Author: Jill Shalvis


Looking stunned, he stared down at her. “Tara,” he said softly, regret heavy in his voice. “You can’t keep punishing yourself, sabotaging your life, your own happiness for your past.”


She’d never really realized it but he was right. Deep down she felt she needed to be punished for giving up Mia.


Ford was watching her, eyes solemn. “I have all those thoughts too, you know,” he said. “The guilt. You’re not alone in this.”


She let out a breath. “How do you always know what I’m thinking?”


Running his thumb along her jaw, he let out a small smile. “It’s all over your face. You made a decision back then. It was the right decision for you. Don’t let it eat away at you now. It’s a new chapter. Turn the page.”


He was still touching her face, his other hand low on her back, holding her against him, and she fought the urge to turn her face into his palm. “So if I turn the page, then what?”


“Your choice,” he said. “It always was. But know this. You’re not alone. There are two of us now. Actually, there are three.”


She dropped her forehead to his chest. He was big and warm and strong. Strong enough to share her burdens, at least for this moment. She shifted closer without even realizing it, then closer still. His heart was beating calm and even. His eyes were warm as he looked at her.


Into her.


She thought about how he’d said that he felt all the same things that she did, and an old, familiar closeness and tenderness welled up within her. She lifted her head and leaned back against the closed pantry door. “Ford?”


“Yeah?” He was steady and even. A rock.


Her rock.


Tired of thinking, tired of trying to keep in mind a viable reason why they needed to steer clear of each other, she followed her gut and put her lips on his. Which was when the door of the pantry suddenly opened behind her, and she spilled out, right into Logan’s waiting arms.


Chapter 14


“Generally speaking, if your mouth is moving, you aren’t learning much.”


TARA DANIELS


What the hell?” Logan stared down at Tara in surprise, then lifted his head and eyed Ford.


Before Tara could budge, Chloe came into the kitchen. She took one look at Tara—in a Logan-and-Ford sandwich—and tossed up her hands. “I swear to God, I don’t get it.” With a shake of her head, she pivoted and walked out.


Logan was still sizing up Ford.


Who was sizing up Logan right back.


Tara pushed free of both men. “This is awkward. I’m going to go finish my work.” She’d planned on going into town, but she didn’t want to go too far away. She grabbed the vacuum cleaner and headed up the stairs. When in doubt, vacuum. In fact, she was a vacuuming demon, well into the second bedroom, when two arms reached around her and turned the machine off.


Logan pulled her around to face him, a small smile on his face, his eyes serious. “Avoiding me?”


“Little bit.” She blew out a breath. “Logan, why are you really here?”


“I already told you.”


“You think you miss me.”


“I do miss you,” he said. “I miss you traveling with me, I miss the way you always made coffee in the mornings, and how you packed for me. I miss you taking care of me.”


“Oh, Logan.” She heaved out a sigh. “I’m not that woman anymore.” Not even close. “And your world… it’s big and shiny and exciting, and I’m… not. Lucky Harbor is not. So I don’t understand.”


“Don’t you?” His eyes were soft as they skimmed over her features. “You’re smart and funny, and you wanted to be with me for me, not for my stats or bank account. Everyone else yesses me.”


“Is that what this is? You want someone who doesn’t yes you?”


“See that?” he said, smiling at her raised voice. “No one ever gets mad at me. No one but you.” He gave her the eyes—the Logan bedroom eyes—and in spite of herself, she sighed again.


“I really did miss you, Tara.” He put his hands on her waist and his mouth to her ear. “Tell me you missed me, too.”


He was familiar and comfortable, and a part of her wanted to sink into that.


Luckily, a bigger part of her wanted to smack him. “Logan, these past few years…” She’d ached for him. She’d wanted him to come after her. She’d dreamed about it, much the way she once upon a time had dreamed about Ford doing the same.


But he hadn’t. No one ever had.


“I’m too busy to miss you,” she finally said, unwilling to reveal something so pathetic. “I’m sorry.”


Logan searched her gaze, his smile fading some. “No, I deserved that. I spent way too much time being too busy for you, didn’t I?” Moving further into her personal space, he gently tugged at a loose strand of her hair. His eyes were warm in that just-for-her way, the look that used to melt all her clothes off in a blink.


But that had been when she’d been Mrs. Logan Perrish, back when Tara Daniels had barely existed. She didn’t want to go back to that.


“You’re tired. You’re overworked,” he chided gently. “I called you yesterday, wanting to come help. And don’t think the irony got by me. I realize it used to be you helping me. So really, it’s me who’s sorry, Tara. So damned sorry.”


She pressed her fingers to her eye sockets. “I don’t want you to be sorry. I got over it.”


“And over me,” Logan mused quietly. “I won the Sprint Cup last year.”


“I know.” She smiled at him. “One of your biggest dreams.”


“My life’s goal,” he agreed. “Met by age of thirty-two. And then, when it was over, I looked around for someone to share it with, but you were gone. The best thing that had ever happened to me—gone.” He cupped her face. “I want a family, Tara. With you. Maybe even a few kids—”


She choked. She hadn’t yet told him about Mia showing up in Lucky Harbor. She hadn’t told anyone but her sisters. She knew it would come out eventually, but she’d hoped to be in a better, stronger place with Mia first. “Logan—”


“I know. We never really talked about kids, but it’s time, don’t you think?”


Jesus. “No, you don’t understand, I—”


“I’m going to win you back,” he said softly but with steel laced beneath.


Tara sucked in a breath and tried to figure out how she felt. Flattered? Maybe. Vindicated? Definitely. A little bit heated? Well, yes, but hell, the man was gorgeous, and she wasn’t dead.


But mostly she felt unease. “I’m not an upcoming race,” she said. “I’m not available to be won.”


“I don’t see a ring on your finger.”


“That’s not what I meant.”


“I’m not leaving town without you, Tara.”


“Logan—”


He kissed her, then pressed up against her to deepen the connection, but she stepped back and put up her hand.


Eyes dark, breathing unsteadily, he let out a breath. “That got to you, right?”


It used to be he could rock her world, but she wasn’t feeling rocked. Okay, maybe there’d been a mild tremor, but she hadn’t been rocked. Her good parts weren’t tingling. Not like when Ford kissed her. “Logan—”


“We have the entire summer,” he said.


She knew exactly how big a gesture that was for him careerwise—had it not been a forced break due to his injury. “Because you’re hurt,” she reminded him.


“Yes, okay, so it was good timing,” he said with a wry smile. “As far as these things go.”


“Logan.” She shook her head. “Please. I need you to be honest.”


“Fine. I was forced to take the time off to heal. Even more honestly, I needed a break.” He paused. “But mostly, Tara, I need us.”


If that was true, it was only because he didn’t have racing at the moment. That was all. Or maybe he was bored. “There’s no us.”


Logan shot her a smile that said he disagreed and was confident that he could prove her wrong. “I have to go,” he said. “I promised Chloe that if she told me where you were, I’d clean a bathroom.”


While Tara sputtered, trying to picture NASCAR star Logan Perrish wielding a toilet brush, he kissed her and was gone.


Tara stared down at the vacuum. Wasn’t life supposed to get simpler the older you got? She’d been really looking forward to “simple.” She turned on the vacuum, then squealed for a second time when two warm arms came around her a few minutes later. “Logan, dammit, I told you no us!”


But she instantly realized her mistake when the arms tightened and the scent of the man came to her.


“Just me,” Ford said easily, turning her to face him. “Though I do like the ‘no us’ thing with Logan. Stick with that.” He looked her over, and some of his amusement slipped. “You okay?”


“Me? Oh sure. I mean, sure, I’m back in a town I promised to never step in again, I’m having trouble connecting with my daughter—my fault—and my ex has shown up. And you…” She closed her mouth and shook her head. Not going there. “I’m great.”


“You’ll connect with Mia,” he said. “Just give it some time. What did Logan want?”


“To know if his kiss got to me.”


Ford tensed a little. “He kissed you?”


Well, look at that. The vacuum needed to be emptied. She bent, but Ford hauled her upright again. She tilted her head up to look at him. He certainly wasn’t offering the comfort that Logan had, but there was something else. Something new, something edgy and dangerous.


To her heart, anyway.


And so damn tempting. She could admit that much to herself, but not to him. She moved to go around him, but Ford backed her to the wall and held her there with his big, warm body.

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