Slowly, she rose up on her knees to take a quick peek and winced.

He was still there, hands on hips, looking right at her.

He’d missed exactly nothing, and she suspected he rarely did.

Then the clouds shifted, and suddenly the sun was shining right on him, like he was the best of God’s glory. Since the sun was also bright, making seeing details difficult, it was probably—hopefully—her imagination that his mouth quirked in a barely there smile as he shook his head at her.

Her stomach quivering, she ducked again.

And then from her position prone on the floor, she forbid herself from looking out the window ever again.


Crawling to her suitcases in the center of the loft, she sat cross-legged, pulled out her list of Must-Buys, and added curtains. Curtains would keep her from being distracted by her view. Curtains would keep her on task.

And away from further embarrassment.

She showered, dressed, and left the warehouse, sending a cautious look down the alley.


Relieved, she left. Several hours later she was back, followed by Eddie, the kid on the bike, whom she’d paid to help lug her loot. Thankfully he came with an older brother who had a truck, and equally thankfully, Lucky Harbor had a “vintage” shop, a really great one. She’d found everything she’d needed there, including gently used sheets that she bought for curtains.

In far less time than it’d taken to shop, she had curtains up and the bed made, and she was sitting on it, staring at an email from her ad agency.


The Cushy jingle works. I’ve sent accounting a request to get you payment. Next up is Diaxsis, the new erectile dysfunction medicine. Details and deadline info attached, if you’re interested.

Not Great job, Becca. Not You’re back, Becca. Not We’ve put you back on our top tier, Becca.

But neither was it You’re fired, Becca, so she’d take it. But Diaxsis? She blew out a breath and hit REPLY:

I’m interested.

The next morning, Becca opened her eyes and let out a happy breath. She’d actually slept, and if there’d been bad dreams, she didn’t remember them. Turning her head, she stared at the curtains where a weak daylight poked in around the edges.

The insulation in her building was either poor or nonexistent. She could hear every single time the back door of the building next to hers opened.

It opened now.

Don’t do it, she told herself. Don’t go look. You’re stronger than this. You don’t need the distraction. . .

But like Pavlov’s dog, she got up and peeked through the curtains.

It was foggy out, but the bigger news was that Sexy Grumpy Surfer was back. It looked chilly, and yet he was in another pair of board shorts and a T-shirt that hugged the width of his shoulders as they flexed enticingly while he dumped the contents of a shop vac into the trash bin.

Sex on a stick.

He didn’t look up this time, and Becca forced herself away from the window. She showered, ate the leftover ranch-flavored popcorn—breakfast of champions—and gave her keyboard a long, hard look. “Today,” she told it. “Today, you give me something better than It works.”

Sitting on the bed, leaning back against the wall, she pulled the keyboard onto her lap.

A year. A year since she’d composed jingles for the best national brands, and the reasons why were complicated. She’d lost her muse, and her footing. On life. That had to change. Hence the across-the-country move. A new venue, a new beginning. But she still needed to prove herself, if only to the woman in the mirror.

Her parents wouldn’t ask her to prove herself, she knew this. Growing up, they’d never asked anything of her, other than to take care of her brother while they worked crazy hours in the jazz clubs of New Orleans. Watch Jase, that’s all they’d ever expected her to do.

Though only two years separated her and her brother, Becca felt far older, always had. She’d done her best to take care of him, succeeding better at some moments than others. But at least the promise of his talent had been fulfilled. He was a wonderful concert pianist.

Now she wanted, needed, to be wonderful at something, too.

And yeah, yeah, being worthy shouldn’t be tied up in financial success—or lack thereof—blah blah. But whoever had said that had clearly never had to pay their rent on time.

Her cell phone vibrated. The screen said Jase calling.

Until recently, they’d been close, and had talked frequently. Except, just like her early—and short-lived—success with jingle writing, this too had turned out to be an illusion. A glossy veneer shown to the world, while the truth was hidden deep inside them both.

She stared at the phone until it went to voice mail.

Two seconds later came a text. You okay?

Completely okay, she texted back. Liar, liar, pants on fire . . .

But hell if she’d give anyone she cared about more stress to deal with. She turned her phone off, ignored the guilt, and spent the rest of the day alternating between nesting in her new place and trying to work a jingle about the male erection.

And maybe, also, looking out her windows a little bit. She told herself it was the ocean that drew her, but mostly her gaze was drawn to the alley. In addition to the pull-ups, she’d now seen Sexy Grumpy Surfer carrying a large duffel bag to the boat moored at the dock, washing down said boat with the same two other guys she’d seen before, and taking a hard, brutally fast run along the beach with yet a third guy.

Seemed like maybe Lucky Harbor was a hot-guy magnet.