“Something that you’re going to get back,” Cole said. “Right?”

He’d like to say yes, but the truth was, she was a woman who believed in the words, needed the words. She deserved a man who could give them to her. “Stay out of it,” he said.

Tanner came up beside them. “Stay out of what?”

“Nothing,” Sam said.

“He’s being a pu**y,” Cole said.

“What’s new about that?” Tanner asked.

Sam blew out a breath and pushed past them both.

“Where you going?” Cole asked.

“Work. You oughta try it sometime.”

“He definitely didn’t get laid last night,” Tanner said. “He’s always an ass**le when he doesn’t get laid.”

Ignoring this, Sam strode out to the beach. Becca was now on top of one of the tables, messing with the umbrella over it.

It shut on her.

He was grinning even before he heard the colorful swearing from beneath the canvas. All he could see of her now was her bare feet and a bit of her shapely calves. He reached beneath the umbrella and got two good handfuls of warm, pissy woman.

She squeaked.

He let his hands slowly glide up the entire length of her body to reopen the umbrella.

Becca turned to face him and stared down at him from her perch. “Did you really just feel me up in front of all these people?”

“It was beneath the umbrella.”

“That’s not funny.”

His smile faded at the pain on her face. “You’re right. It isn’t funny. Becca—”

“You bought me instruments?”

“I bought the kids instruments,” he said.


“Because watching you teach those kids music, anyone can see how much it means to you,” he said. “And knowing it makes it mean something to me.” He tried to reach her with his gaze but she was closed off to him completely. “I was in a position to help,” he said. “So I did.”

“It had to be thousands of dollars,” she said, sounding worried.

“I had it,” he said simply. “And now you have a music program.”


“Stop.” He put a finger to her lips. “Becca, you give your time to the program. You give your heart and soul. You give everything you have. Why can’t I give what I have to give?”

She shook her head, muttered something beneath her breath that might or might not have been a well-thought-out commentary on his ability to out-stubborn even her. Then she jumped down, strode to the next table, and climbed up.

Sam followed and leapt on the table with her just as she opened the umbrella. Reaching up, he closed it around them and whipped a still-sputtering Becca to face him.

Now they were nose-to-nose, chest-to-chest, thigh-to-thigh, pressed tight together inside the umbrella like a banana in its peel.

“What the hell are you doing?” she demanded.


“I don’t need your help. And FYI—people I fall in love with who don’t love me back don’t get to cop feels, beneath an umbrella or not.”

“Let’s talk about that,” he said.

She stared at him incredulously. “You have five hundred people pouring onto this beach today. I’ve got a list of stuff to do a mile long, and—”

“I’ve had the words all my life,” he said quietly. “It was always I love ya, Sam, go get me my booze. Or I love ya, Sam, get lost for a few hours, will you? Or I love ya, Sam, where’s that money you got from Grandma for your birthday, Dad needs a little loan.”

Becca let out a long, shuddery breath and put her hands on his chest, her eyes not so closed off to him now. “Sam—”

“I’m sorry for how I reacted,” he said. “I was a total ass**le. I—”

“Ms. Teacher?” came a little girl’s voice somewhere near their feet. “Is that you?”

Becca’s eyes flew open, and she stared at Sam wide-eyed. “Pink?” she called out.

“Yes, ma’am. You sure have pretty toenail polish. My daddy just brought me here, along with some of the other girls. The boys are coming soon, too. We’re gonna play the games you talked about. Who’s that with you? It’s a boy. I can tell ’cause he’s got hair on his legs, and his toenails aren’t painted.”

Becca tried to jump down, but Sam held on to her. She gave him a long look. “It’s my. . .” She hesitated. Narrowed her eyes at Sam. “Boss.”

“The drummer?”

Sam grinned at Becca, who rolled her eyes. “Yes. The drum player.”

“Whatcha doing in there?” Pink wanted to know. “Kissing?”


“Are you gonna kiss?”

“No! We’re just—”

“We’re totally gonna kiss,” Sam whispered in her ear.

Becca gave him another long look, but as they were sandwiched together, he didn’t miss her shiver. And it wasn’t because she was cold.

“—Setting up the umbrellas,” she said to Pink. “I’ll be right there.” Then she shook her head at Sam. “We’re not going to kiss.”

“Gonna eat those words, babe.”

She didn’t smile at him, or soften in any way.

His fault. He wasn’t done fixing this with her, not by a long shot. He skimmed his hand up her back and into her hair. “You threw me the other day,” he admitted.