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  Or a game face.

  Turning his head from where he’d been looking out the window, he met her gaze.

  God, he had a set of eyes. Richly dark and deep, she got caught staring, and forced herself to look away before she drowned in him.

  He slid on his cool sunglasses. She did the same. Good. With two layers between them now, she felt marginally better. “I don’t know if any of you have seen the extent of the destruction,” she said. “But it covers nearly 100,000 acres.”

  “I’ve been through it,” Mark said. “My dad’s new house isn’t far from here.”

  Rainey glanced over at him again. “Your dad lost his house?”

  “Yes. It’s just been rebuilt.”

  “That was fast.”

  Mark nodded, and she understood that he’d expedited the building process. He’d pulled strings, spent his own money, done whatever he’d had to do to get his dad back into a place, and the knowledge had something quivering low in her belly.

  And other parts, too, the parts that he’d had screaming for him last night. Don’t go there, she told herself. There’s no need to go there. Not with a man who was only here for one month at the most, a known player, and…and possessing the absolute power to embed himself deep inside her, and not just physically. He didn’t want her hurt by a guy? Well the joke was on him because there was no one who could hurt her more.

  When they got to the heart of the worst of the fire devastation, it was painful to see the blackened dead growth and destroyed homes where once the hills had been so green and alive.

  “Damn,” James said. “Damn.”

  “Besides doing the sports,” Rainey said quietly, “I run the rec center’s charity projects. We’ve been raising money all year to fund one of the rebuilds, the one you guys have been working on. There was a lotto drawing from the victims, and one lucky family won the place free and clear. We’re going to go notify the winner.”

  “Mark has contacts you wouldn’t believe,” James said. “He can snap his fingers and make people drop money out their ass. You should have seen how much money he raised for the Mammoths’ charities over our last break. Maybe he could get another house funded for you.”

  Rainey glanced at Mark, surprised to find him looking a little bit uncomfortable, though he met her gaze and held it. “You good at raising money?” she asked. He was good at raising holy hell, or at least he had been. Probably Mark was good at raising whatever he wanted.

  Casey grinned. “Yeah, he’s good. He rented out our favorite club and he had a mud wrestling pit set up right in the center of the place, then invited a bunch of supermodels.”

  Rainey could imagine all the wild debauchery that must have gone on in that mud pit, each player getting a model for the night.

  Or two…

  Just thinking about it made her eye twitch, and she carefully put a finger to the lid to hold it still. “Interesting.”

  “Yeah, he raked in some big bucks that night,” Casey said. “Our charities were real happy.”

  “Does all your fundraising involve mud pits and centerfolds?”

  “Models,” James corrected. “Though centerfolds would have been great too. Hey, Coach, you’ve got a bunch of centerfolds on auto-dial, right? Maybe—”

  He trailed off when Casey drew an imaginary line across his throat for the universal “shut it.” “Ix-nay on the enterfolds-say.” Casey jerked his head in Mark’s direction. “He’s trying to impress.”

  “No worries,” Rainey said dryly. “I’ve already got my impression. It’s burned in my brain.” She pulled into a trailer park and drove down a narrow street to the end, where she parked in front of a very old, run-down trailer.

  “Wow, that’s the smallest trailer I’ve ever seen,” Casey said. “Someone lives here?”

  “Six someones,” Rainey said. “We’re here to tell them the good news, that they’ll have a place by late summer.” She smiled. “They’re big hockey fans. Plus,” she said, turning to Mark, “you’ve been coaching their daughter, Pepper.”

  The guys unfolded themselves out of her car and she looked them over, realizing that they were dripping with their usual air of privilege. “Do any of you ever look like anything less than a couple of million bucks?” she asked Mark.

  James snickered, then choked on it when Mark glared at him. “I’m wearing sweats,” he said calmly. “Same as you.”

  “Yes, but mine aren’t flashy,” she said. “Yours are from your corporate sponsor.”

  “Rainey, we’re both wearing Nike.”

  “Yes, but yours probably cost more than I made last month.”

  James grinned. “Actually, you can’t even buy what he’s wearing. They made it just for him.”

  Mark let out a breath. “Should I strip?”

  “No!” But as they walked through the muddy yard the size of a postage stamp to a tiny metal trailer that had seen better days in the last century, she slid him a look. “What if I’d said yes?” she whispered. “What would you have done?”

  “You didn’t say yes.”


  Mark stopped and stepped into her personal space bubble, bumping up against her as he put his mouth to her ear. “The next time we’re alone,” he said softly, “if you still want me to strip, all you have to do is…instigate. Or, as you so hotly did last night, demand. Careful, you’re going to step on those geraniums.”

  She stared down at the flowers in the small pot near her feet, the only thing growing in the yard. They were beautiful, and at any other time it might have amused her that Mark Diego had known the name of the flower when she hadn’t, but she was stuck on the stripping thing. She’d ask him to strip never.

  Or later…

  And great, now her nipples were hard. She slid him a gaze and found him watching her.

  Eyes hot. Ignoring him, she moved to the door. “This trailer’s just a loaner. They lost everything and have been borrowing this place from friends.”

  Karen Scott opened the door. She was in her mid-thirties but appeared older thanks to the pinched, worried look on her face, one that no doubt came from losing everything and having no control over an uncertain future.

  “Karen,” Rainey said gently. “I have a surprise for you—”

  Karen took one look at Casey and James, and slapped a hand over her mouth. “Oh my God! Oh my God! You’re—” She pointed at James. “And you! You’re—”

  James offered his hand. “James Vasquez.”

  “I know!” She bypassed his hand and threw herself at him, giving him a bear hug made all the more amusing because she was about a quarter of James’s size.

  Casey was treated to the next hug. “This is unbelievable! We’d heard you were in town and Pepper’s told us about you, Mr. Diego, but I never in a million years thought you’d be visiting us. The kids and John are all still at work—they’re not going to believe this!” She moved back, revealing the interior of the trailer, which was maybe 125 square feet total, a hovel that had been put together in the seventies, and not well. Formica and steel and rusted parts, scrubbed to a desperate cleanliness.

  Karen insisted they sit and let her serve them iced tea. Mark, James and Casey sat on the small built-in, fold-out couch, their big, muscled bodies squished into each other. Rainey watched James and Casey look around with horror as they realized that six people lived here. Mark didn’t look surprised or horrified, but there was an empathy and a new gentleness she’d never seen from him before as he watched Karen bustle around the tiny three-by-three kitchenette. She was in perpetual motion, excited about the lovely surprise visit, and finally Rainey made her sit.

  “Karen,” she said. “The guys aren’t the surprise. At least not the main one. You remember the housing project. Your name was drawn in the lottery for a new home.”

  Karen went utterly still. “What?”

  “You and your family should be able to move in by the end of summer.”

  Karen gaped at her for a solid ten seconds, before