I followed them to his Range Rover. He put Nan in, then turned to me.

“I’ll take Nan’s car. Get her completely checked out.”

“Call Blaire and check on Harlow for me,” I replied.

He nodded. “Doing that now.”

I didn’t say thanks. He owed me that much. I walked around the Rover and opened the door. I climbed in and slammed the door to get out some frustration. It didn’t help.

“You didn’t have to take me,” she said.

“Yeah, I did,” I replied.

“Because you still care,” she said with a hopeful tone in her voice.

“No, because of Rush,” I replied, and turned to head for the hospital, which was a good thirty minutes away.

“Do you really mean that?” she asked.

“Yes, I really do.”


“But you said once that you loved me,” she said, sounding hurt.

I had been drinking. The sex had been great. “I was in lust. What we had was good at first. I’d enjoyed it. Then I realized you weren’t the one. You were nasty and mean and shallow. And so was our sex.”

She made a small gasp. I didn’t care if my words wounded her. I knew she was hurt, and I hated that she’d messed around with someone who would hit a woman. That was it. Nothing more.

“Is sex with her better? She’s too unpracticed to be any good.”

That was what Nan would never understand. Sex would never be more than sex for her because she didn’t have the heart to look deeper. To actually feel something for another person.

“Nothing can compare to Harlow. Nothing comes close to touching it” was all I said.

My private life with Harlow was just that: private. I wasn’t sharing it with Nan.


Iheard Blaire talking on the phone in the kitchen as I stood just outside on the balcony. She had explained on the ride over that Nan had been badly beaten up by August. Or that was what Nan had said when she called Rush.

I could see in Blaire’s eyes that she wasn’t sure she believed that story. But she had understood Rush’s need to go. I also understood that he needed backup if it was true, and Grant was his brother—or the closest thing he had to one.

But the image of Grant holding Nan and comforting her was haunting me. I hated that I was being that selfish. I wasn’t a selfish person. My feelings for Grant were making me different. I didn’t exactly like some of the differences, either. If Nan had been beaten up by August, then she needed her brother and Grant. They were the only two men in her life she could trust.

“That was Rush,” Blaire said from behind me.

“How is she?” I asked, unable to look back at Blaire. I was afraid she’d see what I was thinking in my eyes, and I was ashamed.

“She was telling the truth. Rush said he had beat her pretty bad, and she was knocked unconscious.”

My chest hurt, but it wasn’t in sympathy for Nan. It was for me. It was because I could see Grant slipping away from me. I hated myself for that. Was I truly that cruel?

“Rush is going to find August. He sent Grant with Nan to the hospital. He said he wanted her checked out.”

So Grant was with her. Alone. This was it. He was a sucker when it came to Nan in need. I had seen how he had chased after her before when he felt she needed someone.

“Rush wanted you to know Grant didn’t want to take her. He guilted him into it.”

I could hold on to that for a little while. Maybe it would ease my fear. Or maybe preparing myself for the worst was the best way to protect my heart. Not that it would really make a difference. I was too far gone anyway.

“I used to hate her. I thought she was the bane of my existence. But over time, I’ve realized that Nan is just sad. She has pushed everyone away and made them hate her and her ugly heart. She does nothing to endear herself to anyone. She has to call Rush because he’s her brother. He’s the only one who’ll come running. She didn’t call Grant tonight because she knew he wouldn’t answer, much less come to the rescue. But she knew Rush would, and she knew he would bring Grant. Even when she’s at her lowest point, she manipulates people. Grant’s smart enough to see that.”

I hoped she was right.

“He saw something in her before,” I said simply.

Blaire stood beside me. “He saw someone who was in need of fixing. Grant likes to fix things. When I first came here, Rush hated me. He wanted me gone. But Grant made sure that didn’t happen. The next morning when I woke up, I was worried about how I was going to afford to get gas so I could find a job. When I got to my truck, there was a note on it from Grant. He’d filled my truck up with gas. It’s just who he is. Nan is broken and she isn’t fixable. Grant figured that out. He has you and he isn’t going to mess that up.”

I felt tears sting my eyes. I knew Blaire’s history. She’d come here alone, lost but brave. The fact that Grant had made sure she’d had gas only made me love him more. I gripped the railing hard and closed my eyes. I would not cry.

“I’m in love with him,” I admitted, in a whisper so low I wasn’t sure she heard me. I hoped she hadn’t as soon as I said it.

“I know. It’s all over you when you’re with him. But he’s in love with you, too. I’ve never seen him look at anyone the way he looks at you.”

I thought of Rush and the way he protected Blaire. The possessive gleam in his eyes, and the way he kept her so close to him. I didn’t have that. She had something exceptional, and I had read too many romances. I wanted that, too. I hadn’t realized it was real until I had seen Rush with Blaire.

That kind of love wasn’t a fantasy. It was real.

“I want the fantasy. I want him to love me the way Rush loves you.”

Blaire leaned into me and bumped my shoulder with hers. “He’s headed that way if he isn’t there already. You’ve gotten under his skin.”

“He hasn’t told me he loves me,” I told her.

“He will,” she replied. “When he’s brave enough, he’ll tell you.”

I tried to believe that. I wanted to believe that.

“All my life I’ve seen my dad screw around with women and throw them aside as if they meant nothing. I worried that love wasn’t real, or if it was that I didn’t have the right genetic makeup to love like you love Rush. I had never been in love. I was so guarded. I worried that I wouldn’t love because my father couldn’t love. Then . . . then I saw him with . . .” I stopped. I didn’t know if I wanted to share this with Blaire. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ever share what I had seen. “He loves my mom. Even though she can’t speak or move, he wants to be near her. He brushes her hair.” That fact still baffled me. I had never known he could be that way.

“My guess is that you’re just like your mother. She inspired that kind of love and devotion from a rock star who could have anyone he wanted. It’s a special gift, and you need to learn to trust that you’re worthy of that love. Give Grant time. He’s just now figuring things out, and I believe he’s worth waiting for.”

I nodded. She was right. He was worth it. I had to stop doubting him. Twice in one night. Another trait I had that I hated. I was insecure. Painfully so. It was time I overcame that. I didn’t know if I had a long life with Grant or not. But I wanted him. I wanted this to be my life. When it was over, I wanted to know I had this.

It was time I told him my secret. He deserved to know.

Three hours later, my phone rang as I sat curled up on the Finlays’ sofa. Blaire had gone upstairs earlier when Nate had started crying. She said he was used to Rush rocking him to sleep, so she had to give him extra attention.

“Hello,” I said, knowing it was Grant.

“Hey, you still at Rush’s?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Good. I have to get Nan inside and make sure she gets into bed. Doctor says she needs to be woken up every hour. She’s got a pretty bad concussion. I’ll come get you as soon as she’s in bed.”

I wasn’t going to dwell on the fact he was putting her to bed. I was stronger than that. “Okay,” I replied.

“Harlow?” he said, the concern in his voice obvious.


“I’m sorry about all this. Please know it changes nothing. She’s just Rush’s little sister. Okay?”

“I know.”

Grant let out a frustrated sigh. “I’ll be there in a few minutes. I swear.”

“I’m fine. Take your time,” I assured him before hanging up.

The front door opened and Rush came walking in. He walked past the open doorway to the living room then stopped, backtracked, and looked at me. “Hey, you’re still here,” he said.

“Yeah. Grant just called.”

“I needed his help tonight. That’s the only reason he did this.”

“I know,” I said, even if I didn’t completely get it.

“He wanted to come back to you,” Rush told me.

“It’s okay, Rush. I’m not upset,” I assured him.

He looked relieved. “Nate asleep?” he asked.

“He was crying and Blaire went up to rock him.”

“He wants me. It’s our time. Tell Grant I said thanks,” he told me.

“I will.”


Harlow came walking outside when I pulled into the driveway. She was still wearing that dress, but her heels were dangling from her fingers. I’d had plans for that dress, and especially those heels. Even if she hadn’t meant to, Nan had ruined the evening.

I jumped out of the truck and walked around to open her door as she reached me.

She smiled up at me sweetly. The tired look in her eyes made me want to tuck her close to me and hold her.

“Hey,” I said, taking both her hands and putting them around my neck.

“Hey,” she replied, resting both her hands on my shoulders.

“I missed you,” I told her, lowering my head until I could press my lips to hers. She opened easily for me, and I dove in, tasting her and reminding myself that she was mine. She trusted me.

“I missed you, too,” she whispered against my lips.

“You’re not mad at me?” I asked, needing reassurance.

“No,” she said simply.

“It’s time I get you tucked into bed, too. Except I want you na**d and wrapped around me,” I told her, and picked her up to set her in my truck. “And I want you to wear those heels for me.”

She scrunched her nose. “To sleep in?”

“No, I want you in those heels while I bury myself inside you,” I informed her.

Both her cheeks flamed red as she flushed and nodded.

That was my girl. She wasn’t hurt or mad. I had never been so f**king relieved.

I patted the seat beside me in the truck and Harlow slid over. She leaned against me and let me hold her close. Having her here made everything easier. I pressed a kiss to her head. “Thank you,” I said.

“For what?”

“For being so damn perfect for me.”

Harlow turned her face to rest on my shoulder. Her breath was warm on my skin, and getting her to her bedroom was becoming a top priority.

“I’m not going to lie. I was upset. I didn’t like that you went to Nan’s rescue. It was selfish of me, and I hated that I had that ugliness inside. I won’t ever react that way again. I don’t want to be that way.”

She was so damn honest. And she was also wrong. There wasn’t an ounce of ugliness in her. I slid my hand over her bare thigh. “Harlow, I don’t think you could be selfish and ugly, even if you tried. You reacted that way because you felt possessive of me, and that makes me the luckiest damn man in the world. You should have been upset. Hell, baby, I was upset. I was so damn torn. I didn’t want to be there, but Rush needed me.”

“And I resented that. So I was selfish.”

Laughing, I slid my hand up her thigh. “I tell you what. You can be selfish anytime you want to with me. It turns me the f**k on.”

Harlow eased her legs open. “Why?” she breathed as my hand brushed her already-wet panties.

“Because I want to belong to you. I want you to care when I leave. If you would’ve come after me I would have gladly let you go with me. I can’t tell you no.”

She moved against my hand and made a soft moaning sound in her throat. “Then f**k me in the truck before we go inside. I need you,” she said, throwing her head back and crying out as I slipped a hand inside her panties.

“Looks like I’m gonna get to live out that fantasy with you in this dress after all,” I told her and reached for her shoes. “I want these on you first,” I told her.

She laughed and slipped them on before crawling into my lap.

When the first alarm went off an hour after Harlow and I lay down to go to bed, I quickly turned it off and started to get out of bed to wake Nan. Harlow’s hand reached out and grabbed me and pulled me back down.

“No. I’m doing this,” she said and started to get up.

“Stay in bed. I don’t want you dealing with this,” I argued. Nan was not her problem.

Harlow pushed her long, thick hair out of her face and frowned at me. “You said that it was okay for me to be possessive. Well, I don’t like the idea of you going into Nan’s room with her in bed and waking her up. You stay here in my bed, and I’ll go wake her up,” she said.

Smiling, I lay back down. “Okay. Fine. You win,” I replied.

She had a point. There was no way in hell I’d let her go in another man’s room at night and wake him up to check on him.

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