Sam studied her for a moment, during which she did her best to look like a woman with no secrets.

He clearly didn’t buy it. “I’ve got a couple of problems,” he said. “You lied to your brother about your job. And you don’t want anyone from your reference list to know where you are.” He stepped into her, his hands cupping her face, tilting it up to him. “Are you in some kind of trouble, Becca? Do you need help?”

Her throat tightened at the concern in his eyes, but she shook her head. “No.”

“Then why?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she whispered.

His thumbs glided over her jaw. “I’m pretty sure I’m missing pieces to your puzzle,” he finally said.

Yes, he was, but those pieces were for her only. Besides, she couldn’t put herself back together again, so she didn’t expect others to be able to do so. “Look, I’m no big mystery,” she said. “Just a girl who could use a job.”

When he spoke, his voice was surprisingly gentle, and nearly broke her. “If that’s true, why not tell me what’s going on? Maybe I can help.”

She closed her eyes. He’d already helped and didn’t even know it. “I just want to go back to being successful at something on my own.”

He was quiet for a moment. “There’s more to this story,” he finally said.

Fed up, she tossed up her hands. “Well, of course there is. Isn’t there more to you than being a sexy, grumpy surfer? Are you going to tell me why you’re all tough and guarded?”

“No,” he said. “But I’m not asking you for work, either.”

She let out a breath. “I’m going to do a great job for you,” she said, the one thing she was utterly confident about. “Isn’t that enough?”

He just looked at her, and she sighed. “Look, if I suck,” she said, “you can let me go. No hard feelings, I promise.”

“And what about our other feelings?”

This stopped her. “Aren’t we done with those feelings?”

He considered this, and then set her heart to racing when he slowly shook his head. He then stepped even closer and pulled her into him. Their thighs brushed. Other things touched, too, her soft abs to his deliciously concrete ones, for example, as he slowly lifted her to the counter. He splayed his big, callused hands on her thighs and spread them so he could step in close.

He was hard, deliciously so.

Her breath caught. Her heart kicked.

Lowering his head, he ran the tip of his nose along her jaw, and then his mouth was there, too, on the sweet spot beneath her ear.

Her entire body gave a hard tremble, and she tried to close her legs but he was still between them. His index finger lifted her chin, and their eyes held as he let his lips touch hers. Then he threaded his hand through her hair, tilted her head farther back, and kissed her again, parting her lips, slowly stroking her tongue with his own.

When he finally released her, she realized she was gripping him tight. She let go and blinked as she struggled to regulate her air intake. “Okay, so we’re not done with those feelings,” she admitted.

He just looked at her, all dangerous and alluring. “You wouldn’t like working for me,” he said.

He had no way of knowing that she could handle just about anything. “I can handle you,” she said, “even if you can be a little bit badass and hard.”

“Sometimes harder than other times,” he said, and she blushed.

His eyes heated.

“You know what I think?” she asked. “I think you’re all hard-crusted on the outside, but you don’t scare me because I know the truth.”

“And what’s that?”

“That on the inside, you’re soft and gooey,” she said.

“You’re wrong about the soft.”

She gave a slow shake of her head. “It’s a compliment. There’s nothing wrong with soft. I’m soft.”

“On the outside,” he agreed. “And I love it. But you’re pure steel on the inside. I love that, too.”

“Are you going to hire me?” she asked.

“The girls are insisting.”

“The girls?” she asked.

“Cole and Tanner.”

She smiled.

A faint one curved his lips as well, but his eyes remained steady. Solemn. “There are conditions, Becca.”

“Oh, boy,” she said.

His smile met his eyes at that, but it faded and she got Serious Sam again. “If we work together,” he said, “we’re not sleeping together.”

“Because you’ll be my boss?”

“Because working with someone and sleeping with that same someone is a bad decision.”

“And . . . you don’t make bad decisions?” she asked. “Ever?”

“I try very hard not to.”

Well, good for him. But she didn’t happen to have his self-restraint or discipline. She’d made a lot of bad decisions, and apparently that wasn’t going to change anytime soon. “Are you saying I need to pick between the job and sleeping with you again?”

“Again?” Cole asked.

Becca turned to the door where, yep, Cole stood, looking fascinated by their conversation.

“Shit,” Sam said. He strode to the door and shut it in Cole’s face. Turning back to Becca, he went hands-on-hips, looking ticked off.