Forgiving him is not an option, but getting over him is impossible.
Second chances are Nio Reyes’ specialty. He lifted himself from humble beginnings to wealth and helped his brother’s battered Navy SEAL team recover after a mission went south. When he returns to his Laguna Beach hometown for a friend’s wedding, Nio will need all of his redemption skills to win back the woman he was forced to leave ten years ago without explanation.
Becca Howard has quit believing in happily-ever-after’s. Scandal has ruined her once well-off family, and betrayal has ended her engagement. She’s done with men, or so she thinks. When Nio strides out of the surf looking like some Greek god and announces he wants her back, the urge to run is as strong as the urge to stay. And the wedding they’re both attending is about to get complicated.
Secrets and family lies still stand in their way. Can one long overdue weekend together in Laguna Beach change Becca’s heart?
Expanded version of previously titled – “Reckless in Laguna”
The Band of Brothers Series
Book 1: Unsung Hero
Book 2: Once a Hero
Book 3: Unexpected Hero
The door to the restroom swung open and in strode the object of her thoughts, his eyes dark and fixed on her. Nothing even close to giving a damn for invading a place he shouldn’t crossed his expression.
Becca backed up against the sink, bumping her hip, then edged toward the wall.
“Nio. Wh-what are you doing in here?”
“What’s it look like? Talk to me, Becca. What’s going on?”
She straightened. “I’m fine. Nothing’s going on. You shouldn’t be in here.”
He locked the door behind him.
“They can wait a minute. Don’t tell me you’re fine. You’re not. I can see that.” He took a few steps toward her, then stopped when she flinched. He held his palms up. “You’re crying.”
“No. No I’m not.” The words came out in a half sob. Horrifyingly, snot squirted out of her nose and she clapped a hand over her face.
A sympathetic grin twisted his mouth and he tugged a paper towel from the dispenser, handing it to her. “That’s snot exactly true, is it?”
“Oh, God.” Against her will, she laughed and blew her nose. “How positively mortifying.”
“It was kinda charming, actually,” he said, brushing a strand of hair from her eyes.
Just that, his small touch, sent a paroxysm of longing through her. Damn him! Remember your vow to swear off men. Especially this one! She glared up at him past the paper towel. “Don’t be nice to me. It goes against everything I believe about you.”
“Well, that is a problem,” he agreed. “You don’t really want to share an Uber with him, do you?”
Fresh out of lies for the night, she sniffed and shook her head. She really, really didn’t.
“We’re not…Steven and I aren’t really together or engaged anymore, despite the ring. We broke up the other night. I’m sorry I lied about that. We were trying to avoid dumping our drama onto our friends’ wedding.”
“That explains a lot. Glad to hear it,” Nio said. “He’s kind of a dick.”
“He wasn’t always like that. More of a recent development.”
“A telling, recent development.”
She nodded miserably.
“So,” he said, “splash some cold water on that beautiful face of yours and let’s get out of here.”
Outside the door, someone knocked and jiggled the doorknob, wanting in. “Hello? Is anyone in—?”
“Occupied!” Nio shouted.
Becca could almost hear the shocked intake of breath on the other side of the door at the sound of a male voice coming from here. She looked back at Nio. “It won’t look right. I can’t leave with you.” She swayed against the sink, feeling light-headed. “And I definitely shouldn’t leave with you. I’m a little bit drunk, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“That’s why I’m driving. For right now, what do you say we put aside our past and whatever you feel about me and let me help you? No strings. I’ll just take you home.”
Home. It was too late to get Milo from her mom. The thought of prowling around that empty place tonight, alone with her thoughts until she fell asleep, did not appeal. Today had been a conflagration of emotions all rolled up in a soon-to-be happy ending for her friends. One she could genuinely be glad about. And…selfishly, sad, after her own trajectory had suddenly gone so far off course. Yet, here was Nio, the former love of her life, offering solace. Or at least a ride. She could refuse, but why? It would just make her petty and dumb to be seen still scrambling around in their ancient bruises as if they still mattered. On the other hand…
“I can’t—” she began, turning back to the mirror, to look at him without looking directly. “I don’t want to go home. Yet. Will you take me somewhere else?” What are you doing? Do not say another word.
He blinked. “Name it.”
“Anywhere.” Idiot. “Where’s your car?”
You are going to seriously regret this. “Give me five minutes.”
“Done.” With a half-smile—that one she remembered from so long ago—he left the restroom, passing Lilah’s mom, Ruth, who looked befuddled by his exit.