True love never dies.
Megan and Cassidy were childhood sweethearts who thought they would be together forever. Fate had other plans. Soon after they were married, Cass’s life was tragically cut short. Still grieving her soul mate five years later, Megan moves to the small town of Seaside, Oregon, hoping to rebuild her life.
Her first night there, she meets the town recluse, Theo. Withdrawn, guarded, and mysteriously silent since a terrible accident left him scarred, Theo takes an instant and inexplicable dislike to Megan. But as their paths cross again and again, Megan becomes convinced there’s more to Theo than meets the eye.
When she discovers the reason for his silence, his nightmares, and especially his pointed dislike, Megan becomes convinced of something far more astonishing.
Is a second chance at a once-in-a-lifetime love possible, or is a broken heart the cruelest kind of liar?
I assumed Hillrise Construction would have an answering service who answered the phones, considering the owner’s general hostility and disinclination to speak, so I’m not surprised when a machine picks up. The outgoing message is one of those toneless, electronic voices you get when you neglect to customize it.
“Please. Leave. A message. After. The tone.” Beep.
“Hi. My name is Megan Dunn, and I was referred to you by Suzanne Martin. I bought the Buttercup Inn and need a quote for repairs.”
I leave my cell phone number and am about to hang up when the distinct click of the line being picked up stops me. Then I’m listening to silence.
I could swear I hear a low exhalation, but no one speaks.
Holy shit. It must be him. No-talking Theo with the crazy eyes. “Um…is anyone there?” More silence, but someone is definitely there. I hear rustling and a faint creak in the background, as if whoever answered has sat down.
Why the hell would he pick up the phone if he doesn’t talk?
I start to get irritated, because I’ve got the patience of a four-year old who’s missed a nap. “Okay, well, look. I need to get a quote on repairs for the Buttercup Inn. Is that something you can help me with?”
I never knew silence could be so loud. It’s absolutely deafening.
I’m about to tell him to go jump off a bridge, but it occurs to me that I could have fun with this instead of let it aggravate me. “Hey, here’s an idea. I saw this on TV once, some dumb show I forget the name of where a guy had laryngitis but had to try to warn his girlfriend a killer was headed over to her house. I’ll ask a question, and you can answer by using the phone buttons. One beep for yes, two beeps for no. And three beeps for maybe, if you feel like you might need that option. Okay?”
The silence lasts so long I start to worry he already hung up and I’m listening to a dead line, but then I hear it. A single, sharp, electronic beep.
Son of a bitch.
“Good. Okay, so…is this Theo?”
A slight pause, then a beep that somehow sounds resigned.
“Hi, Theo, this is Megan Dunn. We’ve already met. Twice, actually. Once at Cal’s Diner, and once in the backyard at Sunday and Chris’s house party a few weeks back. Do you remember?”
The tone is longer. More emphatic. He remembers. For some strange reason, my pulse picks up and my armpits go damp.
“Right. So anyway, Suzanne says you’re the best contractor around and I’ve already been through five other guys—that sounded wrong, but you know what I mean—so I was wondering if you’d have time to come out this week and take a look at the place.”
Two sharp, successive beeps, and that’s an unequivocal No. But I have to confirm, just in case. “No? You won’t come out?”
Jesus. How can someone sound like such a dick using only a single button on a telephone?
“Well, fine,” I say curtly, heat creeping into my cheeks. “Sorry to have wasted your time. Have a nice life.” I’m about to throw my cell phone across the room when over the line comes a rapid mess of electronic noises.
He’s pushing all the buttons at once.
When the cacophony stops, I’m livid. Through gritted teeth, I ask, “Were you trying to tell me something there, Sunshine?”
I decide I need a drink if I’m going to continue this bizarre conversation, so I head into the kitchen and unscrew the top of the crappy bottle of wine I bought at the store the other night. I pour some into a glass, guzzle half of it down, swallow, then blow out a breath, all the while acutely aware of the throbbing silence on the other end of the line.
Then my mouth falls open, because I’m listening to a telephone rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,” played by hitting the right keys to make the correct notes of the song.
Moody Theo has a sense of humor.
“That was interesting. Are you having fun?”
Beep. Beep. Beep.
I burst out laughing, because this is total insanity. “Can I just take a moment to say that this is the weirdest conversation I’ve ever had in my entire life? This even beats the time my I walked in on my dad wearing my mother’s underwear. I don’t expect an answer to that, by the way, I’m just thinking out loud here.”
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About J.T. Geissinger
A former headhunter, J.T. Geissinger is the author of more than a dozen novels in contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense.
She is the recipient of the Prism Award for Best First Book, the Golden Quill Award for Best Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, and is a two-time finalist for the RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America®. Her work has also finaled in the Booksellers’ Best, National Readers’ Choice, and Daphne du Maurier Awards.
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