Holy smokes.

“Is it really, really hot in here?” he asked ironically, voice silky, green eyes holding hers prisoner.

She was completely and utterly startled. “I’m dirty.”


“Sweaty, too.”

“I repeat. So?”

Oh boy. “I have a boyfriend,” she whispered.

He just smiled one of the big, bad wolf smiles, took her hand and led her outside, locking her front door, walking her to his Jeep.

“I’ll drive myself,” she said.

“You’d rather drive yourself all the way out to the lodge than be in the same car as me?”

“Well, those awkward silences are so much fun.”

“We’re never silent. We’re usually arguing.”

“Hence the separate rides.”

He let out a breath. “I’m trying to save you the gas and the trouble, Harley.”

“I don’t want you to have to drive me all the way back.”

“I don’t mind.”


“Jesus.” He swiped a hand down his face. “Just get in the damn Jeep.”

She looked into his eyes. He was looking a little irritated and also a little amused-at the both of them.

And still smoking hot.

It was a problem. He was a problem. “I’m not sure I trust you.”

Or me.

He let out a small smile. “Well, then, it’s a good thing I’m not your boyfriend.”


They drove in silence, which suited TJ just fine. It seemed to suit Harley, too. She wasn’t giving much away as they drove through town. Wishful had been around since the 1800s, once upon a time making a name for itself as the wildest corner of the wild, wild west. It’d survived the gold rush, the lumber boom, and now, thanks to sitting at 6,000 feet altitude, was an outdoor enthusiasts’ tourist stop on the way to Lake Tahoe-something TJ and his brothers had made full use of with Wilder Adventures.

At the end of town, he turned onto the highway, and then onto the narrow, private three-mile road that led to the Wilder lodge. Harley continued to stare out the window away from him, doing her best imitation of someone who didn’t give a damn-which TJ knew was yet another big, fat lie. He affected her, and he had no idea what to do with that. “You’re really good with moving to Colorado?” he asked.

She turned her head and met his gaze. “You think I’ll get the job?”


She looked surprised.

That made the second time today he’d surprised her by offering support.

He knew her parents, both sixties throwbacks, who were equal parts proud of their daughter and confused by her. The support system went from Harley to them, not the other way around. Same with Skye. It was doubtful Harley ever was on the receiving end of the same level of support she gave.

She kept busy looking at the thick, lush woods on either side of the narrow, windy road that led to Wilder Adventures. The trees were pine, most well over a hundred years old and a hundred feet tall. “I figure Colorado won’t be all that different from Wishful,” she said.

“What about the boyfriend?”


He slid her a look. “You have more than one boyfriend?”

“Why do you keep saying it like that, like you’re putting quotes around his name?”

“I’m not. Nolan’s a good guy.”


“I didn’t say but.”

“Yes, but there was definitely a but at the end of that sentence. It was a silent but implied but.”

“Jesus,” he muttered. “Can’t you just answer my question?”

“Fine. What exactly is the question again?”

“Why isn’t Nolan going out to Desolation with you?”

“I didn’t ask him. Listen, I realize that in your eyes I’m only a mechanic, but-”

“You’re more,” he said quietly, then met her gaze for a beat to let her see he meant it. “Far more.”

She was silent a moment, absorbing that. “I grew up out here, TJ, same as you. As the only tow truck driver in town, I’ve been called out at all hours. Alone. I’ve faced all sorts of things.”

He’d known that. He’d always hated that. Letting out a breath, he pulled into Wilder Adventures. He parked in front of the three-story lodge that he and his brothers had built, the late afternoon sun illuminating the stone and wood accents harvested from the property itself.

Home, for better or worse. He spent a lot of time away from there, and yet he always came back.

“I forget how beautiful it is,” Harley said quietly, and looked at him. “You ever think about it? Where you started out, and where you ended up?”

“Since we started out in the gutter and somehow ended up here, no. I try not to go there.”

“You didn’t somehow end up here. You guys worked your asses off. You deserve this.” With that shocking statement, she hopped out of the Jeep.

The sound of whining engines rent the air around them. Cam, Stone, and Nick-their pilot and mechanic-were racing on quads.

They’d had a lot of rain in the past few afternoons. The ATVs were churning across the yard, mud from the tires flinging up through the air in high arcs.

Annie stood off to the side, Chuck at her feet, the kittens nowhere in sight, but most likely in the lodge, creating utter destruction. Annie wore her usual dark jeans, vintage rock T-shirt, and chef’s apron. This one said: COMPLAINTS TO THE CHEF MIGHT BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH. She had her hands on her hips, and given her expression, she’d clearly rather be riding than watching, but Nick had set the law-no riding while pregnant. TJ was just glad Nick had told her that, since no one else could tell Annie what to do and live.