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  throat. He set his thumb to it, his other fingers spanning her throat and although he was tempted to give it a squeeze, he tilted her head up to his.

  Her hands tightened on him. “I mean it,” she said. “We’re not doing this.”

  “Define this.”

  “We’re not going to be friends.”

  “Deal,” he said.

  “We’re not going to even like each other.”


  She stared into his eyes, hers turbulent and heated. “And no more kissing—”

  He swallowed her words with his mouth, delving deeply, groaning at the taste of her. He heard her answering moan, and then her arms wound tight around his neck.

  And for the first time since his arrival back in Santa Rey, they were on the same page.


  RAINEY OPENED HER mouth to protest and Mark’s tongue slid right in, so hot, so erotic, she moaned instead. God, the man could kiss. How was it that he looked as good as he did, was that sexy, and could kiss like heaven on earth? Talk about an unfair distribution of goods!

  Just don’t react, she told herself, but she might as well have tried to stop breathing, because this was Mark, big strong, badass Mark. The guy from her teenage fantasies. Her grown-up fantasies too, and resistance failed her.


  So instead of resisting, she sank into him, and with a rough groan, he pressed her against the shelving unit, trapping her between the hard, cold steel at her back and the hard, hot body at her front. “Okay, wait,” she gasped.

  Pulling back the tiniest fraction, he looked at her from melting chocolate eyes.

  “What are we doing?” she asked.


  See, this was the problem with a guy like Mark. There was a good reason that his players responded to him the way they did. He didn’t make any excuses—about anything—and he knew how to get his way. Oh, how he knew, she thought as her hands slid into the silky dark hair at the nape of his neck. She pressed even closer, plastering herself to him, fighting the urge to wrap her legs around his waist as a low, very male sound rumbled in his throat. Her eyes drifted shut. He isn’t for you… He’ll never be for you.

  “This doesn’t mean anything,” she panted, not letting go. So he wasn’t for her. She would take what she could get from him. But only because here, with Mark, she felt alive, so damn alive. “You still drive me insane,” she said.

  He let out a groaning laugh, murmured something that might have been a “right back at you” and kissed her some more.

  And God help her, she kissed him back until they had to break apart or suffocate.

  “God, Rainey,” he whispered hotly against her lips.

  “I know—”

  “Maybe you should throw your clipboard at me.”

  “Don’t tempt me.” She tightened her grip on his hair until he hissed out a breath, then it was her turn to do the same when he nipped at her throat, then worked his way up, along her jaw to her ear. She heard a low, desperate moan, and realized it was her own. She tried to keep the next one in but couldn’t.

  Nor could she make herself let go of him. Nope, she was going to instantly combust, and he hadn’t even gotten into her pants. “I still don’t like you,” she gasped, sliding her hand beneath his shirt to run over his smooth, sleek back.

  “I can work with that.” Turning her, he pinned her flat against the storage room door, working his way back to her mouth. Their tongues tangled hotly as his hands yanked her shirt from her jeans and snaked beneath, his palms hot on her belly, heading north. When her knees wobbled, he pushed a muscled thigh between hers, holding her up.

  “Wait,” she managed to say.

  His lips were trailing down the side of her face, along her jaw, dissolving her resolve as fast as she could build it up. “Wait…or stop?”

  She had no idea.

  He bit gently into her lower lip and tugged lightly, making her moan.

  “Stop,” she decided.

  “Okay but you first.”

  She realized she was toying with the button of his jeans, the backs of her fingers brushing against the heat of his flat abs. Crap! Yanking her hands away, she drew a shaky breath. “Maybe we should go back to the not talking thing. That seems to work best for us.”

  He ran a finger down the side of her face, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear before pressing his mouth to her temple. “Good plan.” His lips shifted down to her jaw. “No talking. We’ll just—”

  “Oh, no,” she choked out with a gasping laugh and slid out from between him and the door. “No talking and no anything else either.” Tugging the hem of her top down, she gave him one last pointed glare for emphasis and pulled open the door before she could change her mind. She rushed out and ran smack into James and Casey.

  “Whoa there, killer,” Casey said, steadying her. “How are you on the ice? We could use you on the team.” He looked at the man behind her. “Isn’t that right, Coach?”

  Rainey felt Mark’s hand skim up her spine and settle on the nape of her neck. “Absolutely.”

  She shivered, then laughed to hide the reaction. “I’ll have my people call your people,” she quipped, then made her escape to the women’s bathroom.

  Lena came in while Rainey was still splashing cold water on her face, desperately trying to cool down her overheated, still humming body.

  “This is all your fault,” Rainey told her again. “Somehow.”

  “Really.” Lena’s gaze narrowed on Rainey’s neck. “And how about the hickey on your neck. Whose fault is that?”

  “Oh my God, I have a hickey?”

  Lena was grinning wide. “Nah. I was just teasing.”


  “So does the coach kiss as good as he looks?”

  “Yes,” Rainey said miserably.

  Lena laughed at her. “Maybe you found him.”

  “Found who?”

  “You know. Him. Your keeper.”

  Rainey shook her head. “No way, not Mark. You know he’s only got endgame in hockey, not women.”

  “But maybe…”

  “No. No maybe.” Rainey left, then stuck her head back in. “No,” she said again, and shut the door on Lena’s knowing laugh.

  HOURS LATER, RAINEY left work and headed home. Halfway there, she made a pit stop at the string of trailers that ran behind the railroad tracks dividing town. Sharee and her mother lived in one of them, towards the back.

  No one answered Rainey’s knock. She was just about to leave when Mona, Sharee’s mother, appeared on the walk, still in her cocktail waitress uniform.

  When she saw Rainey, she slowed to a stop and sighed. “You again.”

  “Hi, Mona.”

  “What now? Did Sharee get in another fight while I was at work?”

  “No,” Rainey said. “She walked into a door.”

  Mona’s lips tightened.

  “The last time I came out here,” Rainey said quietly. “You told me that you and Martin were separated.”

  “We’re working on things.” Mona’s gaze shifted away. “Look, I’m a single mom with a kid and a crap job, okay? Martin helps—he should help. He’s an okay guy, he’s just stressed, and Sharee’s mouthy.”

  By all accounts, Martin wasn’t an okay guy. He was angry and aggressive, and he made Rainey as uncomfortable as hell. “I think he hits her, Mona. If I knew it for sure, I’d report it. And then you might lose her.”

  Mona paled. “No.”

  “You tell Martin that, okay? Tell him I’ll report him if he doesn’t keep his hands off her.”

  Mona hugged herself and shook her head vehemently, and Rainey sighed. The authorities had been called out here no less than five times. But Sharee wouldn’t admit to the abuse, and worse, every time she and Mona were questioned, Martin only got more “stressed.”

  “There are places you can go,” Rainey said softly. “Places you can take Sharee and be safe.”

  Mona’s face tightened. “W