“There are cameras on the actual beach?”
“That’s right,” he said. “It allows us to ensure we don’t have any trespassers, and it gives you some extra unscripted footage to weed through.”
“That’s more than I could have asked for,” she said. “I know this must be a huge change from the army for you, Sam, but if it’s any consolation, you’re good at what you do.”
“I aim to please,” he said, leaning on the railing. “I’m focused on the future, not the past. I’m simply not one to linger on what I’ve lost.”
“But an injury took your career,” she said. “Doesn’t that ever make you angry?”
“Sure. I was angry when it happened. I was angry as hell. But it happened, and I can’t change history. You climb inside yourself, duke it out, and move on. And is this where I think I’ll end up? Only if I decide I have real value, if I feel I’m contributing. And right now, I’m pretty okay with just helping you succeed.”
Surprise overtook her expression. “Sam.”
“This matters to you on some deep level that I know I don’t understand. But I want to. And things that matter to people the way this matters to you, matters to me.” He realized something that had been in the back of his mind for a while. “What are you having trouble letting go of, Meagan?”
She inhaled sharply. “Why would you ask me that?”
“Because I can sense there’s something you cling to, something that you carry around like a concrete block,” he said. “And because I want to know what makes you tick.”
He half expected her to withdraw, but she didn’t. Instead, still facing him, she pressed her palm against the railing he was leaning on. “This first season is like standing on a rug, certain it’s going to be yanked out from underneath you. For me, I feel like this is it. If this show doesn’t make it, I need to reevaluate and figure out where I fit, if I fit, in this industry.” She paused. “Did you say let’s walk? I think walking would be good right now.”
They headed down the beach. Dim lights illuminated their path, as they strolled in silence laden with unspoken questions and untouched passion.
“You asked why I kissed you tonight,” Meagan blurted, turning to him.
“Tell me,” he encouraged, not surprised by her directness, or how much it appealed to him.
“I like you, Sam Kellar.”
She couldn’t have said anything more perfect. It was exactly what he’d been thinking in the kitchen. “I like you, too, Meagan Tippan.” He stepped close to her, wrapping her in his arms. “So where does that leave us?”
The lights around them flickered, and someone shouted, with footsteps running along the beach. “Apparently,” she said, “with nowhere to hide.”
Good, he thought. Because he wasn’t going to let her hide. She’d opened the door to let him inside her life, and he was coming in, armed and ready to get to know every intimate detail.
“Let me finish up here, and then we’ll…talk.”
She smiled, mischief in her eyes. “Good. I’m up for a good argument.”
“Me, too,” he assured her. “That is, as long as we get to kiss and make up.”
MEAGAN WAS NERVOUS. Nervous! How insane was that? But she and Sam had taken their connection to a new level tonight. Meagan had no idea she was going to kiss Sam while they were on the kitchen floor, but she was glad she had. She was so tired of controlling everything around her, and, despite her spent nerves, it was almost a relief to have her wild desire for Sam become a fact.
Her cell phone rang, and she quickly stuck her headset in her ear and hit the answer button without taking her eyes off the road. She was driving back to the hotel with Sam in his vehicle behind her. She’d been trying to reach Kiki or Shayla all evening with no answer, and that worried her.
“Why do you sound like you want to bite my head off?”
She laughed instantly at the sound of Sam’s voice, which was a testament to how much she needed the distraction that was this man. To think she’d believed it would be a bad thing. “I didn’t know I did. Sorry. I’ve been trying to reach Kiki and Shayla and I can’t. Considering her track record, silence from Kiki still twists me in knots.”
“And you want to let her live in the mother-in-law house with you?” he asked, reminding her of the decision she’d shared with him earlier in the evening.
“I need her under thumb, where I can watch her.”
“If she’s at the second house, she’ll be under my thumb and…on second thought, I think she should stay with you.”