Turning from the closet, she pulled her iPad mini from her purse and brought up her keyboard app.

Immediately six of the twenty kids were able to do the same on their phones. “Look at that,” she said. “We’re halfway to a band already.”

The kids cheered. Laughing, Becca pushed her desk back, sat on the floor, gathered everyone around her, and did the only thing she knew how to do.

Plowed her way through.

The next day, Sam was at work in his warehouse. He’d sheathed the wood hull with a layer of fiberglass cloth for durability, both topsides and bottom. Now he was applying resin, making the weave of the cloth virtually transparent, bringing out the wood’s natural tone. The result was a stiff, strong, stable, watertight composite wood/epoxy/fiberglass hull that was virtually impervious to the effects of moisture. He was concentrating, his every muscle aching from the strain, so that he almost didn’t hear the door open and close.

Almost. Because here, in his shop, he heard and saw everything. He never invited anyone in here. Even Cole and Tanner rarely ventured in.

It was his place, his zone.

He didn’t turn to look at the door; he didn’t have to. He recognized the footsteps as Becca’s. Soft but not hesitant, her spontaneity and easy joy showing in every step despite whatever life had handed her—which clearly hadn’t been all rainbows and kittens. Boggling, And a little bit scary.

“Hey,” she said, coming up behind him. “Is it okay for me to enter the Man Cave or do I need to perform the secret handshake or something?”

He laughed. “Smart-ass.”

“Sorry,” she said, not looking sorry at all. “My mouth’s always been a problem.”

Yeah, a big problem. He remembered that mouth, and exactly what it felt like traveling the length of his body. Even now, in the light of day, her lips were full and shiny with gloss, and he had a hard time looking away from them. And then there was the fact that she smelled like peaches and cream.

He wanted to eat her alive.

“I’ve got a few messages for you.” She stepped to his side, taking in his work. “Pretty,” she said. “Is there a good profit in making boats?”

“Not really.”

She ran a hand over the sleek wood. “So you do it because . . . you’re good at it?”


She looked up at him. “Okay, man of mystery. If not for the profit, or to show it off, then why do you build boats?”

“For myself.”

“For yourself?”

“Yeah,” he said, and because a slight frown had formed between her brows, he reached out and stroked a finger there to ease the tension. “You should try it sometime,” he suggested. “Doing something for yourself.”

“I moved across the country for myself.”

“That’s not why you moved,” he said.

Something flashed in her eyes and was gone. “You think you know why I moved?” she asked.

“You needed to get away from something,” he said.

She made a noncommittal kind of noise, not giving a thing away. Then she paused. “So what do you think I should do for myself then?”

“Whatever feels right.”

She stared at him for the longest beat, and then she surprised him. She stepped close, so close they were toe-to-toe and everything in between, and his only thought was Oh, Christ, this feels right. He let his hands go to her hips.

“Something for myself,” she murmured.


“Hmm.” Her hands rested on his chest, her fingers gripping the material of his shirt over his pecs. He wasn’t sure if she was holding on for courage or because she wanted to touch him.

“I haven’t been able to think of something to do for myself for a long time,” she said.

“And now?”

She stared at her hands on him. “I still might need help in that area.”

He tipped her face up to his and looked into her eyes, and he saw that she had courage in spades. “Several things come to mind,” he said.

“Are these things . . . good for me?” she asked.

“Not a single one.”

She both laughed and trembled against him, and damn but that shouldn’t send lust rocketing through his veins, and yet it totally did.

“Good’s overrated anyway,” she whispered.

He couldn’t believe how much he wanted her. Wanted to press her up against the boat. Or bend her over it. Both ways, he decided. All ways. “We said we weren’t doing this anymore,” he said, more than a little shocked at how gruff his own voice was and at the need coursing through him. “Not while you work for me.” And he’d meant it. He f**king one hundred percent had.

“No, you said that,” she reminded him. “I didn’t sign on for the not-doing-it program. And besides—” She made a big show of looking at the time on her phone. “I’m off the clock.” She smiled at him guilelessly. “Lunch break. And last I checked, it wasn’t an employer’s business what his or her employee does on their lunch break.”

Closing his eyes, Sam let out a long, admittedly shaky breath. He was in trouble here. Big trouble. “Becca—”

“Shh,” she said. “Or the boss’ll fire me. We have to be really quiet. Really, really quiet.” And then she rocked her hips into him.

And rocked his world. Because just like that, he was a dead man. He tightened his grip and groaned at the feel of her, and she murmured “Shh” again, softly, sexily.