: a reminder of an encounter he hasn’t been able to forget.
Author’s note: This is a revised and expanded version of a novella published years ago under a different title and pen name. It takes place before the events of Dream of Me.
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Kirsten finished rearranging the magazines for the third time in the last half hour and slumped down in the chair behind the desk. It didn’t matter what she did. Nothing was going to take away the knot of tension lodged tightly in her chest. And to make matters worse, she still hadn’t figured out what she was going to say. ‘Hey, Professor Dawson. Remember me?’ wasn’t going to get it done.
She was counting paperclips while she recited some possible opening lines when she heard footsteps on the porch. Her glance went to the door. Please don’t be him, she pleaded inside her head. This last ditch effort to avoid her Waterloo failed. The beveled glass door opened and in he came. At first glance, he looked younger and thinner. His casual dress could account for that. He’d always worn suits for his lectures.
“Hey, Lucy. I wondered if I might get breakfast sent to my room each morning.”
Mistaking Kirsten for her sister was understandable given that they both had long, blonde hair and the fact that the desk was situated in the darkest part of the room. It also explained why he was still smiling, something that wasn’t destined to last.
By the time he was standing opposite of where she sat waiting for the proverbial ax to fall, it was apparent he’d realized his error. Before she could inform him that it would be their pleasure to bring breakfast to his room, she saw his eyes narrow and his smile slowly disappear.
“We seem fated to meet with you sitting behind a desk that’s presumably not your own. What are you looking for this time?”
Her veneer of politeness fell away under this direct attack. “I happen to work here.”
“Really? What brought you to Tybee Island? Did Alabama offer too little scope for one with your talents?”
Forgetting for the moment that she needed assistance from the man towering over her, she allowed her pent-up frustration full reign. “For the tenth time, I wasn’t stealing exam questions!”
His brows soared above his blue eyes, but in contrast to her heated reaction, his voice remained level. “At least you’re consistent.”
Kirsten took a moment to remember her surroundings and accordingly lowered her voice. “That’s easy to do when you’re telling the truth. Why would I steal a test for a class I wasn’t in? It doesn’t make sense.”
“Do I really need to answer that?” he asked shortly.
“No, because it’s obvious you’re not going to believe me.”
“With some justification, wouldn’t you agree?”
“If you would take a moment to use some of that banked intelligence you undoubtedly possess…” She got no further.
He held up his hand. “Facts are hard to argue.”
She sighed heavily; she was getting nowhere. Time to try a different tactic. “Can’t we just forget it happened?”
A small smile played around his lips. “So let me get this straight. You want me to conveniently forget that you entered my office without permission and were actually caught with the evidence in your hands. And furthermore, you want me to conceal this knowledge from your present employer.”
When he put it like that, she was asking a lot. But if it were at all possible, she wanted to keep this from Lucy. “Since I can’t convince you what my real purpose was, then yes, I do. If it makes you feel better about it, my sister manages this inn.”
“How is that supposed to make me feel better?”
Kirsten came around the desk. Once again she was staring into his face asking for something she didn’t deserve. If anything, he was even more handsome than she remembered. She wished those same features didn’t also look so forbidding. “I don’t want something stupid I did in the past to cause problems for Lucy. She shouldn’t have to suffer on my account.”
Trey looked at her in silence. As happened previously in his office, he was unable to ignore the appeal in her deep-set amber eyes. The fact that he couldn’t was a source of irritation. He should be above being influenced by a lovely woman, especially one he knew to be deceitful. He laughed inwardly. Maybe he wasn’t as lacking in sentiment as he thought. In any case, her concern for her sister was something in her favor. There was no need to make trouble unnecessarily.
“Your secret is safe with me. By the way, what was so important about that envelope you were supposedly trying to find?”
Kirsten’s cheeks turned scarlet with what he took to be embarrassment. “It was something silly. My roommate mailed it to you as a joke.” She stopped for a moment and then went on in a more subdued tone. “I never found it. You came in before I got very far.”
“Something for which I refuse to apologize. It was, after all, my office you were vandalizing.”
“That’s not true,” she quipped through clenched teeth. “I put everything back exactly where I found it.”
Trey couldn’t help smiling at her indignation. “You were a model thief. If I hadn’t caught you myself, I’d never have known you were there.”
“You can laugh about it, but you’ll never understand the state I was in. I was desperate to get that envelope.”
“Why were you so desperate? You claimed it belonged to your roommate.”
“I lied,” she admitted in a low voice. “It was mine.”
Something he’d already figured out himself. “You seem to have a problem telling the truth.”
“I know it must seem that way to you…”
“It doesn’t seem that way. It is that way.”
Kirsten bit her lip. “I suppose it’s useless to deny it.”
Trey felt a stirring of pity. “We’ve agreed to forget about it.” He was almost to the door when she spoke again.
He glanced over his shoulder. “Yes?”
“What time did you want breakfast?”
“Eight, and under the circumstances, isn’t it ridiculous to be so formal? Call me Trey.”
Her eyes widened. “I could never do that.”
“I don’t see why not. That’s how you referred to me in your poem.”
She paled so quickly he thought she was going to faint. Why would his remark make her so upset? Then he realized something that hadn’t occurred to him before: Kirsten assumed he never found the envelope. That was probably the only reason she admitted that it was hers. Another twinge of sympathy slid through him. He tried to think of something to say that would make the situation better and couldn’t.
“I’ll let you get back to whatever you were doing.”
She smiled wanly. “Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”
“You, too,” he said, opening the door.
Back in his room, Trey tried to tell himself that none of this was his fault, but he felt bad anyway. He never could stand to hurt someone even when they’d brought it on themselves.
I absolutely loved Kirsten and Trey and their pathway of romance. Their story was very unusual and felt pure and thoughtful,and filled with an underlying depth that could be felt. This is one of those books that I’ll read again.
Trey and Kirsten are individually so well written. The reader fully feels all of Kirsten’s emotional upheaval, humiliation, confusion, joy, adoration, and sadness right along with her as she tries to work out how to conduct herself and still falls deeper for Trey. We respect Trey for his desire to protect Kirsten’s feelings while maintaining distance, and when he begins to sort out his own mind and feelings, we feel that, too. Delaney Cameron is great with tension and developing both the characters and storyline in a well paced progression.
This beautiful story is much, much more than meets the eye. Yes, it is a complicated, modern romance where misunderstanding and pain twist into the relationships and solutions don’t seem possible. Yes, there are 2 men in Kirsten’s life who have different agendas and different styles. Yes, the characters come alive and become your friends as you learn of their inner feelings and deepest desires. Yes, the scenery is deliciously divine—the beach scenes sweep you away to a gorgeous southern island where you want to stay forever and not come back. Yes, the dialogue is real but masterful and often I found myself catching my breath as precious feelings were shared. Yes, it was wonderfully clean. Yes, this book is well-written with a solid storyline but what I discovered within its pages was so much more. This tells the story of true love, pure love, and never-giving-up love, as well as unselfish love and your-needs-are-more-important-than-mine love. The author writes a brilliant journey of true love like I have never read before. Beautiful and soul-searching. Exquisite masterpiece.
I’m a Georgia girl at heart if not by birth. I love to read, watch college football, and spend time with my husband. I’m a hopeless romantic so there will always be a happily ever after in my stories. I also like to write about second chances because love doesn’t always work out the first time.
My books are sweet romances set in both contemporary and regency settings featuring stories about the journey to love, from that first meeting to the point where two people know their hearts are no longer their own. My characters aren’t perfect. They make mistakes and have faults like the rest of us. They learn the sometimes painful truth that the path to love isn’t always smooth, but it’s a road worth traveling.
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