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All we did know was that it wasn’t Dean Zook. Colton had interviewed him after the break-in, and apparently just the sight of a detective showing up at his place had caused the guy to break out in hives. According to Colton, Dean might be persistent and rude, but he wasn’t getting a stalker vibe from him and he doubted that I’d hear from Dean again.

Okay. I wasn’t going to think about that—any of that. Tonight was going to be normal and fun and all things good.

When we pulled into the parking lot and Reece killed the engine, I felt my stomach drop and land on my feet as my gaze locked with a cerulean one. “Did I tell you that you look beautiful today?” he said.

My lips parted as I nodded. He had. That morning.

“Oh. I’m going to tell you again. You look beautiful.”

Wordless, all I could do was stare at him. He was so handsome, but it was the openness in his steady gaze, the acceptance of me and all my crazy that really undid me.

You’ve fallen, an insidious voice whispered and I wanted to smack that dumb bitch upside her head, because another chirpier voice was pointing out that I probably fell when I was fifteen. It was just a long, slow-motion kind of fall at this point.

“You got the potato salad?”

“Huh?” I murmured, distracted by the warring voices in my head.

He gestured at my feet. “The potato salad that we bought at the store that you insisted on putting in another plastic container so it looked like you actually made it when I’m sure there’s no one here going to believe you actually made that.”

“Oh!” I bent over, scooping up the tub. “I totally made this.”


“Shut up,” I hissed, yanking on the handle, but the door wouldn’t budge. I rolled my eyes. “Can you unlock my door?”

He chuckled and hit the button. I all but fell out of the damn thing, and then was stunned that within a heartbeat, Reece was by my side, taking the potato salad out of my grasp and grabbing my hand with his.

We were holding hands.

Like boyfriend and girlfriend.

We were totally holding hands as we crossed the parking lot, and I was torn between punching myself in the lady bits and skipping like a schoolgirl.

I needed therapy.

The door to Jax’s townhome was unlocked, and as soon as we stepped inside the house, we almost plowed into a beautiful redhead coming down the stairs.

“Hey!” I squealed. “Avery!” Then I frowned. “Are you okay?”

Avery looked a little green as she gave me a wobbly smile. “Hey,” she replied in a much more subdued voice. “Sorry. I’m getting over a stomach bug. The stomach is still a little woozy, but I’m not contagious or anything.” She glanced at where my hand was mating with Reece’s, and her grin strengthened. “Hi, Reece.”

He nodded. “Are you sure you’re okay? Do we need to get Cam?”

Avery’s laugh was airy. “Yes, I’m sure. And besides, I doubt you’ll pull him away from the grill. I’m pretty sure he kicked Jax off grill duty. He does that everywhere we go. It’s weird.”

“Probably a good thing. Cam can cook, right?” I asked as we followed her to the kitchen and out the back door.

Her eyes got this dreamy look that was goofy and cute, and I wondered if I looked like that when people mentioned Reece. Probably not as adorable, and more whacked. “Yeah, he can cook.”

Reece squeezed my hand. “I bet his omelets aren’t as good as mine.”

I snorted.

His eyes narrowed on me as his lips twitched. “You wait and see if I make you another omelet anytime soon.”

Avery’s avid gaze bounced back and forth between us. “So you guys . . . um—”

“Joined the league of the incredibly good-looking couple secret organization of annoying hotness?” Katie appeared, popping out of a wall for all I knew. Dressed down today—sort of—she was wearing hot-pink jeans and an off-the-shoulder black shirt. “Yes. The answer would be yes.”

Reece raised his brows.

“What? I dare you to deny such label,” she challenged. “Do it. Make my day.”

I giggled.

“I wasn’t going to deny it,” Reece replied. “But thanks for stealing our thunder.”

Unabashed, Katie rocked back on what appeared to be six-inch heels. She spun around, clapping. “Reece and Roxy, whose names link together in an incredibly cute way, are totally doing it!”

“Oh my God,” I whispered, eyes wide.

“Well, that’s one way of making an announcement.” Reece sighed.

A whole bunch of heads turned in our direction. By the grill, Jax raised his hand and gave us a . . . he gave us a thumbs-up? Really?

“I’m so proud of our babies,” Nick commented from where he sat near the grill, sprawled in a lawn chair he looked like he overgrew a few feet ago, a hoodie up over his head and rocking dark sunglasses. “They’re all grown up now. What shall we ever do?”

Calla walked to us, her long blond hair swishing in a ponytail. She grinned as she took the potato salad from us. “I have so many questions,” she said to me meaningfully. “But since Katie pretty much just put that all out there, I’ll wait.”

“Thanks,” I muttered dryly.

She laughed as she plopped the container on a card table someone must’ve dug up from a basement or a frat house, from the looks of it. “You make this?” Her brows rose.

“Yes,” I answered, not even blinking an eye.

Reece swallowed a laugh that earned him a strange look from Calla, and I pulled my hand free, shooting him a death glare over my shoulder. His grin spread.

“You totally didn’t make this,” she said, brows arched.

I sighed. “No.”

Calla laughed again. “I was going to say I didn’t know you peeled potatoes.”

“Peeling potatoes is hard,” I grumbled.

Avery joined Cam, who immediately draped an arm over her shoulders. “You feeling okay, shortcake?” he asked, concern evident in the way he stared at her. When she nodded, he dipped his head and kissed the tip of her nose and then looked up. “The hamburgers are almost done. Got some hot dogs on the grill, too. Wanted to grill some chicken, but Jase didn’t want to wait so long.”

Jase, the extremely good-looking one of the bunch, folded his arms. “Especially when you want to baste it like you’re fucking Betty Crocker or some shit.”

“Don’t hate on Betty Crocker,” Cam warned him.