When Ben Wilder is given a second chance he focuses on the one thing he’s always been good at: running. After walking on to the University of Florida Track and Field team he begins to quickly move up the national rankings, paving a path towards the NCAA Championships. Everything is going the way he planned, until the day he bumps into Casey Taylor.
New to Gainesville, and focused on her first year out of medical school, Casey is initially hesitant to let Ben into her life. But the truth is she’s worried about letting a guy near the one thing she loves most: her daughter, Emma. After one fun and fateful night Casey can no longer bury her feelings behind these excuses, and takes a chance on a guy she is slowly falling for.
Casey’s relationship with Ben starts to gradually build into a love that she has never felt before. But more importantly, Emma has taken a particular liking to Ben. As they all spend more time together Ben is forced to confront painful memories when he starts to notice something hauntingly familiar in Emma’s eyes.
After a local journalist uncovers the secret of Ben’s past their lives begin to converge on a single promise that Ben Wilder has long since made: to never give up…no matter what.
Ben was tired, but he was excited when he woke up on Monday morning. It was Casey’s day off and Coach had given the team the week off, minus a team meeting this afternoon, since they had another month until the NCAA Championships.
Emma’s school started at seven forty-five which meant if he got to Casey’s around eight, they could spend the whole day just relaxing.
When he arrived the garage was shut, so he walked up to the front door. Before he could knock, though, the door swung open and Casey jumped on him, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist.
“My hero,” she said in a terrible southern accent. Then she started giving him little pecks all over his head and face.
He walked inside with her still wrapped around him and kicked the door shut. Laughing, he said, “Who is this strange girl, and what did you do with Casey?” She continued on in the southern accent. “You won the race for your beloved and claimed victory.”
Ben sat her on the backside of the couch and looked down at her. “What on earth has gotten into you?”
“You, Sir Runner. Now, take me, take me now.” Casey puckered up her lips playfully and Ben laughed.
Ben leaned in to give her a quick kiss, thinking she might taste or smell like alcohol, because right now that was the only explanation he could come up with. She tasted like…cookies.
He looked around the room and to his right, sitting on the kitchen counter, he found his answer. He let go of Casey and she fell backwards onto the couch.
“Hey!” she said as she hit the couch cushion.
Ben walked over to the kitchen and picked up a small tub of Cookies ’n Cream ice cream and a bag of Fudge Filled Chewy Chips Ahoy. He held up both and looked over at Casey who was half-hiding, half-peering over the top of the couch. “Please tell me you are not eating cookies and ice cream at eight o’clock in the morning.”
Casey jumped over the couch and came running at Ben, a ball of sugar filled energy. She wrapped her arms around his waist, her legs around the back of his calves, and inched her way up his body. When she reached the top she bombarded his neck with kisses. “My hero,” she said. She stopped for a moment and looked at him with the most devious, sensual grin. She leaned in closer until there was almost no space between her lips and his. Then like a cheetah springing on a gazelle, she grabbed the ice cream with her left hand and the cookies with her right, hit the ground and took cover on the couch.
“You have serious problems,” Ben said.
Casey pulled out a cookie and dipped it in the ice cream and held it up for him to see. Then she started humming and dancing the cookie around like she was taunting him.
Ben took two steps, dove across the couch, snatched the cookie from her hand and shoved it in his mouth before she could barely move. She looked at him wide eyed and in complete silence and then jumped on him. They wrestled and tickled each other like five-year-olds, stopping every now and then for a quick cookie break.
This went on for about thirty more minutes and then she crashed on the floor next to him. Her head lay across his chest as he played with her hair until eventually he crashed too.
Wesley Banks was born in 1983 and grew up on the west coast of Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Civil Engineering. After spending over 7 years building movable bridges from Florida to Washington he decided to focus on his true passion: writing.
Wesley recently moved from Florida to Oregon to get back to the great outdoors that he loves so much. He lives with his wife Lindsey, and his two dogs Linkin and Story. Most of his time these days is spent writing, with as much rock climbing, hiking, or skiing as they can fit in.