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Even handicapped as she was, Raisin had no problem keeping up. She had no problem handling any command Darcy gave her. And every time she praised her, Raisin slid in a boneless heap of love to the ground to have her belly rubbed.

“You’re possibly the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said.

Raisin smiled up at her in demure agreement.

When Darcy left Belle Haven, the dog curled up trustingly in the backseat of her car. She’d texted Xander for Tyson’s whereabouts and got the reply that they were both at the wellness center.

She’d been doing her damnedest to avoid thinking of AJ—though she’d have had a lot more luck with attempting to not breathe air—and now if she wanted to see Tyson, she’d probably have to see AJ, too.

Not to mention having both Xander and AJ in the same space right now seemed a little dicey. But if she had to be a grown-up, well, then so did they.

As usual with this time of day, the wellness center parking lot was full. People were working out after work, or in a yoga class with Ariana, or seeing AJ and his other staff. Darcy turned to Raisin. “You wait here while I make sure Tyson’s inside. I’ll only be a minute.”

Raisin licked her hand and settled into her seat, seeming happy to look out the windows.

Darcy went inside. Brittney—Darcy’s counterpart on the days Darcy didn’t work—was already off for the day. Ariana was there doing something on the computer. She wore yoga pants and a workout tank top that emphasized her lean, willowy, beautiful body. Not a spare ounce on her, no doubt due to the fact that she didn’t eat flour, sugar, or anything else processed.

Darcy had tried that for half a day once. It hadn’t worked out for her. She’d gotten so irritable and grumpy that Zoe had force-fed her Frosted Flakes for dinner.

“Good afternoon,” Ariana said, all lovely and Zen. “How are you today?”

“Fine, thanks,” Darcy said. “You?”

Ariana leaned on the counter. “You know that wasn’t just a polite question, right? I actually really care about your recovery and how you’re feeling.”

“Why?” Darcy asked, genuinely curious.

“Well, because I work here and care about all of our patients, and because you work here, too, and that makes us co-workers. And also because of AJ.”

Darcy paused. “What about him?”

“Well …” Ariana lifted a shoulder. “Clearly something’s going on between you two.”

Darcy found a laugh. “Sorry, but you’re wrong there. I’m looking for Tyson, is he here?”

“Yes, he is.” Ariana smiled, the kind of smile that said she was holding back.



“Oh come on,” Darcy said. “You’re quiet but not shy. Let’s hear it.”

“I was just wondering if you’d take some advice,” Ariana asked.

Darcy hesitated, but who was she kidding, she’d take any advice she could get.

“If you’re going for it, then go for it,” Ariana said. “Half measures don’t work with AJ.”

“That’s it? That’s the sum total of your advice?” Darcy asked. “Go for it?”

“Yes,” Ariana said, serene as ever. “And don’t blow it.”

Darcy stared at her. “Okay, I’ll bite. Why do you care if I blow it?”

Ariana just looked at her, and Darcy let out a slow breath. “You want him back.”

“I won’t step in on you.”

“Trust me, there’s nothing to step in on,” Darcy said. That she wanted there to be was another story entirely.

Ariana’s gaze slid to the private patient rooms where AJ walked out in his usual PT uniform of black running sweats and a Sunshine Wellness black T-shirt hugging the body that could make a woman drop to her knees to worship at.

Damn him anyway for being both hotter than sin and sex on a stick.

Across the room their eyes met and held. Darcy’s knees wobbled.

“Nothing to step in on, my ass,” Ariana murmured softly, maybe amused, maybe not as the air seemed to spark between AJ and Darcy.

But Darcy was definitely not amused.


AJ broke off eye contact with Darcy, which was surprisingly difficult, and took in Ariana’s gaze. He sensed he’d just missed something between the two very different women—one always so cool and calm no matter the circumstances, the other like a wild, gorgeous tumble-weed blowing through town.

A tumbleweed in a Pink Floyd tank who screamed bad ’tude.

When he’d left her in her bed early that morning fast asleep, she’d been curled up on her side away from him, everything about her calling to him to slip into the bed again: the curve of her hip beneath the sheet, the expanse of her bare back revealing her beautiful tattoo, her out-of-control hair scattered across his pillow.

As business and pleasure mixed uncomfortably in his head, Darcy walked out the front door, moving slowly and stiffly.

She hurt today.

As he remembered that he had staff and clients all around him—something he’d never once had to remind himself of before—he turned to Evan at his side, an active duty marine who’d recently had ACL surgery. AJ had just spent an hour working on his knee, helping him recover some strength. He turned the computer to face him. “I’d like to see you again in a few days,” he said to Evan, accessing his schedule.