She grins against my mouth. “I love it, and Marston, it all feels like a fairytale with you.”

* * *

I wake up to the sound of a scuffle in the hallway and low voices growing louder—a man and a woman. I close my eyes again and pull Brinley closer. Tonight was perfect, and I’m not going to let some loudmouthed jerk ruin it by waking Brinley and scaring her.

“Sir, I said you can’t go in there,” the woman says.

“The fuck I can’t.” There’s banging and a scuffle. Are they outside our door?

“I tracked my daughter’s phone, and this is where she is.”

Shit. “Brinley,” I whisper, stroking her hair back from her face. She’s out. “Brinley, baby. Wake up.”

“My guest reserved this room for the night and deserves privacy. He—”

“My daughter is a minor, and she’s in there with your guest.”

I shake her by the shoulder. “Brinley, you have to wake up.”

“Now unlock the damn door or I’m going to kick it down.”

Brinley’s eyes open as the key scrapes the lock.

I grab the sheet and tug it up over her. “Your dad’s here,” I whisper, but then the door flies open and Abraham Knox storms in.

“You!” He points a shaking finger at me. “Get away from my daughter. Brinley, get dressed.”

I start to move off the bed, but Brinley grabs my wrist. “No,” she says. “Don’t go. He needs to deal with this. With us.”

My chest snaps tight with anxiety and warms with so much fucking love, and I’m so distracted by the chaos happening inside me that I don’t even realize Brinley’s father has come around to the other side of the bed.

He grabs her by the wrist and hauls her onto her feet.

“Get your hands off her.” I lunge forward and try to wrap her in a sheet.

The woman squeaks and spins away from our nakedness.

“This was what was so important you couldn’t answer your phone?” her father shouts, right into her face. “You’re here fucking delinquent trash?”

Brinley tries to pull away and fails. “Let go.”

Her father spits at me, and it lands on my bare feet. He releases Brinley and finds the pile of her clothes by the jetted tub. He scoops them up and throws them at her. “I hope you enjoyed yourself, because she’s dead now. It’s too late for goodbyes.”

“What?” Brinley stares at her father, the tossed clothing forgotten at her feet. “What did you just say?”

“Brittany’s dead.” He backs away from her and into the hall, sneering. “My youngest daughter’s dead, and you”—he looks her over, disgust curling his lip—“you might as well be. I lost two daughters tonight.”

Chapter Twenty-Nine


Present day

“You have the best view in the whole damn town,” Brinley says. She props her chin on the edge of the hot tub and peers out over the balcony railing to the lake and mountains beyond. Her hair’s piled on top of her head, and the water steams around her bare shoulders. “I don’t think anything could make me want to leave this spot.”

I grab the bottle of wine off the deck railing and refill her glass. “Sounds like a challenge.”

She laughs. “I didn’t mean it that way.”

When we first got back to the house, we carried the ghost of her parents with us. I don’t like that she’s keeping me a secret from them, and it hurt to have her panic tonight when she thought they might see us together. In that moment, I saw clearly that she’s not given me her whole self yet. She’s not ready to. But we slowly shrugged off the weight of those worries, and finally it’s just us again. Marston and Brinley.

I kneel behind her in the center of the spa and dip my head to press my lips against her shoulder. I take my time, savoring the slide of her sweat-slicked skin beneath my lips as I move to her neck and suck lightly. Moaning, she tilts her head to give me better access. “We can stay here as long as you want,” I whisper. I slide my hands around her waist and stroke up to cup her breasts. I pinch her nipple, and she gasps, pressing back against me. I’m already hard—have been since she said she wanted to soak, stripped naked, and threw me a smile over her shoulder as she climbed into the hot tub. I love how comfortable she is in her own skin. How comfortable she is with me.

“Thank you for spending tonight with me.” I trail my mouth up her neck and then down along her jaw. “I needed this after this week. I needed you.”

“Same.” She spins in my arms and wraps her legs around my waist under the water. When my cock notches against her sex, she groans and rocks gently. “If I recall, the view from your room is just as good.”