Dakota Hearts Book 5
His Dakota Bride
Her heart had always belonged to Wade McKinnon...
When single mother, Skylar Barnett, came to South Dakota, she thought her life was just beginning. Newly pregnant, she waited for the love of her life, Wade McKinnon, to join her so they could start their life near his family. But her joy quickly shattered after learning Wade was presumed killed during a tsunami that hit the small Asian island they'd both worked on in the Peace Corp. She'd spent the last four years making peace with her decision to marry a man she didn't love so her baby would have a father. But marrying the wrong man when her heart belonged to Wade was the biggest mistake of her life.
Secrets and circumstance kept them apart...
No one in Wade McKinnon's life knew that his work with the Peace Corp. was just a cover for his real job in a secret military agency. Not even Skylar, the woman he'd fallen hard for the moment he'd laid eyes on her. But when his mission in Asia suddenly became too dangerous and all agents in the field were ordered to disappear, using the tragic events of the tsunami on the island where they'd met seemed like the only way to keep Skylar and their unborn baby safe until the situation cooled down. As much as it killed him, Wade stepped aside when he learned Skylar had moved on with another man. But now that she's free, he's determined to do everything he can to win back her love and claim the life they'd dreamed of sharing.
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The McKinnon clan didn’t need a reason to get together and celebrate, but this Labor Day weekend they were going to get one. Homecomings were always a good cause for a party. But this was one homecoming no one was expecting.
He parked his car in the driveway under a shady tree along the driveway, making note of the fact that there was a pick-up truck parked next to the garage in the spot where he used to park his old sixty-seven mustang. He recognized the truck, although the last time he’d seen Logan McKinnon driving it, the truck had been in better condition.
He paused at the corner of the house and heard laughter filtering through the air. The boisterous laughing he always heard when his brothers were all together. The giggles and shouts of young children he’d yet to meet. It called to him as strong as the smell of food being cooked over an open flame that tickled his senses. But a hunger of another kind was stronger. The voices he heard had been missing from his life for too long. But he listened closely until the female voice that had haunted him grew louder.
“I need to finish up in the kitchen. Hawk can you give me a minute and then come carry a few things out to the table?
No, Kate you put your feet up. You’re always serving everyone at the diner. Let me do this.”
The screen door on the back deck opened and then shut. With his heart pounding, he walked to the front door so he could have the precious few moments alone with her before the rest of the family converged on him. He needed those few moments.
His old key still fit the lock on the front door. Turning the knob slowly, he pushed the door open quietly and stepped into the foyer. He glanced into the living room, taking in every detail and exchanging what was different with what he’d committed to memory long ago. The familiar smell of the house magnified the realization that he had finally made it. He was home.
He didn’t want to scare her. He could only imagine her reaction when she saw him. So he slipped through the living room and into the kitchen through the dining room so he wouldn’t startle her. And when he finally saw her, he thought his legs would crumble beneath him.
Skylar Barnett. If there truly was just one great love in the universe for every person, Skylar was surely his.
She buzzed around the kitchen, almost dancing on the balls of her feet as she moved. He used to say she looked like a ballerina, dancing as she walked in the sand. She’d told him it was only because he made her happy.
“I heard the front door. Did I lock the screen door on you by accident again, Hawk?” Skylar asked, licking her fingers of the dressing she’d just stirred in the bowl. “This potato salad has to get into the ice bowl on the table or it will spoil in his heat.”
She turned in the opposite direction towards the refrigerator, opened it, and then pulled out a bottle. “Oh, and I forgot the Italian dressing for the salad. Would you mind bringing that with you, too?”
She still hadn’t lifted her gaze to him. And he didn’t rush to get her attention. He enjoyed just watching her move. He’d always loved the way she moved as she rushed from one side of the kitchen to the next.
Picking up the bowl of potato salad from the counter, she turned to him, her smile as bright as the blazing sun outside, and said, “Those barbeque ribs your dad has on the grill smell so good, it’s making me-”
Their eyes met for the first time in over five years and she gasped. He should have done something to prevent the bowl of food in her hand from slipping through her grip and crashing to the floor. The bowl shattered and the potato salad splattered on the tile floor and the cabinet Skylar was standing near. She barely noticed the remnants of the mess at her feet.
“I’m not Hawk,” he said, never taking his eyes off hers.
Her mouth dropped open, as tears welled up in her eyes. “Wade?”
He barely heard the words escape her lips, but he felt them just as strong as he had the last time they’d been together. The memory of what it tasted like to kiss her, and that small intake of breath she made before her lips touched his.
“Is it really you?”
Her voice was a whisper and surged him forward. He took a slow step toward her as she took in seeing him for the first time in years. Her hand came up to touch his face but stopped short before making contact.