“Are you kidding me?” she asked. “When did I say that? When I first came here? I wouldn’t have recognized love then if it’d hit me in the face. But you know as well as anyone that things change. Feelings change. And you said you weren’t a commitment-phobe.”

“I’m not.”

“Just as long as the L-word doesn’t come into play?”

Turning his back to her, he shoved his hands into his pockets and looked out the window. “I’ll ruin this,” he said softly.


He shrugged. “I’ve ruined a lot of relationships. Just about every one of my father’s while growing up. And then my own.”

She stared at his tense shoulders. “You can’t possibly believe that.” But clearly, he did. Shocked, she shook her head. “Sam, any woman your father was seeing while you were growing up, whatever happened was on them. You were just a kid; you don’t get to be blamed for adult relationships going bad.”

“My own then,” he said. “I’m not good at long-term relationships. They don’t work out.”

He was grasping at straws now, and she knew it. “It only takes one,” she said. “The right one.”

Unable, or unwilling, to believe her, he shook his head, and then walked out.

Sam woke up and stared at the ceiling of his bedroom. I’m not good at long-term relationships, he’d said, and here he was alone.

A self-fulfilled prophecy.

He rolled out of bed and went for a long, hard run with Ben. The problem with running, especially predawn, was that it allowed a lot of thoughts to tumble through his brain.

So he cranked his iPod higher and did his best to drown those thoughts out.

They leaked in anyway, and at the forefront was the memory of the sweet, open look on Becca’s face when she’d said it. I love you. He knew she’d expected to hear it back, but he hadn’t been able to say it.


Why she’d had to say it at all was beyond him. Love wasn’t in the damn words. Love was in the showing. And if he’d gone there with Becca—which, he could admit, he maybe had—then she should know it without him saying it.

And actually, her using those words, especially when she had, was selfish. Thoughtless.

Because now it was over.

He and Ben normally didn’t say much on their runs but after running to the pier and back, Ben stopped and looked at him.

“What?” Sam asked.

“You tell me what. You’re talking to yourself.”

“The f**k I am.”

“You said you don’t need this shit.”

“I don’t,” Sam said.

Ben nodded, and looked a little bit amused. “What shit are we talking about exactly?”


“This have anything to do with the pretty new music teacher?”

When Sam narrowed his eyes, Ben shrugged. “Hey, man, you know Lucky Harbor. There’s no need to bolt your door at night, but you’ve gotta keep your secrets under lock and key. And anyway, you being into the pretty music teacher isn’t much of a secret.”

Sam shook his head. “Don’t you have your own problems to worry about? Seems to me it wasn’t all that long ago that you made news when a certain blonde stood outside your house yelling all of your secrets for the world to hear.”

“Yeah.” Ben smiled. “I was pretty sure I didn’t need that shit, either. I was wrong. You’re wrong, too.” And with that asinine, ridiculous statement, he turned and walked away.

“I don’t,” Sam said to the morning. “I don’t need that shit.”

The morning didn’t answer.

He walked into his house to shower, and found his dad at his kitchen table on the laptop.

And Becca at his stovetop cooking breakfast.

Sam stopped short. Hell, his heart stopped short, despite the possible hostility in her gaze. He started to smile at her, so f**king happy to see her that it had to be all over his face, but she gave him a blank face and turned away from him.

Yeah. Definite hostility.

“I felt sick,” his dad said. “Weak. I called you, but you didn’t answer.”

Sam pulled his cell phone from his pocket. No missed calls.

“So anyway,” his dad said, not meeting his eyes. “My blood sugar was low or something.”

Sam gave him a long look.

“Real low,” Mark added.

“So you call Cole,” Sam said. “Or Tanner.”

“Uh . . . they didn’t answer, either.”

Becca brought a plate over to Mark, nudging Sam out of the way to do so. Actually, it was more like a shove. “Leave him alone,” she said to Sam. “He has low blood sugar.”

“He always has low blood sugar in the morning,” Sam said. “That’s why I’ve got a fridge full of food for him. All he had to do was take a bite of something, and in less than sixty seconds he’d have been fine.”

Becca turned to him, hands on hips, face dialed to Stubborn, Pissed-Off Female. “It’s no bother for me to help him.”

“Of course it’s a bother,” Sam said. “You had to get up even earlier than usual, which you hate. You had to drive here. He’s not your responsibility, Becca.”

“I didn’t mind,” she said.

“Well you should have.”

“Why?” she asked, eyes narrowed. “Just because you don’t feel anything doesn’t mean I can’t.”