“They hauled his big mouth off to the clink,” Tanner said.

“Which left me,” Cole said, gesturing to himself, “the brains of the operation, to figure out how to spring him.”

“Hey,” Tanner said. “I did my part. You told me to sleep with the town mayor’s daughter.” He smiled at Becca. “She was in the bar we stumbled into to come up with a plan.” He grimaced. “Except—”

“Except it turns out that she was the wife, not the daughter,” Cole said. “Which left me bailing out the two of them.”

“Did you have enough to bail them both out?” she asked.

“He sure as hell didn’t,” Sam said. “Because he’d used his month’s pay on being stupid.”

Becca looked at Cole, who shook his head. “That’s another story altogether.”

“So how did you bail them out?” Becca asked.

“He sold our f**kin’ boat,” Tanner said on a huge, sad sigh. “The Sweet Sally, gone forever.”

“It was that,” Sam said, “or leave you to become Big Bubba’s jail-mate bitch. And afterward, we bought a better boat.”

“He didn’t care then,” Cole said, and turned to Tanner. “You were still recovering and supposed to be taking it easy, but instead you were on this walk on the stupid and wild side, remember? Gil had just—”

“Hey,” Tanner said, no longer smiling. “Don’t go there.”

“—died,” Cole said.

“I mean it,” Tanner said. “Shut up.”

“What, we just toasted to his memory,” Cole said, “but we can’t toast to your trip to Crazy-Town?”

Tanner shoved free of the table. “I’m out.”

“Aw, come on,” Cole said. “Don’t get like that—”

But Tanner was gone, striding out the door and into the night.

Sam set down his beer. “Really?” he asked Cole.

Cole sighed and got to his feet. “I suppose I should go after Mr. Sensitive.”

“Maybe you want to give him a few minutes first,” Sam suggested. “So he doesn’t rearrange your face again.”

“Yeah.” Cole straightened his shoulders like he was bracing for battle. “Hey, if I don’t show up for work tomorrow, call out a search party, okay? I’ll be the one in concrete shoes at the bottom of the harbor, waiting on a rescue.” He paused, and when Sam only shrugged, he sighed. “Nice knowing ya,” he said to Becca, and headed out after Tanner.

“Is he really in danger?” Becca asked, worried.

“From his own big, fat mouth, maybe.” Sam stood up and pulled her with him. “Want to play?” he asked, gesturing to the piano.

Her heart gave a little kick, and she looked around. The bar was still full. “No, but thank you for asking.”

The night was dark and quiet. Becca looked up at her big, silent, gorgeous escort. “At least this time I can thank you for walking me.”

He arched a brow.

“You usually vanish into the night,” she said. “Like Batman.”

He looked at her but didn’t say anything, neither confirming nor denying.

At Becca’s apartment building, Olivia came out of her door with a duffel bag. “Hey,” she said. “There was a spider in my bathroom. I need to sleep on your couch.” Without waiting for a response, she walked into Becca’s apartment and left Sam and Becca alone in the doorway.

Becca looked at Sam. “You got in touch with her somehow.”

He kissed her. “Night. Sleep tight.”

“See?” she said. “Sweet.” Then she caught his hand, went up on tiptoe, and gave him a good-night kiss.

Chapter 18

After work the next day, Becca was walking across the alley toward her apartment when someone called her name. Turning, she came face-to-face with Mark.

“Hey there,” he said with a smile. “I was just heading in, looking for Sam.”

“The guys are gone,” she said. “Out on the water with clients.”

“Ah, gotcha.” His smile was still in place, but he looked worried. Really worried.

“You okay?” she asked.

“Well. . .I had a little car mishap.”

“An accident?” She put her hand on his arm, looking him over.

He took her hand in his and squeezed it. “I see why he’s into you, darlin’; you’re really something special. But no, I didn’t have an accident. I’m fine.”

“Oh. Good,” she said relieved. “And Sam and I aren’t—”

“Because he’s an idiot. I know,” Mark said. He rubbed his jaw ruefully. “He might’ve gotten that from me.”

“Actually,” she said, “I might be the idiot.”

Mark smiled. “See? Special. Because now you’re protecting the idiot.”

Becca laughed. “Tell me about your car mishap.”

He went back to looking rueful. “I got my ride repo’d.”

“Oh, Mark.”

“I know, I know. I need to grow up. But right now, I need to get to the doctor, I have an appointment.”

“You can borrow my car, if you’d like,” she said. “Fair warning, though, it’s a piece of shit.”

“Pieces of shit are my specialty,” Mark said. “You wouldn’t by any chance have another of those amazing sandwiches with chips on it lying around, would you?” He flashed her a smile that was so similar to Sam’s, she smiled back helplessly.