“Because maybe I’m not in a huge hurry to leave anymore.”

He grinned. “Well of course not. Not when you’re getting all the orgasms.”

Outside the shop, a man got out of a truck and walked toward the salon.

“And look!” Jonathan said. “It’s the orgasm donor in the flesh.”

Aidan walked in wearing his firefighter polo, cargoes, dark lenses, and no smile at all.

Jonathan’s faded. “Hey. You okay?”

“Need a moment with Lily,” Aidan said.

“Take as many as you need.” Jonathan moved toward the front of the shop, turning to Lily behind Aidan’s back to fan himself.

“Hey,” she said to Aidan as evenly as she could, which wasn’t all that evenly, because being this close to him still made her pulse leap and her heart kick.

He walked past her without touching her. Unusual because one, lately he always took any opportunity to touch her, and two, the space was small and he was as broad as a mountain. In the back room he turned to face her, arms crossed over his chest as he leaned back on one of the counters.

“Everything okay?” she asked, shutting the door to give them some privacy. Or as much dubious privacy as one could get in a hair salon.

“You seeing Lenny, Lily?”

She blinked. “Um, I’m pretty sure I’m seeing you.”

He didn’t crack a smile. “I don’t care if you’re seeing other people, I’d just like to know where we stand.”

“You don’t care?” she repeated, doing her best to hide her shock and failing utterly.

He made a dismissive gesture, like this wasn’t the important part. “Did you tell him about the resort possibly having to lay off employees?”

She felt the shock reverberate through her.

“Did you tell him about my dad?” he asked.

She found her voice. “You really think I would?”

“Why do you keep answering my questions with a question?” he asked.

The hurt welled up so fast she couldn’t breathe. “Okay,” she said, moving back to the door. “We’re done here.” She yanked open the door and gave him her best PMS bitch look.

He blew out a breath. “Listen, I had to ask.”

“You had to—” She broke off. “Whatever you told me in confidence stayed in my confidence. Hell, everything you’ve told me stayed in my confidence. I keep my word, Aidan. And I thought you knew that about me.” Far too close to tears, she made to leave, but he caught her with one hand and held the door closed with the other.

“Don’t,” she said, trying to pull free, but he held her in an inexorable grip of steel.

“I’m sorry,” he said, effortlessly holding her, bending at the knees a little to look into her eyes. “I just needed to know.”

“Fine,” she grated out, furious with herself for the small part of her that was enjoying being held so tight against him. “Now you know. We both know. We know I’m an idiot for believing you when you said that this thing between us was more than it is. I should have known better. It’s never more than I think it is, and in fact, it’s usually far less. Dammit, let me go!”


“I’ve got work,” she said, and tore free. She rushed out and into the front room, ignoring Jonathan’s worried look, calling her next client to the wash station.

Aidan followed. “Lily—”

“Working,” she said.

“I need to talk to you.”

Yes, but she did not need to talk to him. She’d been an idiot, she’d get over it. It’s not like she’d just lost a family member tragically. “Busy,” she said, settling her client into the wash chair.

Tessa was a teacher in her late twenties. She was goggle-eyed at Aidan in his uniform.

Not Lily. She just wanted to kick him. Especially when he came to stand on the other side of Tessa, looking straight across her at Lily herself.

“Sorry,” she said. “If you want to book an appointment with me, go ahead. I know you’ve been too busy to manscape yourself. I could give you that bro-zilian we talked about, I have time right after Tessa.”

Tessa let out a choking sound of horror.

Jonathan let his gaze slide down Aidan’s body to his crotch area and went brows up.

Aidan didn’t react, just looked Lily right in the eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly. Firmly.

“Oh, it’s okay,” she said. “It’s not your fault you’re so hairy.”

Tessa choked again.

And this time Lily detected the slightest bunching of Aidan’s jaw muscle.

“Lily,” he said again, with rather remarkable calm given that the entire salon had gone quiet to listen in on this exchange about his manscaping prowess—or lack thereof. “I really need to finish talking to you. In private.”

“Busy washing and then coloring Tessa,” she said.

“You can talk over me,” Tessa said quickly. “I don’t mind.”

“Oh, that’s sweet,” Lily said. “You hear that, Aidan? She doesn’t mind us talking about how you think I’m sleeping around on you while I do her hair.”

Jonathan gasped. “What the hell?”

“I don’t think that,” Aidan said to him, to everyone, and then he looked at Lily. “I don’t.”

At this point, you could’ve heard a pin drop in the salon.

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