All really great memories, but she had to shove them from her mind because she had a lot to do at work today, much of it Summer Bash–related. She crossed the alley and headed to the hut.

Normally at this time of morning, the only sounds were the waves hitting the shore with a rhythmic, soothing regularity that had become as familiar to her as breathing. The seagulls usually had something to say as well, and once in a while the guys were out there on the dock or boat, their low, masculine voices carrying over the water.

But this morning she heard a familiar woman’s and man’s voice, and Becca rounded the corner to stare in shock at Sam talking to . . . her parents.

Chapter 25

Becca took in the sight of Sam and her parents, clearly in the middle of a very intense conversation, and went still with shock. “Mom? Dad?”

Evelyn and Philip Thorpe whirled around and stared at her.

“What’s going on?” Becca asked. “What are you all doing here?”

“We got your address from Jase,” her mom said, taking in Sam’s move and the way he brushed a kiss to her temple. “But we got lost trying to find your apartment.” She moved forward, arms reaching out, and Becca stepped into her for a hug. Her father pulled her in next, but it felt awkward and stilted. What didn’t feel awkward or stilted was the way Sam slid an arm around her waist afterward, holding her against him.

Surprised at the public display, she looked up into his face. He’d either just gone swimming or surfing or was fresh from a shower because his hair was wet, curling along his neck. His T-shirt stretched taut across his shoulders. He looked alert and tough as hell, his arm around her saying he was in protective mode.

There was a definite tension in the air, making her wonder what the hell had been said just before she’d arrived.

“Jase had really hoped you’d come to the concert last night,” her mom said.

Becca met her mom’s gaze. “I. . .couldn’t.”

“I know.” Evelyn glanced at Sam. “Or I know better now.”

Sam remained silent, keeping his own counsel as usual. Becca narrowed her eyes at him, but he didn’t respond to that, either, just held her gaze, his own steady and calm. Damn it, he was good. She’d never once been able to beat him in an eye contact contest.

“We rented a car from Seattle,” her mom said. “We wanted to see you before our flight out.” She glanced at Sam again. “Sam was just . . . chatting with us,” she said carefully. “You didn’t tell us you had a boyfriend.” Her smile faltered, and her eyes got misty. “I wish you could’ve told us, Becca. I’ve been so worried about you being out here alone, with you saying you didn’t want anyone to visit you, that you needed time. If I’d known you had a boyfriend, I’d have felt so much less worried about you.”

“Mom.” If she said the word boyfriend one more time, Becca was going to have a stroke. “Sam’s my boss.”

“And your boyfriend,” Evelyn said, turning to Sam for confirmation. “Right?”

Sam gave a single nod, and when Becca stared at him, his eyes smiled. Not his mouth, just his eyes.

She didn’t know exactly what to make of that, but, definitely feeling a warm fuzzy, she turned to her mom. “I’m sorry you’ve been worried, but I’m fine. And a boyfriend—or not—doesn’t change that.” As she said this, Becca realized that for the first time in a very long time, the automatic I’m fine statement was actually true. She was fine. In fact, she’d truly never been better. She smiled and caught Sam’s gaze, which touched over her features possessively, and then warmed.

So did her heart.

“Sam said maybe we could get some breakfast at the diner,” her mom said.

“Oh,” Becca said, not sure she wanted to commit to an hour of being grilled about Jase.

“Honey.” Her dad took her hands and squeezed gently. “Please? We have some things to say to you, your mom and I, things we hope you’ll hear.”

Becca stared into his eyes, saw pain and regret, and steeled herself against the wave of guilt. “Okay,” she said. “Breakfast.”

So they went to the diner, an unlikely foursome.

It was early, but the locals were a hardworking bunch, and some were breakfast regulars. Becca found herself being waved at by a few.

“People know you,” her mother said, sounding surprised.

Becca understood the sentiment. Her mother had never lived in a small town, either, and had a healthy respect for privacy. But there was no privacy in Lucky Harbor. As Jax had told her one night, you could leave a pot of gold in your backseat and it wouldn’t get stolen, but you couldn’t keep a secret. “I like it here,” she said, and caught Sam’s eye.

He smiled at her.

She smiled back, knowing that this was going to be okay. Somehow.

“Jase had a fantastic show last night,” her mom said. “He went out with the promoters afterward and stayed up late. He has a second show tonight, or he’d have been here.”

There’d always been excuses for Jase, and Becca had long ago accepted that. But she couldn’t do it anymore. “Mom, Jase has a problem. He needs rehab.” She’d said this in the past, and it had gotten her nothing but more excuses and arguments. But this time her mom didn’t rush in to dispute the fact that Jase did indeed need rehab. This time her eyes filled with tears, and she put a shaky hand to her mouth.