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PROLOGUE


The woman he loved was getting ready to walk out of his life forever. And there wasn't a damn thing he could do to stop her. How could he stop someone who was, in essence, a stranger yet someone he'd come to know right down to the innermost depths of her soul? How could he love someone who wouldn't even tell him her name? And refused to hear his?

Maybe he was crazy. Maybe his grief had created something that wasn't there. But he didn't believe that. In one short weekend, he'd fallen in love this woman with the flowing, cinnamon-colored hair and vulnerable-as-a-lamb eyes--so much more than he'd ever loved Tawny in a year and a half of marriage. This woman understood him; she'd touched him deeper than anyone ever had. Deeper than anyone except Dakota. Somehow she'd even touched and eased that pain without words.

He loved her. He didn't want her to walk out of this cheap motel room and disappear from his life as if what had happened between them meant nothing.

She was here tonight, and that meant there was still a chance to convince her they could have a life together outside of this room. He'd convinced her to stay an extra night, hadn't he?

Randy slid across the bed to where she sat with her arms wrapped around her knees. He'd found her like this, so lonely and huddled into herself, each time he awoke. He didn't think she'd slept at all.

Snaking his arms over her shoulders, he felt the cold of her bare skin. One lamp pierced the curtain-shrouded room. Her hair shone like fire in that dim light. Brushing long silken strands back over her shoulder, Randy pressed a kiss into the curve of her neck while allowing one hand to trace the heart tattoo just above her breast. She allowed his touch, too. The ease they'd both displayed in their intimacy still astonished him. He'd never felt this natural with Tawny or the few women he'd dated before her, especially in such a short time. The first time he'd touched this woman, he'd forgotten she was a total stranger.

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