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But now, seeing Rachel beside the open grave, he knew that she would never be merely a part of his past. She was a flame inside him that refused to be extinguished.

Jacob bit back a sound that was part curse, part anguish. He almost turned to go, but the dull sounds of earth hitting the casket held him. Rachel was burying her husband, and now she was free. Free to love and betray again.

The wind picked up, howling over the gravestones, as the small gathering of mourners began to disperse. She was walking in his direction, her head turned toward the gray-haired man who held her arm—Martin Windham, her father. Jacob remembered him as a ruthless man whose pleasant social manners camouflaged an iron will. He hadn’t aged much in six years.

But then neither had Rachel. She looked as fresh and elegant as she had when he’d first met her.

Suddenly she saw him. Her face went white, and her eyes widened. She spoke to her father briefly. There seemed to be a quiet argument between them, then Martin turned and strode in the direction of a parked black Mercedes. Rachel hovered beside the open grave a moment, then she lifted her chin in defiance and came slowly toward Jacob across the now-deserted cemetery.

He wasn’t prepared for the impact she had on him. Standing before him, tall and elegant, she made his heart race. He braced himself against the tree.

“Jacob.”

He died a small death when she spoke his name. As always, her voice was soft and musical, like a symphony whispering through pine trees.

“Hello, Rachel.” He pressed hard against the tree, fighting the sweet memories aroused by the fragrance of roses, cursing the weakness that had sent him flying to Biloxi.

“Why did you come?”

“To offer my condolences.”

Rachel twisted her hands together, then abruptly put them behind her back so Jacob wouldn’t see the effect he was having on her. After six years he still made her quiver inside. Guilt slashed through her. She’d just buried her husband, for pity’s sake. She had no right to be reacting to another man, even if that man was Jacob Donovan.

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