Grabbing the bottle of tequila, he nodded in Jax’s direction. “He’ll be down to Shepherd before the week is out.”

A grin tugged at my lips as I stepped back, giving him access to the rack of glasses. “Yeah, I’m not making that kind of bet unless I get to say yes, he’ll be down there.”

Nick laughed softly, which was another strange sound, because it was also something he rarely did. I didn’t know what his deal was, he could be moody and he was really bad boyfriend material, but I liked him. “Hey,” I said. “Guess what?”

He raised a brow.


One side of his lips kicked up. “Is that like a code word for something?”

“Nope. Just felt like I needed to say it.” I grabbed a towel and swiped up a bit of spilled liquor. “But wouldn’t that be a weird safe word during BDSM play? Like the chick yelling banana in the middle of sex? That would be so awkward.”

Nick stared at me.

“I read this book once where the girl yelled cat right before they were about to get some bow-chicka-bow-wow,” I told him. “It was high-larious.”

“Okay,” he murmured before wandering away.

Jax was standing by the bar, both brows raised. “What in the hell are you two talking about?”


I grinned at him and Calla. “Safe words used during BDSM.”

Calla’s eyes widened. “Um, all right, wasn’t expecting that.”

A giggle escaped me, and in the moment, I felt a lot lighter than I had the whole day. “You two want something to drink?” I looked at Calla and smiled like the Joker on meth. “How about tequila?”

She drew back, and I almost expected her to hiss at me. “Hell no. I don’t want any of that devil’s juice.”

Jax chuckled as he dropped his arm over her shoulders and tucked her against his side, almost protectively. And that brought forth an aww moment from me. “I don’t know. It’s kind of cute when you cuddle a bottle,” he said.

Her cheeks flushed as she placed a hand on his lower stomach. “I think I’ll just stay away from that.”

I ended up forking over a Bud Light for him and a hard lemonade for her. “Like the shirt,” Calla commented as she cradled the bottle close to her pouted rosy lips. “I’m gonna miss you and your shirts.”

“I’m going to miss you, too!” I shrieked, and if I could actually climb over the bar, I would’ve thrown myself on her. “But you’re coming back, right? We have like joint custody of you.”

She laughed. “I’ll be back before you know it. You won’t even miss me.”

But I would totally miss her.

“I’m tagging along with her when she comes back.” Tess appeared beside her, smoothing a hand down the glossy length of her dark hair. “I like it here.”

Calla glanced over to where Jase was talking to Cam. “I hope you aren’t planning to leave him behind, because I don’t think that will work out well for you.”

“I’d never do such a thing.” Tess looked over at me. “He’s great arm candy to have around.”

My gaze traveled back to the silver-eyed hottie known as Jase. “True dat.”

“Okay, I think it’s time for me to go.” Jax dropped his arm as he pressed a kiss to Calla’s cheek. “Jase is dreamy, though! I’d do him.”

He’d said that loud enough that Jase sent us a confused look that he somehow managed to make look sexy, and I cracked up into a fit of hyena-type giggles.

Tess shook her head as she leaned into Calla. “All seriousness, both of us really like it up here. So do Cam and Avery. Good place to get away to.”

“And you can always come visit us,” Calla said to me.

I nodded absently as the door swung open. Only people who were close to Calla and Jax would be coming in tonight, and I expected it to be Katie since she hadn’t made an appearance yet, but that wasn’t who it was.

Reece walked in, wearing a variation of what he had on earlier today, and my stupid heart did a little jump. It was Friday night, and being a deputy, shouldn’t he be working?


He didn’t even look to where the guys were crowded around one of the tables. His attention immediately went to the bar. Our eyes locked. Girlie parts instantly engaged.

Double dammit.

Like every time I saw him, he took a bit of my breath away. Maybe it was the way he walked—oh hell, he was heading right for the bar! I veered around, my gaze landing on Nick. “I’m going to go check stock.”

“One of these days you’re going to tell me why you do this,” Calla muttered, and I didn’t hear what else she said, because I was hightailing my bony butt out of the bar.

Maybe it was a bitchy thing to do, because he’d been really thoughtful coming to find me this morning. It was something I’d thought about all afternoon. Well, about that and Henry Williams wanting to make amends.

Amends—as if that were truly possible.

God, I wanted to laugh as I dashed down the hall and dipped into the stockroom. Closing the door behind me, I leaned against it and blew out a breath, stirring a chunk of purple and brown hair that had fallen in my face. I didn’t want to think about Henry right now and as terrible as it sounded, I didn’t want to think about Charlie either. My mood was up, and I still had several hours left before my shift ended and I could crash.

So my mind danced its way over to Reece, and I still had no idea why he’d made a special trip to tell me about Henry. Granted, we’d been really good friends at one point, but for eleven months, there’d been a no-fly zone between us. He’d breached that, and I really didn’t know what to think about what it meant. It probably meant nothing—it couldn’t mean anything, because Reece . . . well, he’d really taken a hunk out of my heart eleven months ago.

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