I started to tell him it wasn’t that bad, because it really wasn’t, but then the tips of his fingers pressed into my shoulder. Holy Cracker Jack, he hit the right spot. Like the kind of spot I didn’t even know existed. My back arched as he moved his thumb in a tight circle. He moved closer, until the front of his leg brushed the back of mine. Warm breath danced along my neck, sending shivers skipping across my skin.

“I heard about the mask in your locker,” he said after a few moments.

I tensed. “How . . . how did you hear about that?” He hadn’t been around when it happened.

“Brock texted me.” His other hand rose to my opposite shoulder, and I bit down on my lower lip to stop a sound that I would’ve been mortified over. “He said someone had hung it up in there.”

I kept my eyes open, refusing to see that empty mask.

He continued to move his thumbs, loosening the muscles that had tensed. “I’m sorry that happened to you. Whoever did it is a dumbass.”

A heartbeat passed. “You . . . you think it was a prank?”

His fingers stilled only for a moment. “What else could it be?”

I didn’t answer, because voicing my suspicions out loud gave voice to how absurd they sounded.


“Nothing,” I said, turning my head slightly. “I was just . . . thinking out loud.”


Jensen fell quiet after that. My muscles had long since loosened, but his magic fingers kept doing their thing. I wasn’t sure how long he kept at it, but my skin felt toasty.

“Better?” he asked, his voice gruff as he slid his hand down my side.

Jelly had replaced my muscles, so I had no idea how I was supposed to continue. “Yeah.”

He cleared his throat as he shifted behind me, putting some space between our bodies and resting one hand against the center of my stomach. I jerked at the contact. “Easy,” he murmured, stirring the soft strands of hair at my temple. “Move your arm back—your right arm, like you’re about to throw a punch.”

I did what he asked while his fingers splayed across my stomach. His hand was so large that his pinky reached the band on my jeans. There was no way I could be unaware of that, of how close his hand was to the top button of my jeans.

“Now move your arm like you’re hitting someone, but use your stomach to turn, to put the power behind the throw.”

Biting down on my lip and forcing myself to concentrate, I did as he said, which turned out to be incorrect, because I had only thought that I had done what he said. Jensen took my left hand and placed it where his hand on my stomach had been and then he gripped my hips.

Oh dear.

That didn’t help.

A tremble coursed down my legs. When I threw my next punch, he tilted my hips, and I finally got what he was saying. I also got a whole lot of other things that had nothing to do with his training. My imagination face-planted in the gutter.

We went through the motion a couple more times, taking longer than necessary, probably because I wasn’t all that focused. When we finally broke apart and I turned toward him, my face felt like I’d been sunbathing during a solar storm.

His eyes were a brilliant shade of blue, shaded by thick, dark lashes, and I averted my gaze before I did something stupid, like tell him he had beautiful eyes.

“Want to get something to eat?” he asked.

The question caught me off guard, drawing my wide gaze back to his.

An uneven grin appeared on his face. “Based on the way you’re staring at me, I’m going to go with you either didn’t hear me or it’s a resounding no.”

“It’s just that you haven’t shown me where I should be hitting someone.”

“I know.”

When he didn’t elaborate, I fiddled with the edge of my ponytail. “Okay. I thought we’d do that today. It’s still pretty early.”

“And that’s why I asked if you wanted something to eat.” He swaggered up to me, and I held my breath. He reached out, caught my fingers, and gently pulled them away from my hair. “You didn’t eat much at lunch today.” His gaze flicked away when my brows rose. “You were dropping off your tray. Half your food was still there.”

“You noticed that?”

His gaze bounced back to mine. “I always notice you.”

Again, I was struck absolutely speechless.

“And I’m actually attempting to delay my training sessions with you. You know, string them out so I have a reason for monopolizing your free time.” Dropping my hair, he grinned at my dumbfounded expression. “You’re surprised. Don’t even try to say you’re not. You’ve never been able to keep what you’re thinking off your face.”

“Well then,” I murmured.

Jensen touched my injured cheek that was almost completely healed with the tips of his warm fingers. “I always liked that about you.”

I raised my gaze and our eyes locked. So many things rose to the tip of my tongue. I was made of questions. He’d said he wanted to be friends, but he was awful touchy-feely to be considered a friend. And there was more to it, in the way he did touch me, how he looked at me, even the way he spoke.

And how he was looking at me and touching me right now.

But Gavin’s warning from the day before was never too far from my thoughts. Jensen had broken my heart once before, and that’s why he was so dangerous for me. That was the last thing I wanted to experience again.

My heart didn’t have control over me, though. It wasn’t like grabbing something to eat was a declaration of undying love. “Okay.”

His lips curved into a sexy smile. “Good.”

Feeling a little out of it due to the change of plans, I left to slip on my shoes and grab the bag that I had brought with me. The nervous hum of energy was back, whizzing through me like a hyper hummingbird.

Jensen locked up, and as we stepped out in the hall, he draped his arm over my shoulder. The light citrusy scent of his cologne enveloped me. I clenched the strap on my bag, telling myself this was completely normal behavior. Gavin did it all the time.

“Relax,” he murmured directly into my ear. “I’m not going to bite you.”

Apparently, I wasn’t acting like this was normal behavior.

“Unless you’re into that,” he added in a low voice.

My head snapped toward his, and I sucked in a breath at how close our mouths were. His was tipped into a mischievous grin.

“That was pretty cheesy, wasn’t it?” His thumb moved along my upper arm.

My lips twitched. “It was pretty cheesy. Also kind of creepy. Makes me think of a zombie.”

“So, if I’m trying to get a beautiful girl to relax around me, offering to take a bite out of them isn’t going to win me any points?”

“Probably not,” I said. I started to smile, but his head tilted in a way that lined our mouths up. If he lowered his head a few more inches, well, we’d definitely be doing things friends did not do.

As he continued to stare down at me, something shifted in him, like it had when we sat on the couch. The playfulness was still there, but the muscles in his arm tensed, and with a little coaxing, he drew me closer. An inch or two separated our bodies, and I felt a little dizzy staring into his eyes.

“Well, I’m going to have to come up with something else,” he murmured lazily.

“Like what?”

“Hmm . . .” His chin dropped another inch. So close. “Maybe a milkshake.”

I laughed. “A milkshake?”

“Yeah. The diner across from here? They have awesome milkshakes. And cheese sandwiches.”

My stomach grumbled. “I love me some grilled cheese sandwiches.”

“I know.”

That was sweet. “I think I like where this is—”

A throat cleared. I drew back, glancing toward the entrance. Deputy Shaw stood there, his form blotting out the light streaming in from the doors behind him.

Unease blossomed in the pit of my stomach. The look on his face was hard. Not like the friendly expression he had worn yesterday. He was working.

Jensen’s arm slipped off my back, but he moved closer, slightly in front of me. “What’s going on, Shaw?”

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