by Cassia Leo
Publication date: October 18th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
From New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo comes a new stand-alone novel, Amber Sky, the haunting, atmospheric love story of Walker Ainsley and Cassidy O’Connor.
A devastating car crash leaves Cassidy O’Connor stranded in rural Pennsylvania. Her only company is Walker Ainsley, the ruggedly handsome man who saved her from the wreckage and took her into his home. But when her ride back to town arrives after the crash, Cassidy can’t bring herself to leave Walker behind. She is determined to convince him to go back to town with her, until she begins to wonder if she actually survived the crash that brought them together.
Hanging on the wall above the table is Shadow’s rendition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
He’s a man of God, I tell myself. He’s not going to hurt me.
The sound of his footsteps approaching echoes in my ears. I close my eyes and imagine the painting, both Shadow’s version and my memory of the original. I remember the original. Didn’t I travel somewhere to see it? Who was I with?
“Are you okay?”
My memory of the painting evaporates as I open my eyes. “What’s your real name?” I ask, relieved to see he’s not carrying a gun or any other weapon.
He looks taken aback by this question. And he very clearly chooses to ignore it for a moment as he places some gauze, iodine, and duct tape on the table. Taking a seat in the chair next to me, he nods toward my foot.
“Do you mind?” he asks softly. “It will be easier if you rest your foot on my knee?”
I hesitate for a brief moment, then I slowly raise my foot high enough for him to grasp it firmly. He doesn’t seem to mind getting his hands or jeans bloody. I wince as he places my heel on his knee.
“Sorry,” he says, lifting my foot. “I forgot it’s on the back of your heel.”
He rests the ball of my foot on his knee and begins using the gauze and iodine to clean the dirt-encrusted wound.
“You didn’t answer my question,” I remind him.
He doesn’t look up as he reaches for more squares of gauze. “Name’s Walker.”
“Walker?” I say it aloud, and the sound of the name on my lips makes my chest ache.
“What’s your name?” he asks, glancing at me as I clutch my chest. “I know it ain’t Shine.”
“Cassidy,” I reply, squinting my eyes at a hazy memory. A piece of paper. A legal document.
“That’s a beautiful name,” he says, and the memory slips away, just out of my grasp.
Then, as suddenly as it left, it’s back. I’m signing the document. It’s a legal document. I’m signing it, and I’m laughing.
“Beautiful name for a beautiful woman,” Walker says, refocusing my attention on the present moment.
“Did you just call me beautiful?”
A tiny smile plays on his lips. “Yes, ma’am. Is that okay by you?”
I can’t help but smile as I realize how crazy I was to think this sweet, innocent man meant to harm me. “It’s okay with me,” I reply.
I’ll still have to keep my guard up, but he’s done nothing other than show me the kindness and purity of his heart. I think Walker would sooner cut off his own hand than hurt me. And I don’t know why I’m so sure of this. But I feel it as surely as I know I’ve seen the original painting of The Last Supper.
“You’re going to use that duct tape on my foot?” I ask playfully, trying not to laugh as I suddenly feel ticklish from the sensation of his calloused fingers on my skin.
He places the soiled gauze pads on the table and stares at the roll of tape. “That’s probably not the way you do things in the city, huh?”
“I didn’t mean to say you’re doing anything wrong,” I clarify, feeling guilty for making him feel like I was criticizing him. “That wasn’t meant as a criticism. It was… Actually, I was trying… I was trying to flirt with you. And now I feel like a total idiot.”
“Flirt?” he says, looking genuinely perplexed. “What’s that?”
I grin as I’m once again surprised by his innocence. “Oh, boy, am I going to have fun teaching you. Not that I’m any good at it. Clearly. But—” I stop myself and take a breath before I start rambling nervously. “Flirting is something you do,” I begin, my eyes scanning his face, studying his grease-smudged, sharp cheekbones and those sparkling blue eyes, “with someone you find interesting…or attractive.”
His dark eyebrows scrunch together as he considers this new information. “Do I have this right? You find me attractive?”
My face feels as if it’s about to burst into flames. “Yes, I find you…ridiculously attractive.”
He still looks confused, but a smile begins to form in the center of that manly beard.
“Well, then, maybe you oughta teach me how to flirt,” he says, glancing in the direction of my eyes, but only for a brief second.
I recollect the moment he called me beautiful a couple minutes ago, replaying the memory over and over again because I know he doesn’t have the courage to repeat it. I hope my brain isn’t so messed up that I’ll forget his words by tomorrow.
New York Times bestselling author Cassia Leo loves her coffee, chocolate, and margaritas with salt. When she’s not writing, she spends way too much time re-watching Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. When she’s not binge watching, she’s usually enjoying the Oregon rain with a hot cup of coffee and a book.