She quivered again. “As many as you want.”

Chapter 23

Sam nudged Becca back above deck, his eyes on her sweet ass as it moved up the narrow stairs in front of him, his mind on how she’d smiled at him when she’d first seen him. She’d been happy to see him.

He’d had women be happy to see him before. He’d had women want him. But that wanting had usually been purely sexual in nature, and although he’d reciprocated, he hadn’t spent too much time delving deeper.

Becca was different. He liked her in a bathing suit, no doubt. He also liked her with their clients. He liked her with his partners.

He liked her.

He was so lost in thought that he didn’t realize when Becca stopped, frozen in her tracks at the sight of the guy standing on the docks staring at them.

“Jase,” he heard her whisper.

Jase had gone still as stone as well. “Hey, sis.”

Becca glanced back at Sam, a look on her face that he couldn’t quite interpret. “Sorry,” she said softly. “But I’ve got to talk to him.”

Sam got that she wanted privacy for this reunion, and he should have left the area.

But f**k that. He didn’t get off the boat, but instead busied himself with the ropes, an ear cocked to the conversation behind him.

That was the thing about water. Sound carried. Voices carried. From the middle of the harbor on a still day, he’d once heard a conversation between two illicit lovers in a cove, clear as a bell.

“How did you find me?” Becca asked.

“Remember how you made me upload that Find Your Friends app so you could always see where I was?” he asked. “That thing goes both ways.”

Becca stared at him. “So all this time I thought I was free, you knew exactly where I was. Why are you here, Jase?”

“Maybe I missed you,” he said.

Becca stared into her brother’s face, looking like she didn’t buy that excuse one bit. “Your eyes aren’t yours,” she finally said.

“What the hell does that mean?” Jase asked.

Becca stared at him for another beat, then took a step back, her voice shaky. “Damn you, Jase. You promised.”

At this, Jase shoved his hands into his pockets and hunched his shoulders, staring out on the water, mouth grim. “Yeah, well, you know I’ve never been good at keeping promises.”

She made a sound of disbelief. “So that’s it, your whole explanation?” she asked. “You’re not good at promises, so that frees you up to not keep them? For God’s sake, Jase, grow up!”

Sam couldn’t help but think of his dad. Becca had been nothing but accepting of his dad. It told him there was much more to this story.

Jase closed his eyes, like looking at her was too painful. “I’ve never been as strong as you,” he said. “You expecting different from me is like . . . believing in Santa Claus until sixth grade.”

Becca let out a mirthless laugh. “I didn’t believe in Santa that long,” she said. “I only pretended—for you.”

Jase’s gaze snapped to Becca’s.

“Yeah,” she said. “You wanted to believe so bad, I kept up the pretense. For you. You idiot.” She gave him a shove that might have landed him in the water if he hadn’t been on his toes.

“Jesus, Bex.”

“You promised me,” she said fiercely with another shove. “You promised me you could do this, get through rehab, stay clean. You wanted a life, you said, your own life. You weren’t going to need me, lean on me; you were going to do this on your own.”

“And you said you were drowning from trying to save me,” Jase snapped, just as fiercely. “You said you couldn’t breathe. Christ, Bex, what was I supposed to do with that?”

“So you lied to me?”

“No. No,” he repeated when Becca made a sound of soft angst, and then he reached for her.

She evaded, stabbing a finger into his chest. “I tried to save you,” she said. “God, I tried. For years, Jase.”

“I know,” her brother whispered.

Another sound ripped from Becca’s throat and tore Sam in two. This was killing her slowly, and he wanted, needed, to fix it for her.

“So why are you here?” Becca asked her brother. “Why now?”

Jase looked away.

“Truth, Jase,” she implored. “You owe me that.”

He nodded, a muscle twitching in his jaw. “My concert’s tonight, in Seattle. I was hoping to get my big sis to play with me.”

“Oh, my God. You’re kidding, right?” She stared into her brother’s face and let out another mirthless laugh. “You’re not kidding. You actually think I can—” She laughed again and bent over at the waist. “My throat’s closing up,” she said to her knees. “Hopefully I’ll suffocate quick.”

Jase actually smiled. “Still dramatic.”

Becca whipped upright, eyes flashing at him. “Don’t do that. Don’t you dare make me feel like it’s all in my head.”

“It is all in your head,” Jase said. “That’s what stage fright is. Ignore it.”

“You can’t ignore a panic attack,” she said through her teeth.


“No. Damn it! See, this is why I left. Look, I get that you don’t believe in panic, that you never even feel nerves before a show at all. I don’t know if that’s because you truly never get nervous or if you’ve been self-medicating so long that you can’t feel it!”