You'll Think of Me

By: Wendi Zwaduk

Chapter One


“I’m still his housemate, not his personal chauffeur.”

Melanie Roberts waited by the ticket counter at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport for her friends to arrive. Waiting by the gates ensured she’d see them faster than if she waited on the lower level by the baggage claims. She mumbled to herself as she gazed at the empty gateway. “I don’t know why I let him talk me into this.” A woman turned, glaring at Melanie who shrugged. “Who am I kidding? I can’t wait for Cade to return.”

The air in the terminal enveloped her in a personal sauna. What happened to the high-dollar air-conditioning system mentioned in the local newspaper? She fanned herself, trying to remember whether she put on deodorant this morning. Beads of sweat trickled between her breasts and dampened her bra. She blew out a puff of air and tucked her humidity-frizzed hair back under her hat.

An announcer interrupted her private sweltering. “Flight two-two-three-three from Dulles is on a thirty-minute delay due to heavy thunderstorms. Repeat, flight two-two-three-three from Dulles is on a thirty-minute delay.”

Melanie removed her ball cap. She ran a shaky hand through her hair. Her ruby ring caught on a few strands and she cursed under her breath. She replaced the tattered hat and tucked her hair under the frayed edges. Her heart thudded, making it hard to breathe. Her boys, Cade and Rhett, weren’t on that particular flight. She checked the nearby screen. Flight one-five-two-seven from JFK International Airport—their flight—was already on the ground and in the process of debarking.

Any time now, guys…

In the distance, someone’s cell phone played an old country tune, ‘He Loved Me’, and took her back to a time when things had been much simpler and her heart hadn’t been broken. She hummed a few bars and scanned the crowd once more.

The image of Cade and the words to the song stuck fast in her mind. If he hadn’t cheated, he’d still be mine… She fidgeted with the ruby ring and fought off the anxiousness that naturally came when she waited for him to return from a deployment. Nervous energy sizzled through her veins as she cracked her knuckles. She didn’t know what else to do with her hands when she couldn’t watch the world through the safety of her camera lens.

Where were they?

A barrage of laughter rang in Melanie’s ears and a shimmer of excitement slipped through her. She knew that baritone—Staff Sergeant Rhett Ione. “Give me sugar, Melanie!”

Opening her arms, she turned. “Rhett! How’s my guy?”

Crushing her in his grasp, he whirled her around. “You make coming home a blast, little girl!”

When he plopped her back onto her feet, she continued to clutch his biceps. “I missed you, but where is Cade? I thought you got leave together?”

Rhett tucked a loose lock of hair behind her ear. “Leave, yes. The same flight, no. Cade flew out of Germany and I came straight from the Gulf.”

Embarrassed by her lack of tact, she averted her gaze. Rhett tipped her chin. “Hey, I know you missed me, but you have a thing for him. But I’m still one of your best friends and only passing through. Chill. He’s due to land—” he glanced at his all-weather watch, “—in a moment or two.”

Melanie sighed. She opened her mouth to speak, when a voice from behind interrupted her.

“Excuse me?”

Ginnifer Larkin stood a foot away and narrowed her green eyes. “Are you here to give them a ride?” She folded her arms and shifted her weight. The pale yellow sundress clung to her slender figure and accentuated her pert breasts. Her silky caramel-coloured hair fell around her shoulders.

Why the hell did Cade’s fuck-friend have to show up? Melanie forced a smile to her lips. “I’m taking them home, yes.” Speaking under her breath so no one but Rhett would hear, she mumbled. “Just like an ex would…”

Ginnifer chewed her ruby-red bottom lip. “We never broke up, you know.” Her eyes lit up and a smile brightened her heart-shaped face. “You’re home!”

When Melanie tried to turn, a pair of strong arms enfolded her and restricted her movement. Warm breath tickled her cheek and the scratch of day-old whiskers abraded her neck. While her legs turned to jelly, her heart raced. Desire pooled low in her belly.

“I missed you, Melly.”

Melanie shivered and let his bass voice rumble in her ears. Every nerve ending in her body stood at attention as his woodsy scent wrapped around her. She turned to stare into the most intense set of chocolate brown eyes. She’d wait an entire lifetime for this picture-perfect man. “Cade Nicholson,” she whispered.

Someone taped Melanie on the shoulder. “Excuse me.”

Melanie recognised the voice and ignored Ginnifer. She was too lost in Cade to care. He cupped her jaw, giving her his famous crooked grin that never failed to make her blood pressure surge and her nipples harden. “How’s my girl?”

Shoving between Cade and Melanie, Ginnifer planted crimson lip prints all over his cheek. “I’m fine, Cade. I missed you, too. I’m so glad you’re safe.”

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