Page 35

Author: Jill Shalvis


Damn. Damn him. Because she wasn’t angry at all. She was sad. She ached to tell him the truth—that Riley wasn’t staying with her. But how could she? The terrified teen was going through hell, and she’d trusted Amy.

Trust that hadn’t been easily given.

If Amy told Matt the truth, he’d be forced by his job to act, and Riley would think she couldn’t trust anyone.

But it was more than that. No one had ever really trusted Amy, not like Riley had. Not even Matt trusted her like that. There was no way in hell that Amy would betray her.

“Amy.” Matt’s voice was low and calm, and also laced with steel.

He wanted answers.

“I don’t know where she is exactly.” She didn’t owe him more, she reminded herself. “How can I? I’m here.”

Matt didn’t say anything to this, though he registered her defensive tone with an arched brow.

“I’d like to go home now,” she said. “I’m tired.” Tired of the both of them.

Matt rose to his feet, wrapped his jacket around her, then led her outside to his truck. They went to the pharmacy first for her antibiotics and pain killers, then Matt drove her home in silence, for which Amy was eternally grateful. She was hurting, both physically and mentally. She was also confused. Historically, she’d made her most craptastic decisions while hurt and confused, which meant that the best thing for her right now was to be alone.

Matt parked, and she made her move before he’d even turned off the engine. She opened the door to hop out, but was snagged by the back of the jacket he’d loaned her.

“I want to go with you and check things out,” he said.

No. If he came inside, she’d forget to be upset with him. She’d also have to face her lie about Riley. “Not necessary.”

“Maybe not, but I’m doing it anyway.”

“No,” she said.

He went still. “Excuse me?”

He probably wasn’t told no very often. He looked as if the word didn’t even compute. “I’m fine,” she said.

His expression was carefully blank. She suspected that he thought she was being an unfathomable pain in his ass. “Look,” she said. “You don’t owe me anything. I can get inside my own place without help.”

“Goddammit, Amy. I was wrong to walk out on you like that.”

“No,” she said flatly. “You weren’t.”

“I was. I had a shitastic day and took it out on you, and I’m sorry for that. So goddamn sorry.”

Not used to apologies or people taking responsibility for their own mistakes, this set her back. “It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not,” he said.

Diversion, she thought desperately. “Is that kid, the climber, still going to be okay?”

A muscle in his jaw twitched, and for a moment she thought maybe he was going to call her out on the quick subject change, but he didn’t. “Yeah,” he finally answered. “But his family is gearing up to sue everyone, claiming negligence on the forestry’s part.”

He’d spoken calmly enough, but she sensed that the situation was causing him some heavy stress. She could see it in the fine lines around his eyes and the tightness to his mouth.

Or maybe that was her making him so unhappy. “It seems more like vandalism,” she said. “If they took down the signs and broke the lock on the gate.”

“We’re working on it.”

She nodded and slipped out of his truck, but almost before her feet touched the ground, he’d come around to help her.

“Don’t brush it off,” he said, and she instantly knew he wasn’t talking about his work, but about how he’d left her before, at his place. “Don’t give me a free pass.” Gently he pressed her back to the truck and cupped her face, stroking her bruised cheek. He moved his head next to hers, and his lips traced over the line of her jaw. “I’m sorry,” he said again, softly.

Her knees wobbled, and she locked them because he was right. She shouldn’t give him a free pass. She never gave anyone a free pass. “I’m going in now.”

He looked up at her place. Dark. “Riley say where she was going?”

“I’m not her keeper.”

He said nothing to this, and short of telling him the entire truth, there was nothing more she could add.

“Wait here,” Matt said at the top of the stairs and left her on the doorstep while he pulled his gun and entered her place.

He came back a moment later, gun holstered.

“Overkill much?” she asked.

“You were attacked tonight, and he could have tailed you home.”

She let out a breath as the truth of that hit her. “I don’t think I was followed.”

He nodded and gestured her in. All the lights were on inside. Matt followed her through the living room, silently regarding her when she sank to her couch, leaned carefully back, and stared at the ceiling.

“Can I get you anything?” he asked.

“No, thank you.”

He grimaced at her polite tone. “Amy—” He broke off when his phone buzzed, looking down to read his screen. “Fuck.”

“You have to go,” she guessed.

“Dispatch.” His expression was grim when he came close and crouched at her side. “Someone shot and killed a bear tonight. I don’t want to leave you alone but I have to get out there and—”

“I’m fine, Matt.”

He looked at her for a long moment. “You’ll call me if you have any problems.”

“I won’t have any problems.”

“Amy.” His voice was serious. His eyes were serious. Everything about him was terrifyingly serious.

“Okay,” she said on a sigh and closed her eyes. “Okay. I’ll call you if there are any problems.”

She felt his weight shift, then the brush of his mouth against her temple. “Lock up behind me,” he said, and then she heard the front door closing, leaving her just as she’d told him she’d wanted—alone.

It was three in the morning before Matt got done, and he made a drive-by past Amy’s place.

It was dark.

He stared up at her window, hoping Riley was there now, and that both she and Amy were sleeping.

At home, he fell into bed exhausted and got two hours of sleep before his alarm went off. On his way to the station, he made another drive-by, this one at the hospital. He still hadn’t gotten to talk to Trevor. Unfortunately, the kid was sleeping and not to be disturbed until visiting hours, when of course his attorney would be present.

Matt made his way to Josh’s office and found him pacing in the hallway, looking down at his phone. Josh’s five o’clock shadow had its own five o’clock shadow. His eyes were dark with exhaustion. He was either hungover as shit or hadn’t slept either. Matt shook his head. “Let me guess. You fucked up at work, and a stupid kid got himself hurt, and now his rich daddy is trying to ruin your life.”

Josh huffed out a mirthless laugh and dropped his head, rubbing a hand over the back of his neck. He was in scrubs and a white doctor’s coat with a stethoscope hanging around his neck. “No. There was a gas leak in my house, had to evacuate Anna and Toby.”

“Where are they?”

Josh grimaced. “In there,” he said, gesturing to his office. “I gave Anna money to go to the cafeteria and get them breakfast, thinking they could sit quietly in my office and watch videos on my computer while I made morning rounds. Anna got donuts.”

“Any left?” Matt asked hopefully.

“I don’t know, but there’s a sugar high going on in there that rivals Looney Tunes. They’re both bouncing off the walls.” Josh stared at his closed office door like it was a hissing cobra. “Toby’s nanny is sick. I’ve called everyone in my contact list for a temp babysitter, but no one answered my calls.”

Matt laughed softly. “That’s because Thing One and Thing Two have worn out everyone in town.”

Josh blew out a breath. “Mallory called Lucille for me. Lucille said she’d give me a couple of hours if I promised to pose for her Facebook photo album.”

Matt found a laugh in what was proving to be a shit day. “With clothes, or without?”

“Fuck you.”

“Not my type.” Matt pulled open Josh’s office door.

Anna was spinning in her wheelchair. Toby was in her lap, the both of them howling with laughter. At the sight of Matt, Anna grinned wide but didn’t stop spinning. “Matty!” she yelled, knocking a stack of files off Josh’s desk.

Matt caught and righted the stack, then stuck his foot into the spokes of one of the wheels of her chair, stopping her on a dime. Leaning down, he hugged them both, then smiled at Toby. Josh’s mini-me was holding a donut in one hand and a lightsaber in the other, chocolate all over his face.

“What’s with the lightsaber?” Matt asked, snagging a donut.

Toby slashed the lightsaber through the air. It lit up and made a swoosh sound.

Matt rumpled the kid’s hair. “So you’re a Jedi.”

Toby nodded.

Matt looked at Anna. “You guys are driving your brother nuts. You know that, right?”

Anna grinned. “It’s a short drive.”

Matt laughed softly. “Try to take it easy on him.”

“Why?” Anna asked.

Good question. Matt took a second donut because it was a second-donut kind of day and left to face it. Double fisting his breakfast jackpot, he went back into the hall just as Josh was shoving his cell phone in his pocket.

“Your climber’s awake,” Josh told him. “His lawyer’s on his way. You might want to get a better breakfast than that,” he said, nodding to the double donuts. “You look like you haven’t slept in days.”

Matt finished donut number one. “It’s the job.”

“Yeah?” Josh asked. “Thought maybe it was the sexy waitress.”