Had melted into a puddle at his feet. Not going there.

Unfortunately for her senses, he smelled like the wild Sierras; pine and fresh air, and something even better, something so innately male that her nose twitched for more, seeking out the heat and raw male energy that surrounded him. Since it made her want to lean into him, she shoved in another bite of ice cream instead.

“I saw on Oprah once that women use ice cream as a substitute for sex,” he said.

She choked again, and he resumed gliding his big, warm hand up and down her back. “You watch Oprah?”

“No. Annie does, and once I overheard her yelling at the TV that women should have plenty of both sex and ice cream.”

That sounded exactly like his Aunt Annie. “Well, I don’t need the substitute.”

“No?” he murmured, looking amused at her again.


He hadn’t taken his hands off her. He still had one rubbing up and down her back, the other low on her belly, holding her upright, which was ridiculous, so she smacked it away. She did her best to ignore the fluttering he’d caused, and the odd need she had to grab him by the shirt, haul him close, and have her merry way with him.

That was what happened to a woman whose last orgasm had come from a battery-operated device instead of a man, a fact she’d admit, oh never. “I was expecting your brother.”

“Stone’s working on Emma’s ‘honey do’ list at the new medical clinic, so he sent me instead. Said to give you these.” He pulled some maps from his back pocket, maps she needed for a field expedition for her research. When she took them out of his hands, he hooked his thumbs in the front pockets of his Levi’s. He wore a T-shirt layered with an opened button-down that said WILDER ADVENTURES on the pec. His jeans were faded nearly white in the stress spots, of which there were many, nicely encasing his long, powerful legs and lovingly cupping a rather impressive package that was emphasized by the way his fingers dangled on his thighs.

Not that she was looking.

Okay, she was looking, but she couldn’t help it. The man oozed sexuality. Apparently some men were issued a handbook at birth on how to make a woman stupid with lust. And he’d had a lot of practice over the years.

She’d watched him do it.

Each of the three Wilder brothers had barely survived their youth, thanks in part to no mom and a mean, son-of-a-bitch father. But by some miracle, the three of them had come out of it alive, and now channeled their energy into Wilder Adventures, where they guided clients on just about any outdoor adventure that could be imagined; heli-skiing, extreme mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, anything.

Though TJ had matured and found success, he still gave off a don’t-mess-with-me vibe. Even now, at four in the afternoon, he looked big and bad and tousled enough that he might have just gotten out of bed and wouldn’t be averse to going back.

It irritated her. It confused her. And it turned her on, a fact that drove her bat-shit crazy because she was no longer interested in TJ Wilder.


It’d be suicide to still be interested. No one could sustain a crush for fifteen years.

No one.

Except, apparently, her. Because deep down, the unsettling truth was that if he so much as directed one of his sleepy, sexy looks her way, her clothes would fall right off.


Wasn’t that just her problem. The fact that once upon a time, a very long time ago, at the tail end of TJ’s out-of-control youth, the two of them had spent a single night together being just about as intimate as a man and a woman could get. Her first time, but definitely not his first. Neither of them had been exactly legal, and only she’d been sober.

Which meant only she remembered.

Not going there…never going there again. “Thanks for the maps,” she said in a clear invite to leave.

Instead he reached for her spoon and stole a bite of her ice cream.

Bastard. She’d bet her last buck-if she had one-that he wasn’t orgasm deprived. Only the orgasm deprived got her ice cream!

“I wanted to talk to you.” He licked the spoon with his tongue, flashing straight white teeth, and she remembered what else he liked to do with that mouth.

She dragged her eyes off it and up to his eyes. “About?” she asked suspiciously.

“Not here. I’ll buy dinner.”

“I don’t go out to dinner with the big bad wolf.”

He grinned. “Sometimes, Harley, you have to take a risk.”

She wasn’t real big on risk. Risk tended to end badly for her. Such as staring at her insufficient bank balance. Such as holding two jobs, neither of which was satisfying her. Such as waiting on Nolan to make his move sexually, when she was so overcharged she’d probably explode during her next shower.

Or the next time she leaned against the washer during the spin cycle.

Unable to explain any of that, she turned and started to walk into her kitchen. TJ hooked a finger into the back of her coveralls and halted her progress.

“Let go,” she said.

“In a minute. You’re off to Desolation Wilderness for a few days.”

Her back was plastered to his chest, and it was a damn fine chest. Strong. Broad and warm. “I have to check on the tracking equipment. Several cameras aren’t transmitting. Also I’m hoping to catch sight of any of the three core coyote groups that we’re tracking. I’ve got a red, a blue, and a green group scattered through Desolation.”

“Hope to catch sight of them?”