Last Chance Cowboy

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(Shadow Moran has just told Grey Wilson about the years apart when she tried to raise their now-nine-year-old daughter on her own. Which isn’t their only problem.)

            Grey took her in his arms. “You had a rougher time than I might have imagined. That was my fault too, Shadow. I should have been there. I should have known, somehow.”

            “I don’t blame you, Grey.”

“Not for that,” he said, but he drew her closer.

Shadow’s head dropped like a wilted flower onto his shoulder as if she couldn’t hold herself upright any longer. She couldn’t move. All the years of being alone, of caring for Ava without him, seemed to condense into this moment, Grey’s lips on her hair. He brushed it aside, his other hand on her shoulder then slowly, sweetly, he kissed his way down her cheek to the line of her jaw and then to the corner of her mouth.

            “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “You shouldn’t have had full responsibility for Ava—struggled like that—but you did a great job, Shadow. She’s a wonderful little girl. And somehow, we’ll make this work. For her,” he murmured. “And for us.”

Shadow wanted to make it work, too. But there was still [her brother] Jared’s death [between them]. And, in that moment, she hoped Grey did find proof that he was not to blame.  That he could finally prove his innocence. Then, in the next instant, she stopped thinking at all.

Grey’s mouth took hers, not light and quick this time. He kissed her with the gulf of years breached between them at last, with that intense, soul-searching passion she had never forgotten. Neither had he, she knew, as she let him take her deeper, then farther still, as if in the joining of their mouths they might find forgiveness. For each other. Find love again.