Colleen gave him a big, messy smile and ran her hands down his arms. “Mmm, Zane. Make my little jailor go away.”

Adam immediately stepped in and told the guy, “Colleen is going to have to take a rain check tonight.”

Colleen’s gaze shifted to Adam, at last. She tried to whistle, but she couldn’t control her lips quite well enough, so only air came out. “Where did you come from, gorgeous?” Zane was instantly forgotten as Colleen reached for Adam.

Kerry had never felt so mortified in all her life. She’d assumed her previously perfect night with Adam couldn’t get any worse.

She’d been wrong.

“Colleen, please,” Kerry begged, “let’s go home.”

Her sister turned on her then. “Not all of us want a cold bed. Just because you’re too uptight to know how to have a good time doesn’t mean that the rest of us don’t.” She turned back to Adam. “Right, baby? That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

Kerry knew her sister was too drunk to know what she was saying. But that didn’t make it any easier to blink back the tears that were threatening to spill.

Fortunately, Adam still had his wits perfectly about him. “It’s a nice night, Colleen. How about we go outside and get some fresh air?”

He didn’t speak to her sister as if she were a loser. There was no pity in his voice. No revulsion, either. And Kerry had never appreciated anyone more.

Colleen shot her a triumphant look over her shoulder as Adam put his arm around her and began to lead her out of the bar. And thank God he was holding her up, because she could barely walk, and certainly not in a straight line. Kerry got on her other side, and together she and Adam all but dragged her sister toward the exit. They hadn’t yet made it to the front door when Colleen let out a groan and went limp. Adam didn’t miss a beat, catching her and lifting her into his arms to carry her outside.

“I’m sorry,” Kerry said.

“Don’t be.”

And the crazy thing was that he really seemed to mean it. He didn’t seem the least bit shocked by what had just happened. He simply laid her sister down in the backseat and was so kind as he took off his jacket and tucked it around her that Kerry found herself almost in tears.

“Where to?” he asked.

“I have to take her back to my place to make sure she’s okay during the night.”

Given that it was the absolutely worst possible ending to what had been the best night of her life, Kerry couldn’t help but wonder if it was karmic punishment. Some sort of retribution for breaking her number-one rule: Don’t hook up with a man who didn’t have the potential to be the one.

Not that she would get the chance to make that mistake again, of course. Because she was absolutely certain that, apart from official wedding duties, she’d never see Adam again. Kerry had known their fling would end, of course, since that had always been the plan.

She just hadn’t known that it would end on the same night it began.


Adam parked in the downstairs lot of Kerry’s building, one of his favorite buildings in Seattle. He’d been honored to head up the historic restoration a decade ago, one of his first major projects.

The building fit Kerry well—classy and elegant, but not stuffy. Granted, he hadn’t been willing to see that the first time he’d met her. No, he’d wanted to take her at face value. The glossy swing of her hair, the impeccably tailored and pressed clothes, the perfect face that seemed to be carved out of marble by a master.

But if he hadn’t already learned just how wrong he was by now, tonight would have taken all of his assumptions and crushed them to bits. As soon as his hands had been tangled in her hair and her mouth had been beneath his, he’d realized that she was made up of more raw, elemental heat, more unfettered desire than any other woman he’d ever known. And after her sister had called, he’d realized just how hard Kerry had been working to project perfect. Only, it was clear her life wasn’t even close to perfect. Because if she had a sister who needed to be saved from herself on a regular basis, what else was lurking in Kerry’s shadows?

Before she could try to get her sister out of the backseat, he lifted Colleen into his arms.

“My place is just up on the second floor,” Kerry said, leading the way over to the elevator. As they waited for it to make its way down to the garage, she gently brushed a hand over her sister’s hair. Colleen didn’t open her eyes, but he noticed the way she leaned into Kerry’s touch.

Just the way he had tonight in their hotel suite.

Kerry’s face was still too pale, her green eyes too full of concern as she looked at her sister. Adam’s sister, Mia, had never been this much of a mess—not even close—but the handful of scrapes she had gotten into felt like they had taken years off his life. He couldn’t imagine how difficult this was for Kerry. Because while she clearly wanted to help her sister, he wasn’t sure just how interested Colleen was in being helped. Not if the disdain she’d heaped on Kerry in the bar was anything to go by.

“Not all of us want a cold bed. Just because you’re too uptight to know how to have a good time, doesn’t mean that the rest of us don’t.”

Kerry had looked like she’d been slapped, and even in the crappy bar lighting he’d caught the tears glistening in her eyes. He’d wanted to tell Kerry she wasn’t at all cold. And that uptight was all wrong, too. But there hadn’t been time to do that, not when getting her sister out of that hellhole was priority one.

As they stepped into the elevator, Adam wished he had the right words to make her feel better. His brother Dylan would have known just what to say right now. Rafe probably would have, too. But Adam had always been one to comfort by action rather than words, just as he was doing right now. Still, he wanted to do more, wished there was some way he could take care of Colleen’s problems for Kerry.

No woman had ever made him feel so protective. And not because she was weak. Beneath the veneer of gloss and elegance, Adam believed Kerry Dromoland just might be the toughest woman he’d ever met. Not only did she run her business with perfect precision, but she also wasn’t the slightest bit afraid to head into the worst parts of town to help her sister.

They got off the elevator, and her front door was only a few steps away. At first glance, as she let them inside, the space wasn’t too different from her office—perfectly decorated, from the furniture to the artwork and even the patterns on the rugs. But unlike her office, there were little things throughout that gave away hints as to the real woman beneath the gorgeous veneer. The jar of candy on the counter. The sweatshirt thrown over the back of a dining room chair. And especially the pile of romance novels by the side of the couch.

“If you could bring my sister into my guest room, that would be great.”

Following Kerry down the hall, he’d only just stepped over the guest room’s threshold when Colleen suddenly groaned. He knew that sound, and it was never a good one.

“Where’s the bathroom?”

Kerry pointed, and he moved as fast as he could without jostling Colleen too much.

But just as he put Colleen down on her feet on the tiled bathroom floor, Kerry moved in to put her arms around her sister. “You’ve been amazing, but I can’t let you do any more for her tonight. You shouldn’t have to deal with this.”

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