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“Definitely not a chick flick.”

She flashed a dirty look his way, and he dived back into his cheesecake. Then her face lit up. “How about this?”

She practically shoved her phone screen in his face, and as he took the phone and read the description, surprise shot through him. “You want to see a horror movie?”

“It’s a thriller, and yes. I can’t watch them unless Noah is at my mom’s, and I hate watching them alone. Please.”

Shaking his head, he handed the phone back. “I said whatever you wanted.”

Secretly, Tyler wanted to veto the idea. With all of the violence and bloodshed he’d seen in real life, he had no desire to watch it for entertainment, unless it was created by dinosaurs or sharks. But he couldn’t bring himself to crush Dani’s excitement.

Tyler Best putting someone else’s feelings before his own? Will wonders never cease.

An hour later, they sat in a nearly empty theater at the very back. The killer on screen stalked the girl about to get killed, hiding in the shadows. When he jumped out at her, waving his knife around so the light glinted off it, Dani screamed.

Tyler burst out laughing, shaking his head. “If these scare you so bad, then why are we watching it?”

“Because in controlled circumstances, I don’t mind being scared,” she hissed. “As long as it isn’t real.”

Tyler sobered, thinking about Rex and how scared he’d been that day. It was the only time in his life that he’d ever understood what frozen with fear meant.

He’d been patrolling the perimeter with Rex just after three in the afternoon. One of the other guys, Benjamin, kept BS-ing with him over the radio. He hadn’t even been paying attention, hadn’t realized what had happened until Rex yelped and the bulled tore through his knee, sending him falling to the ground. The shot had probably saved his life, but at the time, he’d felt trapped. Unable to move with the cascade of bullets whizzing over him.

He’d pulled Rex to his chest and held on, trying to stop the blood gushing from his dog’s chest.

“It’s okay, Rex. It’s going to be okay.” Grabbing his radio, he’d started screaming, “Heavy fire, we are under heavy fire. Rex and I are hit.”

Of course, they hadn’t made it in time to save Rex. They’d had to pry his dog’s body from his arms so they could get him to the hospital. He’d spent the whole flight scared that they wouldn’t make it or that he’d end up losing his leg. Hours of terror, and he’d never experienced anything like it since.

It was why he’d been happy to receive the position at Alpha Dog; the last thing he wanted to do was go back over there.

When Dani’s hand covered his and she squeezed, he looked over, coming out of his memories.

“Hey, you okay?”

Shaking off the past, he turned his hand over and threaded his fingers through Dani’s. “Yeah, I’m good.”

DANI TRIED TO squash the giddiness racing through her as Tyler and she exited the theater holding hands. Most of the men she’d been involved with she’d met at parties and clubs. They hadn’t been big on romantic displays or real dates. Tonight, Tyler had made her feel special and cared for.

And damn it, she really, really liked it.

“That was terrifying,” she said. “Thank you.”

“Glad I could make your night. Not really sure I’ll ever get feeling back in my hand after you squeezed it so hard, but—”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Playfully, she brought their clasped hands up to her mouth and kissed the back of his. “All better?”


His blue eyes burned into hers, and her breath caught in her throat.

“Dani?” A voice from her past called out from somewhere in the background.

Jerking her gaze away from Tyler, she found herself facing Angel Ramirez. Her jaw dropped in surprise and horror.

So Noah’s father was back from LA, and by the looks of him, things had definitely changed for the worse. His hazel eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed, as if he had allergies, but she was willing to bet it was drugs. His dark hair was greasy and lank, and his once muscular frame was now leaner.

Why the hell was he back?

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