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He stepped forward, pushing her back, their mouths still pressed together, until she felt the bed hit the back of her legs and they tumbled onto it. A pile of clothes bulged underneath, forcing her to arch her back, but it was actually better that way—it pushed her closer to him.

The feverish way he kissed her, making his scruff pleasurably scrape her lips, wasn’t enough anymore. She wanted more of him, all of him, really. Her hands slid underneath his shirt, digging into the powerful muscles of his back, as she held him to her.

Under her fingertips, she felt the bumps and dips of his scarring, and realized that her fingers were on the outlines of his tattoo.

Daniel had an arm on either side of Harper, trying to hold himself up so he wouldn’t crush her. But she leaned up, pushing her body against his. She raised her legs so her thighs were pressed into his waist, and he moaned against her lips.

Brian coughed loudly, interrupting the moment so Harper’s flush of heat switched from pleasure to shame.

Daniel rolled off of Harper, and as she sat up, she readjusted her shirt. Nothing had been up or off, but things had gotten rumpled. Her dad stood in the doorway of her room, but he was staring off down the hall, probably not wanting to accidentally see something he could never unsee.

“I just wanted to let you know that I’m home from work now,” Brian said. “I’m going to go help Gemma with her car before we head out. But you two might want to come down or hose yourselves off.”

“Um, thanks, Dad,” Harper mumbled, looking down at the floor. “We’ll be down in a second.”

“That’d probably be good,” Brian said, then walked away.



Gemma knew part of the reason her dad was working on the car was out of penance. Not that Brian really had anything to atone for. He was an adult, and he had every right to terminate his marriage, especially since he had obvious reasons for it.

She shouldn’t be hurt over it, but she was anyway. Brian knew that, too, so he was doing his part to make her life a little easier. He also probably figured that she had enough trouble this summer, and he’d promised to fix her car every time it broke down.

That normally wasn’t that big a chore, but with the heat the way it had been the last few days, any amount of time spent outside wasn’t fun. The sun beat down, and the humidity smothered them.

“Do you think you can fix it, then?” Gemma asked. She leaned back against the closed garage door while her dad had his head under the hood of her car.

“Yeah.” He’d been twisting something with his right hand, but now he just leaned forward, staring at the jerry-rigged abyss. “But I’ll have to get a part for it.”

“Sorry.” An awkward silence fell between them, so she asked, “Is Harper about ready?”

“Oh, who knows?” her dad muttered.

“Didn’t you check on her?”

“Yeah.” Brian snorted. “She said she’d be down in a minute, but I came outside, so I don’t know.”

“Oh.” She didn’t know what that was about, but Brian didn’t seem to want to talk about it. “Thanks for taking a look at my car, Dad.”

“No problem.” He straightened up and wiped the grease off his hand with a rag. “Hey, what do you think of that Daniel kid?”

“Daniel? He’s a good guy.”

“He treats your sister all right?” Brian looked at Gemma, watching her.

“Yeah.” Gemma nodded. “As far as I know, he treats her really well.”

“Good.” He wiped harder at the grease. “Are they getting serious, do you think?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. I know Harper really likes him.”

“Ah, hell.” He sighed, then shoved the rag in his back pocket. “I knew eventually it would happen.”


“Both of you, dating boys.” Brian squinted up into the sunlight so he wouldn’t have to look at his daughter. “I always kinda hoped at least one of you would end up an old spinster.”

She smirked. “Sorry, Dad.”

“And here comes more trouble.” He motioned next door, and Gemma looked over to see Alex walking toward them.

He wore his regular clothes as opposed to his work overalls, but his Boba Fett T-shirt appeared a bit too small. It hadn’t been a few weeks ago, but now it pulled snug across his chest and biceps.

His hands were shoved in the pockets of his jeans, and he kept his head down. His thick hair cascaded across his forehead.

“Hello, Alex,” Brian said, his voice firm but not exactly hard. “I haven’t seen you at work the last couple days.”

“Yeah, I haven’t been feeling very well.” He glanced up at Brian, but only for a second, then turned to face Gemma. “Hey, Gemma, can I talk to you for a minute?”

She stood up straighter, but stayed leaning against the garage door. “Sure.”

“Gemma?” Brian said, studying the two of them. “I can stay out here, looking at a few other things on your car.”

“No, it’s okay, Dad. I’ve got it.” She tried to smile reassuringly at him.

Brian hesitated before nodding. “All right. I’ll go check on Harper. But we do have to get going soon.”

“Okay. Thanks, Dad,” Gemma said.

They stood in silence until after Brian had gone into the house. Alex finally lifted his head and looked at her. She wanted to brush his brown hair back from his forehead, so she could search his eyes for the warmth that had once been there.