Her father hugged her. Evelyn gave him a watery smile but shook her head and reached for Becca’s hand across the table. “I know,” she said simply.

“You . . . do?” Becca asked in surprise.

“Yes.” Her mom swiped at a tear that slipped and looked around the café self-consciously. She didn’t like to show a lot of emotion unless she was on stage. “I’ve known for a while,” she went on softly. “I just didn’t want to accept it. After you left. . .” She stopped to blow her nose. “It became more clear.”

“You protected him, Becca,” her dad said. “We didn’t realize how much because you were also protecting us, when we should have been protecting you.”

Becca gave up staring into her water like it held the secrets of life and looked at Sam. “What did you say to them?”

“Don’t be upset with him,” Evelyn said. “Everything he said was true. Painful to hear, but true. And last week, the Seagals came to us.”

Nathan’s parents.

“They confessed their knowledge of how . . . terribly he’d treated you in the end—” She broke off, her eyes filling. She reached for a napkin from the table’s dispenser, but she couldn’t get one out. “Damn it.”

Sam opened the dispenser and handed her a huge stack.

“I’m . . . devastated,” Evelyn said, dabbing at her eyes. “I didn’t understand—” She shook her head. “Honey, I need to know something.”

Becca had to swallow the lump in her throat to speak. “What?”

“That you’ll . . . you’ll forgive us. Can you? Forgive us?”

“No,” her father said to Evelyn firmly. “We don’t get to ask that. Remember, actions, not words. We just want her to be okay.”

And from the way he looked at Sam as he said it, Becca knew exactly where those words had come from. She hesitated and felt his hand gently squeeze her thigh, infusing her with strength. Not his, which he had in spades, but her own, and it welled up from within her. “Mom,” she said softly. “I’m okay.” She marveled that it was the utter truth, thanks in no small part to Lucky Harbor. To her friends here. To the peace and joy she’d found here.

To Sam himself . . .

“I know it’s late for this,” her mom said, “but I promise you I won’t offer any more excuses for Jase. Ever. We did you wrong, Becca. We let you suffer rather than rock our boat. I can’t ask you forgiveness for that, but. . .” She sucked in a breath along with a short sob. “But we are sorry, baby. So very sorry.”

Becca felt her throat tighten, her eyes burn. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Her father cleared his throat, his own eyes suspiciously red. “In realizing our mistakes,” he said, “we realized something else—we’ve done Jase wrong, too. We’ve enabled him. That will stop. We came out here to talk to him, to see if he’d go to rehab.”

“How did that go?” Becca asked.

Pain crossed her dad’s features. “He’s not ready. And we don’t know if he will be. All we can do now is stand back and let him come to the realization himself.”

“We’ve lost you both,” Evelyn whispered. “Our own fault. Love you, baby. So much.”

Beside her, she felt Sam stiffen. She didn’t know what that was about, but she took her mom’s hand. “You haven’t lost me. I’m still yours, Mom. Always.”

Sam tried to watch over Becca as much as he could, but he must not have been too subtle about it because by noon she’d told him that if he was going to hover around like a protective mama bear, she was going to call in Lucille and the rest of the geriatric gang for snorkel lessons and book him as the instructor.

That’s when he figured Becca wasn’t in danger of having a meltdown. That she was dealing in the only way she knew how—by burying her shit deep and moving forward. And he left her to it.

So he was relieved when, at the end of the day, she poked her head into his warehouse, looking good. “I’m off to the rec center,” she said, and was immediately on the move.

He barely caught her, snagging her wrist and pulling her back inside. Gently he pushed her up against the wall and cupped her face, tilting it up to his.

She met his gaze, hers clear and remarkably calm. He slid the pad of his thumb across her full lower lip, and it tipped into a smile.

“I’m really okay,” she said.


“Yeah,” she said, and pulled him down for a quick but very hot kiss before shoving at him. “Gotta go.”

Not budging, he pulled out his phone and looked at the time. “You’ve got half an hour.”

“Ten minutes of that is drive time.”

“Twenty minutes then,” he said. “You’ve got twenty minutes.”

Her eyes softened. “For?”

“For whatever comes to mind,” he said, and kissed her neck “What comes to mind, Becca?”

When his mouth got to the sweet spot beneath her ear, she moaned. “Everything that comes to mind takes more than twenty minutes,” she whispered.

“Let me prove you wrong,” he whispered back, and ran his hand from her hip to the underside of her breast, his thumb gliding over her already hardened nipple.

Eyes closed on another moan, her head thunked back against the wall as she arched her back, pressing herself into his palm. “Here? Against the wall?” she asked hopefully.