Vera Custodio has never fallen in love, though she has strong feelings for her friend and sometimes lover, Zach Spencer. Long-forgotten memories resurface when Vera discovers Zach’s mother was the woman her father supposedly murdered many years ago.
After losing his leg, former triathlete Zach Spencer reevaluates his life—and realizes he’s falling in love with Vera. When she ends their relationship, Zach is determined to prove his love and follows her to Australia in search of the killer.
Caught between a web of family secrets and a deranged adversary, Vera and Zach must depend on each other for survival. Love blossoms, but the truth explodes everything Vera knows about herself. Will she close her heart forever or risk it all for a shot at happily-ever-after?
I’ve never been in love. Serious like? Yes. But love? Not happening. Doesn’t matter if he’s sinfully hot or responsible for global panty warming. Or even if he’s the sweetest, most gorgeous man on the planet. I can still walk away. I have to.
Zach Spencer, scion of an Australian wine fortune, ambles slowly from the light-rail platform and waves. His swimmer’s physique, sun-streaked blond hair and audacious grin revs my heart every time. I can’t help but jump to my tippy-toes like one of those silly game show contestants. But today, I’m not going to run into his arms because I have to break up with him.
He steps toward me, oblivious of the crowd parting at the sight of his artificial leg. The muscular calf on his right leg contrasts sharply with the metallic rod and linkages of the other, ending with an artificial foot.
Until a few months ago he was a world-class athlete, a contender for the 2016 Olympic Triathlon team, but he lost his lower left leg in a jet ski accident while rescuing my friend Maryanne.
His magnetic blue eyes lock onto me as he wraps me in a toe-curling hug. Butterflies tickle my stomach and I want to disappear into his arms. How on earth can I end this without hurting him?
“Ready for the opera?” He guides me through the turnstile.
I tug at one of his oversized pockets. “Seriously, cargo shorts in winter?”
“I’m Aussie.” He kisses me with a loud smack.
“I suppose you’ll tell me it’s summer Down Under. Are all Aussie men so tough?”
“Dunno, but all Filipinas are gorgeous.” He winks and takes my hand, pulling me up the stairs and onto the crowded street. His smile raises the temperature a few degrees. “Shall we hop on a cable car or have dinner first?”
“Let’s catch a cab and take a walk on the Golden Gate Bridge. Have you ever been there?” I’m dressed to the nines, spiky stilettos and a metallic sequined dress, but the walk hopefully won’t be long.
He tucks an errant strand of hair in back of my ear. “No, but I hear guys are always proposing there. I’d have a hard time dropping to one knee …”
“Stop joking. We’re only friends—with benefits.”
“True, but we haven’t been very … friendly … lately.” His eyes telegraph bedroom, and his tongue does a quick flick over his teeth. “It’s my fault, of course.”
I caress the back of his hand with my thumb. “You’ve just recovered from major surgery. I’m glad to see you walking again.”
“Me, too. Now we can go places and get to know each other. Maybe start dating?”
A gasp catches in my throat. I never pegged him as the dating type. I suck in a deep breath to calm my speeding heart.
If only things were different and I hadn’t discovered the truth about our families.
Other Books in this Series
Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She enjoys writing love stories and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment. The tapestry of characters in her books reflect that diversity. She is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe.
Check out her four romantic novels. Michal’s Window is a powerful, emotional journey as lived through the eyes of Princess Michal, King David’s first wife. Broken Build is a story of healing where a man learns to love and trust the woman who destroyed his life. Hidden Under Her Heart is a heartfelt love story combined with controversy over difficult decisions, and Knowing Vera is a suspenseful, cross-cultural romance mixing an unsolved murder, adventure, and hot, steamy love scenes.
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