Actually, there was plenty holding her there. Memories. Friends.

Him. “You should be relieved,” she said, trying to tease. “You won’t have to babysit me out on the mountain anymore.”

She could feel the intensity of his gaze on her, but she didn’t look into his eyes, didn’t have the courage to face those green depths. Finally she felt him shift closer, felt the brush of his thighs to hers, and then he put a finger under her chin, waiting until she had no choice but to look at him.

“Harley,” he said. “You make me laugh, you terrify me, you make me worry. Sometimes you change it up and frustrate the hell out of me, and while we’re going there, I’ll even tell you that you always, always, make me ache and want, but I’ve never, not once, felt like I was babysitting you.”

She stared up at him, absorbing the seriousness of his voice and the look in his gaze. “Maybe,” she finally said, “maybe it was just a fluke. The chemistry, the heat, everything.”

“You don’t actually believe that.”

No. No, she didn’t.

Taking her hand, he pulled her along the bluff, to the other side of a clump of Jeffrey pines, where they couldn’t be seen from the house. There he molded his body against hers and kissed her. It was molten-lava hot from the get-go, and when his tongue touched hers, she heard herself moan. By the time he pulled back, she had a death grip on his shirt.

Still cupping her face, his mouth skimmed over her throat, to her ear. “Tell me again that’s a fluke.”

It took her a beat, but she knew him well. His voice had been low and quiet as usual, but also filled with an edge that matched the one in his eyes. “You know, you’re leaving, too. You’re always leaving. It’s not like you’re in a position to offer me-” She broke off, horrified at what she’d almost let slip, at what she’d almost asked for.

“What?” he asked. “What is it you’d have me offer you, Harley?”

When she just closed her eyes, caught between a rock and a hard spot, between her hopes and dreams, he shook his head. “You let me make love to you one night in my truck a million years ago, and it was apparently so bad that you spent the next decade avoiding me. Then I coerce you into spending time with me by following you to Desolation, where if I’m not mistaken, we had a much better than ‘fine’ time. Yet you back off again. So the message I’m getting is that you’re going to back off no matter what, and hide behind the ‘I’m leaving’ thing. Do I have that right, Harley?”

“You are leaving!”

His eyes narrowed, dark and turbulent. “You like to throw my lack of commitment out there, but you need to be honest, at least with yourself.”

She opened her mouth but he put a finger over her lips. “It’s not all me,” he told her. “You’re holding back, too. But the difference is that I know we could at least try to make this work.” He stepped away from her, and just like that, she felt cold and more alone than she had in a long time.

“You just don’t want to,” he said, and then was gone.


TJ took his bike for a long, mind-numbing ride. On the way back through town, he refueled, and though it was past midnight, as he drove by Nolan’s Garage, he saw that the lights were on.

Nolan looked up from his desk when TJ knocked on his office door. “TJ,” he said, his expression carefully blank.

“You’re working late,” TJ said.


They looked at each other a long beat.

“What can I do for you?” Nolan finally asked.

A legitimate question. They both knew that Nick handled all of Wilder Adventures’ mechanical issues. And it wasn’t as if TJ and Nolan were friends. Nolan was relatively new to town, and TJ was gone too much for their paths to have crossed more than a few times.

Still, there’d never been any animosity or tension between them.

Until now.

“Let me take a guess.” Nolan leaned back in his chair. “This is about Harley. You should know that she dumped me.”

TJ acknowledged that with a nod. “Sucks.”

“I suppose you scored a date tonight.”

“No. I didn’t.”

Nolan absorbed that, then blew out a breath. “You know, I really wanted you to be a dick so I could hate you. Or at least so she could hate you. Especially since then I might have had a shot.”

TJ took that in a moment. Decided it wasn’t entirely out of character for him to be a dick when it came to a woman. But not this woman. “Did you fire her?”

“You mean after she dumped me for you?” Nolan pushed away his laptop and rose to his feet. He came around the front of his desk, then leaned back on it, arms and ankles crossed. A casual pose. “No. She’s a friend. I wouldn’t do that to her.”

TJ let out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “She didn’t dump you for me.”

Nolan raised a brow.

“She dumped me, too.”

Nolan’s arms dropped to his sides and his brow practically disappeared into his hairline. “No shit?”

“No shit.”

Nolan thought about that a moment, then frowned. “So why are you here?”

“I just wanted to make sure you didn’t fire her.”

“She dumped you and you’re still worried about her.”

TJ scrubbed a hand down his face. “Yeah.”