Their morning was cut short when, after round two, Jamie looked at the clock. With a curse, he jumped off the bed and promised breakfast after a ten-minute shower. Skylar laughed and crawled out of bed, stretching thoroughly satisfied limbs.
And satisfied she was. Skylar wasn’t the type of girl to do the walk of shame the next morning. In fact, she wasn’t used to one-night stands at all, but something about Jamie last night had driven her to be daring. Not to mention that she had been looking to be a little rebellious. What really got to her was how well she slept last night. It had been years since Skylar slept so deeply. Usually, it involved having one eye open, only half asleep because fear kept her grounded into consciousness.
Shaking the memories away, she scoured the house for her discarded clothing and put it back on. Her long hair tangled mercilessly around her head, so Skylar reached into her pocket to find her trusty hair tie; she never left the house without one. By the time she’d dressed and thrown her hair up in a ponytail, Jamie had exited the bathroom.
From where she sat on the bed, she enjoyed the view of the devastatingly handsome man wrapped in nothing but a tan towel. She fought the urge to sigh as her eyes followed an errant drop of water making its way down his happy trail.
“Keep looking at me like that, sweetheart, and I may call in sick from work today.”
Skylar laughed, seeing the seriousness in his eyes. “Not so fast, cowboy. I gotta get going too.”
Jamie slipped on a pair of boxer briefs and a white undershirt, much to her dismay. He strode to his closet in a rush but turned to look at her when he spoke.
“Oh, yeah? You got someone waiting up for you?”
She could hear the wariness layered beneath the joke. At the moment, he was probably wondering if she was betraying a husband or boyfriend. It would have done him good to know that before
screwing her brains out.
“Yep,” Skylar couldn’t help replying, popping the p
and turning her face away to hide her smile. The pregnant silence that followed was worth it. She could practically hear the possibilities rolling around in his head of who could be waiting for her. Jamie cleared his throat.
“And who would that be?”
She let loose the laugh bubbling to the surface. “My sister…” Her voice trailed off when she turned to face him again and saw the outfit he’d put on. A very familiar pair of khaki pants and top, black shoes—and the gold star of a sheriff.
A terrible feeling of shock and simultaneous fear flooded through Skylar. Her stomach rose to her throat at the same time her blood tingled in her veins. She felt as if puking might be the only relief from the swirling sensation in her head. A sheriff. She’d slept with a fucking cop.
“Skylar? What’s wrong?” Jamie exited the closet completely, fingers still busy buttoning up his uniform.
Skylar lifted her eyes to his, a million thoughts shooting through her head. All sorts of self-accusations of how stupid she was for making such a careless mistake. Jamie watched her with confusion and worse, curiosity, a distinct furrow between his brows marring his flawless face.
Be cool, Skylar. Don’t make him suspicious.
She cleared her throat, hoping it would relieve the bile still sitting uncomfortably somewhere between her chest and throat.
“Sorry, I was just thinking. It’s my sister. I really should get back to her.”
Jamie glanced behind Skylar, and he grimaced. “Well, I was going to make breakfast, but seeing as how I’m running late—”
“It’s fine!” Skylar yelled but checked herself when she saw the curious expression return to Jamie’s face. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll have to feed my sister anyway.”
Skylar’s fingers bit into her palms. She shifted on the bed, crossing and uncrossing her legs. He was a cop. She was a horrible liar. Fuck. He tilted his head to the side, and for a second she thought he would question her again, but he nodded and walked past her. He bent down to retrieve his discarded pants, causing the khaki material to stretch across the ass she had gripped the night before. God, but a man in uniform was still hot—even if he only spelled trouble for her. After pocketing his wallet and cell phone, he jangled his keys.
“I’ll take you back to the bar. Your car is there, right?”
Still too nervous to speak and worried it would show in her words, Skylar nodded and followed him out of the bedroom.
They sat in his truck with Jamie’s citrus scent surrounding her, within her, suffocating her. She rolled down the window and tried to focus her senses on the pine trees and truck exhaust. Her wolf felt her anxiety and paced within, defensive, terrified. It only knew one thing that could make her feel this way and was tired of being pushed down. Skylar was grateful for the silence even though she could feel every time Jamie glanced her way. She wasn’t sure she could handle any more questions.
It didn’t take long to get back to the bar. By the time Skylar caught a glimpse of the building, she was a nervous wreck. She just hoped it didn’t show. The building seemed so different from when they had been there last night. No longer hidden by the beautifying darkness and glinting lights, Silver Spur Bar looked just like any of the other surrounding buildings: dilapidated wood storefront, dark windows, and Skylar’s old blue Bronco in an otherwise abandoned parking lot.
“You drive that?” Jamie asked, pointing to the older vehicle in amazement.
“Nothing. Just not the car I imagined you driving.”
“And what would that be?” The insult didn’t sting like it used to. She’d heard it all before, but she was grateful for the distraction.
“I don’t know. A Camry or something?”
Skylar scoffed and hopped out of his truck, her sandals smacking against the asphalt.
“What?” he asked when she didn’t say anything.
Skylar leaned against the door and stared up at him. His blond hair fell in small curls around his face, disheveled and haphazard. He was so freaking gorgeous, but the uniform sent her on a hiatus. And only made her want him more for it.
“That was kinda sexist, don’t you think?”
“Why? Guys drive Camrys all the time.”
“It’s the insinuation that women can’t drive a beautiful, classic, manual-transmission beauty like my girl Molly.”
Jamie’s laugh came out like a shout, and he banged his hand against his steering wheel. “You named your car? What kind of name is Molly?”
“You know, like Molly Weasley? I’m a big Harry Potter fan.”
Jamie stared at Skylar, and she felt the embarrassment flood her face. The laugh seemed frozen on his face, crinkling his cheeks in the most adorable way. When he didn’t say anything, Skylar rolled her eyes.
“Never mind, then. I gotta get going.”
She shut the truck door and headed back to her dear Molly, rubbing the hood to soothe the machine’s hurt feelings.
“Hey! Will I see you around?” Jamie shouted through his now open window. Skylar was a little jealous at the silent way it opened. Old Molly’s windows screeched like a banshee on the way down.
Would he see her around? God, saying no seemed stupid. She’d hopefully be living there in Big Bear anyway, so chances were he would. But would she go out of her way to make it happen? Not likely.
After opening her door and sitting on the leather seat, she winked at him. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
She slammed the door shut on his amused expression, turned over Molly’s engine, and drove out of the parking lot. And she fought really hard not to glance back.
* * * *
Ten minutes later, Skylar walked into the cheap motel room she was supposed to share with her sister the night before. The TV blared in the tiny space and muffled the slam of the heavy door behind her. Cartoon characters danced on the screen, their colors a little brighter than usual and a fuzzy line bouncing up and down the center. Skylar let out a sigh and dropped her purse on the small table, then finally looked at where her sister lay.
Emery sat propped by pillows on the old red comforter of the motel bed, impossibly long legs stretched in front of her. She turned dark-brown eyes to Skylar and grinned, small dimples forming on her freckled cheeks.
“And where were you all night?”
“I went out to have a drink,” Skylar said, avoiding her seventeen-year-old sister’s inquisitive gaze. Instead, she turned toward her suitcase and pulled out a new outfit for the day.
“Well, a drink wouldn’t keep you out all
“Em, if you know what I was doing, why even ask?”
Emery shot out an exasperated laugh. “At least you got to go out and do something. I’ve been watching this shitty TV this whole time.”
Guilt swept over Skylar. Her spine straightened, and she forced herself to look at her sister. She clutched the clean clothes to her chest. “I’m sorry, Em. We’ll go out and do something soon. I promise.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Emery waved her hand in dismissal and focused her gaze back on the TV. “Go take your shower, and let’s get this over with.”
Skylar hesitated, knowing her sister was hiding the anger and jealousy brewing beneath her delicate surface. But she also knew it was better to give her some time before discussing anything. So she hopped in the shower to clean off yesterday’s grime and last night’s citrus essence that wouldn’t leave her nostrils. A scent she wasn’t even sure she wanted gone.
Freshly showered and dressed in clothes that didn’t reek of cigarettes and sweat, she returned to the main area. Emery stood at the edge of the bed, studying multiple outfits. Skylar brushed the tangles from her hair as she watched a multitude of emotions pass over Emery’s face. For a girl who never left their small town, moving across the country and meeting a new pack was terrifying to Emery. Of course, Skylar was scared as well, but it beat the alternative.
Emery let out a groan of frustration and threw a shirt back on the bed, pushing one hand into her mess of long copper hair. Skylar walked up to her and pulled her into a hug, which Emery resisted with a stiff body. It was hard. Sometimes Skylar had to remind herself Emery was only seventeen. Making such a crazy move away from all of her friends would be difficult for Emery, even though she knew their life had been anything but happy there.
“Emery, I’m sorry, hon. You know we would have stayed if we could.”
After a moment, Emery relented. Her slender body relaxed into Skylar’s embrace, and she wrapped her arms around Skylar’s waist. She ducked her head down into Skylar’s chest.
“I know, Sky. I just wish things could have been different.”
“Me too. But you know what?” Skylar leaned back, forcing Emery to look her in the eyes. “I think things are going to be better here. You’ll see.”
Emery stared long enough for Skylar to notice the hope that flickered in her gaze, and then she turned away to go back to her outfit picking. “I hope so. I really do. Now can you come over here and help me pick something to wear?”
I hope so too,
Skylar thought before glancing at the clothes on the bed.