When fat old Mrs. Thompson forces Drew to work with his long-time enemy Alyssa on their senior English project, the future doctor is furious. But he quickly comes to realize that the girl he never liked is actually kind-hearted and beautiful... and shouldering the crushing burden of caring for her ailing father.
Against the odds, these long-time rivals find their way to a high-school romance: intense, passionate, and destined to end...
That is, until a run-in with a drunk driver leaves an adult Alyssa in need of Drew's professional help. Friendship flares into passion again, but Alyssa, convinced she isn't good enough for her doctor, flees in the night, taking with her a secret that just might bring them back together forever... or tear them apart for good.
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What right did she have to be happy? When her father was gone, dead, never coming back? Even if she and Drew got married, her daddy would not be there to walk her down the aisle and give her away. He was gone. Heartbroken, Alyssa pulled the pillow over her face, trying to stifle the sound. She wished she could turn over, but her broken leg anchored her in this awkward position, flat on her back like a tipped over turtle, and she couldn’t do anything about it but cry.
Drew was awake in a second. He murmured in her ear. At first she thought he was trying to shush her, but at last the words broke through.
“Let it go, Allie. Don’t be afraid. I’m here.” After many minutes she started to calm. Then another thought occurred to her, starting it all over again.
“I’m a terrible daughter,” Alyssa wailed. “How could I do this?”
“This! Make love with you. He’s gone and I just hop into bed with someone like nothing happened.”
“No Alyssa, that’s not what you did at all,” Drew told her gently. “You were hurting and you reached for comfort. It’s not wrong. It’s not surprising. I’m just glad I was here for you. And you’re a very good daughter. You worked so hard, so your dad could have the best care.”
“What good did it do?” she asked, sobbing a little.
He took her wet face in his hands and made her look into his eyes. “What good? Are you kidding? Because of your sacrifice, he had eight more years. Eight, Alyssa. He got to spend nearly a decade with his wife, his child. Without you, none of that would have been possible. I don’t think he regretted those years. Did you?”
“And you heard what he told you. He wanted you to live, to be happy. Weren’t you happy, just for a few moments there?”
“I’m not sure that’s what he had in mind,” Alyssa said, wiping her eyes on a corner of the sheet. Mascara smeared on the pale blue surface.
“Likely not,” Drew admitted. “But how pleased would he be about you starting college in the fall? Finally working towards becoming a music teacher?”
She smiled. It was watery, but genuine. “He would like that. He always hated knowing his illness interfered with my dreams.”
“Any man would. I know he was grateful for all you did. Now it’s your turn, love. Live. Grieve, and mourn, but don’t forget to live.”
“Hard to forget when you’re here, so vital and warm.” She hugged him.
“Do you feel any better?” he asked into her hair.
“Yes. I really needed that.” She kissed the side of his neck, making him shiver.
“The loving or the tears?” Heat was rising in his voice.
He trailed his fingers up her bare back. “Ah. Well, the tears are up to you, but any time you need to be loved, Alyssa, I’m here.