Sophie held the goblet with both hands to steady them. Jay seemed taller than she remembered and more ruggedly put together. There was gauntness in his facial features and a weariness about his expression that spoke of the hardships he must have endured. No dramatic changes, she thought. But then she caught her breath.
Sophie saw the eyepatch when he turned her way. She hadn't noticed the strap hidden in his plentiful dark hair, but the black triangle covering his eye had such a striking impact that her heart hesitated. It made him look positively frightening.
She felt the rising panic of the fifteen-year-old who used to run away from him. Thank God she'd put the Waterford goblet down. Her hands were shaking so hard she couldnâ€™t even clasp them. The years of therapy, the shoring up of her defenses, collapsed like a sand castle. Staring at him helplessly, she wondered if the ticking in her ears was a clock or some kind of explosive on a timer, and all the while he continued to turn until he was looking straight at her. Sophie's hands were drenched in perspiration.
Caught in the razor acuity of his exposed eye, Sophie experienced a sense of disorientation. He was exactly the Jay she remembered--from the split in his eyebrow caused by a nasty fall from his prized Harley to the mole near the side of his mouth that she'd facetiously called a beauty mark.
But all of those reassuring details flew out of her head as she stared at him. None of it mattered, because for a split second in time Sophie had no idea who this man was. She only knew it wasn't Jay Babcock.