Before she could respond, I dumped all the bags on my bed and walked into my bathroom to turn on the tub. Giving my sink a double take, I studied it for a second before walking back into my room to get undressed and start pulling things out of the bags. Once everything was laid out on the bed, I hurried back into the bathroom, turned off the faucet, and slipped into the hot water.

After a few minutes in there, Candice poked her head in. “I’m going over to Charlie’s place. I’ll probably be back tomorrow.”

Wow, I hadn’t heard of a Charlie yet. “Be safe. Hey, did you take anything out of my bathroom?”

“No, why?”

“My sink just looks . . . kind of bare, I guess. I’m not sure, it caught my eye when I came in but I can’t figure out what—if anything—is missing.”

She studied the contents on top of my counter before shrugging. “It does look like something’s missing. But I haven’t taken anything. Maybe you just took some more things over to Kash’s and forgot about it?”

“Maybe,” I muttered, but I really didn’t think that was it.

“All right, I gotta go. Call me if you need anything. Love you, Rach.”

“Love you back,” I mumbled.

After she was gone, I took my time relaxing in the tub until the water was cold before stepping out. As soon as I walked back into my room, I knew something was wrong. I looked at my bed and my eyes flitted over the few things that were on it. Over half of what I’d bought wasn’t there anymore.

“What the hell?” I whispered, and checked all the empty bags, making sure I hadn’t left some of my things in there and forgotten. Turning to check Candice’s room, a scream to rival those in horror movies left me and I jumped back, clutching my towel to my chest. “Jesus, Kash! Make yourself known!”


“I called your name when I came in. Why are you so jumpy? You okay?”

“No, I feel like I’m going crazy. First I thought there was stuff missing from my bathroom, and now I swear most of what I bought today isn’t here anymore!”

He offered a small smile and pulled me into his arms before kissing me softly. “Sorry, babe. I should have told you when I came back in while you were in the tub. I’ve been taking your stuff. I packed a bag for you. We’re going on a little trip.”

“We are? Wait. Who’s ‘we’?”

“You and me. Get dressed, we’re leaving in a couple minutes.”

“Kash!” He whirled back around to look at me, and though he was exuding patience, he began pushing me over to my dresser and pulling out thin sweats and an off-the-shoulder top I only ever wore to bed. “Are you packing those too?”

“No, put them on.”

“What—no. First, we can’t just leave; we both have work. How long are we going for anyway? And you can’t just expect me to get ready and leave in two seconds. If you were in here while I was in the tub, you should have told me. I would have gotten out sooner and started getting ready then. I’m not wearing this to wherever we’re going.”

Kash turned me and held me close as he caught my gaze. “I promise you don’t need to dress up for where we’re going; I doubt anyone will see you but me. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to have time to get ready or to know about it. As for work, I took care of it.” He leaned in close and kissed me softly once but didn’t move back as he continued to talk against my lips. “But I planned something for us, and we need to get going. Will you please just put on these clothes?”

I’m pretty sure I wanted to keep arguing with him, or at least demand to pack my own bag. But my stomach had gone all fluttery on me and I had a ridiculous smile on my face as I nodded, letting my nose trail against his, and kissed him once more. “Okay.”

He pulled away and was walking into the living room when his phone rang. I made quick work of finding a bra and underwear and putting them on before throwing on the clothes he’d pulled out for me. I had just taken my hair out of its high bun and was braiding it low and off to the side when he walked back into my room.

“See? You look beautiful.”


He rolled his eyes and tugged at the bottom of my long braid before kissing my forehead. “You ready?”

I shrugged and looked around my room. “I mean, I guess. It feels weird not packing anything. Are you going to tell me where we’re going?”

“No.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the apartment. Mason was standing outside by his truck, looking awkward and like he was keeping watch, but he smiled when he saw us.

“You coming with us, Mase?”

“Nah, just got done loading the truck up.” He threw a set of keys at Kash and Kash led me toward Mason’s truck.

“We’re taking his?”

“Bigger cab.” Kash shrugged and got me situated in the passenger seat. After he shut the door he spoke softly enough to Mason that I couldn’t hear what they were saying, and then he jogged around to the driver’s side.

“There’s a lot of food in here. You went shopping?”

He grinned before reversing out of the spot. “You were gone for a long time today.”

I turned to look in the backseat again and shook my head, my mouth still partially open. I couldn’t believe that he’d planned a trip for us, and to go through all of this? “But, Kash, there’s like . . . a lot of food here. I guess it’s safe to say we aren’t going to a hotel . . . or a bed-and-breakfast?”

“Eh. There aren’t many places to eat where we’re going. Well, there’s one, but other than that you have to drive a ways. But I don’t plan on leaving where we’ll be.” His gray eyes darkened and he flashed that arrogant smirk I loved before squeezing my thigh and leaving his hand there.

I instantly hated Mason’s truck for having a center console. From Kash’s throaty laugh and the way he began sucking on his lip ring, he knew I was frustrated. And he knew why.

“How long will it take us to get there?”

“Anxious?” He raised an eyebrow and winked. “An hour or less.”

Drumming the fingers of my left hand on the center console, I worried my bottom lip and studied his profile as he drove. “Drive fast.”


I LOOKED OVER at Rachel, who was practically pressed up against the window as we drove through the country. She’d originally laughed and asked why I was taking her to Florence, Texas . . . but the farther into Florence we drove, the wider her eyes got. And I couldn’t wait to see how she’d react when we finally got to The Vineyard. From all the pictures on their website, it was gorgeous property and secluded. Out in the middle of nowhere. Hardly any cell phone service. Perfect for hiding Rachel from this guy who Mason and I now knew was stalking her for reasons that made me want to hide Rachel forever, but I knew I couldn’t.

As soon as I’d heard Marvin Cross say the name West that day, I was done. Mason had continued to watch for him as I’d made countless calls, looked up dozens of secluded places close by that could easily be passed off as a romantic getaway, and then went about getting everything ready. It was one thing for the girl who meant everything to me to have been raped by someone she was close to. It was another thing entirely to have someone stalking her. But to have the guy who raped her hiring people to track and stalk her? That was crossing a line that was sure to blow my cover.

I was already pushing it with the department taking these three nights off, but Mason was picking up my slack, and I was thankful. Mase and I hoped by taking Rachel away for a little bit, this guy posing as her dad would cut back on hanging around the apartment and following her wherever she went, but only time would tell.

Slowing down when The Vineyard came into view, I turned onto the property and drove to the main building to check us in and grab the keys. As soon as I was in the car, Rachel started talking again.

“Are we going wine tasting? Kash, you told me I didn’t need to dress up!”

“We’re not going—”

“Oh my word!” She gasped. “This place is . . . oh . . . wow. Look at this.”

I leaned onto the steering wheel as we passed the gates and slowly drove down the dirt path. I had to agree with Rachel. Damn. Pictures didn’t do it justice. We began driving past the villas and pulled into a smaller one that we would be staying in for the next few days. As soon as I parked the car, I turned to look at her and couldn’t help but laugh through my smile. Her eyes were bigger than a kid’s on Christmas morning. Her hand was covering her mouth, which was still open from gasping at everything, and she was looking back and forth between the villa and me.

“Is this where we’re staying?” She spoke softly behind her hand, like she was in awe. I just nodded and enjoyed watching her take it in. “Kash, it’s beautiful. I can’t believe we’re staying here! This whole place is beautiful.”

“Well, do you want to see the inside, or do you want to sleep in the car and just admire it from out here?”

She smacked my arm and hopped out of the truck, bouncing up on the balls of her feet as she waited for me to join her. “When did you do this?”

“I told you, you were gone for a long time today.”

Her expression was deadpan for all of three seconds before brightening again. “Come on, I want to see the inside!”

Kissing the top of her head, I led her around to a side door and let us in. Even I was shocked by what we walked in on. I’d seen the pictures of our villa, but this was insane. The villa matched the vineyard, and it was as if we’d stepped into Italy, but out back was the best view of nothing but pure country.

I could get used to this.

Rachel was turning slowly, with her mouth still wide open, so I told her to go look around and went back out to the truck to start bringing everything in. I was finishing up putting all of the food on the kitchen counter when I heard her clear her throat behind me.

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