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“You never suggest anything stupid,” Wyatt said. “You’re the most logical, reasonable guy I know.”

AJ pulled out his phone and looked at the time.

“My point,” Wyatt said, “is that love isn’t logical or reasonable.”

“Gee, there’s a news flash.”

Wyatt stood up and pushed AJ’s phone away, smiling when AJ narrowed his eyes in annoyance. “It’s my turn to be Obi Wan, and that’s because now I get that the right one isn’t the right one unless she’s driving you absolutely bonkers in the best possible way. And I gotta say … you’re looking a little bonkers, man.”

He had that right. “Let it go,” AJ said.

“Fine. You don’t want my help until you fuck it all up, I get that, too. But I’ll be standing right here when you need me.”

AJ shook his head. “Thanks for the warning.”

“And not that you deserve the invite, but Emily and I are thinking about going camping up to Marble Flats this weekend. Her sister and her fiancé will probably come, too. We could get some of the guys and—”

“Can’t,” AJ said.

“You off to consult somewhere or heading to D.C.?”

Besides running the Sunshine Wellness Center, AJ consulted on physical therapy at military bases across the country, mostly within the special ops units. He also went to D.C. regularly to fight for better, longer PT care for injured vets. “Neither,” he said. “I’m heading to Boise.”

“That guy who’s interested in your grant program finally set up a meet, then?”

“Yeah.” AJ had been working on putting together grants to cover extended treatment for patients with extensive trauma cases who got cut off too early by their insurance companies. Unfortunately he had way too many of those cases and not nearly enough funding, so he’d gone looking for people willing to fund grants and had someone interested.

“I hope he bites,” Wyatt said. “You need this. I don’t know what we’d have done if Darcy hadn’t had you at her back when her insurance ran out.”

“She had all of us,” AJ said, but knew Wyatt was right. If Darcy had quit PT when her insurance had stopped covering her treatment, she’d still be in a wheelchair. “This guy’s got a wife who needed long-term PT care after an accident. He’s a CEO of a team-building corporation, and he’s having a weekend retreat for his employees. I’ve been asked to bring along someone I helped pro bono after they ran out of funds. Someone who’d have benefited from the grant program. My plan was to bring Seth.”

Another of AJ’s clients, Seth Williams had been in a climbing accident and worked his way back from an incomplete SCI—spinal cord injury—thanks to extended treatment.

“Seth agreed to that?” Wyatt asked, surprised.

Seth was so introverted and shy that he could barely go to the store, much less show off his motor skills on demand. “At first,” AJ said. “But he just cancelled on me today. Said he appreciated everything I’ve done to help him but that he couldn’t handle being on display.”

“So how important is it to bring someone for show and tell?” Wyatt asked.

“Mission critical.”

They both glanced up at the crowd still milling around. Zoe was there, messing with her phone. Ariana, too, and she smiled at AJ. You okay? she mouthed, gesturing to her ribs, silently asking about his.

AJ nodded that he was fine.

“You’ve got other options,” Wyatt said quietly.

Yeah, on paper Ariana was the perfect match. She’d needed AJ’s PT services five years ago for a shoulder rebuild. But he knew that she cared about him as more than co-workers and friends. And though he’d tried to return the feelings, he’d felt no chemistry. He could live without a lot of things, but chemistry wasn’t one of them. “A weekend away with Ariana might give her the wrong message and screw up our friendship and working relationship,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt her again.”

“I wasn’t talking about Ariana,” Wyatt said.

AJ followed his gaze to the side of the spectator stands, to where Darcy now sat on the grass, alternately stuffing her face with nachos from the snack bar and loving up on a young German shepherd.

Her laugh came to him on the wind and he pretended that didn’t affect him, the sight of her having fun—which for the past eleven months had been rarer than him nearly screwing up tonight’s game. “Never going to happen.”

“Why not?” Wyatt asked. “She works for you.”

More like she allowed him to pretend she worked for him. “She’s not exactly on Team AJ at the moment.”

Wyatt laughed. “We both know that Darcy isn’t on any team, she’s not a team player.” His smile faded. “And we both know why.”

Yeah, they did. Wyatt, Zoe, and Darcy’s foreign diplomat parents had played a hell of a head game on all their kids, but most especially Darcy. From infancy they’d dragged her all over the world in the name of making better lives for others, giving her little to no supervision and then acting shocked whenever she’d found trouble.

Their response had always been to send her away to some tight-assed school in a country on a different continent than theirs and leave her there without communication—a total and epic parental rejection.

It was little to no wonder she had trust issues and a seeming inability to become emotionally attached to anything or anyone.