“One Night More” | Reid + Callie • Part III 
a Blood Money free short

Captain Reid Okumura knows what he wants–and what he wants more than anything is for the love of his life, Callie Bauer, to stop avoiding a conversation about their future. His time in the Air Force is nearly over, and with an exciting new job offer from Faraday Industries, the world is Reid’s oyster. But only if Callie wants to experience that world at his side. Good thing Reid isn’t above playing dirty…

NSFW WARNING: Includes sex on the beach (not the drink) and a little bit of groping beneath the dinner table. Don’t worry; the family didn’t notice…probably. 


Thanksgiving Day • 19h21m

“Pumpkin or pecan?”

Seated next to Reid at his family’s enormous dining table, Callie groaned, both hands clapped over her stomach. “You can’t be serious.” She glanced at him, eyes wide with disbelief. “She can’t be serious.”

He reached over to gently massage the back of her neck. “Baby, my mother is always serious about pie. Now, pick your poison.”

Helplessly, Callie met Nina Okumura’s amused gaze across the table. “I can’t help but think this is some sort of terrible ritual, and you’re actually fattening me up for sacrifice later this evening. I’ll be the Black Friday meal in between trips to Best Buy and Target.”

Nina laughed. “Since the jig is up…might I suggest pecan? It’s my personal favorite.” Without waiting for Callie to agree, Reid’s mother handed over a dessert plate bearing a pristine slice of gooey pecan pie topped with a perfect dollop of whipped cream. A dainty silver fork immediately followed, and he noticed that Callie no longer pretended she wasn’t interested in pie. In fact, the rest of the table chuckled watching her dive enthusiastically into her dessert, and like the good sport his girl was, Callie winked at his assembled family.

He squeezed her nape, not bothering to fight the warm glow in his chest cavity that had taken up residence ever since they’d arrived at his childhood home on Oahu earlier in the week. It came as no surprise to Reid that Callie had hit it off with his parents, brother, aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents; he loved her, so how could they not?

Their flight into the big island had landed on Monday, and the past three days had been spent taking her to the beaches he’d surfed as a teen, leading her on wooded hikes…catching her around the waist and hauling her in for a kiss in all the places he had wanted to kiss a pretty girl growing up, because romantic, but hadn’t, because teenage boy. He’d settled her in a lounge chair by the pool, slathered her fair skin in sunscreen and laid next to her, her fingers curled around his as they sipped icy beverages under cloudless blue skies. At night, Reid had dragged her to the sandy shore backing up to his parents’ home, tugged her into his lap and curved his body around hers as they stared out at the starlit ocean, listening in comfortable quiet to the peaceful lapping of the waves.

What’s it like to call paradise your home? she’d asked him, husky voice little more than a whisper as she leaned into him, her spine against his chest.

He hadn’t answered, simply pressed a kiss to the tendon linking her neck to her shoulder, and enjoyed how she shivered in his arms.

Though making a valiant effort, Reid hadn’t monopolized all of Callie’s time. His parents, Nina and Isao, and his younger brother, Graham, had all taken a week’s worth of vacation days for this visit–at Reid’s request. Not only because his various tours and the nature of his position within the Air Force made it tough to see his family as often as he’d like, but because he wanted them to more than simply meet Callie.

No, he wanted them to know her.

So Graham had been the one to get his prim-and-proper schoolteacher up on a surfboard every morning since they’d settled in, as Callie refused to let Reid teach her. Something about him being an “arrogant, bossy know-it-all” and having “negative integers of patience.” Which was true enough, so he’d simply taunted her from a superior position atop his own board, splashed her until she was sputtering mad, and then watched as his definitely-more-patient brother coaxed her into standing.

Callie was never going to be a surfer, but her willingness to try, do, be anything that challenged her? It humbled him. And Reid enjoyed being humbled by Callie Bauer.

“This,” Callie said around a mouthful of pie, “might be worth dying for. Just promise you’ll kill me quick. I’m a wuss when it comes to pain.”

Reid grinned as his mother laughed, much of the table along with her. He knew as no one else that Callie wasn’t quite as averse to pain as she might claim. He spanked that round ass of hers often enough, had tied her wrists tight enough to leave a few chafing red marks behind. All while she begged him for more.

Please, Reid. Put your hands on me again. I’ve been such a bad girl...

Christ, this was so not the right time to start sporting wood. Shifting in discomfort, he casually draped his arm along the back of Callie’s chair. Continuing to touch her skin wasn’t doing him–or his sudden erection–any favors. Hell, he was thirty-four years old. His dick had no business misbehaving in his jeans like a green cadet on his first off-day in a townie bar.

We met Callie in a townie bar, that dick reminded him.

Lesson? Don’t knock townie bars.

“Reid tells us you’re doing Christmas with your folks in Portland.”

“Hanukkah, actually.” Callie smiled at Isao, and Reid could tell his father was as vulnerable to the charm of those dimples as he himself was. Her hand landed on his knee beneath the table, squeezing affectionately. “Yes, if Reid can swing it, I’m planning on subjecting him to the torture that is all twenty-seven members of the Bauer clan.”

“Twenty-seven?”

“Two grandparents, five aunts, three uncles, nine cousins, three mini-cousins, my parents, my two sisters, and my brother. Twenty-seven.”

Graham grinned at her. “And mini-cousins are…?”

“Exactly what they sound like. Miniature versions of my existing cousins.” Callie winked at the Navy SEAL. “Science would be so much more interesting if they put me in charge. Specifically when it came to naming conventions.” Showing what many would consider admirable restraint, Callie paused with the fork halfway to the final bite of pie and glanced up at Reid. “You’re not having any pie.”

“No.”

“Was it because you were expecting me to share?”

He couldn’t help arching a brow. “You never share food. Especially dessert.”

Still the fork hovered. “You can have the rest of this…if you want.” But, gaze wary, her grip on the fork changed, and it appeared stabbing was more likely to appear on his menu than pie.

Laughing, he lounged deeper in his seat. “Nah, baby. I want to keep all my limbs. That was very generous of you, though.”

“Glad you noticed,” she sniffed in mock haughtiness before shoveling the remainder of the pie in her mouth. With a quick kiss to his cheek, she pushed the empty plate away, groaning when Nina nudged the pie dish toward her in silent entreaty. “Oh, God, please no.” Scooting her chair closer to Reid’s, she managed to nestle herself into his side, her temple resting against his chin. He felt her body relax, each muscle loosening as she settled in as though they’d been here, doing this–holiday meals with his family–for years, instead of for the very first time.

Damn, but he loved her.

Knowing his parents and brother watched him closely and not caring one bit, Reid tipped her chin up and settled his lips over hers in a chaste but fierce kiss, arm wrapped securely around her shoulders. When he looked across the table again, Graham was rolling his eyes in that way of younger brothers, as though he were thirteen and not thirty-one. Nina wore a secretive little smile as she served herself another slice of pie, Isao rising to bus dirty dishes into the kitchen. The rest of his extended family were either involved in their own conversations or had drifted into the living room and the giant flat-screen playing a football game. All was right in Reid’s world.

“Heard a rumor you were shopping around for a job as a civvie.”

All was right…except for Graham’s big mouth. Sensing Callie tense next to him, Reid scowled at his brother. Sure, the dude might have a couple of inches and several pounds of muscle on him, but Graham remained his little brother. And Reid could still pound him into the ground if need be. “When did you become a gossip?”

Graham sighed as though greatly put-upon. “Hey, I’m not doing the gossipping, merely relaying the subject of the gossip.”

“And who’s the snitch?”

“Who do you think?”

Reid fixed a glare on Nina, who suddenly appeared to be utterly devoted to how the tines of her fork dug into the slice of pecan. “Mom.”

“It’s not gossip if it’s between family,” she retorted primly, never lifting her gaze from her dessert.

“Hmm.” Returning his attention to his totally-not-a-gossip brother, who’d crossed tattooed arms over his chest, waiting, Reid eyed him and wondered if Callie’s discomfort with this particular subject was obvious to anyone but the two of them. “Okay, yeah, I’m exploring my options outside the Air Force. But nothing’s set in stone.” Yet. And the only reason for that particular lack of masonry was the individual on which his every future plan hinged–not that she necessarily knew it.

Callie straightened away from him, but kept her hand on his leg, simultaneously arousing and soothing him. He glanced down to see her free hand fidgeting in the lap of her navy circle skirt, chest rising and falling with agitated breaths beneath the cotton-candy pink short-sleeved sweater she’d chosen for today, looking so wholesome she made his teeth hurt. Mostly because he knew better, knew how naughty his curvy little schoolteacher really was. Naughty and, right this second, in need of reassurance, and who cared where they were? Not Reid.

Leaning forward, he propped one arm on the table and let the fingers of his other hand drift to the soft skin of her inner thigh, his movements hidden beneath the table and her skirt. His touch shifted higher as he speared Graham with a sharp stare. “You know I never planned to be a lifer. Heck, I mostly went the Air Force route just to piss you and Dad off.” Since the other two Okumura men were Navy, following in Grandpa Hiroto’s imposing footsteps. “The military paid for my MBA. I figure I’ve got lots of options, if I bother to look around.”

Beside him, Callie’s breathing hitched. Which could have something to do with the fact that his fingertips had just found the ruffled edge of the pink cotton panties he’d watched her wiggle into this morning. Panties he had every intention of removing with his teeth as soon as he got her alone.

“The question is, why are you looking around in the first place?” Graham finished pouring steaming coffee from the carafe into his mug, took a bracing sip.

That’s when Reid realized what, precisely, his brother was up to. Annoying jackass. But with the best of intentions, no doubt. “None of your business.” Without warning, he stroked over the quickly dampening gusset of Callie’s panties, fighting a grin at her stifled gasp when he tweaked her clit. By this point, he doubted she was paying much attention to his conversation with Graham, and that was how he wanted it. “Now, if you’ll excuse us,” he said, pushing abruptly out of his chair and grabbing her arm, “we’re going for a walk on the beach.”

Reid dragged Callie from the dining room, Graham’s teasing mutter chasing them out the kitchen door and across the manicured lawn, past the pool and down the path to the sand. She didn’t put up a fight, but even if she had, he’d have finished it by tossing her over his shoulder until they reached their destination. He had a plan, damn it, and that annoying jackass who shared his DNA wasn’t going to derail that plan.

Couldn’t his mom have shared that bit of gossip? Come on.

“You’re being weird.”

He scowled, kicking off his shoes as they trekked closer to the water and reveling in the sensation of cool sand between his toes. His entire childhood had been spent out of doors, it seemed, and if he went too long without the soles of his feet connecting with the earth, he grew antsy. Anxious. In fact, the only cure for that anxiety trailed along behind him, her own sandals discarded, the breeze kicking up the flouncy hem of her skirt. Tearing his eyes from those tempting bare thighs that had been flushed pink from a little too much time under the Hawaiian sun, he tugged harder on her hand and grumbled, “I’m not weird, you’re weird.”

And now, apparently, he was twelve. God.

Callie laughed, linking her fingers more tightly with his. “You haven’t taken me this direction before. Is this still your parents’ beach?”

“Yup.” He slowed his pace, dragging her close so her arm brushed his, hips bumping with each rolling step they took up the waterline. “About ten years ago, Mom won some sort of grant to restore four other properties in this neighborhood. Historic preservation work, you know? One of them was next door, and she liked the end product so much that she ended up buying it.” His thumb rubbed hers, an intimate habit he’d picked up sometime in the last few months since returning from his last tour. “For a while, she rented it out, but now it’s just for family. Whoever needs it gets it.”

The wind had tossed Callie’s hair into her face, and she combed the long brown strands back with careless fingers. “Who needs it now?”

“No one. It’s empty…but I asked Mom if we could have it for the night.”

She stopped abruptly. “You and me?”

“No, me and the other girlfriend I brought home to meet the parents.” He urged her forward again with an aggrieved sigh. They were nearly to the spot he had in mind, and he wouldn’t get sidetracked now. “We haven’t had sex since we got here, because someone is too worried about making noise in the guest room.”

You are the someone!” She smacked his arm, affront in every syllable. “If you remember, Mister Oh-No-I-Couldn’t-Possibly-My-Parents-Are-Right-Down-The-Hall, I promised to be quiet. Like, super quiet. And you were all, But you’ve never been quiet before, baby, and then I tried to prove it but your knee hit my nose and I might have made a loud sound and then your dad knocked on the door to make sure everything was okay and…yeah.”

Smirking because she was right, he led her around a rocky outcropping–and straight into an oasis. Ocean to the left, path toward the house to the right, but directly in front of them was a perfect trio of palm trees surrounded by pristine white sand, rolled-up blankets nestled at their base, alongside a red cooler he’d stocked with water and adult beverages before sitting down to dinner. Someone had done him a solid and started a fire in the rock-encircled pit a few feet away–which meant Nina had spilled the beans to more than just Graham, obviously. All in all, a simple slice of solitude, but he was gratified to hear Callie’s appreciative whisper of, “Oh, wow.”

Releasing her hand, he moved to unroll one of the blankets, then drew her down with him, settling her between his legs so they could stare together out over the ocean at twilight. He gathered her long hair and smoothed it to the side, baring her neck. His lips found her warm skin. “Remember when you asked me the other day what it was like to call paradise home?”

“I remember.” She laid her arms over his where they banded around her middle, leaning into his hold and gratifying him more than words ever could. The trust she gifted him with her body left him hot and hard and constantly feeling like the king of the fucking world. “I have to warn you, babe, I hope you’re not expecting a view like this in Portland.”

He kissed her throat as he chuckled, ignoring the clenching beneath his sternum as she flooded his senses. Her scent, her taste, the feel of her against his body and within his arms. He fought the urge to hug her close, until there was no space between them and he’d simply absorbed her into his skin, carrying her with him wherever he went. “Well, paradise is pretty damn great.”

He heard her smile more than saw it. “So I’m learning.”

“And I love where I grew up.”

“Why wouldn’t you? It’s amazing. Your family is amazing.”

“Thank you, baby.” Reid tightened his hold, no matter than he’d told himself he wasn’t going to. He wasn’t going to cling. He wasn’t going to entrap her…even though he wanted to. So badly. “But this place doesn’t hold a candle to Robins.” To her.

“The base?” She snorted. “You’re crazy.”

“No, I’m not. I just…I am crazy about you. But you know that already.”

“Reid–”

He gave her the edge of his teeth, nipping the tendon at the base of her neck. “And because you know I’m crazy about you, you already know you hold the upper hand here. So. We’re going to talk about my job. Finally.” And because he had, in fact, entrapped her this time, Callie had no choice but to participate in this conversation, once and for all.

She sighed heavily. “I said it before, I’ll say it again–I’ve got nothing to do with your decision to stay or leave the Air Force.”

“You’re wrong.” Callie had everything to do with this decision, and he figured that, deep down, she knew it. Perhaps it scared her, that knowledge, but Reid wouldn’t let her stay scared for long. “We’ve been together for nearly a year.”

Her hands fluttered over his forearms. “Not that long of a time, really.”

“It is for me. It is for you, too.” Neither of them had ever committed to long-term relationships in the past, Reid due to the constraints of active-duty military, Callie because, well, because she hadn’t even been given a reason to commit, not until him. A whispered midnight confession wrung from her after he’d fucked her hard but slow, leaving them both a gasping, sweating mess in his tangled bedsheets. “This training gig my CO has had me running isn’t a lasting solution for what to do with me.” But it was a position he’d requested after his last tour, wanting to be on the base and able to see Callie every day after work. Having some semblance of a normal life was worth the frustration of a job not tailored to his specific skill set. “I wish you’d stop resisting having this talk.”

Her shoulders bumped his as she shrugged. “I wish you’d stop forcing me to have it.”

“Why?”

“Because,” she whispered, harsh, “this is your entire adult life. It’s not like with me–I can teach anywhere, feasibly slotted into any grade level. But you’re a decorated officer of the United States Air Force. You do brave things in dangerous places and save lives and…and stuff.” Another shrug, smaller this time, her gaze fixed determinedly on the horizon at ocean’s end. “You’re the only person who can know if you’ll be happy leaving the only work you’ve ever known. I don’t want to be a factor.”

Too bad, and too late. She’d been a factor from day one, not that either of them had recognized it at the time. Reid wasn’t one to question fate, though, or toss aside what the universe had sent his way. “So does this mean you don’t want to hear about the employment offer I got on Monday?”

“Monday,” she parroted, turning in his arms to spear him with a sharp look. “You got a job offer on Monday and you’re only telling me about it now?”

He grinned. “See, I knew you were invested.” When she merely glared at him, her hands propped on his bent knees as she situated her body to sit neatly on the blanket between his legs, he traced the line of her jaw with one fingertip. “My old lieutenant put in a good word for me with a company looking for a private pilot.” Among other responsibilities. “A manufacturer based out of Boston. They sell exclusively to the DoD and like to hire former military.” His thumb found her chin, tilting her face closer, closer. “And let’s just say that the compensation package I was offered…yeah.” The bottom had dropped out of his stomach when Tobias Faraday had casually put forth the proposed salary and benefits.

“Do you…are you interested?” Her teeth caught her bottom lip, grazing the pad of his thumb where he stroked.

“That depends. I’d have to relocate to the Boston area, and I would be flying pretty regularly, and sometimes at odd hours.” He moved his hand to her throat, her pulse tripping erratically beneath his palm. “However, it sounds as though I’d have more days off than on, and I’m not the only pilot on their staff.” But the Faradays had warned him–or rather, Casey Faraday had–that there may come a time when Reid was flying into and out of danger as part of the covert missions the government often contracted out to the company. There was the expectation that Reid could handle himself in a firefight and take necessary evasive action in the midst of a tactical operation. All told, the risk was far less than what he faced in an overseas deployment for ridiculously more money, but he needed Callie on board before committing. “There might be a few dicey moments, but like you said, I do brave, dangerous stuff for a living, right? Why not do it in a more controlled environment?”

“Boston.” Her hands moved from his knees to his thighs, fingertips digging into the muscle. “You’ll need a winter coat. Like, one with goose down and a fur-lined hood.”

“It’s not the freaking tundra–”

“Shh, you’re ruining the fantasy.” She held the finger she’d smooshed to his lips in place. “Hmm, yes, you all broad-shouldered and frosted with ice in a blizzard, tromping through knee-high snow, winds gusting around you…all so you can make it home to your fireplace and your cows and–”

He tugged her away by her wrist. “Is this Little House on the Prairie now? Am I farmer? Why do we have cows?”

“Because I always wanted cows. And horses. And maybe some chickens and ducks and at least two dogs.” A brilliant smile spread in a slow wave across her face, and Reid was stuck staring dumbly at it, her, unable to so much as blink. “I think we should go to Boston.”

“Go?”

“Move. Though I’d really like it if we could find someplace with land. Like a New England version of this.” She waved her hand at the beach, the ocean just beyond.

“You…want to come with me.”

“Isn’t that the whole point?” Eyes rolling, she grabbed his face in both hands and slanted her mouth over his, the kiss quick and firm and full of delight. “Look, a job where you’re safer, where you’re not potentially going to be deployed for months at a time with no real advanced notice, where you’re being paid what you’re worth, I’m down with that. And it sounds like you’re probably down with it, too, if that conversation at the dinner table is to be believed.” She kissed him again, this time lingering over his lips, sipping at him, teasing and tasting until he clutched at her, trying to draw her fully into his arms. “But you have to make this decision because it’s what you want, not because it’s what you think will make me happy. And I know…I know that making me happy is important to you.”

It was. It so was, and maybe another man would’ve felt ashamed in admitting so, but not Reid. Making Callie happy–keeping her happy–was the most worthy goal he’d ever had. “This job with Faraday Industries is what I want, but, baby, you’re an idiot if you don’t think you factor.” He shifted his legs and her body until she straddled his lap, his arms banded around her waist as she settled in, gripping his shoulders. “I’m thinking about the future. Our future. I’ll do whatever I have to in order to keep you in it.” Dipping his head, he nuzzled beneath her ear. “I know my deployment was tough on you.”

Her breathing hitched, and she nodded against him, but said nothing. That in itself told him everything he needed to know.

Running soothing hands up and down her back, he dropped kisses over her jaw, her cheek, on a path toward her lips. “I refuse to put us through that again, not when we have other options.” For a long moment, his mouth hovered over hers. “So what do you say, baby–how about we make our own paradise in New England?”

Yes.” Her lips were sweet, her breath humming with excitement as a smile tugged the corner of her mouth. Infectious happiness, a confection of warm air and fading daylight and the shivering of her limbs as she clung to him. His own arms stuck to her like glue, each shudder down her spine racing through his veins in turn. Kissing her, being kissed by her, was perfection. It had been perfection the first time in the townie bar, and again when she’d met him on the tarmac, and all of the moments in between and afterward, big and small, a peck or an exploration.

Sinking deeper into the blanket on the sand, Reid pulled her down on top of him, one hand fisting in her hair and the other pressing on the base of her spine, urging her hips to lock against his. “How stuck are you on the cow thing?”

“Very.”

“Could we substitute for goats?”

“No.” Her hands snuck under the hem of his shirt to find his abdomen. “But we could have goats in addition to cows.”

“This seems like a lot of animals.”

“It is.”

His shirt caught on his chin as she yanked at the knit fabric, until he finished the job for her and laid back fully on the blanket sans shirt. “So we’re going to have a farm.”

Callie peeled her own sweater over her head and smiled down at him, firelight casting shadows over her beautifully bared skin. “No, we’re going to have farm animals. Totally different.” Hands hovering over the front clasp of her sheer floral-lace bra, she paused, glancing around. “Are we…how alone are we?”

“Utterly.” Brushing her hands aside, he flicked open the clasp himself, then filled his hands with her breasts. The rough pads of his thumbs stroked the hard points of her nipples, making her moan. Oh, Christ, her moan. It was too big a sound, overflowing their oasis and drifting into the ocean to meld with the waves.

She rocked intimately against him, grinding on his erection, hips wild as she rode him through his jeans and her panties. Her skirt floated over his stomach, brushed his thighs, and suddenly he was wearing far too much clothing. “Hold on, hold on,” he muttered, reaching beneath her fluttering skirt to thumb free the buttons of his fly and release his dick into his hand. One pump, then two, and his head tipped back at the feel of his own grip moving along the shaft…because with every pass, his knuckles stroked deep into her wet folds, the gusset of her panties only a faint barrier.

A barrier he intended to get rid of, immediately. “You ready, baby?” Hooking two fingers around the damp cotton, he jerked her panties to the side and proceeded to pet the pad of his thumb over her little clit, grunting in satisfaction when her moan grew louder and her wetness coated his seeking fingertips. “Yeah, you’re ready.” He angled the head of his cock to her entrance, groaning aloud when her tight pussy accepted his invasion on such a smooth goddamn glide.

They had stopped using condoms last month, relying on her IUD for pregnancy prevention, and despite having been inside her numerous times since, Reid still couldn’t quite believe how good it felt, being bare in her slick, grasping heat. “Fuck.” His hands fell to her hips, holding her under her skirt, guiding her as she rocked them both into a steady rhythm that urged him to thrust harder, to hit the sweet spot in her that made her writhe.

And, oh, how Callie writhed when he found it. “Reid, I…” Her palms lifted from his chest, where she’d braced herself, to cup her breasts. He watched, rapt, as she pinched her nipples between aggressive fingers, and was reminded again that for all her protestation, his woman liked a bit of pain–and a whole lot of dominance–in their play.

“You gonna come for me, baby girl?” The sand giving under the blanket beneath him, the gentle lap of waves hitting the shoreline, the crackle of the fire nearby and the evening birds overhead–his senses were inundated by the perfection of being home physically and finding home within Callie. His heart reached for her just as one of his hands skated over her soft, flat belly to splay between her breasts. “You gonna let me come inside you like I always do, now?” Because that was what he did, every single time. Maybe it was the novelty of it, having never not worn a condom with a woman until her, but he couldn’t bear to come in her mouth or on her skin or in her ass, not when the primitive side of him needed to mark her like his property, deep inside her where no one else was permitted to brand her that way. God, he was such a fucking caveman.

Good thing Callie liked cavemen. “Yes,” she gasped when his other hand found her clit and stroked firmly, in time to each thrust into her slick clutch. “Yes, come in me. You know I love it. So hot, so wet and hot inside me…” Throwing her head back to the star-riddled island sky, she cried out, hands reaching for him as her orgasm raced through her. He grabbed her, steadying as best he could while her body wrung his come from him, doing precisely as she’d demanded and filling her with the wet heat she craved.

Collapsing on top of him, her breathing unsteady and her naked back dotted with perspiration, Callie sighed. The contented sound soaked into his pores until he realized he was grinning blindly up at the palm fronds, waving in the breeze high above them. Stroking a soothing hand up and down her spine, Reid waited for the happiness to fade.

It didn’t. The happiness didn’t fade one fucking iota.

Another sigh escaped her, this one amused. “And here I thought you brought me to this beach to propose.” Her soft laugh buffeted his shoulder as he squeezed his eyes shut, chastising himself.

Tightening his arm around her to keep her where she was, he reached for the cooler, lifting the lid and feeling for the small ledge inside until…there. When he settled again, he held a pale-gray velvet ring box, right in front of her nose. “That’s because I did.”

Reid.”

He grinned. Not one fucking iota.

2015 © by Edie Harris