At that, his eyes softened and he placed a hand on either side of her hips. Leaning in, he kissed her softly. “So f**king sweet,” he murmured against her lips. “So damn sweet.”

“But you still aren’t doing me, are you?”

He actually lowered his head, closed his eyes, and groaned from deep in his throat. “I’m trying to be a good guy here, Becca.”

“I don’t want you to be good. Well, I do. The good kind of good, you know?”

He kissed her again. “Go to sleep.”

“But I do trust you.”

“Not all the way, you don’t,” he said. “Not yet.” Then he kissed her again, and this time he gave her what she wanted, which was heat and lots of tongue. Then he tore himself away, breathing unsteadily. “Stop me,” he said.


Sam groaned. “If I have to be the strong one here, we’re in trouble.”

“So don’t be the strong one.” She paused, and remembered. “When!” she yelled. “When, when, when!”

“You,” he said, backing away, “are a menace to my self-control.”

“Why the self-control at all? Forget the self-control! I just said When. That was our code word.”

He looked pained. And strained. “You’re under the influence. It doesn’t count.”

“Why?” she asked.

“You know why.”

She gave him her I’m-not-impressed-with-that-excuse look, and he let out a laugh. “Look, we both know that intimacy between us is . . . inappropriate,” he said.

“Hey, we crossed the intimacy barrier a long time ago.”

“Yeah. Shit,” he muttered, his voice a low, incredibly sexy growl that wasn’t helping the situation one little bit.

“Tell me the truth,” she said. “Is it because you’re no longer attracted to me?”

“No. Christ, no.” He dropped his head back and stared up at the ceiling for a beat, then came back to her. He let his weight cover her and rocked his hips, proving that he wasn’t lying. He was absolutely attracted to her, in a big way if the erection he was sporting was any indication.

“I don’t get it,” she said, clinging to him. “I’m not asking for a marriage proposal. I mean, I’m not exactly relationship material, either.”

He went still, then lifted his head. “You don’t think I’m relationship material?”

She stared up into his beautiful green eyes, surprised by the fact he seemed insulted by this. “Are you?” she asked.

He didn’t take his gaze from her. “Well, no.”

“Are you a commitment-phobe?”

“No, definitely not,” he said.

She slid her fingers into his silky hair. “So why are you complicating things by holding back?”

“It doesn’t matter why,” he said. “I said no. And as your boss, whatever I say goes.”

She shivered at that, and laughed as she nudged her good spot to his. “Maybe I like that, you being all bossy.”

He tightened his grasp on her hips to hold her still, but his eyes were so heated she was near melting point. “You need to stop playing with me.”

She stared up at him. “Just tell me this—are you holding back because of me?”


“Olivia said maybe it wasn’t just the job, that maybe it was me, you were holding back for me.” She was worried about this. “That’s it, isn’t it? You’ve got some misguided notion that I’m not ready for the likes of you, or something equally macho and alpha and stupid.”

The truth was in his eyes.

He was holding back for her. Damn it. She hated that. “I hate that, Sam.”

He kissed her again. Becca tried to remain unmoved but he was such a good kisser, and in two seconds she was kissing him back. Just when things started to get deliciously out of hand, he pulled back. “You’re going to be the death of me,” he whispered against her lips.

And then he was gone.

“Ditto,” she said into the silent room.

The next morning, Becca staggered out of bed. Moving slowly so her throbbing head didn’t fall off, she showered, dressed, and made her way to work.

The hut was open, lights on, coffee made, computer booted up. On her counter sat a mug of steaming coffee, three aspirin, and a whole tin of ranch-flavored popcorn.

Damn, he was romantic after all.

Chapter 19

Sam stayed in his warehouse most of the day, figuring that both he and Becca could use a little space.

At least he could.

So why he found himself watching the big, open doorway of his warehouse as if that was his job, he had no idea. But he was still watching when his dad pulled up in the alley with Becca’s car. Mark got out and walked toward the beach hut, undoubtedly to return her keys.

Sam rolled his eyes, thinking Becca should consider herself lucky his dad hadn’t sold the thing and pocketed the money.

A few minutes later, Mark was back in the alley, and when he caught sight of Sam, he waved. “Son, hey.”


Mark came to the doorway. “So . . . what’s your policy on letting houseguests drive your spare car?”

Sam’s spare car had been Gil’s and was a ’68 Camaro. “My policy is f**k no.”

Mark sighed. “Yeah. I get it. It’s not like I deserve to borrow shit, especially since you’ve been letting me stay with you and eat your food and everything I should have done for you all those years ago, right?”