Breathless Page 9

The one with dark hair and calculating eyes took a drink from an honest-to-god flask, then gave her a clear up-and-down. His gaze barely went north of her neck. “I like your shorts, cutie. Cold night, huh?”

She should be afraid. She knew she should. But it was so nice to have someone look at her with a shred of desire that she didn’t care. It wasn’t like anyone would give a crap if she disappeared anyway.

She licked the chocolate off her fingers. “I’m all right.”

He laughed, low and masculine and genuinely amused. “I’ll say.”

She sauntered over to them and glanced at the flask. “Care to share?”

He seemed startled—but then he handed it over. She took a sip. The liquid burned her tongue and then her throat. She had no idea what it was, and she didn’t care.

The other one, with lighter hair and brown eyes, leaned forward against the handlebars on his bike. Despite his rough appearance, his eyes were kind—and he was actually looking at her, not just her assets. “What are you doing out here?”

“Same thing you are,” she said. “Just looking to have some fun.”

The dark one laughed. “We can help you with that.” He patted the seat behind him. “Want a ride?”

His voice promised something more than just a ride on the back of his motorcycle.

Reason smacked Quinn across the face, and she hesitated.

Then the light-haired one shook his head. “No way. If she comes along, she’s riding with me.”

And because his eyes were kinder, because Quinn had nowhere to go and no one to call, she swung her leg over the back of his motorcycle and scooched up real close to him. He didn’t smell like liquor at all—and she would know—but instead some mixture of leather and sweat and a faint whiff of an intoxicating cologne.

She didn’t even know his name, but she didn’t care. He was warm, and she wrapped her arms around his chest.

He glanced over his shoulder. “You sure are friendly.”

No. Lonely.

“You complaining?” she said.

“Not at all.” He started the ignition on his bike and revved the engine. The vibration rolled through her body and she held on, thriving on the adrenaline.

They went to Sandy Point, driving around the barriers and down to the beach. Clear trespassing. They didn’t care, and she sure didn’t give a crap. She learned her driver’s name was Matt, he was twenty, and just like her brother, he was home from college for a few days.

She didn’t like thinking of Jake, or of Nick for that matter, so when they asked if she had a boyfriend, she said no and took another long drink from their flask. A fleece blanket appeared from a compartment on Matt’s bike, and she lay back to look at the stars while her head spun from the liquor.

This was probably the stupidest thing she’d ever done.

But hey, she wasn’t lonely now, and they weren’t trying to get in her pants or anything. And what if they did want her for sex? At least someone wanted her for something.

Dancing with Adam, the warmth and security and self-confidence, all felt a bazillion miles away.

A new bottle appeared. She recognized the label and held a hand out.

“You have any salt?” she joked.

They chuckled. The tequila burned like swallowing fire, and every breath cooled her lips. The stars danced. She forgot her name and laughed at nothing, snuggling into Matt when he tried to wrestle the bottle out of her hands.

And finally, the stars and darkness overtook her, and she passed out there on the sand.


Nick lay in bed and stared at the ceiling, wondering when sleep would get around to stealing his thoughts. It was close to midnight, and the house had been still and quiet when he came in. Everyone else had to be asleep.

He had a headache, probably from when Quinn had decked him.

Or maybe it was just from wrestling with his thoughts all evening.

He’d tried to text Quinn, but she’d ignored it.

Nick sighed and picked up the paperback on his bedside table—but then he read the same sentence sixteen times.

All his brain wanted to think about was Adam. The lines of his body, the strength in his dancing, the way the music swept through the room and seemed to be part of the movement.

So can I get your number?

Nick hit himself in the head with the spine of his novel and blew out a long breath. These thoughts couldn’t go anywhere. Too complicated. Too dangerous. Quinn, he thought. Think about Quinn.

So he thought about Quinn.

Dancing with Adam.

The phone rang downstairs, and Nick jumped like he’d been caught doing something inappropriate.

The house phone only rang with business calls, but no one was calling about landscaping at midnight. Probably a wrong number. Nick swung his legs out of bed to go answer it before it woke up his brothers.

The phone was on its fourth ring by the time he made it into the darkened kitchen. Nick fumbled for the right button and answered out of habit: “Merrick Landscaping.”

A bare hesitation on the other end of the line. “Is this Nick?”

He froze. He recognized the voice, and it sent his heart racing. “Yeah?”

“This is Adam. Quinn’s friend. We met—”

“I know. Yeah. I mean—” He needed to get it together. His heart wouldn’t stop pounding, and Nick couldn’t figure out whether it was from panic or excitement. “I remember. How’d you get this number?”

“It was on the side of your truck.” Another pause. “Look, I’ve never made a call quite like this one . . .”

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