Torn between the home she loves and the man shes falling in love with, Hayden must decide which one she will leave behind.
Hayden Merrick has one thing in mind when she arrives in South Dakota. To meet her grandmother for the first time, then return to the life she loves on the Maine coast. She doesn't expect to discover the truth behind her mother's departure from South Dakota, find the father who abandoned her or a man who could prove to be the love of her life.
Ben Winslow hasn't much time for romance, and no woman has interested him enough until Hayden arrives at his neighbor's home. As soon as he meets her, Ben believes she could be the woman he's always hoped for. First he has to convince her she could love the prairie as much as the ocean.
Hayden's plans to return home are put on hold as she struggles with a difficult decision. Pursue a life in South Dakota with the man she's falling in love with, or return to the life she loves at the edge of the ocean.
Ben hopes he can give her the best of both worlds...
Excerpt from Light the Way Home:
The moon crawled farther up in the black sky. Hayden pushed herself out of the swing and jumped off the porch. She wanted to be under the moon’s silvery light. No, she wanted to be away from Ben. He did nothing for her sense of peace. She looked back at him, but he’d gotten to his feet as well and was coming after her.
“What’s going to happen if you prove he’s your dad? What do you want from him?”
“I don’t want anything from him. Not money, not even his love. I didn’t come here looking for a father. I’ve got one of those back in Maine, a father who’s been there for me since I was five. But now I think I’ve found my biological father, I want to know something about him. Have a chance to find out why he left my mother.”
Hayden retreated farther. She didn’t know why she denied the desire she felt every time he was near. He was another complication she didn’t expect when she came here.
“And what’s it going to do to him, Hayden? To his life and family?”
Ben caught up to her and took hold of her arm.
“What do you think it’s done to my life? My family?” she whispered.
She looked up at him, locking her gaze with his. Wind ruffled his hair, and she longed to reach up and run her fingers through it. Would it be as soft as it looked? She wouldn’t be able to stop there. Her fingers would have to stroke down his cheek, feel the stubble that darkened his jaw. And how could she resist touching his lips, running a fingertip over the mouth that didn’t smile now?
His hand tightened over her arm, and if she didn’t know better, she would’ve sworn that he pulled her closer to him. Maybe it was just an illusion of the moonlight that spilled down on them, glimmering in his eyes. And if she didn’t leave now, she would kiss him. Would it be such a bad thing? She asked herself that and couldn’t answer it with definitive “yes”.
Instead of pulling away, Hayden leaned into him, the hard muscles of his torso pressed against her body. Her gaze slid along the line of his jaw and up to his lips. For a long moment she stood against him, not caring that she hardly knew him. All that mattered was his lips and the way his other hand had crept into her hair. She stood on tiptoe, the mild friction of the movement setting fire to every nerve in her body. She touched her lips shyly to his, feeling their dryness. Yet they were smooth and firm. Boldly, she pressed harder. She could feel the slow intake of Ben’s breath against her mouth as she touched her hands to his tight shoulders.
Please kiss me back, she begged silently, moving her mouth over his, searching for a response from him, some kind of indication that her kiss was welcome. If he didn’t respond it would be a horribly uncomfortable stay. She’d be mortified for the rest of her time in Burton, knowing that she’d thrown herself at him.
Ben rescued her frantic mind, though, when he put his arms around her and joined her in the kiss. His lips went from hard to soft yet insistent. She sensed that he held his breath. Her fingers skimmed the back of his neck and ran through his short hair as she pressed herself closer to him.
A tremor ran through his body as she let the tip of her tongue trace the bottom of his lip. She could sense his uncertainty, but with the way his body trembled and the way his hands raked up her sides, she knew he withheld tremendous energy. She coaxed his lips apart and let her tongue discover his, encourage the swirling dance. Her hands went down his back. His body against her enthralled her and drove her on, stirred curling tendrils of heat in her blood.
“Hayden,” he murmured against her lips.
She sighed her reply.
His hands slid up the back of her shirt.
Hayden,” he repeated. It was more of a plea than anything, and she pulled away. Her heart sank. She was wrong, he wasn’t attracted to her.
She leaned her forehead against his chest and let her hands fall to her sides.
“I’m sorry Ben, I didn’t mean to start this,” she fumbled, the heat of passion cooled to chagrin. “I can pretend it didn’t happen if you can.”
He tipped her chin up and she saw a tender, lopsided smile on his face. The glint in his eye sent blood rushing to every part of her body.
“No, I wasn’t going to say that,” he assured with a whisper, his fingers caressing her back. “I just want you to realize what you’re doing. Want to make sure that you understand. I don’t kiss lightly.”
No, Ben, she thought, you don’t kiss lightly at all.
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