“No.” She kissed his other cheek. “But I’ll give you some peace. For now.”

It was nearly midnight when she left, with one last long hug that Sam endured. When he was alone, he shut the laptop and hit the lights. Bed was the smart decision but he was far from tired. Thinking about his dad had dredged up some shit he didn’t want dredged.

He needed to expel his pent-up energy. Usually he did this by running with Ben, a longtime friend from town. Like Sam, Ben appreciated the art of not talking much, which meant they were well suited as running partners, but Ben wasn’t sleeping alone these days, and it was too late to call. So, restless and edgy, Sam hit the beach by himself, pushing himself hard. He tried to clear his mind, but things kept popping into his head.

Love ya, son.

It drove him crazy how his dad threw around the words like they meant nothing. Love, real love, would have protected him from being taken from their home due to neglect. Real love would have forgotten the stupid get-rich-quick schemes that never came through and attempted to keep a job so they had a roof over their heads and food in their kitchen.

Sam shook off the bleak memories and kept running. The past didn’t matter. The here and now mattered. Building boats. Running the charter business. Coming through for Cole and Tanner the way they’d always come through for him.

But the past was a sneaky bitch, and for some reason, tonight he couldn’t escape her. Not even an hour later when he was back where he started, standing on the sand in front of their hut, breathing heavily.

A sliver of a moon cast the beach in a blue glow, allowing him to see the small shadow sitting on the sand a few feet away.


Chapter 6

Sam stood still for a beat, thinking that if he was smart, he’d turn and get the hell off the beach without saying a word. Not when he was this wild on the inside, this edgy.

But apparently he wasn’t smart at all because his feet didn’t budge.

She wore an oversized sweatshirt and flannel PJ bottoms, her arms wrapped around her legs, a tiny little gold ring encircling one of her bare toes. Under her tough-girl exterior, she was soft and sweet, and had a smile that moved him.

Her body moved him, too, and again he told himself to keep going and not look back.

And again, he didn’t budge. She looked like a quiet, calm, sexy-as-hell oasis, and she was drawing him in without even trying. “Thought Lucky Harbor was just a pit stop,” he said over the sound of the surf hitting the sand. “But you’re still here.”

Becca tilted her head back and leveled him with those melting dark eyes. “Appears that way.”

“In your PJs,” he noted.

She looked down at herself. “It’s my Man-Repellent. Guaranteed to deflect a guy’s interest with a single glance.”

The PJs were baggy, but there was a breeze plastering the material to her body, which was a complete show-stopper. He laughed softly, and she narrowed her eyes. “What?” she asked.

“Let’s just say they’re not as bad as you think.”

She blinked, then lowered her gaze, taking the time to carefully brush some sand from her feet.

It occurred to him that he was making her nervous by looming over her, so he shifted back a foot or so and crouched low to make himself nonthreatening. He added a smile.

She visibly relaxed. “You probably shouldn’t flash that smile at me too often,” she said.


“It’s . . . attractive,” she admitted. “You’re attractive. Which you damn well know.”

“But I’m wearing my woman-repellent gear,” he said, and she laughed. It was a really great laugh.

He’d felt the pull of their chemistry from the very beginning, and had wondered if she did as well. No need to wonder now; it was all over her, however reluctantly she felt it. He needed to walk away now, before this got any more out of hand.

Instead, he spoke. “Is there a reason you want me to be repelled?” he asked.

“You mean am I crazy, or in a relationship?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Either of those.”

“Not in a relationship.” She smiled a little thinly. “Jury’s still out on the crazy thing, though. You?”

He gave a slow shake of his head. “Negative on both.”

She dropped the eye contact first, instead taking in his body in a way that revved his engines. “Do you always run that hard?” she asked, her voice barely carrying over the sound of the surf hitting the sand.

He shrugged.

“I see you sometimes in the mornings,” she said. “And you do. You always run that hard.”

He smiled. “Peeper to the bone.”

“Can’t seem to help myself,” she admitted.

He dropped to the sand beside her and didn’t miss the fact that she stiffened up at his quick motion. To give her a minute, he stretched out his tired legs. “I worked at sea for seven years. I missed running. I promised myself when I got off the rig, I’d get back to it.”

She took her gaze off his body to look into his eyes. “What was the job?”

“I worked for a consulting firm monitoring the deep drilling rigs. We’d go out for months at a time, no land in sight.”


“I had a crew,” he said.

“You were out at sea with a bunch of guys for months at a time?”

“There were a few women too,” he said. Three, to be exact, one of whom had neatly sliced Cole’s heart in two.