I walk over to the kitchen island, stretching. He must hear my footsteps. “Good morning.”

“Morning,” I say, voice bleary.

Robert points to his right. “There’s coffee.”

“Thank God,” I say under my breath and he chuckles.

The coffee is good. Way better than the crappy gas station coffee that I’ve been drinking for the past year. This reminds me of the coffee that I had in my office. Back when I had an office, that is.

He sets a plate of eggs and bacon in front of me, and I almost groan because damn this man can cook.

“I didn’t finish in the garden yesterday,” he says. “I’m trying to find a new piece of wood to work with, so I’ll have you finish some of the weeding and trimming while I do that.”

“Okay,” I say. Why did I agree to this again? I’m not opposed to labor, but gardening has never been my thing. I don’t have a green thumb. I have a black thumb. My mother used to tease me that I was allergic to plant life because every plant that she ever gave me died a painful, dry death.

We’re back to that silence again while he and I eat. There’s nothing awkward about it, but I’m not used to this kind of…nothing. No small talk or meaningless chit chat to fill the silence.

As soon as I finish, Robert sweeps my plate away and into the sink. He leads me outside, and I’m once again distracted by his ass. If it looks that good in jeans, it must look freaking phenomenal out of them.

Robert hands me a pair of gloves. “The tomatoes have some weeds that I haven’t been able to get to.”

“Okay,” I say but he’s already walking away toward a large pile of what looks like…just trees. A giant pile of trees. I watch him for a second as he steps close, looking over one of the trunks. The focus with which he inspects it—he hasn’t put that kind of focus on me, but I know that if he did I’d be completely lost.

The weeds. I turn away before I let myself become completely fascinated with his process of choosing something to work with. Weeds. I’m not exactly sure I know the difference between the plants and weeds, but I’m not going to admit that to him.

I kneel down in the dirt, following the path of the nearest tomato plant down to the ground, and…oh. I see it. There’s a plant that’s different and clearly doesn’t belong. Harsh and more brittle looking. It looks like a plant that’s ready to do battle. And it does do battle with me. Pulling that sucker out of the ground is way harder than I expected.

These are scattered through the patch, and they seem to have taken root, but I work my way through them. I’m glad I have the gloves, because damn I think my hands would be raw without them.

Behind me I hear the sounds of Robert starting to chop, and I take a look. There’s a tree separated from the pile now, and he’s got an axe so large I’m not sure that I’d even be able to lift it. Stroke after stroke, bringing it up and letting it fall. It’s raw power and even with his shirt on I can see the way his body moves and bends with ease and I can’t help imagining him without the shirt since I’ve already seen what he’s hiding underneath.

He glances back, and half of his mouth turns into a smile when he sees me watching. “You finished?” he asks, coming over and holding the axe in his hand like it weighs absolutely nothing.

“I think so.”

He nods and points over to the edge of the garden where there are some supplies. “These plants are growing really fast. Use that string and tie the new ends higher onto the stakes so they’ll keep climbing.”


“Oh,” he says, smiling, “and you can watch me any time you like.”

“I wasn’t watching,” I say probably too quickly.

Robert smirks. “Sure.”

He goes back to chopping, and I’m cursing that little flip my stomach gave when he smirked. Damn him for being so sexy. He could have been completely normal looking and this would be so much easier. As it is, it hasn’t even been a full day and I’m practically drooling.

I was supposed to bring him back faster than this. Logan Sr. isn’t going to be happy about the fact that I won’t be answering his calls for a month. I’m hoping that he’ll just assume that I’m working hard to find him, and not suspect that I’m living with him. I’m not sure what he’d say, or if he’d still give me the money if he saw the way I was looking at his son.

I sneak another glance and my stomach flips again. Fucking hell. It’s going to be a long month. But I have to keep my eyes on the goal—bringing Robert back home and collecting the two hundred grand. Then back to my life. Nothing is worth losing that. Not even a body that looks like that.

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