Apprehension was gnawing at her. What if Erik didn’t do anything about Drew? What if he blew it off? Then what? After her experience in Dalton, it was nearly impossible to stay optimistic, but she was determined to try. She wanted to believe that Erik would do the right thing.

Reaching up, she pulled the rubber band from her ponytail, ran her fingers through the tangled mess, and dried it with a towel. Would Finn want to go with her to Atlanta? There wouldn’t be any reason for him to, she thought. If Drew believed she wasn’t going to make trouble for him, she wouldn’t be in any danger.

Finn was suddenly standing in front of her. He rose out of the water like a mythical god, the soft light from the pool casting an ethereal glow around him. She could barely hold a thought when he was this close to her.

He pushed her thighs apart, put his arms around her waist, and lifted her into the water. She wrapped her legs around his h*ps and put her hands on his shoulders.

“What are you smiling about?” he asked.

She began to massage the back of his neck. “When you came up out of the water, you reminded me of Poseidon. Without the pitchfork, of course.”

“Poseidon carried a trident, not a pitchfork,” he corrected.

Their smiles faded as they stared at each other, and the air was suddenly heavy with the tension that crackled between them.

He stared at her mouth. “I don’t have any control when I’m around you.” He didn’t sound happy about the admission.

“And that’s bad?”

“Yeah,” he growled. His open mouth covered hers, his tongue sliding in and out, pushing against hers. There was nothing gentle about his kiss. It was searing and demanding. When at last he lifted his head, both of them had trouble catching their breath.

“Your lips are so soft,” he whispered. His thumb gently outlined her mouth. “I love the way you taste.”

She shivered in his arms, warmth rippling through her body with his sweet words. He lowered his head and kissed her again, a long, intense kiss that held nothing back. She melted against him. Had he wanted to, he could have taken her then and there. She would have given him anything for another kiss.

Instead, he pulled her out of the pool and put the robe around her shoulders.

Finn didn’t say a word to her on the walk back to the condo. He seemed lost in thought.

As soon as the door closed behind them, she headed to her bathroom. “I’m taking a shower to get the chlorine out of my hair.”

She slipped out of her swimsuit and had just turned on the water and adjusted it to the perfect warmth when he knocked on the door. Holding the towel in front of her, she called out, “It’s not locked. What do you want? Towels are in the linen closet, and soap . . .” She opened the door just wide enough to peer around it. “Did you want something?”

He pushed the door aside and walked toward her. “I want you.”

He didn’t seem to need her agreement. His hands moved to the back of her neck and he jerked her to him, his mouth covering hers, sealing any protest.

She didn’t remember dropping the towel or Finn removing his trunks as he backed her into the shower. The water flowed over their bodies and they melded into one. He reached for the soap and turned her around, lathering her back, then her derriere, and all the way down her calves to her ankles. Turning to face him, he then proceeded to wash every inch of her front. He spent an inordinate amount of time on her breasts, and as soon as the soap was rinsed off, his mouth replaced his hands. He kissed each breast until the nipple was taut, straining. He took one into his mouth and began to suck while he stroked the other. His day’s growth of whiskers against her sensitive skin made her cry out, the pleasure was so intense.

He knelt before her, and her legs began to tremble with anticipation. His mouth was hot against her skin as he kissed her stomach, teasing her navel with his tongue. His hands gripped her thighs, and he pushed them apart so he could have better access to her heat. And then his mouth was there between her thighs, kissing her and driving her wild. He teased the sensitive nub with his tongue until she was begging for release, and then his fingers slid inside, pushing her over the edge, forcing her orgasm. Gripping his shoulders, she came apart against him. Her legs buckled, but he wouldn’t let her fall.

Finn wrapped her in his arms and stood holding her tight against him while he fought the urge to slam into her. She was so hot, wet, tight. If he didn’t have her soon, he thought he would explode.

It took Peyton long minutes to recover. She buried her face in his neck, sighing with pleasure.

“Did you like that?” he asked, rubbing against her.

“You couldn’t tell?” she whispered shyly.

His voice was raspy when he answered. “Yeah, I could tell. I love the way you respond to me. It’s so honest and raw.”

She picked up the soap. “Now it’s my turn,” she said.

And she washed every inch of his beautiful body. She spent an inordinate amount of time on his thighs, and as soon as he was rinsed off, she knelt before him and drove him out of his mind.

It was the longest shower either of them had ever had. And the most satisfying.

An hour later Peyton was sitting in the middle of the bed with her laptop, looking for flights to Atlanta. Finn was in the living room talking to Ronan on the phone. At one point she heard Finn raise his voice, and she thought the conversation had become heated, but then she heard him laughing.

A few minutes later Finn ended his phone call and went to Peyton’s bedroom to talk to her. He stopped in the doorway and stood there staring at her. She wore a cotton nightgown that buttoned in the front. Her hair had dried and hung past her shoulders. When she moved, the strands swayed like a veil across her face. He wanted to run his fingers through her silky hair, to pull her to him and make love to her. He wanted to be inside her again, to feel her surrounding him, squeezing him. He needed her heat.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

She glanced up from the screen. “Looking at flights to Atlanta Saturday. Want to hear the plan?”

Barefoot and wearing nothing but boxers that rode low on his hips, he stretched out on her bed next to her. He punched a pillow behind his head and said, “Sure. Tell me the plan.”

“Comfy?” Peyton asked.

“Getting there,” he replied.

After she repeated everything Mimi had told her over the phone, she said, “Erik has been routed through Atlanta, and he has a three-hour layover. I’ll talk to him there and make him listen to the recording. Then it’s up to him. I’ll understand if you can’t go with me,” she added.

“You’re not going without me.”

She was surprised by the jolt of relief she felt. “Yes, okay, but you don’t expect any trouble, do you? No one in Dalton, except Mimi, knows I’m going to talk to Erik.”

“I also want to talk to him. I want to hear what he plans to do. I’m going to nail Parsons,” he added, his tone hard. “I don’t care how long it takes. Maybe Erik can help with that.”


“Help find the weapons Parsons is using. And, Peyton, the danger comes after they kick Drew and his wife to the curb. They won’t go away quietly.”

“If they kick them out.”

“Have you told Lucy your plan?”

She shook her head. “I will tomorrow.” She powered off her laptop and put it on the table next to her. “She’s not going to like it.” Suddenly feeling overwhelmed, she rested against the headboard and closed her eyes. “I wish I didn’t have to do this,” she whispered. Turning her head to look at him, she asked, “Want to try to talk me out of it?”


“Tell me about Danielle.”

The question jarred him. “Why are you asking?”

“I’m changing the subject. Tell me about Danielle.”

“What about her?”

“You were going to ask her to marry you three years ago, then you walked away. So why, after all this time, is she calling you?”

“About a year ago we ran into each other at a party, and she asked me to go to dinner with her. I thought, sure, why not?”

“So you went out.”


Geez, like pulling molars, getting information out of him. “And?”

“She wanted to get back together. I didn’t.”

“What made you walk away three years ago?”

“She had sex with another man. I couldn’t get past it, didn’t want to,” he admitted. “The trust was gone.”

“More than once?”

He gave her a look. “Does that matter?”


“She had sex with him many times while I was out of town.”

“Once was too much.”

Finn remembered how much her betrayal had hurt. He’d be damned if he’d ever go down that road again. “Are we finished talking about this?”

“Yes. I do want to ask you something else . . . but not about Danielle,” she rushed to add when he frowned so intently.

“Okay, go ahead.”

“If I hadn’t called you about the bullet in the roof of my car, would you have called me?”

“I didn’t know about the bullet until you called me.”

“You know what I’m asking. Would I have ever heard from you again?”

He didn’t want to hurt her, but he wasn’t going to lie. His answer was abrupt. “No.”


Okay, then. Now she knew.

Peyton was crushed by his answer but vowed he wouldn’t know it. He had been so emphatic, and that was enough for her. She didn’t want or need to hear his reasons why. She didn’t say a word, just nodded to let him know she’d heard him, then got out of bed, picked up her laptop, and left the room.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“To plug in my laptop. Battery’s low.” Peyton was pleased her voice didn’t sound strained. Determined to be an adult about this, she kept her temper under control. If he didn’t want to see her again, that was fine with her. Except it wasn’t. They had just gotten squeaky clean together in the shower, for Pete’s sake. Her emotions were going crazy. She was angry, frustrated, and feeling horribly vulnerable. She had screwed up again. She never should have kissed him, never should have gone to bed with him, and never should have called him. She sighed. Lesson learned.

“Is that your phone ringing or mine?” he asked as he followed her into the kitchen.

Peyton picked up his phone from the island and handed it to him. She didn’t look to see who was calling. Ignoring him, she plugged in her laptop and began searching for her own phone. After she’d gone through pillows and bedding and moved canisters around in the kitchen—she even looked in the refrigerator because she’d left it there more than once in Brentwood—she remembered she’d slipped it into the pocket of the robe she’d carried to the pool.

It was there, all right, but the battery was low. She was about to plug it into the charger when she saw a text from her uncle Len. He wanted to see her and her sister tomorrow to discuss a problem. He would be arriving early in the afternoon. There was also a text from Lucy asking her to call, but she would have to wait until morning. It was late, and Peyton wasn’t up for a long conversation with anyone.

Finn was still on the phone when she went to bed. She closed her door, a silent message that he was to leave her alone. It didn’t work. In the middle of the night she woke up in his arms. The truth was, she was draped all over him. She went back to sleep thinking she should move.

Peyton was dressed and fixing breakfast before Finn got out of bed. She heard the shower running, and, resisting the erotic thoughts that kept bombarding her, she tried to focus on the task at hand. She was going to be the sweetest hostess there ever was—if it killed her.

She prepared a frittata with Gruyère cheese, red peppers, squash, spinach, and bacon. Then she set a place for him at the island, poured a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and scooped fruit into a small bowl.

Finn was adjusting his holster as he walked into the kitchen. “Something smells good.”

Smiling, she said, “Your breakfast is ready.”

“Where’s your breakfast?”

“I’ve already eaten.” Dry toast and orange juice—it was all she could get down. With all the worries hammering away at her stomach, it was amazing she didn’t have an ulcer.

Finn ate every bit of the frittata. “You do know how to cook,” he praised.

“Thank you. We should get going. I’ve got a lot to do this morning.”

He grabbed her hand. “Peyton, don’t you think we should talk about—”

“No,” she interrupted in a near shout. “We aren’t going to talk about it at all.”

“Don’t you want to know why I—”

She jerked her hand away. “No, I do not want to know.”

Peyton was getting all riled up, so Finn didn’t pursue the matter. She looked damned sexy today in tight jeans and a thin camisole under a gossamer-thin blouse. It was decent but still provocative. He wanted to tell her to go back into her bedroom and change into something less arousing, but then he also wanted to take her clothes off and make love to her. Since her indifferent attitude told him there was no chance of that happening, he turned his thoughts to his plans for the day.

He didn’t tell her what he intended to do until they reached the hotel. He led her into Christopher’s office and asked her to take a seat, then he called for Lucy to join them.

“What are you doing?” Peyton asked.

“We’re going to talk about what’s going on.” And with that he proceeded to explain why he was there. Unbeknownst to Peyton, Finn had already talked to Christopher about the situation. He knew more than Lucy did.

“We’ve got the bullet from the roof, and we need to find the gun. We’re working on that.”

Christopher asked, “How can we help?”

“There’s nothing to be done,” Lucy said. “Peyton has decided to let it go. That horrible man came here to threaten her, didn’t he? And she told him she wasn’t going to make trouble.” She gave Peyton a stern scowl as she spoke, but she wasn’t angry; she was scared for her sister.

Peyton looked at Finn before responding to her. “I’m going to Atlanta Saturday to talk to Erik Swift and give him the recording. Then I’ll move on.” Copyright 2016 - 2024