Page 60 of Tripping on a Halo

She blinked, focusing on him. “A step back? Sure. Yeah. Good.” She pinned her knees together and pushed off the table, coming to her feet. “Excellent idea.”

Excellent idea? No. It was a fucking awful idea. She was supposed to argue with him, and certainly didn’t have to be so cheery about it. He frowned, watching as she wandered the room, exclaiming over the wood stove, the double fridges, and the full bath, as if she’d never seen modern plumbing before. She lingered in the living room section, trailing her hand over the wicker couch, then finally completed her tour of the space. Adjusting himself in his jeans, he swung open the door and waited for her to step out.

“It’s fancy,” she said, stepping through the door. “There’s a bookcase with board games and movies. I haven’t seen a VHS in years.”

“Super fancy,” he intoned.

“Maybe we could play Pictionary tonight. I’m awesome at it. You could be on my team.” She walked ahead of him, swinging her arms as she went, her back rigid, voice high. “I once won a pecan pie in a Pictionary game, which is funny, since I don’t even like pecan pie. Want to know the word I won on?” She swung to face him, and almost tripped over the root of a pine tree.

“Careful.” He steadied her, taking her around to her side of the truck and opening the door.

“Water Buffalo.” At his quizzical look, she continued. “That’s what the word was. Have you ever tried to draw a water buffalo?”

He struggled to keep from smiling. “Can’t say I have.”

“It’s pretty impossible.” She twisted into place on the seat, reaching for her belt.

“Congratulations.” He made sure her feet were inside, then carefully shut the truck door.

Rounding the front of the truck, he fought back a smile at the paradox of the woman inside. Incredibly passionate, yet guarded. An open book, but also a complete mystery. Any other woman he’d pursued would have been on her back right now, yet she fought to keep her distance. It should have driven him crazy, but instead, he couldn’t get enough. His phone rang and he paused by his truck door, fishing in his pocket and pulling out his cell. Seeing Nate’s name, he answered the call.

“Bad news.”

“What?” Declan watched Autumn through the front windshield. She had the yellow medical book back in hand and was flipping through the pages.

“I can’t make it. Something came up with Benta.”

“Something?” He frowned.

Nate let out a low laugh, his voice dropping. “You know how it is.”

Yeah, right now, looking at Autumn, he knew exactly how it was. And he couldn’t say that he was disappointed to hear he’d be alone with Autumn. Nate, while entertaining, had a habit of dominating the room with his charisma. It’d be nice to have some one-on-one time with her.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I feel bad, given that it’s your birthday.”

“No need for that.” He could hear the smile in Nate’s voice and winced at the thought of all it could mean.

“Are we still going to have a job come Monday?”

Nate scoffed. “Give me some credit.”

“Just … don’t piss her off.” He hung up the phone and pulled at the handle of the door.

Assuming this news didn’t cause Autumn to want to go home, it’d be just the two of them out here. Which sounded pretty fucking perfect to him.

32

Declan’s cabin was a twin to mine, with plaid sheets instead of blue. His backpack took up considerably less space than mine had, and I started to rethink everything I’d packed. Surprisingly enough, there were fire extinguishers mounted on the walls and first aid kits visible, proof that someone with two brain cells had had input in the outfitting. He pulled a bag out from under the bed and then a variety of camo-colored garments. “I’m going to head out to the range and work through a box or two.”

“I’ll come.” I shifted my weight on the light brown linoleum. “If you don’t mind.”

He grinned and pulled his shirt over his head. “I hoped you would. Without Nate, it’s going to be a little lonely.”

I wasn’t prepared for a shirtless Declan. That night we had met… the room had been dark, body parts slapping and entangling, my hair flinging, kisses interrupting my views of his body. But here, with the afternoon sun blaring through the open window, his abs bunching as he worked open the top of his jeans, I was getting the full effect. Long sinewy muscles connecting strong shoulders, beefy biceps and toned chest muscles. He had those V muscles, which I do remember scraping my nails along as I’d taken him down my throat. I blushed, whirling to face the door as his pants fell to the floor, the belt buckle clanking loudly upon impact. I covered my eyes as an additional precaution, a move which earned a chuckle from behind me.

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