Long Way Home (Chapter Three, page 1 of 6)

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The moment she stepped into the bar, Tyler saw her and his entire world went silent. He no longer heard the chatter of bar patrons or the crunching of ice in glasses.

The background music faded away. Even the beating of his heart stilled.

It had been seventeen years since he'd last seen her, yet he recognized her instantly. She was as beautiful now as she'd been in high school. Her glossy, chocolate colored hair was still shoulder-length and, although she was slightly fuller in the body now, Tyler thought the curves suited her. Tyler was not the kind of guy who objected to curves. Deep down, he was relieved. Alexis MacAdams had always been his ideal beauty, his artistic muse, and he couldn't bear to think of her any other way. Now he didn't have to.

Alexis stood in the foyer and surveyed the inside. It was modern but cozy. Dark wooden tables of varying shapes and sizes contrasted nicely with creamy white walls. Not too tropical, but not trying too hard to be urban. The interior was tastefully decorated for the holidays with a few small, white lights and holly sprigs. Alexis decided this place would do for a temporary escape. She bypassed the restaurant area and headed straight for the bar.

Dressed in a red, silk blouse and black trousers, she didn't exactly blend into the casual crowd of flip-flops and floral dresses. She chose a tall chair at the end of the bar, next to a cluster of women enjoying a night out on the island in the run up to Christmas. Judging by the way they were throwing back shots, she guessed they were from the mainland.

"I know you," Tyler said with an easy smile, moving to her end of the bar.

Alexis assumed it was a come-on. "Don't think so."

"Oh, but I do. Alexis MacAdams, valedictorian of Woodrow Wilson High

School. Class of…"

Before he could remind her of her age, she jumped in. "Okay, I stand corrected.

I'm sorry. I don't know your name."

"Ty Barnes. Former classmate."

Alexis studied him briefly, his well-defined build and sandy hair, and tried to trigger memories of high school. His eyes burned with an attractive intensity. Even in the dimly lit bar, his eyes were the bluest she'd ever seen. She was sure he wouldn't have had those biceps in high school. Arms like those belonged to a man, not a boy. She'd worked hard to keep the past buried, though, and knew it was unlikely she'd churn up a name to go with those incredible blue eyes.

"I'm really sorry," she said with a small shake of her head.

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