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“But talking about it and actually knowing he’s doing it are two separate things. He’s got all her past therapists on his side.”

Logan snorted, rocking back on his heels. “It’s cold out here. Why’d we come out here?”

“I thought we were out here to have this conversation.”

“Aren’t we all staying at Nate’s?”

“Where she’ll be staying, too.”


I let the two brothers squash everything for me.

I rubbed at my forehead. “Why am I missing the days when we could’ve just lit his house on fire?”

Logan snorted this time. “We could sneak on his estate and slash all the tires to his vehicles.”

Mason grinned. “Pretty sure he’s got video surveillance.”

“We can get around that.”

“This conversation is pointless. No one is going to sneak onto his estate to knife his tires. That’s a headache for him, that’s all. Hell, a headache for his staff. He won’t even be fazed,” Mason points out.

“We know criminals.” Logan shot a look at Channing, who was just coming outside to join us.

Channing frowned. “I’m not a criminal.”

“You know criminals.”

Channing shook his head. “My sister is not a criminal either. I don’t know why you keep going there.”

“I’m not talking about your sister.”

Mason growled. “Let it go. This is your point of attack? Nate, you’re fucked.”

Logan stifled a laugh. “I’m just messing around.” He was quiet for a second. “But seriously, Channing, aren’t you tight with that motorcycle club?”

“You’ve been on my ass all night about them. No, I’m not.”

“That’s disappointing.”

“How about you tell us what you have done?” If that was Logan’s actual plan, I agreed with Mason. I was fucked.

“It’s fine. We have people doing their job, and everyone he brings to the case, we’ll discredit them. We’ll bring our people, and he’ll be discredited. It’ll all work out in the end. Right now, it looks like he’s trying to buy his granddaughter, but Quincey needs to be clued in. Now. I’ve been talking to her lawyer, so he knows what’s going on, but she needs to be in on it. I need her permission to approach her family, too. I know Graham will, but the rest will testify against him?”

“Yes. They hate him. I’ll talk to her tomorrow.”

“Tonight, Nate.”



Well, fuck.

Tonight, then.



I knew Nate’s house was big, but I didn’t realize how big until all of the couples came to the house. Matteo and Grace slept in the pool house/my dance studio. The other three were upstairs, and when I went into my own room, I couldn’t hear a thing.

There was a weird flutter in my stomach. It might’ve been the pizza I inhaled when Logan ordered for everyone.

It wasn’t until I went into my room, with a dreamy smile on my face, that it hit me. It was me. It was Nate. It was Graham. It was Nova. It was that I was in a house full of people, and people who loved each other. I mean, I wasn’t one of them, but I was like an extended arm. Or a hand. Or I was standing on the sidelines, but I’d only ever been to a house full of people the few times I did Christmas at the Robertson’s house.


I abruptly sat on my bed, like a boulder sinking to the bottom of a lake. Thump. Down I went.

I had missed so much.

I didn’t realize I was crying until a tear hit my arm. Lifting it, I looked at it a moment.

Then I touched my face. It was covered in tears.

“You okay?”

A half-gurgle, half-squeak came from me as I leaped from my bed.

It was Nate, standing in my doorway.

I gestured to Nova’s room, ignoring how my heart was racing. “Have you checked on her?”

He nodded. “She’s sleeping.” He grinned. “Penguin and Sloth are both with her.”

“Oh. Good.” I wanted to check on her, too. I’d wait, though. I mean, he just looked in on her.



What was I doing here?

“Wait. What are you doing here?”

A soft chuckle came from him. He was still dressed from dinner, but he looked a lot more relaxed, except for the tightness around his mouth.

Why I was noticing those details wasn’t beyond me.

I was having thoughts and feelings, and I was still crying.

Why was I crying?


I could almost hear her giggling at me.

It was for that reason that I let slip what slipped from me.

“You should’ve been with Valerie.”

Yeah. That.

I was back to that.

Why did I say that?

Nate straightened abruptly, one of his hands falling out of his pocket.

Gah. He looked so good.

All tall. Dark. Green eyes. Broad shoulders. His jaw. I loved his jaw.

“Why would you say that?”

I swallowed—right. That boulder was still there. It was permanently there. I needed to throw up a “road is blocked due to construction” sign in my own throat and make pathways around it. Deal with it. Live with it.

I shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant. “Because it’s true.” Blasphemy. That came out as a whisper, totally giving me away.

I looked away.

He didn’t need to see the sadness in me. No one did.

Who would want to deal with that?

He stepped into the room, his head inclining.

I was watching his shadow, and I held my breath, not wanting to hear what he’d say but totally waiting on the edge of my seat at the same time.

“I repeat, why would you say that?”

“Because Valerie was…” Life. “Warm.” She wasn’t cold like me. “Valerie was beautiful.”

“You don’t think you’re beautiful?”

I slanted him a slight, mocking smirk. “I’m a professional dancer. I think I’m beautiful, and I think I’m dreadful at the same time. I’m not speaking for all dancers. That’s just my complex.” That wasn’t my hang up, and he hadn’t caught it. Good. I could breathe easier. “I should go to bed.”

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