“I’m not rushing things,” Thornton said flatly.

“Uh, yeah.” Ethan was perplexed. ‘You don’t have to tell me that. You’re not the type—”

“And Blake?”

“And Blake what?”

“Do you think she’s the type?”

Thornton checked his watch. Ten-fifteen in the evening. She was supposed to be here by dinner, dammit. It wasn’t like her to be late, and even more unlike Blake was her not sending a message to explain the delay. The only reason he wasn’t calling the police now was because he had incognito bodyguards tailing Blake from the moment he realized his attraction to her.

They had kept him updated throughout the day, and it was through them he found out that she and Teller had finished talking even before dinner. After that, she had stayed with her grandmother…and stopped contacting him since then.

What the hell was happening?

He took his phone out and backread on all the messages they had exchanged throughout the day.

Blake: Missing you already.

Blake: Thorn! I said I’m missing you already.

Thornton: You just got inside the car.

Blake: So?

Thornton: I can still see you. You’re still in our driveway.

Blake: I see what you did there.

Thornton: Speaking logically?

Blake: You called it our driveway to distract me.

Thornton: I wasn’t trying to distract you.

Blake: But it’s not working.

Thornton: I just said I wasn’t trying anything.

Blake: So please just say it.

Blake: Thorn?

Blake: Hello?

Blake: I’m driving away now.

Blake: You can’t see me now.

Blake: Can you say it now?

Thornton: Don’t drive and text.

Thornton: And I miss you.

Just thinking about their earlier text conversation almost had him smiling. It had been silly as hell, but he had enjoyed it. Like he had told her last night, she had fucked him up well and good, and well…he was hoping she would keep at it for the rest of their lives—

A sound coming from the outside, almost like someone making a run for it, had Thornton swiftly stepping out just in time to see Blake rushing inside her place.


But she didn’t even turn her head, and the door slammed shut behind her.

What the fuck?

He knocked on her door.


He knocked again and again.


He could feel his blood turning cold, could feel the urge to smash the door down growing stronger inside of him. Something…wasn’t right. He could feel it in his bones. He had these instincts ever since he had gone to war, and his instincts had never been wrong.


He fought to keep his voice level. Kept knocking even when the skin on his knuckles started to wear off and his flesh began to sting.



“Tell me what’s wrong.”

Chapter Nineteen

Jumanji drums.

Thornton cast a puzzled glance at her over his shoulder. “Pardon?”

In for a penny, in for a pound, Blake thought, realizing she had accidentally mumbled the words out loud.

Thornton could feel his forehead creasing in a frown as he listened to Blake’s explanation. She had woken up hearing Jumanji drums, she had said. It’s like this foreshadowing device in the movie. When you hear it, you know something’s going to happen..

After flipping the pancakes one last time, he turned around and asked, “So what does it have to do with you?”


He transferred the pancakes to their plates before taking a seat. “Wanna say grace?”

Blake cleared her throat. “Yes, sure.” She tried not to get distracted while praying, but it was hard. And yes, she did know she had asked for it. She had teased Thornton earlier about needing to see him in an apron and jeans and nothing else, thinking he’d roll his eyes or just stare at her in that stoic way of his.

But instead he had said simply, Sure.

Thornton frowned when Blake’s voice trailed off.


“Men?” he finished blankly.

Hearing this, Blake snapped back to earth with a flush in her cheeks. “Amen,” she repeated hastily.

“Everything alright?”

“Uh huh.”

“So the Jumanji drums…” Blake didn’t seem to notice the bottle of maple syrup he was holding out to her. Instead, her eyes were busy traveling up and down – his body?

That was when he finally realized what had her so distracted, and he nearly smiled. “You were the one who asked for this.”

“I know.” Her tone was half-glum, half-dazed. She couldn’t even summon the brainpower needed to be embarrassed; she was just too busy staring and admiring the sleek slopes of his muscles and the fluid and graceful way they flexed with his every move.

“You’re perfect.” And I love you.

“So are you.” And I love you.

“You really – wait.” She finally managed to tear her gaze off his chest. Which was exquisitely naked. And which she recalled raking her nails—concentrate, Blake Golding!

She yanked her mind out of the gutter and forced herself to concentrate on Thornton’s face. It was just as beautiful, but a little less distracting at least. “What was that you, um, said earlier?”

“You’re perfect.”

She couldn’t help bursting into laughter. “I’m not.”

“You are—” And before she could argue, he added quietly, “For me. You’re perfect for me.”

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