To stay sane, Andie Tilly must keep her mind on her work. Her job as a pediatric occupational therapist is the perfect distraction from the unspeakable tragedy she experienced as a child. But when she meets alternative-energy magnate Rhys Griffiths and his autistic toddler, Will, she quickly realizes her heart will never be the same. Especially when her name becomes Will’s first word.
After accepting a position as a live-in therapist for Will, Andie steels herself against the appeal of the disconcertingly attractive—and attracted—Rhys. But their chemistry can no longer be denied, and their heated affair seems destined for happily ever after. A destiny Andie’s terrified to embrace.
When Andie’s guilt, Rhys’s awkwardness, and the abrupt appearance of an erratic ex threaten to dismantle their delicately blooming relationship, they must decide if love is worth the challenge. Can Andie and Rhys find their way back to each other? Or will the demons of the past simply prove too strong?
Exclusive Feature: The First Word by Isley Robson
Rhys paced into the foyer. Where was she? He stalked across the gleaming expanse of marble and flung the front door open. And there, almost nose to nose with him, stood a figure on the threshold, poised to knock.
He took in the flash of emphatic hazel eyes, and the perfect symmetry of dramatic winged brows set against pale, fine-grained skin. Her face was delicate, heart shaped, and framed by a lush cascade of dark hair. The reality of this woman was so different from the image he’d conjured that it felt like an ambush. She was striking. Beautiful, by anyone’s definition.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” She took a step back and offered her hand. “You must be Mr. Griffiths. I’m Andie Tilly.”
“Yes, I suppose you are.” Rhys realized the words were inappropriate as soon as they passed his lips, but there was no biting them back. It was a dilemma he often faced when meeting new people. Overcome by the barrage of sensory input in those first few moments, he could become unmoored and lose his way in conversation.
With Andie Tilly, the problem was magnified tenfold. His gaze skated over her soft pink mouth—full but unsmiling—and the elegant stem of her neck. Eyes. Lips. Skin. Throat. Each feature vied for his focus, like the scattered pieces of a puzzle he had yet to solve.
Too late, he noticed that he’d grasped her hand and neglected to let it go. He gave himself a swift mental kick and released his grip. Sometimes it seemed his entire history with the opposite sex was nothing more than a series of pratfalls brought on by a kind of interpersonal dyslexia. Time and time again, he’d failed to read the cues.
Now, for Will’s sake, he’d given up trying. He could no longer risk the damage. It was a good thing this woman was only here for a job.
She was stalled on the doorstep, waiting for an invitation, so he waved her inside. Well padded in a bulky winter jacket, she slipped by him and into the foyer with an elegant economy of movement. A frigid blast of New England air followed her in, but the chill dissolved in a warm ripple of sensation where her sleeve brushed his chest.
Shrugging her jacket into his waiting hands, she stood there in hip-skimming jeans and a simple T-shirt, exuding a fresh, lemony scent and an unassuming grace.
“Where’s Tom?” he asked, groping for a conversational anchor.
She shot him a searching look. Her eyes were mesmerizing, their shape as cleanly etched as an Egyptian hieroglyph. Against the flawless backdrop of her skin, they sent potent signals. Anxiety. And something more profound.
“He’s in the car, taking a call. He said I should come in. I hope I didn’t disturb you.”
“Not at all,” he said, working to collect himself. “I was expecting you, of course.”
He guided her through the glittering, formal foyer, careful to maintain a pleasantly neutral expression. But as he ushered her into the den, his focus unintentionally riveted to the subtle swing of her denim-clad hips, he was forced to acknowledge that he was indeed disturbed. More disturbed than he cared to admit. Not least by his toddler son’s staggeringly good taste in women.
“I confess I was curious to meet you,” Andie said as he showed her to the cluster of leather club chairs grouped by the fireplace. “Your son really made an impression on me.”
“The feeling seems to be mutual.” He gestured for her to take a seat. “Which makes me even more curious to get to know you.”
She gave an uncomfortable smile, polite but locked down, her gaze skittering away as she settled herself into the leather upholstery.
Rhys was too restless to claim a seat for himself. “Tell me how you did it,” he prompted. “How you got through to him.”
“There’s no secret to it,” she demurred. “I interacted with Will the same way I would with any client. It’s just—”
“Yes?” Rhys pressed.
She dipped her gaze and drew a deep breath.
“This might sound strange,” she confided, “but I understand kids like Will. I know what it’s like not to feel at home in your own skin. To experience the world as an unforgiving place. Not in the exact same way they do, of course. But I get it, and I want to help. Maybe he could sense that.”
Rhys stilled, his pulse pounding at his temples.
“That doesn’t sound strange at all,” he said, his voice raw. He cleared his throat. “But I have to admit I’m pretty ignorant about what you occupational therapists actually do. Will strikes me as a little young to have an occupation.”
“Don’t worry.” Andie’s posture loosened a fraction as the flicker of a smile played across her lips. “Occupational therapy isn’t about putting Will to work.”
“Well, that’s a relief. I was a little worried about finding a business suit for him that would work with the diaper.”
About the Author
Isley Robson is a word lover who, when not reading, spends her time writing about colorful characters and the people who love them. After earning a degree from the University of Technology Sydney, she moved to the Boston area to continue her studies and eventually took a job in corporate communications. Through it all, she continued writing and has now won a variety of romantic-fiction awards, including the Orange Rose 2015, the Fire and Ice 2015, the Catherine 2014, the Laurie 2014, and Show Me the Spark 2013. Her debut novel, The First Word, is book one in The Visionaries series.
Robson lives in New England with her writer husband, two children, and two dogs. For more information, visit her at www.isleyrobson.com or on Twitter @isleyrobson.