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Wild at Heart – The Simple Wild
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From the internationally best-selling author of The Simple Wild comes the continuation of a woman’s journey to Alaska and a life she never imagined for herself.
Calla Fletcher returns to Toronto a different person, struggling to find direction and still very much in love with the rugged bush pilot she left behind. When Jonah arrives on her doorstep with a proposition she can’t dismiss, she takes the leap and rushes back to Alaska to begin their exciting future together.
But Calla soon learns that even the best intentions can lead to broken promises, and that compromise comes with a hefty price—a log cabin in interior rural Alaska that feels as isolating as the western tundra.
With Jonah gone more than he’s home, one neighbor who insists on transforming her into a true Alaskan, and another who seems more likely to shoot her than come to her aid, Calla grapples with forging her own path. In a world with roaming wildlife that has her constantly watching over her shoulder and harsh conditions that stretch far beyond the cold, dark, winter months, just stepping outside her front door can be daunting.
This is not the future Calla had in mind, leaving her to fear that perhaps she is doomed to follow in her mother’s fleeing footsteps after all.
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“So … I guess I’ll see you when I see you.”
I can’t manage words around the flaring lump in my throat, and so I simply nod. The past four days with Jonah in Toronto have been a blur. A bliss-filled blur that I’m not ready to let go of yet. The Uber driver shuttling me home after this parting will have the privilege of a sobbing mess in their backseat.
An unreadable look flashes across Jonah’s icy blue eyes. I still haven’t grown accustomed to seeing him without a beard, though I’ll admit I’ve enjoyed admiring that chiseled jawline and those dimples. He takes a deep breath and turns away, his carry-on slung over one broad shoulder, his boarding pass and passport dangling from between two pinched fingers.
I watch him hand his documents to the agent at the US-bound entry gate, who spends all of one second reviewing them before waving him toward the glass security doors. On the other side is his fourteen-hour flight home. In seconds, Jonah is going to be out of sight, gone.
Who knows when I’ll see him again? He flew here to tell me in person that he’s been miserable these past two months since I left Alaska, that he doesn’t want to be a carbon copy of my father—spending his life pining over my mother—that he wants to find an “us” that will work. That he wants me beside him.
I haven’t given him an answer yet, too afraid to leap.
I feel the word rising inside me—an emotion about to erupt. “Yes!” My pulse pounds in my ears.
Jonah turns to regard me with a raised eyebrow.
Am I crazy? Maybe.
But I’m fully committing to it.
I take a step forward and swallow my nerves. “I’ll come back to Alaska.” Because being with Jonah again—laughing and reminiscing, having him in my space, waking in his arms—has only confirmed what I’ve suspected for months: I’m deeply in love with him, and living in Toronto when he’s not here doesn’t make sense to me anymore.
I’m done saying goodbye to this man.
Jonah leaves the line and retraces his steps to close the distance, dropping his bag by his feet. It’s five a.m. and we’re creating an obstacle, forcing travelers to weave around us on either side to get to their flights. Their grumbles touch my ears, but in this moment, I don’t care.
The severe frown cutting across Jonah’s handsome forehead as he stares down at me says he doesn’t, either. “Are you serious?”
I nod. “Yeah. I mean, if you’re serious about moving to Anchorage—”
“When?” he demands to know, his voice suddenly gruff.
“I don’t know. As soon as I can?” How long does it take to pack up your life and move to a different country? Granted, a country I was born in and still have citizenship with but haven’t lived in for more than two decades.
His eyes spark with determination. “Come for Christmas.”
I laugh. “That’s like a month away!”
“So? What else you got goin’ on?” It’s a challenge, delivered in Jonah’s typical blunt style. “I’m not going to see my mom in Oslo anymore. And Aggie and Mabel would love having you there. Especially since it’s the first one without Wren. You should come.” His Adam’s apple bobs with his hard swallow. “Come.”
Somewhere in between his words and his tone and the way he’s looking at me, I hear the silent plea. In truth, the idea of being near the people closest to my late father for the holidays sounds more appealing—and more feasible—by the second.
“Okay?” I say on an exhale, my voice shaky. “If I can figure it out, I will. I’ll get there as soon as I can.”
He pulls me into his firm body, leaning down to press his forehead against mine. “Damn, Calla, you know how to make a guy sweat.”
I grin, reaching up to skate my fingertips over his stubbled jaw. I hid his razor two days ago to stop him from shaving. The act screamed of poetic justice to me, after he hid my cosmetics bags in his attic for all those weeks during the summer. Unfortunately, Jonah doesn’t seem bothered. “Sorry. I only decided a few seconds ago.” Though in truth, I think I’ve known all along.
“Are you sure, though? Because you can’t tell me something like this and then chicken out. I’m gonna have to put the house up for sale now if we want any chance of being out of there by next summer—”
“I’m not going to chicken out,” I promise. “I’m one hundred percent sure that I—” I bite my lip to stall the declaration that nearly slips out, my cheeks flushing.
Jonah’s jaw tightens as he peers intensely at me. “You what?”
I love you. Those three words have been on the tip of my tongue since the second I heard his laughter from our porch, and yet I can’t find the nerve to tell him. Crazy enough, I have found the nerve to move to Alaska for him. Probably because he asked me to. If Jonah told me he loved me, the same sentiment would fly from my lips in a heartbeat. But he hasn’t said it yet, not in so many words.