Title: Second Dive
Series: Kings Of The Water #3
Author: Jasmin Miller
Genre: Second Chance Sports Romance
Release Date: December 10, 2020
Noah Winters was my heart’s desire, the boy I loved desperately and had hoped to spend my future with. Until our plans were derailed and life took us in completely different directions.
When our fate changed, and our paths crossed again, nothing prepared me for the punch straight to the heart when I saw him . . . or his anger and bitterness.
He was no longer the boy I once knew, but an accomplished Olympic swimmer with life goals that no longer aligned with mine.
All because I lied.
But sometimes, hiding the truth was necessary, especially when it freed someone you loved to reach their aspirations and dreams.
It’s said that time heals all wounds, but what I found was that it can also create an enemy.
That meant I had a choice.
Apologize to Noah, and possibly let him into my heart again . . . or allow him to live his life without knowing why I walked away. Without knowing that I never actually wanted to leave.
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The bathroom door flies open and Francesco blasts in. He’s been my mother’s best friend for as long as I can remember, making him like an honorary uncle before he became my real one by marrying my mom’s brother.
I feel like there’s an uncle joke somewhere in there.
Either way, I love him, both of my uncles, and I missed them like crazy after we moved. Thank goodness for video chatting, and their love for road-tripping down the California coastline.
“Ciao, bella. Look at you, Chloe. I knew the lavender hair would look gorgeous on you. I officially approve.” The corners of his eyes crinkle in that familiar way, even though I haven’t seen him as often as I’d like in the last decade since my parents moved us from Northern to Southern California practically overnight.
“Thank you. I’m glad Eadie talked me into it this week.”
“Me too.” He shares a look with my mom before glancing back at me. “If that boy isn’t nice to you, I’m sure I know a few guys who’d love a shot with you.”
My mom shakes her head at me while I grin. Francesco tried to set me up with one of his nephews once when I was a teenager. That was before he and Uncle Cody became a thing and then . . . well, then, Noah happened.
Which brings me back to what he just said. “You know I’m not looking for anything. I just want him to know the truth.”
Francesco purses his lips and nods. “Uh-huh, sure. Have you seen that man lately? I’m not sure you’ll be able to help yourself. Especially with all of those feelings still involved too.”
My ribs tighten, and I shake my head. “It’s been ten years since we were together, so there definitely aren’t any feelings anymore. For all I know, he still hates my guts and will leave the second he realizes it’s me.”
My mom tilts her head. “Orrrrrr he might not. Give him a chance too, okay? Sometimes it takes a little longer to make amends.”
It’s easy to hear my dad’s influence in my mom’s words. They did a lot of soul-searching together after my dad was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer several years ago. It made it easier and at the same time harder for us to know there was no cure for him, and that he wouldn’t be with us for much longer.
The limited time amplified all of our relationships, and I’m eternally grateful for that bond we shared and will always have. Nothing will take that away. His diagnosis—and ultimately his death—changed both my mom and me. But in the end, it was also the major reason we moved back to Berkeley. I guess both of our hearts were still in Northern California.
Now we’re here . . . to start anew.
To be with our friends and family.
To try and mend old wounds.
Because how can you expect your life to change for the better, for your soul to be nurtured, when you don’t show someone else—someone you once loved—that you’re sorry?
Even when it’s not easy.
Even when I’m ready to pee my pants just thinking about facing Noah tonight.
Bidding on him during the bachelor auction wasn’t planned. At that point, I was still wondering how I’d actually get in contact with him.
But when the host announced Noah’s name, and the mysterious man—the one who rescued me from the drunken douchebag—walked onto that stage, I couldn’t believe it. I mean, what were the odds?
He stood up there, and the mask didn’t take away a thing from his looks. With his short brown hair, and a body built to beat competitors in the water, all wrapped up in a suit that fit perfectly in all the right places, I couldn’t help myself.
Without a doubt, he has turned into an even hotter version of his teenage self. I looked him up for the first few years after we left Berkeley, but when it entered an unhealthy stage, I had to stop. Seeing him in any form kept me from moving on, from trying to live a normal life. My unhealthy obsession—a deep and dark sadness—over my old boyfriend didn’t do me any favors.
Francesco snaps me out of my thoughts when he squeezes my shoulder. He hums deep in his chest. “No old feelings, huh?”
He points toward the mirror and therefore, me.
At my wide eyes and flushed cheeks. Thank goodness they can’t see past the high neckline of my gray dress because my skin feels like it’s on fire everywhere.
Meeting up with Noah has been long overdue. Knowing we’re in the same city again drives my mind crazy, and I hope my thoughts will calm down after I see him.
And of course, I wonder if the glimpse I caught of the man at the party mixed with the memory of the boy I knew so long ago matches my wildest dreams.
Because even though the chances of him forgiving me are very slim, I can’t lie to myself.
I’ve been imagining this meeting, this conversation, for the past decade.
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Jasmin Miller is a professional lover of books and cake (preferably together) as well as a fangirl extraordinaire. She loves to read and write kissing books and never misses a chance to swoon over characters. Originally from Germany, she now lives in the western US with her husband and three little humans that keep her busy day and night.