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Twenty years ago, Willow Dwyer nearly died in a school shooting that stole the life of her true love, James. Now she’s forty, infertile, newly divorced from a man who refuses to leave her alone, and on the brink of a breakdown.
Even after all this time, she still finds herself unable to move forward from the dream of a life and family she lost that day of the shooting. At the suggestion of her therapist, Willow takes up the tango, the dance she’d mastered with James before his death. It seems an innocent enough plan, until Willow dances with Merrick Montagne.
Merrick is a strikingly handsome, twenty-year-old college student with an uncanny ability for the tango. He makes her heart race for the first time in she can’t remember how long, and the strangest thing is, he claims he’s been searching for her his entire life. Willow doesn’t know if she believes him, or if she can handle the scrutiny she’s sure to get for dating someone so much younger than her. Yet no matter how hard she tries, she just can’t seem to walk away. When revelations begin to connect Merrick even further to her past, Willow must decide how much she’s willing to risk for a love that should be impossible, a love she’s not sure she could survive losing again.
Read an Excerpt
©Nicole Sallak Anderson, All Rights Reserved
Willow lay naked by her lover’s side, running her fingers up and down his muscular body and tracing the lines of his various tattoos. Merrick leaned up on one arm to gaze upon her.
“I have a request,” he said.
Willow glanced at his naked body, covered in moonlight from the open window. She leaned in closer to kiss his neck as she asked, “What would that be?”
He drew away and sat up in bed. “Come home with me for Thanksgiving.”
Willow fell back onto her pillow and frowned. “Merrick, we’ve already discussed this.”
He glanced away for a moment and then peeked out at her from under his thick eyelashes. “I don’t want to leave your side, but I have to go home to my family. The only solution is for you to join me.”
Her stomach dropped like an elevator shaft. “Merrick, I don’t know.”
He ran his fingers along her cheekbone. “Why not?”
Willow sat up too, her heart now racing. “No, I can’t. Please.”
Merrick’s gaze fell to his hands. “Are you still embarrassed to be my lover?”
Was she? She rubbed her temples. “No, I’m not embarrassed. It’s just such a big step.”
“It’s the next step,” he said, his face now as stern as a priest giving a sermon. “You know it is.”
“I think the next step is taking you to my office party next week,” she blurted out without thought.
“You mean, you’re ready to show me off to your coworkers and your boss?”
She cleared her throat. To be honest, she hadn’t planned to invite him to the annual party, but she had to offer him something, and facing her work crowd was easier than meeting Merrick’s mother. “Yes, join me at the office party. Let’s start there.”
“If it’s not as bad as you think to be in public with your boy toy, maybe you’ll come home with me?”
“Merrick, it might be you who finds the whole thing unbearable.”
“No,” he said, the twinkle in his eye returning. “I won’t find it unbearable to watch their jaws drop when they see I’m your boyfriend. I’ll love you up and leave them speechless.”
He leaned forward and kissed her, his tongue exploring hers as his warm body slid up against her breasts. Willow’s heart opened wide along with her legs as he snuggled up closer and slid inside her warmth—slowly, rhythmically, like the rocking of a boat on a gentle, steamy Caribbean night. He slid in and out of her, in and out, and she arched her back as bliss burned along her spine.
Merrick’s love certainly left her speechless.
About the Author:
Nicole Sallak Anderson is Computer Science graduate from Purdue University, and former CTO for a small Silicon Valley startup, turned novelist, speaker, and blogger. Her essays range from AI and Zen to direct democracy to the loneliness of modern parenting— featured as a top twenty story on Medium. She is the author of The Song of the King’s Heart Trilogy, is a series about the last native Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt and his quest to take back his ancestral kingdom from the Ptolemaic Empire. All three installments, Origins, Blood and Chaos, and Civilization’s End, are available on Amazon. Origins is also available on Audible.