No Other Love
The Walker Island Series, Book 2
“I'm really glad you're going to replant the old Walker plot,” Brian said. “It's been empty for too long.”
“It’s probably a bit of a mess by now, but it should be a good test bed to work on ingredients. I don’t know if I’ll really be able to find ingredients here that I couldn’t find somewhere else, but it still felt really important to me to come back to the island to at least try.”
He nodded. “It isn't just about what you're growing or how you're using it for the makeup line, is it? It's about your roots, too.”
Yet again, he understood so much, understood all of the things that she hadn't even known how to put into words herself.
She was still reeling from that realization when he said in a quiet but sure voice, “I never stopped thinking about you, Morgan. I know the timing wasn’t right when we were kids, that you could have never stayed and I could have never gone. Things were too complicated back then, regardless of what we felt or how much we loved each other. But we could try again now. We’re both in a much better place to make it work this time, because we aren’t kids anymore.”
They certainly weren’t, but did that actually make things any easier? If anything, it just meant that by now they both had their lives set up exactly the way they wanted, in the places they wanted. Places that were three thousand miles apart.
Of course, there was a part of her that wished life could be so simple that they could snap their fingers and have everything they wanted without ever having to make difficult choices. Especially when just being in the same room as Brian made her feel more alive than she had since she was eighteen years old and he'd kissed her for the very last time.
But she couldn't just turn her back on the life she'd created, could she? Not when it was finally turning into everything she'd ever dreamed of. Nor could she ask him to leave the island behind when it was obvious that he not only belonged here, but that he was needed here by his students, the football team and the community that depended on him to be a strong leader for their kids.
“Brian, it’s good seeing you. Amazing, actually,” she admitted. “But I’m not back on the island for good. I’m back here for only a few weeks to get the garden set up for my makeup line. Once it's planted and I find a balance of ingredients that works, I’ll be heading back to New York. I just can't be here longer than part of the summer. Not when the network is giving me my own makeover show and I'll need to be back in the city to shoot it in their studios. This whole trip to the island, the makeup line, everything…it’s really just tying in with that.”
Brian didn't try to argue with anything she said, but Morgan knew better than to think that he was giving in. What did it say that she still knew every nuance of Brian’s expressions, especially the determined one?
“I know that you’ve got the life you always dreamed of,” he finally said. “But I also know that last time I let you go without a fight, and I’ve regretted it ever since.”
A crazy part of her wanted to say, I did, too. But she made the rational part speak up instead. “You know why I left.”
“You felt like you had to leave everything here—your family, the island, me—to become who you wanted to be. I understood where you were coming from, Morgan. That it was never easy to live under a microscope on the island because you were a Walker, and that you chafed at the smallness, the quiet, even the sureness of knowing you would always be taken care of by the people who loved you. I didn’t want to be the one who was going to stand in the way of your success, didn't want you to resent me, so I didn’t fight. But I was wrong. So damned wrong. And now that you know who you are and what you're capable of—and I know those same things about myself—the fact is that I still want what I’ve always wanted. You. So this time, I’m not going to just stand back while you walk away. I thought love meant needing to let you go, but now I think it's just the opposite. Love means giving everything I am to fight for you to stay.”
“I think”—Morgan pushed away from the table and stood up—“we’d better head back to the cars.”
On the walk to the bar, things had felt surprisingly comfortable, and she'd almost been able to believe that they could “just be friends.” Now, however, she knew how wrong that was. Because when he'd made his impassioned speech, every cell in her body had wanted to say, Yes, I'll stay, right then and there.
They were almost back to her car when Brian reached for her hand. She was so stunned by the sweet feel of his warm skin against hers that she didn't even think to pull away.
A moment later, he was pulling her into his arms. Strong arms that had always been her favorite place in the world. Another man might have tried to kiss her to prove his point that they were still meant to be together, but Brian’s hug was more powerful than any kiss would have been.
His hug was not only a reminder of old times and their unstoppable attraction…it was also, clearly, a promise. A promise that he wasn't going to make things easy on her this time.
Because he was going to fight for her to stay.
Excerpt from No Other Love: The Walker Island Series #2, copyright 2016, Lucy Kevin