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She went to bed, but instead of sleeping, she found herself staring at the ceiling while her gut churned.

Finally she tossed the covers back and headed to the kitchen, going for the frozen cookie dough in the freezer.

Sara found her half an hour later, eating the dough with a spoon right out of the container. “PMS or SMS?” she asked.

“SMS?” Emily asked.

“Stupid Man Syndrome,” Sara said.

“It’s more like stupid woman syndrome.” She paused. “The Los Angeles intern still wants to trade places.”

“Yeah?” Sara took a big hunk of cookie dough. “She tired of treating the pink Pomeranians and hairless cats of the rich and famous?”

“I guess her family lives in Idaho somewhere, and she misses them, she wants to be closer to home.”

Sara looked up, eyes sharp. “Wait— You’re serious?”


Sara set the cookie dough down. “You’re going to do it? You’re going to trade places and go back to L.A.?”

“Hello, have you been listening? She wants to come here for the same reason I wanted to stay in Los Angeles. We miss home. We miss Dad. We want to be closer to home.”

Sara gave a slow shake of her head.

“No?” Emily asked. “What do you mean no?”

“I mean there’s no we. I like Sunshine. You can see the stars at night. And I thought people would judge me, but as it turns out, there’s a huge shortage of lesbians here and I’m in huge demand. Everyone wants the token lesbian friend. And I thought you were coming to like it, too. You’re back with Dr. Sexy—” She broke off at whatever she saw on Emily’s face. “You’re not?”


“But on your first date, you came home with your panties in your pocket.”

“It’s not what you think,” she said softly.

“Emily.” Sara looked distressed, for her. “Are you sure?”

She thought of what Wyatt had said that first night they’d gone to dinner: You’re not the only one thrown off their axis here, Emily. We never intended to see each other again. Hell we didn’t even know each other’s last names. And that worked for me.

It had been a month and a half, and never once in all that time had he alluded to changing his mind. There was no future for them. It wasn’t because he was a commitment-phobe either—he’d been engaged. Which brought her to her last problem—the expression on his face every time Caitlin’s name came up. He’d loved her. Maybe still did for all she knew. He hadn’t let Emily in enough to discuss it with her. “Yes,” she said. “I’m sure.”

“You really shouldn’t make any hasty decisions on this. Give it some time before you talk to your boss—”

“I e-mailed him.” Emily gestured to the laptop sitting so innocuously on the kitchen table. “I told him I’d switch.”

Sara just stared at her, disappointment and frustration clear. And worry.

“I know,” Emily said. “It’s risky.”

“No,” Sara said with a slow shake of her head. “The risk would’ve been to stay.”

Dell was gone when Emily got into work, working one of the ranches he’d contracted with up north. She waited for Wyatt to say something about the internship, about the switch, but he didn’t.

The reason for that didn’t feel good. She wasn’t sure if he was relieved, happy, or just plain indifferent about her decision. He’d been damn careful to keep things in the moment.

She needed to do the same.

When she got home that night, she fed Sammy, Q-Tip, and Woodrow, and then opened the fridge for herself. She was standing there staring at its contents when Woodrow went to the back door and whined.

“Now?” Emily asked. “I just let you out.”

Woodrow pawed at the door.

“Okay, okay, hang on.” She heard Sara come in the front door. “Hurry,” she called out to her sister. “We’re going for a walk!”

“We?” Sara asked, coming into the kitchen. “I hope that’s the royal we. Or you and the mutt. Not me.”

“You.” Emily grabbed the leash. “It’s almost dark, I need an escort.”

“Oh sure, take the butch lesbian, she’ll save you.”

“Accusing me of profiling isn’t going to get you out of this.”

Sara sighed and out they went, heading down the street. Woodrow paused at every single bush and tree, but made no deposits.

“What, do you need an invitation?” Sara asked him.

When they got to the next property over, the ranch house where Emily had first thought maybe Woodrow had come from, the dog hunched in the middle of the grass.

“Crap,” Emily said.

“Literally,” Sara said, and fanned the air. “At least it’s dark now.”

“No, I mean crap, I didn’t bring a baggie to scoop that up with—” She broke off when a long, unhappy howl of a dog sounded.

And then another.

At Emily’s feet, Woodrow whined.

“Our neighbors have dogs?” Sara asked.

“I don’t know. They’re never home.”

A few more barks sounded, and Emily looked at the house. Still dark. Quiet. Woodrow finished his business, but before they could move, a truck came down the street.

“Uh-oh,” Sara said when it slowed.

Yeah, uh-oh. The truck was coming to the house. They turned off their flashlights and ducked behind a bush just as it pulled into the driveway.

Emily scooped Woodrow close and held her breath.

“We’re going to get arrested for not picking up dog poo,” Sara whispered. “We’re going to end up as someone’s bitch.”

“Shh!” She went back to holding her breath. Beside her, Sara did the same.

And then, in the silence, her phone lit up like day with a call.

Shit. Emily reached into her pocket and reflexively swiped her thumb across the screen to answer instead of hitting ignore.

The truck door opened. Two long legs appeared out of the truck, heading around the back of the vehicle instead of the front.

Emily sucked in a breath. She could see boots. Denim-clad legs.

And a gun at a lean hip.

Oh, God. Her heart leapt into her throat.

“Run,” Sara whispered.

The three of them ran like the hounds of hell were on their heels, Sara and Emily in terror, Woodrow barking like he was out for a joyride.

“Did you see—” Emily started.

“I saw,” came Sara’s grim reply.


“Doubtful,” Sara gasped as they flew. “This is Idaho. Everyone and their grandma is armed.”

“Except for us,” Emily managed.

“I’ve got a knife in my pocket.”

Emily gave her a startled glance. “What?”

Halfway back, Emily got a stitch in her side and had to stop, hands on her knees, gasping for breath.

“That’s . . . pathetic,” Sara said, stopping besides her, but looking no better off.

Footsteps sounded, though it was hard to tell from which direction they came. It didn’t matter. They both gasped and started to run again. Emily flew right into a brick wall.


He absorbed the impact without moving and wrapped his arms around her. “What the hell?”

“Yeah,” said a different male voice, from directly behind them this time. “What the hell?”

Big, Scary Neighbor Guy, Emily thought, shaking in her sneakers.

Wyatt flicked his flashlight upward and revealed the man who’d gotten out of the truck at the dark house.

Yep. It was indeed Big, Scary Neighbor Guy.

Woodrow got in front of Emily, backing his tush right up to her calves, standing on her feet as he barked sharply at the man.

Emily scooped him up and hugged him. “Good boy,” she whispered. “Brave boy.”

“Who are you?” Wyatt asked her neighbor.

“I’m the one who found Lucy and Ethel here in my bushes.” His gaze went to Sara, and then Emily, and finally Woodrow. No flicker of recognition for the dog, which was a relief. No way could she have given him Woodrow.

“The question is,” the guy said, “who the f**k are you?”

“We lost our kitten,” Sara said. “We were looking for her and you scared us.” She flashed a smile.

Emily didn’t know why Sara lied, but she nodded her head in agreement.

Big, Scary Neighbor Guy didn’t return the smile. Instead he pointed at her, and then at Emily. “Stay off my property,” he said, voice low and menacing. “Watch yourselves.”

Emily’s heart went into her throat, and she opened her mouth to utter an immediate apology.

“No,” Wyatt said, tall and strong at her back. “You watch yourself.”

Neither man budged for a long beat. Finally Emily’s neighbor made a low sound of disgust. “Handle your women, and I mean it, stay outta my business,” he snapped, and stalked off into the night.

“I’m my own woman,” Emily said to no one.

Wyatt didn’t budge, watching the guy go. After a beat, he looked down at her and her sister.

“It was all her doing,” Sara said, and pointed at Emily.

“I heard a dog in trouble,” Emily said.

Wyatt didn’t look happy to hear this. “Next time call me,” he said. He’d dropped the tough-guy stance and was back to easygoing, laid-back Wyatt.

Except Emily was coming to realize he wasn’t so easygoing or laid-back at all. He was just extremely good at compartmentalizing his life, and taking care of what was important, in the moment.

She could learn from that.

A whole hell of a lot.

But she wasn’t feeling laid-back or easygoing. Her blood was still pumping. “Did you come by for anything important?” she managed to ask casually as they walked home.

Sara snorted.

Emily blushed. “I mean—”

“This is where I bow out,” Sara said as they arrived back at the house. “I’m heading into town to play darts. Don’t wait up.”

And she and Wyatt were alone. She wondered if he’d come to discuss the internship, and her leaving.

But he didn’t speak.

“So,” she said. “How was it that you were our knight in shining armor tonight?”

“I came by and you didn’t answer the door. When I called you, and you hit Answer but didn’t say anything, I got worried. And then I heard someone say ‘run’ and just about lost ten years of my life as I came looking for you.”

“Oh,” she said, wincing, letting them into the house. “Sorry—”

She broke off when he kicked the door shut and then backed her to it. Somewhere along the way he’d removed his glasses. Setting a hand on either side of her head, he leaned in and kissed her until she couldn’t remember her name, much less wonder what he’d come to see her about.

“I want you,” he said, voice thrillingly rough. “Now.”

“I know,” she said, moaning at the feel of him, hard against her. “Me too. It’s adrenaline.”

“Bullshit.” Sliding his hands down the backs of her thighs, he hoisted her up his body. Carrying her like that, he strode to her bedroom and kicked the door shut. “Don’t make up reasons for what happens between us, Emily. For me, this has got nothing to with what happened tonight, and everything to do with you.”

She stared at him, her heart doing jumping jacks against her ribs. If this wasn’t adrenaline, and it wasn’t a good-bye, what the hell was it?

He stared back, steady as a rock, a little pissed off, and hot as hell. “You’re thinking so hard your hair’s smoking.” He rocked into her, letting her cradle the hardest part of him against the softest part of her. “Let me make this easy,” he said. “Tonight. Yes or no.”

She shivered with need and want, the two entwining so there was no telling which was which. Tonight? If that was all he wanted, she’d take it. “Yes.”


Emily staggered into the kitchen shortly before dawn. Wyatt had left a few moments before, leaning over her for a lengthy kiss good-bye that would’ve turned into something else entirely if they hadn’t been out of condoms.

Sara was on the kitchen counter eating ice cream out of the container for breakfast, which was so unlike her, Emily stopped short. “What are you doing?”

“Rayna e-mailed me,” she said. “She said she missed me, the bitch.”

“Did you respond that you miss her, too?”


“Do it.”

Sara sagged. “I can’t. I’m the one that broke up with her.”

“Which still makes no sense,” Emily said.

“Because she’s a ten, okay? And I told you, tens don’t date fives.”

Emily stared at her.

“She’s a model,” Sara said. “An L.A. runway model.” She spread her arms wide. “And I’m a short, chunky construction worker.”

“You’re gorgeous,” Emily said fiercely. “E-mail her back.”

Sara dug for more ice cream. At her feet, on the floor, Woodrow was staring at Sara like the sun rose and set on her shoulders. Emily got why when Sara snagged another scoop and offered it to the puppy.

The wood spoon was quickly licked clean.

“Don’t do that,” Emily said.

“She’s no fun is she,” Sara said to Woodrow. “She doesn’t get that having a broken heart requires a million calories to even begin to heal.”