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See me just as I see you . . .
Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot. With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line. To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life. Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.
Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success. With a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record. And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her hometown and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.
A chance encounter on a rain-swept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria’s lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves. As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria’s past begin to surface.
As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria’s life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways. Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they’ve begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour?
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Colin was leaning against the side of his car as she pulled in behind him, and when he waved, all she could do was stare. He wore a gray T‑shirt that clung from his sculpted shoulders all the way down to his narrow waist. The sleeves could barely contain his well-defined arms, and even from a distance, the deep blue-gray color of his eyes was visible, set off by his sharp cheekbones.
As improbable as it seemed, her first thought was that he was getting more handsome by the day. When he pushed away from the car and smiled, she felt something jump inside her while a little voice whispered, If I’m not careful, I could get in serious trouble with this guy.
Forcing the thought away, she waved from inside the car, then took a deep breath as she shut the engine down. When she opened the door, the heat assailed her almost immediately. Thankfully, the humidity was minimal and a slight breeze stirred the air, making it a bit more bearable.
“Hey there,” she called out. “You’re right on time.”
She saw that he had brought a backpack, a small cooler, and a pair of towels. He leaned over, picking up the backpack and flinging it over his shoulder. “I got here early,” he said. “I wasn’t sure that I was parking in the right place. There aren’t any other cars around.”
“It’s always quieter on the tip of the island,” she said. “People don’t like to feed the meters, which is good, since it means we don’t have so far to walk.” She shaded her eyes. “How did sparring go?”
“It was a little more intense than usual, but no bruising or broken noses.”
“I can tell,” she said with a smile. “How about the other guys? You didn’t hurt them, did you?”
“They’re fine.” He squinted into the glare. “Your turn. How was brunch with your family?”
“No broken noses or bruising, either,” she teased, and when she heard him laugh, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, reminding herself not to get too carried away. “On a more serious note, though, I should probably warn you that I told Serena we were going out on the water today. In case she hunts you down after class and asks you for lots of personal details.”
“Will she do that?”
For sure, Maria thought. “Probably.”
“Why doesn’t she ask you?”
“I’m sure she’ll be calling me later. She considers it her duty to be heavily involved in my personal life.”
“Okay.” He grinned. “You look beautiful, by the way.”
She felt a flash of heat in her cheeks. “Thank you,” she said. Then, trying to keep things light, she added, “You ready for today?”
“I can’t wait.”
With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. His novels include 12 #1 New York Times bestsellers. All his books have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than 50 languages. Ten Sparks novels have been adapted into major motion pictures, with The Choice coming in February 2016.
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