He tilts his head and looks at me. His eyes are a brown so deep they’re almost black. It’s like I can feel them piercing my skin. His gaze travels my body from head to toe, no doubt taking in my disheveled appearance and the signs that I have no idea what I’m doing out here in the woods. “That’s your name,” he says. “Still doesn’t tell me who you are.”
“Your father hired me to find you.”
Robert goes entirely still, and then he laughs, a loud rolling laugh that rings out through the trees. “You? He sent you?”
He shakes his head and walks away from the door. He leaves it open though, which I take as an invitation to come inside. Robert heads for a basin by the back door, and quickly washes his hands and face. I try not to get distracted by the sight of water dripping down his taut skin. It’s not working.
“Tell my father he can go to hell.” He looks at me, hair dripping, and I feel the menace in his words. Logan Sr. was right—Robert did not want to be found.
I take a few cautious steps forward, further inside the cabin. “You and I both know that that answer isn’t going to work for your father.”
“It doesn’t have to work, I just want him to hear it.”
I bite my lip to stop the laugh that wants to come out. “Your father would like you to come home. Come to Sam’s wedding and take your place at the head of the company.”
Robert freezes for a second. “Thomas is getting married?”
“To Fiona Monroe.”
He laughs and rolls his eyes. “Could have called that after the engagement party. That’s good. They’re suited for each other.”
“So you’ll come back?” I ask, hoping it’s that simple.
I don’t know who this woman is, but I’m trying to keep my back to her. I wasn’t expecting company, especially company like her. She’s got curves for days and the right amount of sweat to let me know that she’s been exerting herself. Which makes me think about her exerting herself in other ways. I think my dick went hard the moment I opened the door.
I’ve been alone up here for a while, and even if I hadn’t, Anna Collins is a walking fantasy. I don’t want her to see that she’s made me hard when she’s here doing my father’s bidding. I don’t want to give him any more ammunition.
I fill a glass with water from the spring—it’s ice cold and cuts through the heat that’s coursing through my body. I turn back around to face her and damn, that was a mistake. I don’t care why she’s here, I’m willing to give her a tour of the mountain and a whole lot more. Except for the fact that my father will be furious that I fucked the person he sent to find me. Actually, that’s not a bad idea.
But no. I can’t. This refuge is too precious to lose, and I can’t let her bring me back to the life I hated. “How’d you get up here?”
“I hiked,” she says. “Though I see that there’s a road. Now.”
I hide my smile with the rim of the glass. Guess my camouflage of the road worked. “Well I’ll drive you down to your car and you can be on your way.”
She laughs. “I’ve been looking for you for months. You’re not going to get rid of me that fast.”
“Well, I’m not going back with you.” I walk out the back door back to my woodpile and chopping block. This log is just for firewood. Turns out the trunk of this tree wasn’t the right texture for the piece I’m imagining.
“You have to at least give me a reason why you won’t go.” She followed me.
I pick up my gloves and start stacking the chopped pieces into the woodpile that leans against the back of the house. “No, I don’t,” I say. “I’m an adult. I have no current ties, debts, bonds, or contracts with any member of my family, and I don’t want to go. And let’s be honest, sweetheart, there’s no way you can physically force me to go with you.” I let my eyes travel her body again, and I can barely control my response because I’m imagining all those curves pressed up against me and her trying to force me through the forest. That would end up with us both on the ground, with me over her, and— “though I’m enjoying imagining you trying.”
She walks up to me. “It’s been almost a year since you disappeared. You can’t tell me that you don’t miss people. A little company once and a while.”
I shrug, stacking more wood. “People are overrated.” She huffs like she’s going to argue with me. “My family is a nest of snakes and being around them means having to watch your back all the time. Every day. It’s exhausting and there’s no point. And as for people, I’m human. I see people when I go to the nearest town for supplies.” And stop by the bar where there’s a pretty blonde waitress that always makes time for me. “I’m not a complete hermit.”