A storm of emotions roiled inside him. What was he supposed to say? I was in love with you, and it scared me. Instead of turning to you when I needed support, I pushed you away because I was ashamed and terrified of my own feelings? No, he couldn’t add more emotional turmoil to her plate. Not after everything she’d been through.
“Madison, I’m sorry. There’s no excuse. But I am really, really sorry.”
He reached out and grabbed her hand. To his horror, she flinched and reared backward, a panicked look on her face.
“Oh, no—” he let go of her and held up his hands, the realization of what he’d done slamming into him. “I didn’t mean to—” he swallowed. “I’d never hurt you.”
She closed her eyes, her hand on her chest. She took a deep breath. “It’s okay. I know that. Just, it was a reaction. I guess. I’m not used to—I’m sorry.”
The desire to wrap her in his arms to comfort her flamed even higher throughout him. She’d never been skittish before. And now here she was, trembling in fear at the thought of being touched by a man. What had Jamie done to her?
“You have nothing to apologize for,” he said, searching for the right words. “We both keep saying sorry. How about we start over?”
A small smile crossed her lips, and her shoulders relaxed. “You’re right. Starting over.” She paused, her gaze lingering on his. “Hey, Dylan, it’s been a while. How are you?”
Dylan forced a grin. “Apparently so full of remorse I might burst. But other than that, I couldn’t be better.”
He wanted to say more. To tell her that being alone with the most beautiful woman in the world was the reason he couldn’t be better. But he bit his tongue, afraid he’d scare her again. Instead, he held out his hand for her to shake.
She tilted her head and placed her hand in his. To his surprise, instead of shaking it, she squeezed his fingers and stepped close. The smell
of citrus mingled with smoke from the campfire wafted over him. She glanced up at him and took a deep breath. “Well, if we’re starting fresh,
then I think we should free ourselves of all this guilt.”