Holy tidal wave!
It was Ridge Lockhart, and he was more devastatingly gorgeous than ever.
Of course, Kaia had known he was coming home for Archer’s wedding. She expected to see him. Thought she was braced for it.
What she hadn’t expected was that he’d be so damned sexy.
Her initial impulse had been to run to him and fling herself into his arms and tell him how thrilled she was that he’d come home. But she wasn’t eight years old anymore, and he was no longer that lanky boy who’d yanked her braids and called her irritating names.
Her heart jackhammered, and she clutched the oversized wedding present tighter and hurried up the stone walkway to the mansion where the wedding party was assembling before the rehearsal. Instead of the traditional rehearsal dinner, Casey Hollis, the bride-to-be, had decided on a rehearsal brunch. As soon as everyone arrived, they would all head out to the cowboy chapel to rehearse.
Kaia’s pulse gave another sharp hop.
The gift was a crate for the German shepherd puppy that Archer and Casey were adopting from the shelter when they returned from their honeymoon. But ugh. She hadn’t fully thought it through. Per usual, excitement had swept her away.
Then again, she’d used the gift as a shield against Ridge’s steely gaze. It provided a great excuse not to talk to him until she was prepped. Seriously? She was not a silly teen with a monster crush on her big brother’s best friend. Why did she need to prep to speak to the man?
Because just seeing him standing there in the sunlight sent her blood swirling the way it always had.
Darn it. Shouldn’t she be over puppy love by now?
There ought to be a law. No one man had a right to look so handsomely heartbreaking.
The past decade had been kind to him. More than kind. He’d grown from the lean, skinny kid into full-blown manhood. Big-framed. Rugged. Untamed as ever.
He moved with the predatory grace of a mountain lion on the hunt. Intent, alert eyes and muscles, but with loose limbs and fluid joints. He looked like he should be on a high mountaintop staking in a pennant flag, claiming his territory.
Dressed in jeans, Stetson, suit jacket, tie, aviator sunglasses, and lizard-skin boots, he was part businessman, part pilot, part cowboy, and one hundred percent alpha male. Muscular fingers and scarred knuckles hinted at his roughneck past.
He was both rawboned and polished. Cheeks and jawline sharp, primal. Nose perfectly straight. Eyebrows orderly. It was a dizzying combination of refined poise and rough-edged virility.
Everything about him caused her insides to quiver and her heart to flush. She couldn’t have been more surprised if she’d unearthed pirate treasure in the desert.
Oh no. Oh damn. She was in trouble. Felt the truth of it overtake her. Nothing had changed. She still pined for him. How could she not even know it until now?