“What was your job out there?” Becca asked.

“OIM. Offshore installation manager.” He shrugged again. “Basically just a fancy title for babysitting the operation.”

“All of it?”

“I handled the business side of things,” he said, “the shifts, the tasks, everything.”

“Sam knows everything,” she said softly. “That’s what people keep telling me.”

He didn’t know everything. He didn’t know, for example, why he was so drawn to her. Or what made her so wary.

“Must have been a tough job,” she said.

“The job was hard as hell,” he agreed. He had few good memories of those years, working his way up from grunt worker to manager. After they’d lost Gil, he and Tanner had come back to Lucky Harbor with Cole, who’d wanted to be here to take care of his mom and three sisters. Tanner had needed recovery time. And it’d been as good a place as any to start their charter company.

“So you retired from the rigs and now you run, surf, take people out on charters, and handcraft boats,” she said.

He slid her a look.

“Peeper, remember?” she said. She bit her lip but a sweet, low laugh escaped. “Plus, I looked you up.”

Now it was his turn to narrow his eyes. “Why?”

She squirmed a little, which he found fascinating. Actually he found her fascinating. “I’ve spent the past three mornings at the diner for the free WiFi,” she said. “I’ve been . . . researching.”


“Not just you. But I was curious,” she admitted.

“Yeah? You didn’t get enough information from watching me out the window?”

“Hey,” she said on another laugh. “I can’t help it that you’re pretty to look at.”

At this, he went brows-up. “You said attractive. You didn’t say pretty.”

“Pretty,” she repeated, still smiling.

He loved her smile. “I’m not pretty.” But he was smiling now, too.

“Okay,” she said. “You’re right. Pretty is far too girlie a word for what you are.”

They looked at each other. The air seemed to get all used up then, and his heart beat in tune to the pulsing waves. “What else did you learn about me, in your . . . research?” he asked softly.

Her gaze dropped to his mouth. “That you guys take people deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, that sort of thing. Also, your charter company’s got four and a half stars on Yelp—although I’m pretty sure some of those reviews were written by women who want to date you because there’s lots of mentions of the three hot guys who run the company.”

He winced, making her laugh again.

“Might as well own it,” she said. “Also, did you know that the town of Lucky Harbor has a Pinterest account? The woman who updates it has a board there for her favorite things.”

“Lucille,” he muttered.

“And one of her favorite things,” Becca said, “is you.”

He grimaced. “Lucille’s a nut.”

“She seems very sincere.”

“Okay, so she’s a nice nut,” he said. “A nut’s a nut.”

“People around here seem to look to you as a leader, as someone to turn to,” she said. “If there’s a question, people say Sam’ll know, but I’ve noticed something.” She waited until he met her gaze. “No one seems to really know you except for maybe Cole and Tanner.”

That was just close enough to the dead truth to make him uncomfortable.

“I think it’s because you come off as a lone wolf,” she said, head cocked as she studied him. “And then there’s your approach-at-your-own-risk vibe.”

Hard to deny the truth, so he didn’t bother.

“I mean you’re really good on the fly,” she said quietly, as if talking to herself, trying to figure him out. “And you’re good at helping people, but you’re not readily available to get to know.”

It was a shockingly accurate insight, but he went with humor. “Not seeing the problem,” he said.

“Well, it’s interesting, is all.”


“Yeah.” Again she looked at his mouth. “Because your distance is perversely making me curious to know more. And I haven’t been . . . curious in a long time.”

There was another surge of that something between them. Heat. Hunger. At least on his part. Testing, he shifted a little closer, moving slowly because he was learning that fast tripped a switch for her, and not in a good way. As he came in, she dragged her teeth over her lower lip and her eyes went heavy-lidded in invite. Their mouths nearly touched before she suddenly pulled back, jerking to her feet. “Sorry,” she said breathlessly. “I thought I heard something.”

They both listened. Nothing but the waves hitting the rocky sand, and her accelerated breathing.

She grimaced. “I guess not.”

He stood as well and kept things light by giving her some space. “You didn’t keep the waitressing job.”

“Turns out I’m not much of a waitress.”

“What are you?” he asked.

“Well, I’m supposed to be a jingle writer, but that’s not working out so well, either.”

“A jingle writer?”

“I write songs for commercials,” she said. “Nothing nearly as difficult as risking limb and life at sea for seven years, I know, but it presents its own challenges.”