She looked up then and met his gaze, seeming to read it perfectly, because her own went bright with intelligence and wit, and something else.


In that beat he knew exactly what he wanted from her, and it would only start with a kiss. Walking right up to her, he pulled her to her feet, tugging hard enough that she hit his chest with a little “oomph.” He stared down into her face, so close to his. The grimness of her mouth conveyed annoyance rather than the easy amusement she wanted him to believe she felt.

She was pissed.

Well, get in line, because he was pissed first. She had no reason for not wanting help this weekend, and it scared him. All the things that could happen to her scared him. “You let me think you needed privacy, and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.”

“Yeah, you should really work on that.”

He just stared at her.

She opened her mouth to say something, probably to rip him a new one, but then she seemed to realize that they were practically in each other’s arms, and suddenly her arms wound around his neck.

Worked for him. He gripped her hips hard.

She stared at his mouth. “God, TJ. You make me so…”

“Yeah.” His arms tightened on her. “Ditto.” And then, even as he said it, she shifted her body to his and he felt his frustration and anger melt into something far more dangerous. “Harley.”

Her eyes were twin pools of ravenous hunger. She licked her lips, and he couldn’t help it, he groaned and bent his head, until their lips were gently, almost sweetly touching.

“This is insane,” she whispered in one beat, and in the next they were kissing, hard and wet, and just a little bit desperate.

She moaned her pleasure into his mouth and then sank her fingers into his hair and let out a soft, sexy, demanding little mewl. He shifted so he could press her back against a tree, freeing up his hands to thread into her hair, to draw her in deeper.

Jesus. He was out of control, unaware of their surroundings, completely gone, lost in her, until two loud birds squawked at each other right over their heads, fighting over something. Harley jumped and pulled back, slipping down the tree trunk a few inches as if her knees had gone to Jell-O before she locked them into place.

He took his hands from her and braced them on the tree, on either side of her shoulders, as he tried to draw air into his lungs and tighten the tenuous grip on his sanity.

It wasn’t easy.

“So I’m guessing all is forgiven,” she said, her voice a little ragged.

He pressed a finger and thumb into his eyelids and took a deep breath.

“You look like you’re torn between kissing me again and spanking me.”

He dropped his hand and stared at her. “Good idea. How about both?”

Her eyes widened, then he hauled her up and kissed her again.

For a beat she was utterly still, then met him halfway, melting into him, over him, fisting her hands in his shirt as things went instantly wild. She came up for air first, but even then her lips clung to his before she slowly pulled away.

Looking as completely perplexed as he felt, she stared at him. “What the hell was that?”

A category-five hurricane. “A hell of an adrenaline rush.”


“And”-he finally went with total honesty-“I have no idea. You drive me f**king crazy.”

She let out a sound that managed to convey frustration, amusement, and temper all in one. “Same goes.”

“You should probably slap me the next time I do that.”

“Yeah.” Her gaze dropped to his mouth again. “TJ…”

Ah, hell. He was going to do “that” again, slap or not, and they both knew it.

In fact, they lunged at each other.

But instead of wild, this time the kiss was deep and soulful, and devastatingly necessary as air. He felt her knees give, and gliding his arms around her, supported them both as her fingers wove into his hair at the back of his head. It felt so damn good he groaned into her mouth, sucking on her lower lip, biting it, kissing it again. He could feel the heat of her body, the soft cushion of her soft curves pressed up against him, and his brain clicked completely off, instinct and need taking over.

When they broke apart, she pressed her face into his neck and he felt her draw his scent in, as if maybe she couldn’t get enough of him, and his chest ached, physically ached.

God. He had no idea what was happening, but suddenly he wanted to know he wasn’t alone in this. Needed to know he wasn’t alone in this. Fisting his fingers in her hair, he gently tugged until she tilted her face up.

Her eyes were closed. “Harley, look at me.”

It took her a minute, as if she was trying to get it together before she did, but when she opened those seductive eyes, the truth was there for him to see.

He wasn’t alone in this.

That wasn’t necessarily a comfort.

The silence was as heavy as the humid air around them, and was broken only by their accelerated breathing. Then a branch cracked overhead, falling through the trees to hit the ground near them.

Harley jerked.

TJ didn’t move a muscle, not knowing what to say. Rare for him.

Harley finally gathered herself first, turning away to get moving again, leaving him to follow.

Or not.

He knew what she was hoping for. She wanted him far, far away. Hell, on that they were in perfect accord. But what he wanted to do and what he needed to do were two very different things. He needed to know she was safe.

So he followed.