Leo Shepard has few regrets, but leaving his wife Symmone to pursue his career was a catastrophic mistake. Now that he’s achieved his every dream and is about to make partner at Greene and Banks Architects, he lacks one thing, a wife. But Leo doesn’t want just any wife, he wants the woman he left behind.
From the moment she laid eyes on Leo, Symmone knew she would have her happily ever after. The last thing she expected was a divorce and a broken heart. Devastated by the end of her marriage, she has no choice but to quit school and pick up the pieces of her life.
Working two jobs to support herself and her children, Symmone has little room in her life for romance and even less for her pulsating attraction to her ex-husband. When Leo strolls into the cafe where she works, bent on reconciliation, the chemistry between them is more powerful than ever. Yet she won't give in to his soft words and expensive gifts. More than just her heart is at stake, her children are, as well.
She squared her shoulders. But why was he here? There was no reason for him to even seek her out. They were divorced, good and proper. She hadn’t asked him for anything in the ensuing years, even going so far as to return the monthly support payments. She didn’t want or need his guilt money. Besides, ten years was a long time to carry a torch for anyone, and she had too much going on in her life to waste her time with teenage fantasies and lovelorn dreams. And certainly not on Leo Sheppard.
Quickly she mopped up the errant coffee and did her best to avoid Amanda’s wave and point.
“You have a customer. And he asked for you,” Amanda said, slapping a stack of menus on the counter.
“I was really hoping to…”
“C’mon, Symmone. He’s absolutely gorgeous and he’s wearing this really great cologne.” Amanda swept her gaze over Symmone from head to toe and just barely wrinkled her nose. “Why he would ask for you I have no idea.”
Disdain from the snotty hostess was a given, and Symmone could ignore the cattiness; what she couldn’t ignore was the hot, bitter emotion roiling in her stomach. For a second it felt a lot like jealousy. Ten years and she was jealous? Unbelievable.
With an eye roll, Symmone picked up the glass of water and approached the table where Leo sat. Thankfully he had his back to her and she had time to gather her thoughts. Why was he here? She couldn’t seem to get past that question.
Her footsteps slowed as she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the windowpane. She paused long enough to straighten her dark ponytail. With a huff of disgust she dropped her hand from her ebony tresses and shook her head. She couldn’t believe she was primping for her ex. Primping!
She set the glass on the table with a thump. He looked up with a tentative smile, and she was lost. She opened her mouth to speak and not a single word came out. God, he was even more handsome than the last time she’d seen him. Gone was the youthful softness of his face. Now he had a man’s face, a jaw that spoke of strength and maturity. His brown eyes, while bright and intelligent, seemed to hold a tinge of sadness, but what drew her attention most was his mouth. How many hours had she fantasized about the taste and shape of his mouth, about the firm press of his lips against hers or the butterfly kisses he used to flutter over her skin.
His smile widened. “You’re speechless.”
The warm rasp of his rich baritone danced over her, opening wounds she thought long since healed and igniting a desire she’d hoped long dead. He couldn’t come in here, to her place of employment, and upset everything she’d ever worked for with just two words.
Everything came back in an aching, throbbing fireball, and she clenched her hands at her sides.
“What do you want?” She didn’t bother to hide the annoyance or anger in her voice.
He blinked, and his smile drooped a bit, but he managed to maintain it. “I came to see you.”
“You haven’t given a damn about me in ten years. What’s so special about now? Are you dying? Or have you come to assuage some misplaced sense of guilt? Either way, the café has very good takeout I believe you would enjoy.”
He chuckled, and it produced an ache in areas she didn’t want to acknowledge. “I suppose I deserve that, but you’re wrong, Symmone. I’ve never stopped thinking about you.” His quiet admission stayed her irritation. “And I was wrong to do what I did.”
Tears burned and clogged the back of her throat. Somehow he’d stolen all of her righteous indignation with a few short sentences. “Well, I’m glad to hear you admit it. So is this what makes amends for anyone you’ve wronged? Fine. You’re forgiven. You may go.” She spun on her heel, would’ve made a clean getaway, except he grabbed her wrist. The chair scraped across the floor, and a moment later the hard line of his body met her back.
Need slammed through her system, sparking little used nerves and sending her pulse into overdrive. The heady scent of his cologne, a little pine and sage, promised slow, sensual seduction.
She whirled around and snapped her gaze to his face. Molten desire shone in the depths of Leo’s milk chocolate eyes. Her breath caught in her throat. She never expected to see such passion on his face, not after all this time. Biting her lip against the answering wave of desire pulsing through her veins, she snatched her hand away.
“Don’t touch me again!”
He backed up, hands raised. “Okay. I’m sorry. I just”—he inhaled—“I want to talk to you, Symmone. I meant what I said. There has been no one else since you and, well, I would really like to take you out to dinner tonight.”
Dinner? She pierced him with an icy stare and savored a small victory when he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I’m. Busy.”
Nodding, he reached inside his jacket pocket, pulled out a card, and laid it on the table. “If you change your mind, my cell is at the bottom and my hotel is on the back.” His gaze lingered on her a moment. “If I don’t hear from you, I will be back every day until you agree to see me.”
He brushed past and she stared after him, dumbfounded. What game was he playing now?