He was something, all right. “I’m dating someone else.”

“Oh, for God’s sake. Stop saying that. It’s not even true.”

“Yes, it is. Nolan and I have gone out twice.”

“But one of those times was an accident!” Skye sighed. “Look, Nolan’s great. Okay? He is. He’s just not great for you. I mean, he’s cute and smart and has a job, the major three requisites, but…”


“The two of you are too much alike. Sweet, kind…”

Harley narrowed her eyes. “Beta?”

“Well not alpha, that’s for sure. Get back to the begging.”

“Hellooooo, didn’t you hear my story? He leaned in, and I…touched him and closed my eyes and begged for the kiss.”


“Yes, but he knew. He even laughed.”

“Laughed-or chuckled?”

“What’s the difference?”

“Laughing would imply he was a tease and an ass**le. Chuckling softly would imply that he was as thrown as you, and is possibly just proceeding with caution since you’re not exactly an easy woman to deal with.”

Harley blew out a breath. Hard to dispute the truth. “Okay, maybe it was just a chuckle.”

Skye gave her a smug smirk.

“We’re so done talking about this.”

“Look, if you wanted a kiss, why didn’t you just grab his ears and make him kiss you, mud and all? You could have hosed each other off, and then moved to his shower, and then let the real begging begin.”

Harley, who’d just taken an unfortunate scoop of cereal, choked on it.

Skye smiled. “Look at you, all aflutter. Who’d have thought, you and badass TJ, circling each other.”

“See you’re not listening at all. We don’t even like each other.”

“Oh, I’ve been listening. But I don’t think you are. You like your comfort zone, I get it. We all get it. You’re a creature of habit, and keep your own counsel. Well, guess what? In that single thing, you and TJ are two linked souls.”


Skye shook her head. “Let me simplify. You need to get laid. He’s hot as hell. By the way, he’s the opposite of beta. Honey, that man is allll alpha. There’s so much tension between the two of you that the air sizzles and crackles when you’re within a hundred yards of each other. Just do it already.”

Harley had spent much of the night imagining exactly that, remembering how he’d looked after he’d shrugged out of his outer shirt and wrapped it around her, leaving him in just a mud-spattered T-shirt, which had clung to his shoulders and abs. If it hadn’t been for the threat of Cam and Nick coming around the corner, she’d have jumped him right then and there. The only thing worse than knowing that was the fact that he’d known it, too. “If there’s any ‘doing it’ to be had,” she said. “It’ll be with Nolan.”

Skye grimaced.


“Stop hiding behind the fantasy of being Nolan’s significant other. He’s like…Clark Kent, okay? He’ll never be your Superman. He’ll never match your passion.”

“Okay, no more Lifetime movies for you.”

“I’m serious.”

“Me, too,” Harley said. “Passion fades. How many times have Mom and Dad proven that?”

Skye shook her head. “Honey, you have been too long without a man in your bed if you’re already willing to concede passion in your life.”

Harley sighed.

“Come on, you’d walk all over Nolan and we both know it. If you’re looking for a man-made orgasm, my bet is on TJ.”

“Oh for chrissake.” Harley stood up, grabbed both their bowls, and moved to the sink. “I’m the older sister. How do you even know all this stuff?”

“We went to different high schools.”

“We went to the same high school.”

“No, you went to the Actually Learn Something High School, and I went to the Boys Are Awesome and Party Hearty High School.”

Harley laughed but Skye was right. She didn’t want to live without passion. She had lived without passion.

“Whatever you’re thinking,” Skye said, coming to her side, smiling at her. “Go with it.”

“Go to class, that’s what I’m thinking. I’m paying too much for you to be late.”

“Okay, but one more thing.” She pulled a couple of well-read paperbacks from her purse. “Pick one and take it on your hike into Desolation. Read it by your campfire. If you can tell me that Nolan makes you as hot as some of the scenes do, I’ll try to believe you.”

“What are they?”

Skye grinned. “Really hot romances. Contemporary or historical?”


Skye shook her head and tossed one onto the backpack that was half packed and against the wall. “Just read. And report back to me when you get home. Thanks for the cash. I’ll pay you back.”


Skye hugged Harley hard. “Thanks for believing in me, Harl.”


Wilder Adventures sat on thirty acres of Wilder land, surrounded by 75,000 more acres of national forest. The compound consisted of the lodge, two equipment garages, and a series of eight smaller cabins. Their guests, if they’d arranged for overnight accommodations, stayed in the main lodge, which was run efficiently by Annie. All of the business equipment, of which there was a mind-boggling amount including bikes, quads, skis, snowmobiles, kayaks, boats, snowcats, and a helicopter, was handled by Nick. Each of the Wilders had claimed one of the cabins for themselves.