Which reminded her-he was in the middle of a rescue, and she was interrupting. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think-never mind.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, but I can’t get a chip to light. What am I doing wrong?”

“Try a pile of chips, not just one.”

She hesitated. “I ate them.”

She could almost hear his smile. “Did you eat the bag, too?” he asked.

She blew out a breath. “No.”

“Then light that. The oils are still in it.”

She kept the cell in the crook of her shoulder as she held a lit match to the bag and whoosh, she got fire. “Thank you.”


“You keep giving.” And giving. “I’m running up a tab here.”

“I told you, no tab. Ever.” His voice lowered. “So…about that missing me thing.”

“What about it?” she asked warily.

“What are you wearing?”

She rolled her eyes and hung up. She used his utility knife to open another can of soup, and set it near the flames to heat.

She hoped TJ had a spare knife on him.

Which was ridiculous. Of course he did. And why was she wasting energy worrying about him? She’d never met anyone better equipped to take care of himself. Crouching in front of the fire, she held out her chilled hands. The night wasn’t that cold, it was more nerves than anything else. Because while she’d planned for this trip, had wanted this trip, had even looked forward to this trip, the reality of being alone out there was suddenly a little daunting.

You were lucky you weren’t alone last night, she told herself. So get over it. She got into her sleeping bag fully dressed and ordered herself to sleep.

It took a very long time.

She had no idea how much time passed before she came suddenly wide awake, blinking like an owl. She could see nothing but complete blackness, no stars, no fire, nothing. Panic licked at her and she struggled for a minute before realizing she was completely engulfed by her sleeping bag. Clearing her face gave her fresh air and some meager light from the stars. She peered at the cell phone she was still clutching in her hand.

Four a.m.

She’d done it, she’d made it, with no problems. Or almost, anyway. She smiled at that, then went still at the odd noise in the woods behind her. Not the harmless hum of an insect, or the hoot of a bird, but the snapping of a twig.


She slowly crept out of the bag and pulled the mace and her flashlight from her backpack. Feeling far too out in the open, she backed into the woods on the opposite side of the clearing from where she’d heard the noise, and vanished into the dark.

Then, eyes straining, she circled around, hoping to catch sight of whoever was watching her. Her heart was pounding in her ears, her blood pumping through her veins as she shoved the flashlight in her waistband and pulled her phone from her pocket. She had her thumb on her contact list, ready to hit TJ’s number, when she saw a shadow walking through the woods about ten yards from her.

Coming right at her.

Little gray dots danced in her vision. She talked herself out of fainting and reviewed her options at the speed of light. Plan A-she could run. Run like hell. Problem with that was she didn’t have her pack, which meant she didn’t have the GPS or her compass, and in the dark she’d get lost for sure. Plan B-she could scream. That wasn’t going to work either, as she doubted the bears and coyotes were going to do anything to help her. Plan C-she could simply go up to him and demand to know why he’s spying on her. No. Not big enough balls for that.

Plan D-stun gun. Yeah. That was her best option, and she lifted it at the ready.

He was tall. Built. And…and he had familiar unruly hair, a stubbled jaw, and piercing green eyes. “TJ.”

He came to a stop before her and looked at the stun gun. “Huh. And here I thought you’d be happy to see me.”

“You are so not funny.” She pressed a hand to her thumping heart and shivered.


“No.” She shivered again. Fear. Excitement. Maybe going to pass out. “You scared me half to death.”

He reached out very carefully and relieved her of the stun gun. “You’re shaking.”

“I know. Dammit.”

He nudged her up against a tree and pressed his body to hers. “It’s adrenaline. You need an outlet for it.”

“Gee, let me guess.” She meant to sound sarcastic, but it was hard to pull that off when she was trembling so hard she was stuttering almost to the point of being unintelligible.

TJ had his hands and forearms flat on the tree, bracketing her head. He was warm, and though his voice had indicated a certain level of frustration, exhaustion, and that bafflement she always seemed to cause in him, she didn’t feel threatened.

The opposite.

Which meant that it was official, she was crazy. Certifiably so. Because she wanted to curl into him, wanted to wrap herself up with him and lose herself. Which is exactly what would happen if she let her guard down. She had no doubt that a relationship with him, fleeting as it would be, had the major potential to shatter her heart into a thousand pieces.

But God, she wanted another TJ-induced orgasm.

Tipping up her head, she looked into his face. His jaw was dark with almost three days’ worth of stubble. His eyes weren’t giving much away other than hunger. Hunger for sleep? Hunger for food? Probably.

And hunger for her. No question, she thought, a little shaken at the deep, raw look of desire in his gaze.