His jaw flexes and his eyes dilate. “Yes. There is, and I should walk away before it happens, for both our sakes.” He rests his forehead against mine. “But I can’t.”

My fingers tunnel into his hair. What is so horrific that it haunts him this completely?


He picks me up and carries me toward the bathroom. We shower together, but we don’t make love and we don’t even just plain f**k this out of his system. We just hold each other. Where I was once lost, he’s found me. But I know now that I have only begun to truly discover Chris. He’s still lost.

• • •

I stand at the bathroom sink next to Chris, and it’s an odd, wonderful, intimate moment to be finishing my hair while he brushes his teeth. I’m dressed in jeans and a green V-neck T-shirt to show off the emerald necklace I don’t want to take off, and I can’t stop peeking at Chris, who even with a toothbrush in hand looks anything but domestic. I can already tell I’m going to spend the day deliciously distracted by my intimate knowledge of the sinewy muscle and hard perfection beneath his brown Harley T-shirt, faded jeans, and boots.

I unplug my flatiron and wrap it up while he closes his travel bag, and I stare at our reflections in the mirror. I am a good foot shorter than him and my dark hair contrasts with his light chin-length hair, which is damp and wavy by his ears. There is a confidence about him, a power I find addictive. He is masculine and hard in all the right ways and he makes me feel feminine and soft, and strong.

His gaze lifts and our eyes connect in the mirror. Awareness tingles over my chest and shoulders and spreads like liquid fire through my body. “Keep looking at me like that,” he warns, “and you won’t make it back to work tomorrow because we’ll miss our flight.”

My lips curve. “Very tempting.”

A knock sounds on the door and he gives me a nod. “Room service or me at your service?”

I bite my lip in utter consternation and reluctantly sigh. “Considering Dylan’s waiting, I guess I have to settle for my second choice. Room service.”

He reaches for me and gives me a fast, hot kiss with a burning swipe of his tongue and heads for the door. “Hmmm,” I call behind him, biting my lip. “Minty fresh.”

The phone starts ringing. “Grab that, will you, Sara?”

I rush into the bedroom and snatch up the bedside phone to hear, “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.”

“And we’re coming for you, Dylan,” I promise, laughing. “We’ll be there in about half an hour.”

“Can you bring me a chocolate bar?” he whispers conspiratorially.

“Yes,” I promise. “I’ll bring you a chocolate bar. I’ll see you soon.” I hang up as Chris tips the waiter and we sit down on the bed to eat.

“How’d he sound?” Chris asks.

“He answered singing me the Freddy song.”

He arches a brow and a glimmer of hope fills his eyes. “Really? I guess the treatment aftereffects have passed.”

“Yes,” I agree cautiously. I’m worried about how far Chris is going to fall over Dylan. “One big positive for sure.” I lift the lid on my food and inspect the eggs.

We’re just digging into our omelets when Chris’s cell phone rings. Chris glances down at it. “Blake,” he answers.

I listen hopefully and Chris’s gaze goes to mine as he replies to something Blake has said: “Mark is the Master in the journal. I know there are no names, but yes, I’m sure. They had a relationship. I have no idea who the second man in the journal is.”

“Ryan Kilmer,” I offer, and receive an arched brow from Chris, prodding me to add, “The real estate guy—”

He holds the phone from his mouth. “I know who he is. How do you know who he is?”

His scowl tells me he is not happy. “I’m doing a job for him. I think it’s him in the journal.”

“Why?”

“It’s a gut feeling. A strong gut feeling.”

“Based on what?”

“He seems to be a good friend of Mark’s, and”—I hesitate, certain Chris isn’t going to approve of my observations—“he isn’t as dominant. I don’t think Mark could share with someone too like himself.” Like you, I add silently.

Chris stares at me, unmoving, stone that can’t be chipped away, and I hear a murmur on the other end of the line that Chris responds to. “Yeah. I’m here. There’s a guy named Ryan Kilmer. He’s a member of the club Mark owns. They’re friends. Sara thinks it’s him.” He listens a minute and then ends the call. He sets his phone on the nightstand beside me and pulls me to my feet, his hand sliding around my back. “I do not like how well you know Mark Compton.”

The possessiveness of his touch, and in his expression, shouldn’t please me. It doesn’t, and yet it does. “What I know is from the journals.”

“Then stop reading the damn things.”

“I brought them for you to read.”

“I don’t want to read them, Sara. It just makes me think about what Mark wants to do to you, and I’m trying to be understanding about your job. The journals won’t help me do that. We lock them back up when we get back to San Francisco unless Blake needs us to read something specific.”

“Yes, Master,” I tease, trying to bring his tension down a notch.

His scowl is instant. “Don’t call me that. I’m not your master. You aren’t my submissive. And you damn sure won’t ever be Mark’s.”

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