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The sun disappeared behind the trees. They had beautiful views of the lake and the mountains in the twilight.

“Jenn, I’ve been wanting to say so many things to you,” Tristan said finally. He stopped walking and turned her toward him.

“Oh?” She tugged her hand from his and rubbed her suddenly clammy palms on her pants. Was it time to finally face the past eight months?

“I promise you, despite how it looked on television, I wasn’t dancing with or interested in that blonde. I went on dates while you were gone because it was expected of me but I never moved on from you.”

“The blonde?” She was sick and tired of the blonde, of all her insecurities, but the blonde was just one of many women, the most important one being his former fiancée.

“Jenn, you’re the only one for me. You always have been, and you always will be.” His blue eyes were earnest and begged her to believe him.

“Really?” She spit out the word.

“You have to believe me.” He tried to reach for her, but she backed away.

“How can I believe you? When we were together, I knew what we had was one of a kind. Nothing could have made me doubt it. I hated leaving you, but my dad was terrified of the Rindlesbachers, and for good reason. I wrongly held on to the hope that true love could overcome a few months apart.”

“Of course it can.”

“You spit in the face of true love?” She felt like the witch fromThe Princess Bride,but she was only getting started. “How could you fall in love with someone else and get engaged after only four months? Four months, T! Engaged. Planning to marry and love someone else, knowing you could move on so easily. You must have been desperately in love with Macey to ask her to marry you so quickly.”

His eyes were wide and his mouth slack.

“Jenn,” he began.

She held up a hand. She wasn’t finished. “You ripped me apart. Devastated me. I could barely function. You made me doubt everything we had, everything I believed.”

“Jenn …” He looked tortured, contrite, as sick as she’d felt when she heard that awful news.

“How could I have been so stupid?” Tristan shook his head. “I should have told you yesterday on the trail, but there’s been so much upheaval and secrecy, I forgot you didn’t know. But of course you wouldn’t. We kept it so quiet.”

“What are you talking about?” Anger and confusion fought inside her. This wasn’t contrite. He couldn’t claim he hadn’t been engaged. The whole world had seen him kiss Macey Clifton like she was his one true love on that talk show. Of course she’d also seen Macey kiss Ray in that first press release, claiming it was Tristan. She’d known instantly it wasn’t Tristan and wondered what twisted game that woman had played with both of their minds.

“Ah, Jenn, I’m so sorry. My engagement with Macey was a farce. A hundred percent. Purely a scheme to bring an expert into the inner circle to help us with security. I was being threatened, and we were investigating my mum’s death. The engagement meant so little to me that I didn’t consider how it would look to you. That must have hurt you, and I completely understand you’d be upset and questioning how I could possibly move on like that. I am very sorry.”

Jennifer felt like somebody had slammed something into her forehead. She staggered.

Tristan reached for her and this time she let him rest his hands on her waist and steady her.

She just stared at him. “You weren’t really engaged?”

“No.” He smiled slightly. “Ray fell for Macey from the moment they met. He tried to be all noble about it, but I could see it and I pushed them together.”

They studied each other for a few beats. It was a lot to digest. She took a deep breath, but she didn’t quite know what to say. Macey wasn’t some scheming woman and Tristan had never loved his now sister-in-law or betrayed Jennifer by asking someone else to marry him. It was insane. If only she’d known.

“Your dad insisted you had left me and didn’t want me to come for you, and that you couldn’t love me any longer. I didn’t want to believe it but as months dragged on and not even a simple text from you …” His voice was sad, but his gaze was still intense. “I know how broken feels, Jenn.”

Her heart went out to him. That had been horrible of her father to do. In his mind, he’d been protecting her from William Rindlesbacher, not letting anybody know where Jennifer was. But couldn’t he have quietly given Tristan some hope?

Jennifer eased closer to him. She slid her hands up his chest and framed his strong jaw with her palms, liking the feel of the scars on one side. “You promise it’s only me for you?”

“I swear it, Jenn.” His voice was earnest, intense, and beautiful.

He bent down closer, and she arched up.

“Prince Tristan,” a deep voice said from off the trail on the wooded side.

Jennifer tasted disappointment instead of his lips yet again. Despite the interruption and the yearning to kiss him, though, she felt light and happy. Tristan was still hers. He hadn’t fallen in love and been engaged. He loved her.

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