Nick grinned, apparently over his mad. “What happened to the no nookie-on-the-job rule?”

TJ and his brothers had come up with that rule a long time ago, when they’d first started the business. No f**king around on the job.


There’d been slip-ups, most notably Cam’s thing with Katie last year, but for the most part, the rule had kept them from being stupid. “Harley isn’t a client.”

At that moment, she came up beside them to help tie the kayaks down. Her cheeks were flushed, her hair a little tousled. Her shirt was still untucked.

Nick pulled her in for an easy, affectionate hug and sent TJ a long, level look of warning over her head.

Yeah, yeah. She was like Nick’s baby sister, and if TJ hurt her, he was dead. Got it. As for Harley, she was looking adorably flustered, and to TJ, sexy as hell. Just watching her fingers work the ropes reminded him of how they’d felt outlining his-

“I don’t understand why you need my help with this trip,” she said softly, gesturing to the coeds. “Looks like any guy’s idea of a wet dream to me, having those four Mountain Barbies all to yourself.” She met TJ’s gaze. “Explain it to me again?”

“I need you to protect me.”

Nick smirked, then smoothed it into a smile when Harley glanced over at him. As far as “protecting” went, Nick would go to great lengths to do exactly that for Harley. Hell, they all would, which reminded TJ that if he screwed this up and hurt her, there’d be a lot of people looking to strangle him. Specifically Cam, Stone, and Nick. And while he could take any one of them, he was pretty sure that against all three he’d get his ass kicked.

Nick drove them out to the trailhead at the start of the Snake River. The plan was for him to make a food drop at the halfway mark the next day, then pick them all up at the ending point in two days.

Katie had given Harley the trip details to read on the ride, though it was hard to absorb details when she was still quivering from what TJ had done to her up against the door in the closet-which she was absolutely not going to think about.

She forced herself to concentrate on the file. The trip was relatively simple. Kayaking. Two nights of camping. She was to record the trip with her camera, and maybe give out some wildlife facts while she was at it.

No problem. She was experienced enough for that. She could kayak to Mexico if she had to. Cooking might be a little bit of a problem, but hey, TJ knew going into it what her skills were. He could cook. She’d happily serve and clean up.


TJ rode shotgun in the front seat next to Nick. He was slouched back, looking deceptively lazy and at ease as the girls chattered incessantly amongst themselves. He looked like he was breathing once every other minute or so, and maybe that’s what he had to do in order to survive the silliness coming from the back, lower his heart rate to hibernation level.

Lani and Tandy asked about the landscape and the river, and TJ opened a map and showed them the proposed route, passively pleasant and professional. But when Shelly and Kitty asked about him personally, like was he single, did he date college-age sorority girls, and what was his favorite drink, he didn’t respond.

Nick shot Harley a glance in the rearview mirror, and Harley bit her lower lip to hold back her smile.

At the staging area, the girls pulled off their shorts and T-shirts, once again revealing their teeny tiny bikinis as they put on the protective gear that TJ and Nick handed out and insisted on everyone wearing. TJ spoke to the girls in detail before letting them into the water, outlining exactly what he expected, and how they needed to listen and respond to him if he asked them to do something.

“Do you think he’s this alpha and dominating in bed?” Shelly whispered to Kitty, shivering with excitement.

Again Harley had to bite her lip to keep a straight face.

TJ shot her a look as he checked and rechecked the gear, then got everyone into the water, managing to avoid helping Kitty spread suntan oil on her limbs or helping Shelly tighten her vest across her enhanced and expensive br**sts. Much to their disappointment, he let Harley do both.

That part of the river was wide, calm, and flat-which was why they were on it. Harley had her camera out, able to both steer and shoot pictures. The water was so clear and deep that they could see fish gliding through the currents beneath them in the sunny spots. It was like a whole other universe existed down there, and the coeds actually fell silent, soaking it all in, absorbing the beauty.

Until one of the fish broke the surface with a splash.

Startled screams abounded, and Tandy accidentally rolled her kayak. Her friends sat watching her attempt to right herself, tears of laughter streaming down their faces.

Harley got it all on digital.

TJ righted Tandy with ease, making the others sigh and look at each other, clearly wishing they’d thought to roll. Tandy was none the worse for wear, though she did have a brief hair crisis.

A coyote appeared on the shore, visible through the bush. “Wolf!” Kitty cried out. “What if it eats us?”

TJ looked at Harley across the water. Obviously, she was to field this one. “Actually, it’s a coyote,” Harley told her. “And he’s not going to eat you.”

“How do you know?”

“There’s been only one fatal coyote attack on record, and that was back in 1981, in Southern California. But to be safe, don’t ever feed one.”

“What if it comes up to us while we’re eating?” Tandy asked.

“It won’t.”