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She flashed him a sexy-as-hell smile and began to move, looking hot as hell riding him. Reaching up, he wrapped a hand around her neck to pull her down to his mouth, his other hand sliding low, his thumb stroking her wet center.

She went off like a bottle rocket, and the beauty of her coming so hard for him was too much. Faces inches apart, eyes locked on each other, he let himself go, pulsing inside her as she panted his name.

When she collapsed over the top of him, he gathered her damp, quivering body in close and concentrated on gulping air into his lungs. Each time with her got more intense, more intimate.

How was that even possible?

He had no clue, none. Pressing his face into her hair, he slid a hand down to cup her ass, holding her to him.

After a long moment, she let out a shaky, contented sigh and went boneless on him.

He traced a random pattern across her skin with his fingers, until she shifted restlessly. Her movement went right through him, making his c**k twitch.

“Again?” she asked with a whisper of hope.

He rolled, tucking her beneath him, letting his body answer for him.

“I forgot to be quiet,” Emily said some time later as she sat up on the couch, eyes wide, hair wild, cheeks rosy, her lips still wet and a little swollen. “Was I loud?”

Wyatt leaned over her and kissed her worried mouth. “I don’t know.”

“How could you not know, you were right here.”

He grinned. “Well, the first time, your legs were around my ears, so I couldn’t hear.”

“Oh my God.” She covered her face, then peeked out between her fingers. “It’s your fault, you know. It’s how you touch me. You make me forget myself.”

He laughed and kissed her again. “I loved it,” he said against her mouth.

She slid her fingers into his hair and pulled him back enough to stare into his eyes. “And the second time?”

“Loved that, too.”

She let go of him to smack his chest. “I mean why don’t you know if I was loud the second time?”

He held her gaze. “It’s how you touch me,” he said, echoing her words. “You make me forget myself.”

She stared back at him. “Dammit.” And then she leapt at him.

“Again?” he asked, laughing.

This time she let her body answer for her, and he had no objections.


The next morning, Wyatt drove into work with a silent and brooding Darcy. “Hey,” he said, turning to her when he turned off the truck and met her pissy gaze. “I’m not the one who agreed to work the front desk for a week.”

“I’m not mad at the fact I’m working,” she said.

“Then what are you mad at?”


No surprise there. She’d been mad at him since birth. “Why?”

“You’re breathing, aren’t you?”

That wasn’t it and they both knew it. AJ had told her to stop using the walker and downgrade to the cane, but Darcy hated the cane and had refused to give up her walker.

So AJ had asked Wyatt for help. And Wyatt had done what had to be done.

He’d returned the rental walker.

Darcy had flipped out on him. She’d thrown one of Zoe’s precious potted plants at his head, narrowly missing him, too. Good thing having two sisters had taught him how to duck quickly.

Then Darcy had done another of her vanishing acts.

Wyatt had just been grateful for the silence.

This morning, she’d mysteriously been back in her own bed, and had gotten up without any prompting, not getting irritated until he told her she still wasn’t getting the walker back.

Tough love, her doctor had told him.

Tough love, AJ had told him.

Bullshit, she’d told everyone. But after ten full minutes of silence, followed by ten full minutes of chewing him out, she’d made her way out the front door, slamming it so hard she’d rattled the molars in the back of his head. She’d used the hated cane to get to the truck, bitching the whole time.

Now she shoved the truck door open.

“Wait for me,” he said, wanting to help her navigate the exit from the truck, but by the time he came around the front for her, she’d slid out of the vehicle.

For a moment she wobbled and her knees seemed to give out. He reached for her but she thrust her hand out in a don’t-you-dare gesture.

So he watched, feeling helpless and useless, as she clung to the opened truck door, trying to get her balance. With visions of her sliding to the ground and hitting her head on the way down, he had to bite his tongue and shove his hands in his pockets to keep them from reaching out and yanking her upright.

Finally, after a painfully long thirty seconds when it could have gone either way, she grappled and won her balance.

“There,” she said so triumphantly Wyatt felt his throat tighten. “Got it.” She was sweaty and flushed and breathing heavily, and he’d never been so proud of her.

But if he dared say that, she’d probably kill him in his sleep. “Use the f**king cane, Darce,” he said instead.

He expected her to flip him off. Or light into him. Or simply glare at him as she’d been doing since the day of her accident.

Instead, she beamed. “Don’t need it, Wy-Ty, I did it!”

Five painfully long minutes later, she also walked into the front door of Belle Haven by herself. He felt her trembling wildly as he held the door open and knew she was one more step from falling on her face. Fuck tough love, he thought, and reached for her.

“Thank God,” she whispered, flinging her arms around his neck. “I’m about ready to fall on my ass.”

Emily was at the front desk, making flyers with a picture of the dog she’d rescued, who happened to be sitting at her feet covered in bandages, but looking pretty good considering.

Emily’s gaze met his and held for a long beat.

Then the dog at her feet lifted his head and barked.

Peanut startled and nearly fell off the printer. “Bad dog,” the parrot said, feathers ruffled.

Emily looked down at the dog, and Wyatt would have sworn the little guy smiled.

“Oh my goodness,” Emily said with a laugh as she crouched down to love the pup up. “That’s the first peep I’ve heard out of you.”

The dog sat adoringly at her feet and wagged his tail at her. “What did you name him?” he asked.

“I can’t name him,” she said, rising. “He’s not mine.”

Wyatt could’ve told her that once she flashed her smile, anyone and anything could be hers. “What would you name him if you could?”

“Woodrow.” She smiled. “Because he looks so serious.”

Darcy had made herself at home behind the counter and lifted a bag to Emily. “This has your name on it.”

Mike, standing at the counter flipping through files, lifted his head. “Some dude brought it in for you. Fresh chocolate chip cookies. Said you’d know who they were from.”

Emily went still for a beat, and then opened the bag and handed one out to everyone. When she got to Wyatt, he waited until she met his gaze.

“No thanks,” he said.

Oblivious of the odd tension, Mike removed his baseball cap and set it on Woodrow’s head, scratching his ears for him.

Woodrow licked his hand and returned to gazing at Emily like the sun rose and set on her.

Mike added the sunglasses that had been tucked into the collar of his shirt, setting them very carefully on Woodrow’s nose. “Now you look the part,” he told the dog. “Own it, dude.”

Gertie had been sleeping behind Jade’s desk. She lifted her head to see if she was missing anything. Apparently she decided she wasn’t because she went back to sleep.

They all went to work, and it was an insanely busy day. Wyatt took the time to get bitten on the shoulder by a temperamental sheep in the throes of an allergic reaction to a bee sting. During a rare late afternoon lull, Emily cornered him in his office, leaned back against the door she’d closed behind her, and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Strip,” she said.

He felt himself start to get hard. He stood up and made to clear off his desk like he had the night before, but she choked out a laugh.

“Not for that,” she said.

“So . . . you just want to look?”

“Yeah,” she said. “I want to see your arm, you’re babying it.”

“I’m not babying shit.”

She laughed again. “Such a man. Drop the shirt, Wyatt.”

He tugged it over his head and lost his glasses in the process. He replaced them and focused in time to see Emily was staring at his chest and abs. “Want to kiss it and make it all better?” he asked.

“Yes.” She visibly shook her herself. “No! You’re insatiable.”

“Pot, meet Kettle.”

She blushed and rolled her eyes as she stepped up close, gasping softly at the bruise on his shoulder. “I could make that sheep a mouth retainer from this impression,” she said, and ran her finger over his skin. “God, Wyatt, she really got you.”

He craned his neck and showed her a red spot on his neck.

“There, too?” she asked in disbelief.

“No, this one’s from the other female in my life,” he said.

She stared at him, and then gasped. “I didn’t—”

He just arched his brow.

“Oh my God,” she said, horrified. “I’m so sorry—”

He set a finger against her lips. “I enjoyed every second of it.”

She dropped her head to his chest and huffed out a soft laugh. “This is getting out of hand.”


She lifted her face and studied his. “You don’t look broken up about it.”

“A beautiful, smart woman gets off on me. What’s there to be broken up about?”

“Well,” she said slowly. “For starters, I’m the exact wrong girl for you, you need someone more quiet, someone rooted here in Sunshine like you are.”

He stared at her, the words almost verbatim what Darcy had said not that long ago. “Where did that come from?” he asked, having his suspicions.

“The grapevine, so I can’t cite its origin.”

He bet he could.

“I heard it three different times earlier when I called everyone in town to find out if anyone knew who Woodrow belonged to,” she said.

“Darcy.” He wondered if she realized she’d started calling the dog by a name, but that would have to wait. “Definitely Darcy.”

“She loves you,” Emily said.

“Yeah,” he said. “And so does my mother. And we both know how much that means.”

She didn’t smile. “Do you remember our plan?”

“You and the P word.”

“It was to get to know each other,” she said. “And we were going to not like each other.”

“How’s that working out for you?”

“Right now?” she asked. “Pretty good.”

He flashed a grim smile. “Ditto.”

“So we’re on the same page. We have no problem,” she said.

“Absolutely not a one,” he agreed.

They stared at each other, and the air crackled. His body did that annoying-as-shit thing where he got hard from just looking at her. “Fuck,” he muttered.

“Yes, please,” she said, and threw herself at him.

He caught her. “You know what this means, right?” he asked, hauling her up his body.

She was already panting, taking little nips along his jaw, heading for his mouth. “What?”

“You’re all crazy.”

“Women? Yes, I know.” She got to his mouth.

He met her halfway, tightening his arms around her, pulling her in hard just as his door opened.

Dell and Darcy stood in the doorway.

Both stared at Emily and Wyatt—still shirtless—and had the same brows-up reaction.

“Playing doctor?” Darcy asked.

“Would you believe yes?” Emily asked.

“No,” Darcy said, and turned to Dell, palm out. “I’ll take my fifty now.”

“Christ.” He fished through his wallet and paid up. Then he pointed at Wyatt. “You owe me fifty bucks.”

When they were gone, Wyatt looked at Emily, who had her hands over her face.

“Not good,” she said, and dropped her hands. “We’ve got to get a hold of ourselves.”


She closed her eyes. “Okay! It’s me! I know!”

He laughed. “It’s not just you. Not even close.”

She opened her eyes and stared at him, achingly unsure and vulnerable. Shaking his head, a little thrown off by how much he wanted to see her smile again, he stepped into her. “Not even close,” he repeated softly.

“This has to stop,” she said, just as softly, her big eyes entreating and desperate. “We can do it,” she said, and he wondered which of them she was trying to convince.

“Look, I’ll show you,” she said, and pulled out her phone. She accessed her calendar and shoved it under his nose. “Three hundred and twenty-three days left.”

“That’s wrong,” he said. “You haven’t updated. It’s three hundred and twenty-two, see?”

She stared at the screen and blinked. “Huh. I guess I forgot.”

He wondered if she realized that was a sign, and then decided by the annoyance on her face that it wasn’t a sign at all.

Which made him the crazy one. Shit. He’d been here, right here in this place before, and he’d promised himself not to do this again.