The world admires her as a survivor. But that impression would crumble if people knew her secret. She didn’t deserve to be the one who got away. But nothing can change the past, so she’s thrown herself into her work. She can’t dwell if she never slows down.
Wes Garrett is trying to get back on his feet after losing his dream restaurant, his money, and half his damn mind in a vicious divorce. But when he intervenes in a mugging and saves Rebecca—the attorney who helped his ex ruin him—his simple life gets complicated.
Their attraction is inconvenient and neither wants more than a fling. But when Rebecca’s secret is put at risk, both discover they could lose everything, including what they never realized they needed: each other
Fifteen minutes. That was how long it took for Marco and Kincaid to abandon Rebecca and Wes in the kitchen under the auspices of Let me show you the view from Marco and Does this building have original details? from Kincaid.
Kincaid had motioned at Rebecca as she slipped out of the kitchen, some invented sign language that probably meant Talk it out with the hot chef but looked more like a drunken game of naughty charades.
Rebecca had promptly flipped her off.
But now here she was. Alone with Wes again.
Wes stood behind the large island, black bandanna keeping his hair back, gray T-shirt putting all that colorful arm ink on display, and forearms flexing as he sliced and diced an onion with practiced precision. If not for the simmering annoyance, it would’ve been a nice show to watch from her spot sitting on a stool on the other side of the counter. But he hadn’t said a word to her since they’d gotten into the condo. Just chop, chop, chop and irritated grunts.
“Do you need any help?” she asked for lack of anything else to say.
“Can you help me murder my brother?”
“I was thinking we could get rid of them both in one go. How far is the drop from the balcony?” Rebecca tapped her chin. “We could make it look like an accident. I know someone who could defend us.”
The little break in the wall helped her relax some. “Why’d you give in anyway? I was about to get us out of it. I had a whole argument prepared. There were bullet points. Closing statements. We could’ve saved ourselves this lovely moment.”
He frowned and dumped the onions into one of the prep bowls. “Yeah, but you didn’t see the look on my brother’s face.” He pushed a basket of strawberries and a paring knife toward her. “Can lawyers hull strawberries?”
“Sure.” She took the berries and stole one of his empty prep bowls. “So what kind of look was that?”
“The Don’t ruin this for me look. The Remember all the times I’ve helped you out look. That look.”
“That’s a lot for a look to say.”
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t hard to get the point. He’s always working and doesn’t get to go out and meet women. He likes your friend, and she seems to like him for whatever reason”—he shrugged and grabbed a bell pepper from the stack of vegetables—“so I’m hanging out with my ex-wife’s lawyer and taking one for the team.”
She wrinkled her nose.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing. I’m just having a high school flashback.” Thankfully not the kind she’d had Friday night, but one that was unpleasant enough in its own right.
She concentrated on cutting the stem off a strawberry. “I had a friend whose parents would only let her go on group dates. So I always got dragged out with her and had to be the date of her boyfriend’s best friend, who pretty much reminded me every ten minutes that he was there as a favor and was taking one for the team by hanging out with me. It was super awesome for my fifteen-year-old ego.”
“Ouch. What an idiot.”
“Yeah, I should’ve just told her to leave me out of it and sneak out like everyone else.”
“No, I meant him. What a douche.”
“Oh. Yeah. He was.” But even as she said it, she felt a pang of guilt in her gut. Craig hadn’t made it through prom night. So douche or not, she felt guilty talking bad about the dead. “We were just in a doomed-to-fail setup. Popular jock and high-strung goody-goody were not a wise combination. Two different planets and all that. He probably thought I was an insufferable Miss Priss.”
His lip curled. “Were you?”
She lifted her hand and held her index finger and thumb an inch apart. “Maybe a little. I wasn’t…not. When they brought weed to date night, I couldn’t just say no and let them do their thing. I gave everyone a lecture about how long it stays in your system and how having something on your record could ruin your college chances.”
He cringed. “Ahh, you were that girl. We had one of those at my school, too.”
He nodded. “Laney Becker. And she thought I was a douche.”
He lifted his fingers, repeating her motion back to her but widening the gap further.
“I probably would’ve done better if I’d been friends with someone like her. I could’ve used a girl telling me not to blow off class and get high. Or doing a lot of other things I shouldn’t have been doing back then.” He tossed more chopped veggies into a bowl. “And I’m sorry about the ‘taking one for the team’ comment. I didn’t mean it that way. This is just…a screwed-up situation. I’m willing to call a temporary let’s-forget-we-have-history truce for today.”
“I’m on board with that.”
“Good.” He frowned down at her chopped berries. “Hold up. That’s not how to hull.”
She looked down at the berry in her hand. She’d cut off the top. The stem was gone. She didn’t see any problem. “What’s wrong?”
He set down his knife and stepped around the island. “You’re wasting a big part of the berry that way. Here.” He held out his hand for the paring knife, and she handed it over. He shifted until he was right next to her and held the fruit in front of her. “The woody part is just under the leaves. That’s what you’re after.”
He poked the tip of the knife right beneath the leaves and then made a circle around the stem. He popped out the stem and only a little piece of the berry, leaving much more of the fruit intact.
“See.” He held the strawberry in his palm, the sweet scent of the ripe fruit wafting up to her. “Lots more berry, and you also don’t lose the shape of the fruit that way.”
“Oh.” She tried to focus on what he was showing her and not on the fact that he was so close and she could feel his body heat against her arm. Her hormones apparently had no qualms about this man. They remembered what his lips tasted like and were ready to ignore everything she knew about him. Stupid, misguided hormones.