“Peek first, Becca.”

“I see him.”

“Okay, babe. I’ll be right there.”

It took him three more very long moments to get back to the harbor. He ran up to Becca’s door, and Cole answered.

“She’s spooked,” he said in a low-pitched voice. “But she won’t let me get close enough to touch her. I don’t know what’s up. I don’t think it’s good, bro.”

Sam’s gaze searched out the loft and found Becca in the club chair by her bed. She had her arms wrapped around her legs, her forehead to her knees, looking like a ball of misery. He strode directly to her and crouched beside the chair. “Hey,” he said softly.

“I’m sorry,” she said to her knees. “I totally overreacted. I’m fine, really.”

Anyone could see plain as day she was just about as far from fine as she could get. He set a hand on her bare foot, and she nearly leapt out of her skin. “Just me,” he said softly, keeping his hand on her.

Her skin was icy, but she curled her foot trustingly into his big hand.

Sam glanced back at Cole, who gave him a small shake of his head as he filled a glass of water and brought it over.

Sam took it from Cole and handed it to Becca. “Drink this.”

While she did, Cole quietly said, “I ran the exterior to get here. Didn’t see anyone. The door to the building was closed but not locked. Her door was locked. No cars in the lot but mine.” Cole squatted beside Sam and looked into Becca’s pale face. “How you doing, honey?”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I really appreciate—”

“Never be sorry for wanting to be safe,” Cole told her. He glanced at the hand she’d allowed Sam to set on her and gave her a small but warm smile. “Anytime. Okay?”

“Okay,” she whispered.

He nodded. “You’re safe with Sam. You know that, right?”

She met Sam’s gaze and gave her own small but warm smile, if a bit wobbly. “I do know it.”

Cole nodded once more and left. Two minutes later, he called Sam. “There’s a UPS package on her neighbor’s doorstep. That’s probably what she heard.”

Sam hung up and told Becca.

Becca grimaced. “Way to overreact, right?”

“No worries,” he said.

She nodded. “Thanks for coming, but you don’t have to stay—”

“You’re shaking.” He pulled off his sweatshirt and tugged it over her head.

“I’m cold.”

“I’m thinking shock,” he said. “This, tonight, was a flashback for you, wasn’t it?”

She busied herself getting wrapped up in his sweatshirt and didn’t speak.

“Come home with me tonight, Becca.”

She stared at him for a long beat. “You don’t like people in your space.”

“I don’t,” he said. “But you’re not people.”

For the first time since he’d arrived, her eyes lost their guard, and she laughed softly. “I’m fine here.”

“Yeah. And you’ll be even more fine at my house.”

“I’m not sleeping at your house, I’m sleeping here.”

“Who says there’ll be sleeping?” he asked, attempting to lighten her mood.

She rolled her eyes. “You don’t mean it,” she said so glumly that he laughed. “You’re just being suggestive because you want me to get over being freaked out.”

He rose and scooped her up out of the chair, smiling when she squeaked and threw her arms around his neck to catch her balance. “Maybe I just wanted an excuse to kiss you.”


He stopped her protests with his mouth and then selfishly kept kissing her because the taste of her was like a drug. When he finally pulled back, he set his forehead to hers.

She took a long, unsteady breath. “Thanks for being here for me,” she whispered.

He started to answer flippantly, but stopped when he realized how much it meant to him as well, that he could be there for her. “Anytime, babe.”

And for the first time in his life, he actually meant it.

Chapter 17

Becca strained to get a look at Sam’s neighborhood as he drove. She knew enough about Lucky Harbor to know this was a very nice part of town, with big houses on bigger lots, overlooking the bluffs where a hundred feet below the Pacific Ocean churned against the rocky shore.

Sam’s house was a beautiful older Craftsman style, white with blue trim, and too many windows to count.

Every light was blazing.

Sam swore beneath his breath as he opened his front door to a blast of Marvin Gaye wailing “Let’s Get It On.” “I’m going to have to kill him,” he said.

Becca had wondered what Sam’s place would look like, whether it’d be neat or messy, filled with guy crap or empty and sterile.

It was none of the above. The living room was large and airy and had windows facing the bluffs. There were big, comfy couches in the living room and an even bigger TV, in front of which were a few stacks of CDs and DVDs. There were various things strewn about, athletic shoes, a sweatshirt, a kayak leaning against a wall. No personal pictures, though, and nothing that said hot single guy, either. Definitely lived in, but not necessarily claimed.

Sam moved to the coffee table, grabbed a remote, and hit a button.

The music stopped.

Then he strode out of the room. Not ready to be left alone, Becca followed. The kitchen was gorgeous. Granite countertops, wood floors, high beamed ceilings. It was also a mess. The island was littered with the remains of what looked to have been a pizza-and-beer dinner. Clothing was haphazardly dropped across every surface; a man’s pair of jeans, a woman’s bra. A red lace thong . . .