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A classic love story by New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinsky, back in print for the first time in years and guaranteed to delight her fans, old and new.
Stephanie Wright was just 19 the first time she ran, heartbroken and angry, out of Douglas Weston's life. She and Douglas, a devastatingly handsome tennis camp instructor, shared a summer marked by a gentle love, capped by one night of sensuous passion -- followed by a terrible, unforgivable betrayal that sent her fleeing. Eight years later, upon her return to the camp, Stephanie must fight the feelings that first drew him to her And now there is Melissa, her beautiful seven-year-old daughter; who smiles up at her tennis teacher with gray eyes that mirror his own.
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It all came back with the sweet scent of the pines. The darkness, the small campfire, the soft bed of leaves. The gentleness of his hands on her skin, exploring her body as no other man had ever done. The rugged feel of his chest against her bare breasts, the smoothness of his hips beneath her questing fingers. The strength of his manhood as, coupled with an exquisite tenderness, he took her, smothering her cry with a soul-fusing kiss, then carried her with him, slowly and inexorably, to the height of desire, the crest of passion, to explode into a thousand shimmering bursts, while the fire before them sent up its own golden sparks, spiraling heavenward, higher and higher, through the bough-edged clearing and into the night sky.
Yes, it all came back, just as she had feared it would, transcending the hurt, the pain, even the beauty of the past eight years, to relive that one night of mindless happiness which had so totally changed the course of her life.
"Mommy . . ."The small voice, its sing-song whine ample warning of impending complaint, brought her abruptly back to the present and the overall-clad child sitting beside her in the car. "Do I have to go? It's not too late to turn back. Please, Mommy?" As her daughter's round gray eyes bore into her with merciless pleading, Stephanie Wright was grateful for the twisting road ahead which, of necessity, demanded her attention.
Momentarily sharing the child's apprehension before catching herself, the auburn-haired young woman sighed. "Sweetheart," she began, rolling her window down farther to let the heady Maine breeze soothe her own warring senses, "we've been over this before. You know we're not turning back now. The house in Cambridge is all closed up, Mrs. Hampson is expecting us-counting on me and looking forward to meeting you-and we're both going to have a great summer!"
Where she found the tone of conviction, Stephanie would never know. She had repeated the same words to herself dozens of times over the last few weeks and even then had failed to ease her own qualms.
"But, Mommy," Missy continued, nervously twisting the thick brown length of a pigtail around her forefinger, "I don't want to go!"
"You'll love it!" her mother coaxed gently, playing out the dialogue now by heart.
"But I don't know anybody," the child persisted.
"You will very soon!" Stephanie insisted firmly.
"But I don't want to live with a whole bunch of kids-"
"How can you be against something you've never tried?" Stephanie cajoled, understanding the fear which beset her daughter and trying her best to deal with it. "It'll be such fun for you, Missy. You'll meet a whole new group of friends, do all sorts of different things, and you know that I'll never be very far away' You have the best of both worlds!" As does your mother, she admitted silently, knowing that she would never have had the courage to send her daughter off any substantial distance for the summer.
"But I don't want-"
"We can't always have what we want, Missy", Stephanie broke in, her patience finally beginning to fray at the edges under her own seesawing emotions. Unconsciously, she raised a hand beneath her flowing curls to rub the taut muscles of her neck, inflamed both by the length of the drive and by the tension that flared within her at each repetition of this discussion. "There are times when you have to trust me to make the right decision, even if you don't agree with it at first."
The little girl crossed her thin arms over her chest as she scowled ominously. "I'm not going to like it.. . evert" she vowed stubbornly.
Sweet EmberBy: Barbara Delinsky