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“You think you’re the only one who’s ever had a broken heart?”

“Of the two of us?” Sara asked. “Yeah.”

“Hey,” Emily said. “What about the Johns, remember them?”

“John Number One was a selfish prick and didn’t deserve your heart. And John Number Two never had your heart. How could he? After John Number One and Becky, and then Mom, you never trusted anyone with your heart again.”

Emily opened her mouth, and then shut it again. “Fine,” she eventually said. “I’ve been stingy with my heart until now, sue me.”

“Until now?” Sara pointed at her with the wooden spoon. “Does that mean what I think it means?”

“No. It means nothing.” Not about to explain that Wyatt was interested in her body but not much more than that— especially when it had been all her idea in the beginning. Emily snatched the container of ice cream and the spoon and started to dig in. Then she looked down at the spoon that Woodrow had licked. She loved him but she didn’t want to eat after him. Tossing it into the sink, she reached for another from the drawer.

“Admit it,” Sara said. “You’re falling for Dr. Sexy.”

Emily choked on her first bite. “Would you stop calling him that?”

“You do realize you’re making roots,” Sara said. “Making friends. Getting pets.” She paused. “Bidding on hot bachelors.”

“I only bid to make sure the charity gets a lot of money,” Emily said. “Someone’s gonna outbid me.”

“How, when you keep checking it every day and upping your bid?”

Good point. She changed the subject. “And any day now, someone is going to claim Woodrow.”

Sara hopped off the counter. “Good to know you’re still the Denial Queen. I’m going to work. Maybe tonight we can have a discussion rooted in reality.”

“Like what?”

“Like the fact that you’re happy here.” Sara gave her a long look, and then walked out of the kitchen.

“Yeah, well, I’ll admit that when you admit you’re a ten and a stubborn idiot!”

Sara slammed out the front door without admitting any such thing.

That night, Lilah, Kate, and Holly included Emily in the Girls’ Night outing to the guys’ flag football game. It was Bones vs. Firsts—the town’s doctors, dentists, vets, and anyone in the medical field against Sunshine’s first responders like cops, firefighters, and medics.

The Bones were down a member since Dell was on day two of being up north. Emily watched the rough game through worried eyes, sucking in a breath when Wyatt got taken down by a guy who had at least thirty pounds on him.

They rolled viciously around for a moment, and then Wyatt came up, still holding the ball triumphantly.

His opponent pushed to his feet, and Emily blinked in surprise.

It was Evan, the cop who made the amazing chocolate chip cookies.

The two men stared at each other for a long beat before going back to their own lines. Evan shot Emily a smile on his way.

“He’s cute,” Lilah said.

Wyatt strode by the stands, slowing to give Emily a long, steady look that had her blushing.

“He’s cuter,” Lilah said.

The next play involved both Evan and Wyatt rolling around on the ground again.

Kate looked at Emily. “There seems to be some tension there that has ‘about a woman’ all over it.”

Emily bit her lower lip.

“Spill,” Holly said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Right,” Lilah said dryly. “That’s why the both of them keep looking over at you, flexing their muscles.”

“Honey, I’m all for a woman exploring her options,” Holly said, “but you can’t have two alphas sniffing around sharing air space like that.”

“We have alphas sharing air space at the center all day long,” Emily pointed out.

“But they don’t want the same woman.”

Emily sank down in her seat a little bit. “Evan brought me cookies. And wants to date me.”

“What does Wyatt want?”

She knew what she wanted Wyatt to want, and that was for him to indicate that maybe he’d want her to stay, something she’d never have entertained in the beginning, but now . . . now she couldn’t stop thinking about. But he’d not said a single word about a future with her, not once. She thought about the night before, when he’d taken her into her bedroom and given her so many orgasms she’d been boneless for hours afterward, making it perfectly clear what he did want from her.

Lilah took in her facial expression and burst into laughter, and Emily covered her face with her hands. “Oh my God. This is so out of my comfort zone.”

“What, being sought after by extremely hot guys? Stop and smell the roses, babe, and take in the moment.”

“Or,” Kate said quietly, watching Emily’s face, “you could pick one.”

“Picking isn’t the problem,” Emily said, gaze on Wyatt. “Wyatt and I aren’t a real thing.”

He threw a hard, fast pass to Adam, who caught it in the end zone.

Game. Over.

The Bones team tackled Wyatt to the ground, pounding his back, victorious. After a few moments of this, the guys all headed off the field, eyes on their real prize.

The women in the stands.

Adam claimed Holly, who looked all too happy to be claimed. Same for Brady and Lilah. And Grif and Kate.

Wyatt strode past the kissing couples and came straight to Emily.

She nearly swallowed her tongue. “What are you—”

Yanking her in, he kissed her long and hard.

In front of everyone.

She pulled back and had to shake her head to put some sense back into it. “What was that?”

“A victory kiss,” he said.

She wasn’t one to bank her future happiness on a man, ever, but damn. She’d hoped for more.

But hoping was for dreamers, and she was a planner. To the bone. They’d outlined what their relationship was, she and Wyatt, way back in the beginning. Hell, she’d reiterated it to him many times, too many to count.

Which meant that this wasn’t his fault at all.

Nope, this was all on her.


Wyatt jackknifed up from a dead sleep to the sound of Zoe’s scream. A spider, he thought, but it was worse than a spider.

He fumbled for his glasses and went running. He found her in the basement fighting a burst pipe. Wading into the mess, he turned off the water to the house, but that wasn’t going to solve any problems. “This is bigger than me,” he said. “I’ll call a plumber from work.”

“But in the meantime, we don’t have water.”

He looked down. They were in two inches of it. “We have plenty.”

“Not funny, Wyatt. I have a flight in a few hours.”

“And I’ve got surgeries. I’ll call a plumber,” he repeated.


“Zoe,” he said. “We both love this big ol’ piece of shit, but we can’t keep duct taping it together.”

“Duct tape fixes everything,” she said.

“Not this time. We need a major renovation, or we need to sell.”

She gasped. “Mom put you up to this?”

“No,” he said. “Look, I love the memories in this place as much as you. But—”

“But you’re leaving us.”

“You know I’m going to build a house,” he said gently. “You know I want my own place, where there’s no lingerie hanging in the bathroom—well, unless it belongs to the woman I’m sleeping with. I want to live where there’s no need to tiptoe around for a whole week every month because we ran out of Midol.”


“I want to live somewhere without roommates, aka sisters who are pains in my ass who remember and enjoy bringing up how when I was ten I used to save my gum on the bedpost for the next day.”

She smiled. “I’d forgotten about that.”

“You would’ve remembered the next time Emily came over.”

She laughed. “Yeah. Maybe.”

He squeezed her hand. “And when I go, I want to know that you’re safe, and not drowning in the money pit.”

“What if I promise to stop bossing you around?”

“You’ll never stop bossing me around,” he said. “And that’s okay. I still love you. I just don’t want to live with you. Are we going to be okay?”

“No.” She sighed. “Yes. And the truth is, I don’t want to live with you, either. Or Darcy— Oh, God,” she said, clutching at his shirt. “Don’t you f**king me leave me alone with Darcy!”

He laughed, and she kicked water on him, and he put his hand over her face and shoved.

Yeah, they were going to be okay.

“Who’s going to tell Darcy?” Zoe asked, squeezing water out of her hair.

“Tell me what?” Darcy had appeared at the top of the stairs.

“Wyatt’s leaving us,” Zoe said.

“Good,” Darcy said. “You finally told him we were tired of having him as a roommate then.”

Wyatt slid Zoe a look.

She winced.

“You’re tired of living with me?” he asked in disbelief. “What do I do?”

“Besides leaving the lid up, drinking out of the milk container, thinking that doing your dishes means getting them into the sink, and parking in the good spot every single night? You’re a fun sucker,” Darcy said.

“Darcy,” Zoe said reproachfully.

“Gently,” Darcy said, and smacked herself in the forehead. “You said to tell him gently that we don’t want to live with him anymore. Sorry.”

Wyatt looked at Zoe in disbelief.

“You’re cramping our love lives,” she said on a sigh.

“I’m cramping your love life?” he asked. “You don’t have a love life.”

“Because the last time I brought a date home, you told him he was an idiot.”

“Because he used the wrong remote on the TV and unprogrammed everything,” Wyatt said. “It took me three days to undo the mess. And that was a year ago.”

“They were trying to watch p**n and you came home on them,” Darcy said. “The poor guy got nervous because you’re about a foot taller than him and he was one of those skinny dudes who disappears when he turns sideways. Jeez, you’re so oblivious.”

Wyatt rubbed the heels of his hands over his eyes but he still couldn’t undo the image of Zoe and that scrawny dude watching p**n together. “You’ve done it,” he finally said to Darcy. “You’ve driven me to drink. I need a beer. No, I need whiskey and it’s five thirty in the morning.”

“And I realize I don’t have a love life right now,” Darcy went on as if he hadn’t spoken. “But someday I might. Because, unlike you, I’m ready to take a risk.”

“You’re a walking risk,” Zoe told her.

“I risk,” Wyatt said.

“Name one,” Darcy said.

“Yesterday. In surgery. I—”

“Not at work,” Darcy said. “With your heart.”

He stared at her. At the both of them. Not liking where this was going.

Darcy softened. “You never have, Wyatt,” she said. “You hide behind your let-it-happen attitude, because it’s safe. If you don’t ask someone to be yours and they don’t pick you, well then nothing lost, right?”

“Wrong,” he said. He’d risked with Caitlin, and she’d left. Excuse the f**k out of him for not jumping into it again with Emily.

Except . . . he had. Maybe he hadn’t put it to words, but he’d let her in. Inside him.

A tactical error on his part, one he was hoping he didn’t pay for.

His phone buzzed, and he looked down at the screen. Dell was back and needed him at work a few minutes early. Saved by the bell. “Gotta go.”

“Wyatt,” Zoe said softly when he started up the basement steps. “Darcy didn’t mean to hurt your feelings—”

“Yes, I did,” Darcy said. “Take a damn risk,” she told him. “Try it, you might like it.”

He risked plenty. Hell, he risked daily. And her name was Emily.

Risk personified.

Twenty minutes later, he strode into Belle Haven and headed to Dell’s office.

“I’m finally catching up on the business side of things after all the running around,” Dell said. “I don’t see a reason not to make the intern switch if Emily’s on board with it and wants it. You?”

Wyatt felt his gut drop. “What?”

“They’re both on board. Emily e-mailed me about it days ago.”


“Right before I left.”

Before her and Sara’s Nancy Drew exploits. Before they’d made love all night long.

And she’d not said a word.

Dell’s gaze remained even, steady. “I was surprised,” he admitted. “I thought there for a while that you and she—”

“No.” Apparently not. “No,” Wyatt said again, trying to believe it, all while reeling.

Dell nodded. “I was going to go make the west ranching rounds. Three stops, Brady’s flying. You want to switch and take it?”

Wyatt nodded, appreciating the out today, but he couldn’t stop thinking days ago. Emily had e-mailed Dell days ago . . .