A muscle flexed along Colton’s jaw as his gaze swept over my face. “Why didn’t you call me?”

“I was going to. I was picking up my phone to call you, but you called me first. I was so caught off guard by what was happening here that I focused on that,” I explained.

His hand tightened along the nape of my neck. It wasn’t a constrictive or threatening move. It was one that was oddly tender. Intimate. Way beyond what he had to do, as a member of law enforcement, to comfort me.

The moment, whatever was going on between us, stretched out. There was something there, a jolt. Like touching a live wire. He sucked in an audible breath. His fingers spread along my shoulder, and the sudden urge to obliterate the tiny distance between us, to press my body against his, rode me hard. Without thinking, I stepped forward.

Reece cleared his throat.

Flushing, I looked away from the unnerving intensity in Colton’s gaze. A shiver chased after his hand as it slipped off the back of my neck and dropped to his side.

“I need you to tell me exactly what happened at the store,” Colton said after a moment, his voice rougher than normal.

I did exactly that.

It was odd to have both Colton and Reece in my bedroom. Their presence made it feel much smaller than it was. Any other time I would’ve been amused by having two extraordinarily attractive brothers who were also cops standing in front of me, but I was too thrown by everything.

The murder last night.

Colton showing up this morning with crepes.


Creepy van dude.

Vandalized property.

And now the way Colton behaved when he showed up and that…that spark? My skin was still tingling.

All within twenty-four hours. It was insane. My life was normally boring.

By the time I answered all of Colton’s questions, it was just us in the house. Reece had left not too long after the other officer to answer another call, and it was close to ten.

Colton had gone downstairs to make a few calls and I was slow to follow him. A warm breeze stirred the curtains in front of the broken window and may gaze drifted to the floor. The glass was gone. The TV was also righted, its broken face a sad sight.

Stepping off the stairs, I looked into the kitchen just in time to see Colton dumping the glass in the trash can. He was still on the phone.

“That’s what I thought,” I heard him say as he placed the dustpan on the counter. “You know how he operates. We all know how he works.” There was a pause as he turned around. His eyes met mine. “Yeah,” he spoke into the phone. “I’ll be in touch.”

Suddenly self-conscious, I glanced at the window and then back at him as I stood near the stairwell. “Thank you for cleaning up. You didn’t have to do that.”

He placed his phone on the counter and started toward me. Goose bumps raced across my flesh. “Do you have something to cover the window with tonight? Tomorrow I can head down to the hardware store and get some boards to cover it until someone can get out here and replace it.”

Did I fall and hit my head? “You don’t have to do that. Thank you, but—”

“I know I don’t have to do it. I want to do it.” With his long-legged pace, it took him no time to end up standing in front of me. “I’m off tomorrow, and I have time now unless I get a call.”

I tilted my head back to meet his stare as I weighed whether I should accept his help. It seemed stupid not to, but it was a lot for him to do for…for me. “I don’t want you to go out of your way, Colton.”

One side of his lips kicked up. “I don’t mind going out of my way for you.” He put his hand on the stairway railing above me. “Not at all.”

The crazed, possibly carnivorous, butterfly flutter from this morning was back, wiggling around in my stomach.

“Let me help you with this,” he urged softly.

I drew in a shallow breath. “Okay.”

The smile grew as he lifted his hand from the railing and caught a piece of my hair, brushing it back from my cheek. “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”

It was and I didn’t even understand why.

“Do you have a tarp that I could use to cover the window?” he asked.

“There is one in the shed out back. It was there when I moved in and I don’t know if it’s any good or not.”

“I’ll check it out.” He started to turn and then stopped. Placing the tips of his fingers under my chin, he tilted my head back. There was a good chance my heart stopped. “Can I ask you something?”

At that moment, he could probably do anything he wanted. “Sure.”

The dimple appeared on his left cheek and then he bit down on his lower lip. Something about that tugged at the very core of me. I wanted to be his teeth. Or his lip. Hell, I’d be down for any part of that.

“Do you believe in second chances?” he asked.

That was not the question I was expecting him to ask, but my answer was immediate and it was the truth, something I felt deeply. “Yes.”

“Good.” His finger slipped up my chin and his thumb smoothed along the skin under my lip. “So do I.”

Chapter 7

Luck was finally shining down on me. The tarp Colton gathered from the shed was useable. I put on a pot of coffee while he broke out the duct tape, and then I pretended not to be watching him cover my window.

I was totally watching him. I mean, who wouldn’t? When he’d spread out the tarp, he’d bent over and good Lord in sweet, sweet heaven, that man had a great rear end. And then when he started hanging it up, I was witness to the amazing display of muscles rippling and straining under his shirt.

What I would give to see that man in the buff.

During this, I did make a mental note to contact my insurance company on Monday morning, so I wasn’t a complete fail at prioritizing.

I walked his cup over to him, placing it on the coffee table. Working on one corner, he glanced over his shoulder. “Thanks.”

Since I had tried to help already and was virtually shooed away, I sat on the couch. “I really do appreciate this.”

“It’s no problem.” He ripped off the section of the tape. “There’re a couple of things I need to talk to you about. I was planning on filling you in tomorrow. Maybe over some pancakes this time.”

I squeezed my eyes shut briefly and wished his words meant more than just charming flirtatiousness. “Okay.”

“We’ve identified the victim.” He stretched the tarp down the right side as he filled me in. “Not the most upstanding citizen, but his record was mostly petty crimes, a few drug infractions. Looks like what went down Friday night might have been more of a turf thing, but obviously it’s bigger than that.”

My spine stiffened. “I figured as much. Creepy van dude gave me that impression.”

“The man murdered worked for Isaiah Vakhrov. Have you ever heard of him?”

“No. Should I have?”

He shook his head as he tore off another piece of tape. “Not if you want to live a long, healthy and safe life, no. Isaiah Vakhrov pretty much runs the city, but not from the right side of the fence, if you get what I’m saying. His fingers are in everything. Some of his business is legit and some of it’s not. Lot of drugs come in and out of this city because of him.”