Lily felt herself go still. “I’m not—I mean—”

“Just call him. For me.” She smiled at herself in the mirror. “And oh my, look at me. You sure outdid yourself, my hair looks fabulous. You’re not calling yet.”

Oh boy. “Aidan’s not going to want to come to the salon,” Lily said, stalling.

“Well, of course not. He’s not big on anything girlie. He only gets his hair cut when his captain threatens to take the shears to him himself. And he doesn’t like to be called away from work either. It makes me worry that he’s never going to find a girl and settle down and give me grandbabies. Call him, honey. Tell him he’s won a free treatment or something.”

“But I …” Lily looked around for an excuse to further stall but couldn’t find one. “I’m pretty sure he won’t want to hear from me.”

“I think you’re wrong,” Char said with a knowing smile. “I’ve got a feeling that for you he’ll do anything, even if it affronts his precious alpha manhood.”

Lily thought about the things he’d already done for her: rescuing her keys from the convenience store, loading wood, saving her from a flat tire. And then there were all those times he’d watched out for her on the mountain years ago.

Small things, but they all added up to one big thing—he’d been there for her when she needed him, whether she’d known she needed him or not.

“Oh, and once you get him in here held captive in your chair,” Char said, “be sure to tell him I’ve decided to go into an old folks home and that he and the others can stop worrying about me. Tell him it’s in … Greece,” she said. “Yeah, that’ll mess with him. I love Greek men and their food. Be vague on when, though, cuz when is never. You know what I’m saying?”

Lily paused to take it all in. “You want me to tell your son that you’re moving to Greece,” she said in disbelief.


“Char, I really don’t feel comfortable lying to him—”

“Now see, that’s the beauty of it—it’s not really lying because it could happen.” Char lifted a shoulder. “Someday. Maybe. You see?”

No, Lily did not see.

Char pushed Lily’s phone across her worktable. “Now make it good, okay? You know how to make it good, right? So that he can’t refuse coming over and seeing you?”

Lily hadn’t the foggiest but she nodded.

Char waited expectantly.

“Oh, you mean right now?” Lily asked, looking to the empty waiting area. Where was a hair emergency when she needed one?

“Yes, now,” Char said. “Better than yesterday, don’t you think?”

And now she knew where Aidan had gotten all of his sarcasm. She picked up her phone and stared at it for a minute, like maybe it could somehow get her out of this.

It didn’t.

Seriously, not even a dead battery?

“Do you have any brownies?” Char asked. “Because brownies would get him here really fast.”

She’d had cookies, but she’d eaten them all. “No.”

“Too bad,” Char said. “It’s just that he’s working so hard, and on top of that he’s also trying to help save the resort.”

“Save the resort?”

“Yes. He Who Shall Not Be Named left them debts.”

Lily remembered what Lenny had said. “How come I feel like I’m the only person in town who doesn’t know what’s going on with the resort?”

“Well, you’ve been gone a long time, honey,” Char reminded her. “But this goes back a ways too. My ex—the son of a bitch—racked up a lot of gambling debts and then took a loan out on the business. None of us knew of course, not for a long time. And by then it was too late. Now the balloon payment’s coming due and it’s in my name and the boys are killing themselves trying to figure the entire mess out. Gray’s been tearing his hair out about it for a couple of years now. They’ve been working hard on some options, but nothing’s come through yet.”

“I’m so sorry,” Lily said. She knew how much the resort and property meant to the Kincaids. She couldn’t imagine how betrayed they must all feel. And Aidan. Her heart hurt for him. “Will they lose the place?” she asked softly, half afraid of the answer.

“They might. The boys are certainly going to have to cut staff this next quarter to try to lower costs.” Char’s eyes sparkled with unshed tears that she sniffed away. “Okay, listen to me run my mouth. They’d hate it if they knew I was talking about this. They’d also hate to see me cry over it. So they won’t,” she said with determination, lifting her chin. “But if the worst happens, I’ll tell you what, I’m going to hunt that man down myself and finish what I started all those years ago and I’ll use more than my frying pan this time.”

Lily didn’t know Hudson or Jacob as well as she knew Aidan and Gray, but she did know that not a single one of them would let that happen. She drew a deep breath and called Aidan.

“Kincaid,” he answered after the third ring, not sounding particularly happy to hear from her.

She held her breath and nearly hung up.

“Lily,” he said, still impatiently but with something else as well.

And that something else coiled through the connection, jump-starting her heartbeat and scraping across her belly. And farther south as well. She closed her eyes. “Remember that favor I owe ya?”

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