Harley walked hard and fast, but still couldn’t outpace her demons. Or the fact that her body felt so…alive. Every nerve ending hummed and pulsed, and little electric zings of sheer lust randomly fired from erotic pulse point to erotic pulse point.

She had no one to blame but herself. She’d known the minute that TJ’s lips touched hers she’d be in big trouble.

Lord, the man could kiss.

He knew just how to work that warm mouth of his, too, how to hold a woman, how to pull her in and make her purr. Hell, she was still purring.

He was following her, of course. Keeping pace but letting her lead, leaving her to her thoughts.

Thoughts she could do without, so she slowed until he was at her side.

Even more devastating than his mouth were his eyes. They were a deep, velvety green, and mirrors to his soul. She turned and looked into them. He had a few fine lines fanning out from the corners. Not from age, but from his easy smile, from squinting into the bright high-altitude sun, from planning and thinking about his clients’ fun and safety, from worry and concern about those he loved.

From following her up a mountain out of that worry and concern.

All those little things he did were just pieces of the puzzle that made up the boy she’d once loved, the boy who’d grown into a man. A good man. A solid, strong man.

A man, despite everything her common sense screamed at her, she was incredibly attracted to.

With a long exhale, she stepped off the narrow trail and up on a huge boulder overlooking the wild, open forestland and jagged mountain peaks for as far as the eye could see. And there, surrounded by three hundred and sixty degrees of glory on earth, she could secretly admit one more thing-she’d never gotten over him.

And it was unlikely that she ever would.

She felt him step up to her side and take in the view as well, still silent.

She’d thought this trip would be easy. Fun. Exciting. She’d spend some time just…being. She could ruminate on her favorite TV shows. She’d talk herself out of her addiction of chewing on her thumbnail. She’d think about her life and how she wanted to move outside her comfort zone and really live it.

Passion included, please.

But she couldn’t think about any of that because TJ was with her like white on rice, the poster boy for Distraction. When she tugged off her pack to dig through it for water, he simply pulled a bottle from a side pocket of his annoyingly organized pack, the scrumptiously defined muscles in his back and shoulders working as he twisted off the lid and handed it to her.

He waited in silence under the churning sky while she drank, a low breeze playing with his hair, the sun reflecting off his aviator sunglasses. The wind gusted harder, playing with the hem of his shirt, lifting it briefly to reveal his abs, making hers clench. He drove her crazy, too, she realized. Crazy with lust.

She closed her eyes and downed some water, which did nothing for her parched throat and out of control, not-been-laid-in-far-too-long body. Huh. Seemed she was out of her comfort zone already, without even trying.

At the next rumble of distant thunder, she started walking again, not bothering to wait to see if he followed. She didn’t need to, she couldn’t have lost him if she’d tried. He’d been born and raised in those mountains and knew them like the back of his hand. He could probably track her coyotes better and faster than she could.

They climbed another mile before he spoke. “Going to rain soon,” he said.

She looked up at the still churning and ominous sky. “That problem will have to get in line.”

He slid her an amused glance. “You have other problems?”

Yes. Not the least of which was that they’d come to a fork in the trail, with three possible directions. Two veered right, and she wasn’t sure which she was supposed to take. She looked down at her map and at the little GPS unit Stone had given her, and she still didn’t have a clue.

“Want help?”

Hell, no, she didn’t want help. It was one thing to sit at her laptop and interpret data, but-as she was beginning to realize-it was another entirely to be in the field. “Give me a minute.” She grimaced. “I’m talking myself into not being stupid, into accepting help from one of the smartest, sharpest, best guides in the country.” She eyed her map again. Yeah. She was going to need his help.


“All you have to do is ask,” TJ said quietly, all mocking and signs of humor gone.

She kept her eyes on her maps rather than him because looking at him was doing funny things to her insides. “How much will it cost me to keep you from saying I told you so?”

“We’ll work on a payment plan.”

Lightning lit the sky, followed by another sharp crack of thunder that made her jump again.

“You have raingear?” he asked. “We’re going to need it.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want it right now.” She was still overheated from their kiss. Not him, apparently, because he removed a waterproof shell from his backpack and pulled it on. And damn if he didn’t look good in it, like he could be on the cover of Outside.

Or the centerfold of a different magazine altogether.

“Let me hold your stuff while you gear up,” he said.

“I’m fine for a minute. Here’s where I want to get to tonight”-she said, pointing to the map-“which is where the first malfunctioning camera is set up. I think the best route is this far right trail. You?”

He leaned over her shoulder to take a look. She could feel the heat and strength of him seeping into her, and she had the oddest urge to press into him, sink against him.