Page 54 of Ridge's Release

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“You said the container was bound for China?”

“Yes, to Shanghai.” I closed my eyes, loving how Sera felt in my arms, wishing there was a far different reason her body rested against mine.

“They could have been sent anywhere once they reached the mainland.”

I held her closer to me, wishing I had different news.



“Thank you for being honest with me. I know it isn’t easy to be when there’s so little information.”

I leaned down and kissed her forehead. “You’re welcome.”

“Is it okay if I don’t want to get up yet?”

I smiled. “More than okay. I’ll go—”

“I don’t want you to get up, either.” She shifted to her side, and I did the same. Her back was to my front, and that is the way we both fell asleep.

When I woke, having no idea how long we’d slept, the bedroom door I’d left open was closed, which meant her mother had to have seen us. While I didn’t care if she had, I’d told myself I’d give Leah a wide berth out of respect. Falling asleep with her daughter in my arms wasn’t something I would’ve done intentionally.

Sera rolled her body toward me, nuzzled against my neck, and murmured something unintelligible. I closed my eyes and drifted into a deep sleep.

When I woke a second time,I was alone, stunned I hadn’t roused when Sera got out of bed. I could hear voices coming from the kitchen. Relief washed over me when they didn’t sound argumentative.

I checked my phone for messages, but when I didn’t see any, I wondered if Press and Beau had returned to the ranch yet. After stopping by the bathroom, I went into the kitchen, where Sera and her mother were still talking.

“Good morning,” I muttered, running my hand through my hair and wishing I’d tied it back rather than leaving it hanging loose.

“Good morning, again,” said Sera. Her mother nodded in my direction.

“I should head to the main house. My brother is here, by the way.”

“Your brother?”

“Dalton is a doctor. Tryst arranged for him to fly down last night to help.” I wasn’t sure how much Sera had told her mother, so I didn’t elaborate.

“I’ll walk you out,” she offered. “Thanks for staying with me,” she said once we were outside.

“How’s your mom?”

“Okay. Wondering what the next step is, the same as I am, but accepting we may not know yet.”

“I’ll see what I can find out. Press and Beau stayed on in Yavaros when I left, but I haven’t heard from either one of them since shortly before I got here last night.”

Sera wrapped her arms around me and rested her head against my chest. “You don’t mind me doing this, do you?”

I put my arms around her too. “Not at all.” In fact, I wouldn’t mind more of it. However, now wasn’t the time for me to pursue a romantic relationship with Seraphina Reeve. First, we had to find her sister. Then we had to figure out what had transpired between our families. Once those two things happened, I had every intention of letting Sera know how much I wanted to spend more time with her. As much time as she’d let me.

When I leaned down, intending to kiss her forehead, her lips met mine. It felt like the most natural thing in the world. It was chaste and quick, but perfect.

“Sorry,” she said, her cheeks flushing.

I put my hand on her chin and tilted her face so I could see into her eyes. Then I kissed her again. “I’m not sorry,” I said before stepping back and walking to the SUV. I didn’t look until I got in but was relieved to see Sera standing in the same place she had been, her fingertips on her lips.

When I arrivedat the main house, Press was behind the wheel of an SUV about to park. My brother and Beau were inside. I got out and walked over to it when Press lowered the window.