Remember Me(2)

By: Ashlee Mallory

Sure enough, Allie could see the tall, lanky figure of her nephew finally coming into view just above Sam’s broad shoulders. Immediately, the family’s hand-painted welcome signs thrust into the air as they waved them to get Jared’s attention.

But Allie was unable to tear her gaze away from Sam.

Which meant she didn’t see the twins barreling toward him until they were only a foot away. Sam easily stepped around the pair, even if the tight line around his mouth indicated frustration. He swung his gaze to her.

Hazel eyes she could never decide were sea green or stormy gray stared at her in clear judgment. She held her breath and waited for any sign of recognition.

Instead, his gaze jerked away, he strode past her, and was gone.

Her body wilted as the adrenaline that had peaked earlier was swept away with acute disappointment.

Sam had not even recognized her.

With a quick thanks to the woman behind the rental car counter, Sam Fratto turned and scanned the small baggage claim area of Salt Lake’s International Airport. It didn’t take him long to find the carousel slated for the incoming flight from Los Angeles, and he made his way over. He glanced at his watch. Probably not much longer. Dropping his duffel bag to the tiled floor, he leaned back against one of the pillars to wait.

A glance out the window at the snow falling thick and white to the ground told him that even though it was the first week of April, Mother Nature liked to keep everyone guessing. And it looked like the snow was sticking, too.

It had been a long time since Sam had been home. Too long.

“Beat you!” The shout was followed by the appearance of the two boys who had almost lunged into him at the bottom of the escalator. The little reunion       he’d had the misfortune of running into on his arrival was now making its way to the same baggage claim area.

Hell. Maybe it hadn’t been long enough.

In any other airport, he would have assumed the cheering gaggle of people holding hand-made signs bright with glitter were waiting to greet some Hollywood A-lister or rock star. But considering he’d just arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, he knew otherwise. And the first sign he had made out welcoming Elder Jared home from his mission confirmed Sam’s guess.

It was a welcome home crew.

A welcome home crew who wasn’t aware of the general rules of courtesy and had blocked access between the bottom of the escalator and the rest of the airport. A problem made worse when the two little spawns had nearly sent him sprawling on his ass.

But it wasn’t that he was brooding over now. It was the pretty blonde who had triggered a faint memory of someone or something he couldn’t quite recall.

Even though she’d stood at the back of the group, she had been hard to miss. Pretty and slim, it wasn’t like she was wearing anything flashy or provocative. In fact, just the opposite.

But there had been something in the way she stared at him… Maybe it was the way her blue eyes had widened as she spotted him, and her mouth had dropped open in surprise. It was almost as if…she knew him. She had to be mistaken. Not that he was being overly modest. He was a critically acclaimed true crime writer. But he’d never had anyone actually approach him to ask if he was the Sam Fratto who had written four novels—the last two of which had been New York Times Bestsellers.

As if cued into his thoughts, she appeared again with the rest of the boisterous group. Deep in conversation with an older, sixty-ish woman, she hadn’t noticed him yet. Whatever the lady was saying to her, from the roll of her eyes, the blonde was barely tolerating it. The older woman touched her ponytail in distaste and shook her head. He recognized the symptoms. Had to be the mother.

The blonde’s gaze shifted and met his. Again, her eyes opened a little wider, and her whole body froze. He glanced away to give them privacy and trained his eyes instead on the carousel, willing it to move as the noise from the group drew near.

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