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“I wasn’t snooping.”

“I was. Your dad said he found the spot for next month and there’d be no arguments.” She looked at him. “You must hate it when he bosses you around.”

“Nah,” AJ said. “He’s a grumpy old fart, but we’re good.”

“What spot is he talking about?”

“For ice fishing. We always take a winter trip.”

She seemed surprised. “Wow. That’s kinda … cute.”

“Not cute,” he said. “Manly.”

She grinned. “Sorry, it’s cute. Manly would be alligator hunting or something. And I thought your dad was this hard-ass Navy captain who busts your balls all the time.”

“He is.”

“But you still go fishing together,” she said.

“And camping.”

“So you … like each other.”

He met her gaze and saw the genuine curiosity. “Liking each other doesn’t usually play into things,” he said. “But he’s my dad.”

“I get it,” she said.

His heart squeezed because he knew she didn’t get it at all. Her dad hadn’t even shown up when she’d nearly died. He’d certainly never spent any time renovating a house with her or taken her camping.

“Your second text was from Ariana,” she said. “She wants you to know she created a new meditation tape for you.”

He still hadn’t used the last two she’d made him.

“Oh, and she’ll be thinking of you,” Darcy said. “Apparently while meditating. Although I thought the whole point of meditating is to not think.”

He shook his head. “Is that what this mood is about? Ariana?”

Darcy stared at him and then turned away to look out the window. “I’m not in a mood. This is just me being my usual ray-of-sunshine self.”

There was something in her voice now that had him taking a second look at her. “You don’t like Ariana.”

“No, I do,” she said. “She’s a lovely person. Kind and gentle, caring … bendy.”

He raised a brow. “Bendy?”

“Yeah. You know anyone else who can wrap both of her legs around her own neck when she’s doing her yoga stuff? If I was a guy, I’d think that was … something.”

AJ opened his mouth, and then shut it. “Not touching that one with a ten-foot pole.”

She shifted, looking irritated. “Look, forget it,” she said, doing a dismissive gesture with her hand. “I just meant some people are bendy and some people aren’t, and I’m sure if a guy had a choice, he’d pick bendy, that’s all.”

He wasn’t sure what was going on here. But then again, this was Darcy. When it came to her, he always operated in the dark.

“She’s helping me, you know,” Darcy said. “You asked her to give me some yoga stretches and she did. They’re working, although I’m not ever going to be bendy.”

And that bothered her, he could tell. That he’d actually followed her convoluted, twisted logic scared him to death, but that was a concern for later. “Darcy, you know that Ariana and I aren’t—”

“Hey,” she said, holding up a hand. “Whoever you’re doing, that’s your own business. I don’t care. Not in the slightest. Not even a little tiny bit. Let’s blow this Popsicle stand.”

He turned her to face him again and made a point of looking over her features.

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

“Checking to see if your nose grew on that lie.”

She rolled her eyes. “I don’t care if you’re with Ariana.”

“Okay, good. But I’m not,” he repeated.

“You were.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “Past tense.”

She crossed her arms, her body tight. She couldn’t have put herself into a more defensive position. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me,” she said.

“Happy to hear that.” He smiled when she huffed a little to herself in her seat, grumbling wordlessly beneath her breath.

She was jealous. He couldn’t believe it but didn’t dare say it out loud because he liked his nose right where it was, thank you very much. But damn. She was jealous.

“It’s probably because of your crappy taste in music, right? She dumped you?”

“Okay, how about a truce for the rest of the ride?”

Her eyes went wary. “What did you have in mind?”

He pulled out the bag of Gummy Bears and she lit up. “Maybe,” she said, and reached for the bag.

He held it out of reach. “Nope. Truce or no Gummy Bears.”

She laughed, and that was the thing about Darcy. She had the most amazing laugh. It was full bellied and like music to his ears, and absolutely, one hundred percent contagious.

“You should use the facilities first,” he said. “We won’t be stopping again.”

“Even if I irritate you?”

“You won’t.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I hold the Gummy Bears. Which means I’ve got you right where I want you.”

She studied him for a long beat. Then sent him a smile that made him nervous as hell before leaving the truck. Her limp was definitely pronounced but not nearly as bad as it had been earlier.

Her phone sat in the cup holder, buzzing with incoming texts like it was having a seizure. He picked the thing up to set one of his Gatorades in there and, shit. Yeah. He glanced at the screen.