Bursting With Love(6)

By: Melissa Foster

“How far are we walking today?” she asked.

Jack answered while looking at Aiden. “Three miles, and the only one who’s allowed to get tired is Aiden, and if he does, as we discussed”—Jack lifted his eyes to Lou and Lou nodded—“his mother or father will have to carry him.” He put a large hand on Aiden’s shoulder. “You hear that, buddy? If you get tired, your parents will have to carry you, and that’s a hard job, getting up this mountain, so can you be strong?”

Aiden nodded.

Jack’s cheeks lifted, and his smile brightened his eyes and softened his harsh edges. “Of course you can.”

Maybe you do have a softer side.

He addressed Elizabeth and Lou. “There’s no cell service up here. We talked about this, and you know the risks. It’s your job to keep track of Aiden at all times, not mine or anyone else’s. Got it?”

So much for the softer side. You really are a jerk.

Ten minutes later, they were making their way through the dense woods. Though they entered through what looked like a trail, the flattened landscape had faded fast, and Savannah had no idea how Jack could possibly know where they were headed. They were in the midst of two hundred thousand acres with no cell phone service with a guy who didn’t know empathy from apathy. How on earth would she heal herself when being led by someone like him? She reminded herself that one of the main reasons she’d chosen this particular camp was that there would be no cellular service. If Connor couldn’t reach her, he couldn’t try to lure her back. Whether Jack’s a jerk or not, I’m going to succeed, and when I get home, I’ll be stronger for it.

She’d never been particularly lucky in love, and after watching four out of five of her brothers find their forever loves over the recent months, she longed for more. If her brothers knew how Connor had treated her, they wouldn’t care that she was a thirty-four-year-old woman who could take care of herself. They would go after him without an ounce of hesitation—then they’d console her. It was after the consoling that worried her, when they’d look at her with pity in their eyes, not understanding how their bullheaded, smart-ass sister could ever allow a man to treat her that way. That was why she never told them. It’s complicated. That had been her stance on her relationship with Connor.

Other attorneys had gone so far as to call her Bulldog Braden because she was relentless in the pursuit of right and wrong. So why can’t I be that relentless when it comes to my heart? This trip was supposed to help her climb back into the armor she’d once worn and never allow herself to be treated that way again. She eyed Jack Remington as he pushed through thick branches and stomped over fallen trees. His muscles glistened against the afternoon sun. So what if he’s hot? He’s probably a bigger ass than Connor. And if she read the shadows in his eyes correctly, he was also dangerous. A bad combination for a girl on the rebound. She thought about the article that had made this weekend sound like the perfect remedy for women who had lost their edge. Stupid article. There was no doubt that this trip was a mistake.

A big, giant mistake.

Chapter Two

THE SUN BEGAN to drift toward the trees as the afternoon slowly turned to evening. The first day out, or what Jack liked to call the Day of Impact, would give him a clear indication of where each student stood, both mentally and physically. So far, they all seemed to be faring well, including Aiden. Jack glanced behind him at the boy, who held on to his father’s hand like a security blanket. He was a cute little guy with bright blue eyes and white-blond hair. His gut twisted, and a familiar lump formed in his throat as he thought about the unused nursery in his chalet. The night of the storm came rushing back like shards of glass being driven into his heart. He never should have let Linda leave the house, but he’d been so damned wrapped up in his work that he couldn’t—wouldn’t—pull away.

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