My need to see her had started to control me, and I had called Dean Finlay to get some help. He had told me that Kiro would have me arrested if I stepped foot on their property. He wasn’t happy with how I had used Harlow. Kiro believed I had slept with Harlow while I was still sleeping with Nan. I tried to explain and defend myself, but Dean had hung up on me.

So I’d drunk even more, because when I was sober the need for her returned. Before, I had done it to deal with Nan’s shit. But now I needed it more. I needed to forget what I’d done to someone so innocent and undeserving. I’d done this for two months. It helped me deal with the loss of Jace, and the taste of something I’d had but destroyed.

After all that . . . Kiro had sent Harlow here. To sit right under my nose without his security and protection. It was confusing as hell.

I reached Nan’s room and the sick feeling in my stomach returned. This felt dirty. Sex for fun had never felt dirty but this . . . it felt f**king disgusting. I hated myself. I grabbed my jeans and jerked them on and slipped my T-shirt over my head before grabbing my boots and shoving my feet into them.

I didn’t tell Nan bye. She didn’t care and I didn’t want to. I just got the hell away from there. I needed to get clean. I wanted to wash her off me. Then I was going to call Harlow. I had to find a way to explain. I just hoped she’d let me.

The sporty little black Audi sitting in the driveway right beside my truck had been a kick in the gut. Why hadn’t I noticed it last night? I should have known someone was here. Too much damn whiskey. That’s why I didn’t notice.

Jerking the keys out of my pocket, I slammed my car door, furious with myself, and cranked the engine. I wouldn’t be drinking today. Or any damn day from here on out. I couldn’t do that anymore. I had to find a way to deal with Harlow being here, and get her to understand why I had backed away.

I just hoped she would understand. I didn’t want her to be hurt. But as much as I wanted her, the fear of being that vulnerable to one person was stronger. She had trusted me and I had betrayed her. I wouldn’t forgive myself for that.

I needed to talk to Rush. He was the only one I could talk to. We might not have been brothers by blood, but he was my brother. He had been since I was a kid. He was the only person in my life I’d ever let get that close. Not even my father truly knew me. He had never really tried. And my mom . . . she was a whole other story.

I called Rush’s number before pulling out of Nan’s driveway.

“Yeah,” he said. The sound of a baby’s laughter came through on the other line.


“I need to talk. You keeping Nate today?” I asked. Rush spent more time with his son, Nate, than any dad I knew. I would say it was because he was making sure he gave his kid something neither he nor I’d had, but I knew better. He adored that kid. He adored his wife. Getting him away from them wasn’t easy.

“Blaire’s here. We were headed out to the beach, but if this is important you know she won’t mind me leaving for an hour or so.” He had picked up on the urgency in my voice.

“If she doesn’t mind. I really need to talk.”

“Let me finish putting sunblock on the little man and help her get set up outside. Then I’ll head over to your place.”

“I’m headed to the club. Meet me there. And thanks,” I said.

“Only for you,” he replied, and I understood. He didn’t make time for anyone outside of Nate and Blaire except for me. It was our bond.

“Tell Blaire thanks for me, too.”

“Okay. See you in a few.”

I hung up the phone and threw it over to the passenger’s seat and headed to the club.


Finding the club was easy. Rosemary Beach was a small coastal town; it couldn’t even be called a city. It was where the elite lived and vacationed. After driving through it and seeing the houses up and down the gulf front, I understood why Nan wanted to live here.

Pulling up to the front gate of the club, I flashed my member’s pass that Daddy had given to me at the gatekeeper. He opened the large iron gates for me to enter and I followed the signs toward valet parking. I didn’t want to figure out where the parking lot was, and I could ask the valet how to get to the tennis courts.

A young guy in a white polo and white shorts walked toward my car when I pulled up to the valet. I reached into the backseat and grabbed my racquet before he opened my door.

“Good morning, Miss,” he said with a friendly smile. His long blond hair fell over one eye and he tucked it back behind his ear. I imagined that he was a surfer. He looked like one.

“Good morning,” I replied, pulling my bag over my shoulder. “I’m new here. Can you tell me where I can find the tennis courts?”

He nodded. “Go into the main entrance here. Take the first left and head to the double doors leading out onto the back veranda. Go down the stairs then take a right. You’ll see the courts straight ahead.”

That sounded easy enough. “Thank you,” I replied, handing the young guy my keys.

“Can I see your card, Miss? I need to register your car into the system.”

I reached inside the car and got the card off my dashboard and handed it to him.

He quickly read it then ran it through a card reader before handing it back to me. “Just let us know when you’re ready for it, Miss Manning,” he replied.

“Thank you.” I thought about telling him he could call me Harlow but there was no point. He would probably get in trouble with management if he were ever caught calling me by my first name.

I headed inside. The fact that I knew I wasn’t going to run into Nan here was the most relief I’d had all morning. A man dressed like the guy outside opened the door for me, and I followed the valet’s directions to the tennis courts.

I passed a restaurant on my way and decided I would come back for lunch. It looked nice and the food smelled amazing from out here. A girl in white shorts and a white polo stopped in front of me. A slow smile touched her face. Her brown hair was pulled up high in a ponytail, and it was obvious she was an employee—her outfit was the same as those of the men who’d helped me, only more fitted. But she looked familiar.

“Harlow?” she asked.

I recognized her. I had met her at Rush and Blaire’s wedding. “Yes,” I replied, frustrated because I couldn’t remember her name. Grant had messed with my head that day and I couldn’t remember much more than my conversation with him.

“I’m Bethy. Blaire’s friend. We met at the wedding,” she said.

I felt my face heat up. I hated not remembering people. It was part of my socially inept thing. “I remember,” I replied with a smile. “It’s nice to see you again.” I hoped that was the correct thing to say and that I didn’t sound like an idiot, because I sure felt like one.

Bethy’s expression was friendly, but there was a sadness in her eyes. “I understand. You met a lot of people that day. I didn’t know you were in town.”

I liked this girl. She was making me feel comfortable. That was rare. “I’m here while my dad’s on tour. He sent me to live with Nan.”

Bethy’s eyes went wide and she let out a low whistle. “Damn. I thought you were the daughter he liked.”

She obviously was very close to Blaire and knew exactly what our family situation was like. “He bought Nan the house here, but in return I get to live in it, too, when he’s on tour. He doesn’t like leaving me alone in L.A.,” I explained, trying not to sound too defensive about Dad.

Bethy let out a long sigh. “Personally, I’d brave L.A. if I were you.”

I felt like laughing but I didn’t. I bit my lip to keep it in.

“You know I’m right. The bitch hates you,” Bethy said. “She hates Blaire, too, so the two of you should team up and join forces.”

“I really like Blaire. I’m so glad Rush found her.”

Bethy studied me a moment. “I guess you and Rush have a lot in common. You two were practically raised by Slacker Demon.”

There was also my brother Mase. No one ever mentioned him. He lived with his mother on a ranch in Texas. Dad had gone to see him several times that I knew of, but he rarely came to L.A. He liked his life in Texas. He was also very close to his stepfather. “Yeah. We’ve seen a lot,” I replied, deciding not to mention Mase. That would only lead to questions I wasn’t sure how to answer. Dad hadn’t seen Mase in over a year but Mase called me at least once a month to check in with me and see how I was. It gave me a chance to ask him about his life. My grandmama used to make sure I saw Mase several times a year. I hadn’t seen him since she passed away. I never told Dad about it because I worried that he would be hurt that Mase didn’t reach out to him that way.

“Well, I’m glad you’re in Rosemary, although I wish you had better accommodations. You need help finding anything around here?” she asked, then looked down at my tennis skirt and the racquet over my arm and smiled. “You’re headed to the tennis courts. Follow me. I need to make sure you don’t get molested by Nelton, our sleazy tennis pro. We have a much nicer pro, Adam. That’s who you need.”

Good to know. Stay away from Nelton. She spun around and we headed toward the doors. Her ponytail swished back and forth as she went, but there was no bounce to her step. Even though I didn’t know her very well, that seemed odd.

We headed out the door and she waved at several people. Most of them members. It was interesting that she was on friendly terms with members yet she worked here. I wasn’t used to that sort of country club. I liked it. Very much.

“So you play tennis a lot?” Bethy asked, glancing back at me.

“At Dad’s place they have a court. I use it for exercise and just to have something to do. Gives me time to think.”

“And here you’re going to use it to get away from Nan. Good idea,” Bethy replied.

This time I did smile.

A tall, blond man with a dark tan and green eyes saw us walking his way and his eyes began to travel down my body. I didn’t like it at all. The visor he was wearing was turned around backward and he was dressed in an all-white tennis outfit.

“Not for you, Nelton. Stick to your cougars. I’m looking for Adam,” Bethy told the man, and I found myself moving closer to her as we passed him.

“Why don’t you let her decide who she wants? I got a free hour for that one,” he replied.

“Yuck, ew, go away,” Bethy snapped, and kept walking.

I was really thankful for Bethy right then.

“Sorry. Nelton thinks he’s God’s gift to women. If he weren’t so creepy he’d be attractive but he’s just . . . ugh. The older women love him, though. Adam is new. Woods, the owner of Kerrington Club, hired Adam two weeks ago—or maybe I should say Della, Woods’s fiancée, hired Adam two weeks ago. She wasn’t a fan of Nelton and wanted another option out here.”

I didn’t know Della but I liked her for that reason alone.

“Adam,” Bethy called out, and I looked out on the court to see a tall, muscular man turn around. His hair was red. Maybe more of a strawberry blond from being out in the sun so much. He had a white sweatband around his head, and he was also wearing the white tennis outfit that Nelton had been wearing. I noticed the words “Kerrington Club” stitched on his shirt in small, scripted letters and “Tennis Pro” under it.

Adam came jogging over to us with a smile on his face. As he got closer, his clear blue eyes came into focus. They were startling and very pale. He wasn’t as tan as Nelson—he was more on the fair side. He even had freckles on his muscular arms. He would be what my grandmama called a ginger.

“Hey, Bethy, what’s up?” he asked, smiling at Bethy and glancing over at me with a grin then back to Bethy.

“I have a new member. She’s a friend of Rush’s and, unfortunately, Nan’s half-sister. We won’t hold that against her. Like Rush, she’s nothing like Nan. Anyway, she wants to play. Set her up and schedule her; she’s gonna need some place to escape while she’s living with the wicked bitch. Anyway, Harlow, this is Adam. Adam, meet Harlow.”

Bethy really hated Nan.

“Nice to meet you, Harlow,” he said, holding out his hand. I slipped mine in his and shook it. It was brief. Nothing awkward or uncomfortable. I didn’t like shaking hands or touching people I had just met.

“I have a couple of openings in my schedule I need to fill. Nelton stays pretty booked and he gets most of the regulars,” Adam informed us. His teeth were perfectly straight and very white. I had a thing for pretty teeth.

“Okay then. My job is done,” Bethy said, then turned to me. “You’re safe with Adam. He’s not a creeper. Enjoy your day.”

“Thank you for your help,” I replied.

Bethy flashed a smile, but again the sadness in her eyes was there. “No problem. Blaire has sung your praises. I wanted to make sure I took care of you for her.”

I nodded and Bethy waved back at Adam before heading back to where we came from.

“Why don’t we look at my schedule over here on the Mac and set up your daily sessions? That is, if you’re coming every day.”

“Yes. I’m going to need something to do,” I assured him. Adam was easy to be around, and the idea of having something to look forward to and someone to talk to, even if it was about tennis, sounded appealing. Besides, he was attractive and his smile made his eyes twinkle. I liked that. I liked it a lot.


Harlow wasn’t answering my calls, dammit. Just like before. She was shutting me out. The look on her face this morning had been so painful. She hadn’t answered my calls and she believed I had been f**king Nan all along. It was why she was shutting me out . . . right? I had caved and started sleeping with Nan again when I realized Harlow wasn’t letting me into her stone fortress. I had tried to wipe her from my mind. It hadn’t worked. But I was f**king trying. The hurt, betrayed look in her eyes was eating me alive. What was she thinking? Had I gotten all this wrong?

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