By: Sawyer Bennett

When she glanced at him again, probably hoping he’d been an apparition or a figment of her imagination, he tried to smile. But the question that had plagued him for so long—Why’d you run out on me like that?—turned his smile feral.

Her shoulders sagged as she dropped her gaze to the floor, then slipped her feet into her previously discarded shoes.

Elise tilted her head to the side and stared at Kat as she hustled to a small group standing nearby. Shit. He could see the wheels in Elise’s conniving mind turning and smell the rubber burning.

“Well, that was… interesting.” She turned back and studied him, steady and unblinking. “Do you know her?”

With Steve, he’d felt guilty for fudging the truth and had needed to justify his evasion. With Elise, he had no problem flat-out lying. “Nope. Should I?”

Elise narrowed her eyes and studied him. “I don’t know.”

He knew she wanted to say more. To ask more. But she wasn’t known as Queen of Scheme for nothing, and after years of practice, she knew how to hold her cards close to her disproportionately large chest.

Her nose practically twitched as she sniffed the air for clues, knowing there had to be more to this story than she’d been told. She didn’t even try to be nonchalant about her devious intentions as she said, “Well, it’s been fun… and intriguing, but I’ve got to go. Things to do and all.” She gave a little finger wave and said, “Ta-ta,” then headed off in search of a pot to stir.

Erik rubbed a hand over his eyes and drew in a deep, erratic breath. Part of him, the part that had spent the past thirteen months looking for Kat, wanted to yell Hell yeah! at his good fortune of finding her again. Looking just as beautiful and sexy as she’d been the night they met, no less.

But dammit, he’d wanted to find her in Charlotte. With him living at the coast, that put the entire state of North Carolina and a five-hour drive between them, thereby limiting the feasibility of establishing what could be misconstrued as a real relationship.

Especially since he didn’t do relationships—at least not any that lasted for more than twelve hours. And while he enjoyed more than his fair share of female companions, he always made sure there were no misunderstandings about what to expect after those twelve hours ended. That wasn’t to say he wouldn’t sleep with a woman more than once. But he always put enough time between encounters to make sure everyone knew where things stood.

And he never spent time thinking about them between visits.

Until Kat.

He hadn’t been able to forget her or let go of hoping to see her again. Now, here she was in his hometown. Looking very much like she belonged and very much like she intended to stay. And that presented a problem. The fire between them burned too hot, and he doubted he’d be able to ignore it any more now than he’d been able to ignore it thirteen months ago.

So where did that leave him?

Avoid her and hope the simmering embers eventually cooled and she became a distant memory? Or work her out of his system by picking up where they’d left off?


For all that he didn’t know, one thing he knew for sure. Before he made any decisions about the future, he needed an answer to the question that had driven him nearly insane for the past thirteen months. Why had she walked out on him without so much as a good-bye kiss or a kiss my ass?

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