By Another Name
What happens when a reformed high school bully falls for the girl he tormented seven years earlier? When Kade Sinclair crashes into the girl of his dreams, she quickly wrecks his heart. Not one to take no for an answer, he pulls out all the stops to win her over. What he learns changes his life forever. Rosalee Timmons is coming home. A single mother, new business owner, and the object of the most popular guy in town’s attention--starting over will be the biggest hurdle of her life. She may be hiding behind a new name, but that doesn't heal the old scars on her wounded heart. When Kade realizes that confident, aloof Lee is actually little Rosalee Timmons all grown up, it seems he hasn’t a snowball’s chance. But when opportunity knocks, he finds a way back into her life. Will Lee accept an apology seven years in the making, or will Kade give up before she finally gives in?
Kade Sinclair hated being late, and traffic was murder this morning. His truck idled at a green light as he reached into his jean pocket, fumbling for his cell phone. Music from the local country station blended into the weather report of another sunny, warm California day.
The farmer’s market blocked the main road. Cars circled, searching for parking. That’s just great. I’m late, and no one’s in a hurry to go anywhere!
There were people everywhere, carrying boxes of garden vegetables and flower bunches by the armload. He had halfway dialed Lindsey’s when time stopped. Cell phone forgotten, his jaw dropped. There, searching through buckets of daisies, lilies, roses, and peonies, stood the girl of his dreams.
Behind him, tires screeched. Brakes slammed. Bumper crunched against bumper as he flew forward in the pick-up and knocked his head into the steering wheel.
Sunlight streamed from behind as she leaned through his open window. She looked more like an angel to him now than she had moments before across the street.
“Are you okay? You hit pretty hard.” She reached through and touched his stubbly-cheek with tender fingers. Her nails were unpolished. No rings on her left hand, thank God. She’d accidentally swiped a grower’s bunch of sunflowers while running to his aid. Their happy faces had fallen, a pile of gold in his lap. He smiled dumbly as she inspected the abrasion on his forehead.
“I think you’ll make it.” She said.
He handed a red-gold petal to her, hoping to un-furrow that look of concern on her heart-shaped face. “She loves me?”
“Whoa, there, Romeo. I just asked if you were okay.” Her laughter was rain for his parched spirit. Their hands clasped through the window. Zing. He half expected sparks to fly at their touch.
Outside, the driver who hit him grabbed insurance cards and dialed the police on his cell phone. Recounts of the accident peppered the growing crowd.
“I’m fine.” Kade touched his bruised forehead, wincing. “Your flowers. They reminded me of that kid’s game. She loves me, she loves me not. I’m Kade…Kade Sinclair…”
She drew her hand away, and took a step back, as if punched.
He cocked his head, his smile faltering. This wasn’t going the way he’d planned. Not by a long shot. “Do we know each other?”
“I just moved here…” she glanced over her shoulder, wiggling the watch on her wrist.
He hazarded a smile. “Well, thanks for your concern…I’d feel better if I knew your name.”
“Mommy! Mommy! I thought you were lost.” A little girl of about six or seven darted across the street, blonde ponytails flying. The child’s eyes widened in wonder; she surveyed the wreckage. “What happened?”
The woman eyed him up and down like a spider on a pin, her violet eyes dark with distaste as she pulled her daughter close to her side.
The swirling red and blue of a police car pulled up to block traffic and take the report.
“Come on, Paigie. He’s fine.”
“Wait! You can at least tell me your name…can’t you?”
She turned, stared, and remained silent a long moment. “Lee. My name is Lee.”
Kade watched her put her sunglasses on and march her daughter to the café on the other side of the street.
“You okay, Kade?” The Sheriff asked, concerned. “You look kind of shaky.”
Kade couldn’t help but agree with the cop. Catching his reflection in the side view mirror, he definitely had a homeless guy look going on. Having just hopped out of bed to help his twin sister move, he’d left his auburn hair uncombed, and weekend stubble peppered his chin and cheeks. The accident had left him pale, but his eyes were bright and clear.
He caught sight of the restaurant in the reflection where the woman and her daughter now sat at a window table. The little girl swung her feet and busily colored on a kids menu. Her mother fiddled with her water glass while her attention stayed focused on his truck. His heart warmed with resolve.
She doesn’t think I can see her. Excellent.
Kade watched his mouth break into a wide, open smile. “Guess that’s what happens when you fall in love at first sight.”