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Of course he didn’t. Because he’d never found himself in a situation where he needed help from anyone. But if she said so, he’d only disagree with her. It was his second favorite thing to do, right after driving her batshit crazy.

“And you ever hear of a jacket?” he asked, shrugging out of his and tossing it to her. “You look like a drowned rat.”

“Aw, you say the nicest things.” And she tossed his jacket right back at him.

He simply wrapped her up in it, jerking it closed, bending close to yank the zipper up.

“I don’t need—”

“I’ll lock you in it,” he said, his voice still calm but utter steel. “You’re shivering.”

Actually, not anymore, she wasn’t. But no sense in letting him know she enjoyed the warmth of his jacket or telling him he might have been right. This was the thing about AJ—he spent a lot of time being right.


The jacket smelled like him—which was to say amazing—and held his body heat. Refusing to give in to the urge to press her face to the collar and inhale him in, she shoved her arms into the arm holes and scooped his schedule out of the printer tray to slap it against his chest.

His hard-as-a-slab-of-marble chest. She wondered if his other part-time receptionist, Brittney, ever noticed such a thing. Probably not, as Brittney had just recently gotten engaged. “Your first client is Ronan,” she said. “He just pulled up.” She didn’t look into his face because doing so tended to make her stupid. She didn’t know if it was his lean jaw, in perpetual need of a shave, or that wide, firm mouth currently set in a grim line, discouraging any casual conversation—which perversely always made her want to ask him about the weather just to watch his head implode.

Ronan walked in the front door, his left arm in a sling to protect his shoulder while he recovered. He’d been an army MP in Afghanistan when he’d been injured. He’d been medically discharged after treatment seven years ago but the shoulder had never been the same, so he’d recently had another surgery.

Another thing that had never been the same was Ronan himself. He suffered PTSD and had been having problems with going out in public because social situations made him anxious. He didn’t like people, didn’t like to interact. There were only a few that he could tolerate: Any of his army buddies.

And AJ.

Ronan’s hard gaze looked over at them. His gaze immediately locked on AJ and, well, softened wasn’t the right word but he definitely relaxed, as if just seeing AJ there had made it worth it to leave his house.

AJ sent him a smile and a welcoming nod. “Hey, man, good to see you today.”

Ronan didn’t return the smile but he did look less likely to rip someone’s head off as he headed to the far corner of the big, open gym where he and AJ always started their sessions.

Darcy’s leg ached from being cold and standing, and the pain made her grit her teeth. But when AJ turned his attention back to her, she hid her grimace. “What do you need money for?” he asked.

“I didn’t say I needed money.”

He gave her a get real look.

Right. Everyone knew that between her exorbitant medical bills and being unable to do her usual work—which until her accident had been travel writing for Nat Geo and the Travel Channel’s websites—she was desperately strapped for cash. “It’s not work related,” she said, annoyed that she sounded defensive.

He leaned against the counter, pose casual, body calm and relaxed.

If a panther was ever calm and relaxed …

“What is it related to?” he asked.

She picked at a nonexistent speck of lint from his jacket.

“How much do you need, Darcy?”

Look at that, she had a ragged nail. She hoped someone here had a nail file or she’d be tempted to chew it off.

“A couple hundred?”

“No. And never mind.” She moved to the filing cabinet. Or more accurately, limped to the filing cabinet, because now her entire body ached like a sonofabitch. She rubbed her leg without thinking and caught AJ’s gaze narrowing in on the movement of her hand.

“Stress is bad for your recovery,” he said quietly.

She dropped her hand. “I know how to take care of myself.”

He arched a brow, and hell if that didn’t really put her back up. She wanted to sit but her pride wouldn’t let her until he moved off. And fine, yes, once upon a damn time she’d been shit at taking care of herself.

Case in point—wrapping her car around a tree on a stormy night on a deserted highway out in the middle of nowhere and nearly dying. But that had been eleven months ago, and a woman could change.

Or at least, she could be working on that change …

The door opened and Zoe strode in. Darcy’s older sister was looking professional in a business suit, clearly dressed for a flight. As one of only two pilots for hire at Sunshine’s local airport, Zoe stayed busy.

But thankfully not too busy, because she was carrying a bag of—yes!—Gummy Bears. Darcy’s drug of choice.

Tall and willowy, Zoe had all eyes on her as she strode across the floor, sparing a smile for AJ.

AJ returned it, and without any warning, Darcy’s heart careened off her ribs. It really wasn’t fair that he looked like a fallen angel when he smiled. Good thing he rarely did.

“What’s up?” he asked Zoe.

“Just here to visit your sweet, adorable, kind receptionist.”