“I don’t mind.”

“I do,” he said.

Her eyes narrowed a little bit, but she said nothing. She turned to his dad. “You take care of yourself,” she said. “And if you need another ride, or anything, you know how to get me.”

Mark gave her a real smile. She leaned in and kissed his cheek, and then, without another look at Sam, headed to the exit.

“Becca,” he said.

Her response was to shut the door, with her on the other side of it. Great. Sam turned his head and met his dad’s gaze.

“Son, seriously,” Mark said. “I really believed you had all the brains in the family.”

A nurse brought them to an exam room, and Josh came in wearing a white doctor jacket with a stethoscope around his neck and a ready smile. “Mark. Sam,” he said. “Good to see you both. Sorry about the circumstances.”

“And what exactly are the circumstances?” Sam asked.

Josh looked at Mark.

Mark looked guilty.

“You didn’t tell him?” Josh asked.

“You do it so well,” Mark said.

Josh gave him a pained look and turned to Sam. “Liver’s failing. Slow, long deterioration, most likely caused by alcohol abuse. It’s not acute. I’ve put him on meds and requested a diet that includes no alcohol and a moderate exercise plan. A lot of the time, the meds work and slow the deterioration down, but sometimes they don’t.”

Sam sat heavily. “And if they don’t?”

“We’ll see. Maybe a transplant if there’s a serious lifestyle change,” Josh said, and paused. He didn’t say it, but Sam heard it—if he’s lucky. Sam looked at his dad.

Mark met his gaze, the usual flash of guilt in his eyes.

Shit. “It’s going to be okay,” Sam said.

Mark nodded.

“It is,” he reiterated, because like Becca said, saying it twice would make it so.

Chapter 15

Sweet baby Jesus,” Olivia whispered.

Becca hummed her agreement but didn’t take her eyes off front and center, which was a pack of three surfers out in the water. Cole, lean and rangy. Tanner, with more bulk to his muscle.

Sam, of the broad shoulders and ripped abs.

Becca stared at them and took a lick of her ice cream.

Olivia stared at them, too, and took a lick of her ice cream.

It was Sunday afternoon, and they were both off work. They’d made a pit stop at Lance’s ice cream stand on the pier, where Becca had also bought a bag of ranch-flavored popcorn for herself for later, and then they’d planted themselves on the sand to watch the show.

“I’d have paid money for this,” Olivia said. “Who’s the deliciously mocha-skinned one?”

“Tanner,” Becca said.

“Tanner’s pretty damn fine,” Olivia said.

“They’re all fine.”

Olivia snorted. “Like you’re looking at anyone besides Sam.”

This was true. Still, Becca tore her gaze off the guys to look at her cohort. “How do you know Sam but not Cole or Tanner?”

“Sam stopped one night on the highway when I had a flat tire and helped me fix it. Until I moved into the warehouse, I’d never seen the other two; they’re not exactly my shop’s usual clientele.”

Becca smiled at the thought of any of the three guys shopping at the very lovely but very feminine store Olivia had created. “You could probably easily go out with either of them, if you’re interested.”

“I’m not,” Olivia said. “At all.” But she kept looking.

So did Becca.

That night, Becca FaceTimed with Jase, who was at her parents’ house. He asked her again to come to Seattle for his upcoming concert.

And though Seattle was only two hours from Lucky Harbor, she once again declined.

Her mom and dad tried to pressure her into saying yes. They were worried about Jase, and for good reason. But Becca couldn’t carry that burden alone again, not even for Jase.

“He can’t continue without your support,” her mom said.

Becca wanted to say, And what about me? Who’s giving me support? But it was far too late for that question.

Jase had nudged their mom out of the way and rolled his eyes at Becca. A we’re-in-this-together gesture that was so familiar, Becca ached. He looked good, she thought. Great actually. Rested. He’d gained some of his weight back, but the telltale signs were there, and she knew why her mom and dad were worried. He talked too fast, too scattered, and his eyes were way too bright.

He didn’t ask her about herself. He didn’t dare, because he knew. And when Becca came right out and asked him if he was using, their connection was suddenly lost.

She tried calling him back but he’d gone radio silent.

And a radio-silent Jase was never a good thing. Anxiety kept her up all night, watching the moonbeams dance across her walls. At dawn, she forced her concerns out of her head and went to work. Since she was early, she started the coffee and used her phone to search for cheap sheet music for the kids.

A minute later, Sam walked in. As he did every morning, he went straight for the coffeepot. He was in his usual uniform of loose, low-slung board shorts and a tight rash-guard T-shirt that clung to his mouthwatering body, complete with the cool sunglasses that made him look like the perfect combination of delicious and trouble. “Good weekend?” she asked.

“I worked on a boat.”

“You did?” she asked. “I never saw you.”