“No. I’m just relieved that . . .” She couldn’t finish.

Abe’s arm came around her shoulder and he pulled her against his body. “Thanks for staying on top of this, Sheriff.”

“I wish I could take credit. The unfortunate thing is this would still be an open case if not for Bobby Senior bringing it to us. Sad fact is a lot of parents around here wouldn’t have.”

“I know that only too well.”

The sheriff shifted his weight and addressed Abe. “About that other thing you asked me to check on? Took some doin’, but I found out why the guy that was . . . ah, harassing Miz Fitzhugh, disappeared. He died. Massive stroke. No family, so no obituary, but I had the death records checked and it was confirmed.” He patted Abe’s arm. “Take care, Lawson.”

As soon as the patrol car was out of sight, Janie’s knees buckled. Abe caught her, scooped her into his arms and carried her into the house.

Janie knew it was stupid to fall apart now, but she couldn’t help it. Was it really over? She could scarcely wrap her head around what it meant. She curled into Abe so tightly she was practically inside his clothing. He held her, soothed her, proved he knew what she needed and gave it to her without hesitation or restriction.

God, she loved him. As much as she wanted to look in his beautiful gray eyes and tell him how she felt, she held back. It was too much too soon. Abe might believe her confession was a knee-jerk reaction to the truth about the accident and the final chapter in that nasty part of her past.

Her thoughts backtracked to the first time she’d told him she loved him after they’d started dating. Abe had sort of patted her on the head, mumbling about it being too soon to make declarations. She hadn’t the guts to say it to him again until after she knew he felt the same way.

Abe loosened her arms, eased her back to wipe her tears and tenderly kiss her lips. “Better?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“I’m sorry. If you hadn’t been out here that morning, you might’ve avoided this.”

“If I hadn’t been out here that morning, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

He smiled softly. “Well. There is that.” He swept his knuckles down her cheek. “So does this put an end to your fears about that Dave guy finding you?”

She nodded. “Why did you ask the sheriff to look into it?”

“I couldn’t sit around and do nothin’. I felt so goddamn helpless. Happy as I am that he’s not a threat to you anymore, part of me wishes I could tear that son of a bitch apart, limb by limb.”

Of course Abe would push for answers, even if he had to hide it from her. He defined tenacious and protective.

He peered into her eyes. “You don’t seem happy.”

“I am. But I still don’t know who pushed me.”

“Is it possible when you started to trip the wind came up, making it seem like you were pushed? I’ve been knocked on my ass by Wyoming wind a time or two.”

Janie smoothed her hand across his ruggedly handsome face. “Maybe. Or we could go with Willie’s explanation that I somehow pissed off the bad spirits around the Split Rock.”

He didn’t say anything.

“What?”

“If those bad spirits are still gunning for you, it’d probably be best you stay here with me instead of returning to the resort. For your own protection.”

For her own protection. Right. Abe doing his duty. God forbid he’d admit he wanted her here for himself. She smiled, taking the coward’s way out, reminding him of her temporary position. “Beats crashing in that crappy trailer at the Split Rock for however long I end up working there.” She disentangled herself from his arms. “Are you ready for supper?”

Chapter Nineteen

Two whirlwind days of dealing with a new venue took its toll. Renner made no promises to the promoters that Jackson Stock Contracting would be involved the following year. But that stress and the long drive was all behind him as he knocked on Tierney’s door.

She twisted the shade to peer out the window. Her smile was a thing of beauty. The locks clicked and the door swung inward. “When did you get back?”

Not cool to admit being so eager to see her that he’d showered, shaved and raced out of his trailer a mere ten minutes after he’d parked his truck. “A while ago.” He waggled a bottle of zinfandel at her. “I hoped you’d have a nightcap with me.” His gaze started at her sock-clad feet, and moved up the black and white checked pajamas straight out of a 1930s movie.

Tierney hugged herself against the blast of cold air. “I don’t know—”

Crowding her into the wall, he kept her arms immobilized as he fed her soft-lipped kisses. While the blow job had been great, outstanding really, he wasn’t about to take a backseat to Tierney when it came to sex. He’d been planning this seduction all damn day.

Renner kissed the curves of her lips, her cheeks, the section of skin in front of her ears, between her eyebrows, until she emitted a sexy sigh. “You wanna get some glasses? Or we giving in to my redneck side and drinkin’ it straight outta the bottle?”

“Glasses. Definitely.”

He toed off his boots, hung up his coat and made sure the condoms were accessible. The entire house was visible from where he stood. Only the bedroom and the bathroom had doors that closed. The wide-open space retained a coziness he found appealing.

Tierney set the glasses on the coffee table and poured. “What really brings you by tonight?”

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