When her mother breaks her hip, 36-year-old Nylah Simmons decides decides it's time to pack up and leave the big city. Even though she loved New York, it wasn't home. It was time to go back to Cotswald, the little southern town in the Florida Panhandle where she'd been born and raised. Her mother was getting older, and as an only child, she'd wanted to be near her. And she was happy ... until the one man she'd hoped never to lay eyes on again comes to town and wrecks the peaceful existence she's created.
Nylah was shaking as she entered the girls bathroom in the hallway of the high school where she worked as a guidance counselor. How in the hell had this happened? She thought she'd left her old life – and him -- behind when she left New York three years ago. Now he was here. He was the last person she expected to see anywhere near Cotswald. He was supposed to be in New York, or wherever, but not here; not in Cotswald! But it was him. There was no mistaking that slightly bow-legged, condfident swagger of his. It was Satchel Richland, the only man she'd ever made room in her whole heart for.
"Hello Nylah," a figure leaning against the wall right outside the bathroom door said. “It’s good to see you again.” Nylah jumped; the folders she was carrying falling from her arms. Papers flew everywhere.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"Some things never change. You seem to do a lot of things you don't mean, Satchel," she said, bending down to pick up the papers.
"You're more beautiful than I remember," he observed. "Have dinner with me?" he asked.
"When purple pigs fly with blue cows," she snapped, snatching the final piece of paper he held out to her with one hand. She stormed off down the hallway, her three-inch high, black leather pumps clicking an angry staccato on the cement of the hallway. He followed effortlessly.
"Will you at least tell me why not?" he asked. They hadn't seen each other in years, why was she so angry?
"Because I don't want to," Nylah bit out, the spicy, woodsy smell of his cologne, with just a hint of citrus invading her nostrils. She could live to be a hundred and never forget that smell. This is not how she would have wished things to go after not seeing him for years.
"That's not good enough. You owe me a real reason," Satchel responded, the slow, deep, even timbre of his voice flooding her with memories.
He licked his lips, the simple act flooding her with even more memories. Were they as soft as she remembered?
Nylah felt suffocated. As usual, his presence blotted out all else for her when he was near. Her breathing deepened as she tried to stave off a sudden panic attack. "I don't owe you anything!" she hissed, her voice as loud as she could make it without causing a scene. She started to walk again, whispering fervently. "You stay away from me. I want nothing to do with you. Do you hear me? Nothing!"
"I hear you loud and clear Nylah." He bent and gave her a kiss, whispering in her ear as his lips left her right cheek, "But I can't stay away from you. ... I never could, and that's the problem."
The bell signaling the change of class rang, startling her. She almost dropped the folders she held again.
“Sometimes baby, love lies deep … a man gets buried in your soul and there ain’t no getting him out," her mother had said to her once. The words haunted her as she thought about Satchel. He'd been the one to end their relationship, so what did he want now? She had fought hard to get over him, and one thing she knew for sure though ... there was no way she was letting him back in -- not after the way he'd crushed her all those years ago. And she knew just how to keep him away. Only, could she go through with it?
Or would the love that had lain so deeply within for him resurface, leading to heartbreak all over again?