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They were right about the snow though. It had turned into a snowstorm soon enough and she could barely keep her eyes open so she had no idea how they were managing and still knew where they were going while the man carrying her didn’t drop her on her head. She had however grown hoarse yelling about getting her bags first.

A flood of anxiety pooled in her belly. More than anything she needed her things close by. A mall close by. Her credit cards. She quickly brushed it aside before she had a full breakdown. She doubted these men would appreciate a scene such as her crying for her things. Like a baby. Part of her hated herself for being that way.

But she had a plan. Her mother’s broach was going to solve all her problems and give her happiness at last.

Harper took in a high sigh of relief when she was finally put down on her feet. She glanced at her surroundings and found herself not unimpressed at all, but that was the least important thing on her agenda.

“Are you happy now?” she asked, trying to shake off the snow from her wet hair, her poncho, her Chanel poncho by the way, and her skirt. She couldn’t look at her boots. They must be ruined for life now.

They were standing in what appeared to be a mud room and she tried hard for her gaze not to follow the contours of their magnificently wide shoulders and sculpted chests as they removed their soaked jackets. Their biceps seemed to pop with every movement they made and she physically shook her head not to stare.

They pointedly ignored her question about the condition of their happiness.

“I’m soaked through, I’m frozen and I don’t have my things with me. If only you had listened to me and let me bring my bag with me, I wouldn’t be in this position.”

Still ignoring her they strolled past her and out of the mud room.

She followed because she wasn’t done with them yet.


“My name is Sawyer. That’s Karter. And Ryder.”

She could have been experiencing the biggest rush ever from shopping but she knew this would have pulled her out of it. Their names. Something she couldn’t explain.

Ryder. Sawyer. Karter.

Instinctively she knew Karter was the youngest of the three. His flaxen hair had streaks of dark brown in it and was cut short on the sides and left long on the top. His beard was a darker shade than his hair but his eyes, golden spheres of light stroked her with every glance and made her feel exposed. She wondered what he saw beneath her clothes.

The man called Sawyer held her attention so deeply she was the first to look away. Dark brown hair, which curled over his collar and was casually pushed back with his fingers, had a beard that matched. His eyes were dark and thickly fringed but there was an air of mistrust around him. In fact she could say the same for Karter in the way they both looked at her.

Ryder. From what she had glimpsed of him, deep green eyes, short hair which he brushed back with his fingers, and a jaw that seemed permanently clenched, filled with irritation and ire. He looked at her for no longer than a few seconds before he turned away. There was something about her he clearly abhorred.

That was fine. She wasn’t here to win a popularity contest with these three bristling bears. They should have just left her where she was. She could have saved herself. She was resourceful that way.

“Here. Bathroom is through there.”

Karter threw a pair of track bottoms her way, a long-sleeved knit T-shirt, and a hoodie.

It fell at her feet becausecatchhad never been her strong suit. She bent to pick it up and glared at the clothing.

They expected her to wearthis?

What world had she stepped into with these three? Still, her mother had taught her to be gracious in all circumstances. She was wet and was given clean, from what she could tell, clothes to wear and the privacy of a bathroom in which to change.

“Thank you,” she murmured, then strode in the direction of the bathroom which had been pointed out to her.

Once there she locked the door and let her breath fall freely from her mouth.

How had this happened? She was still clutching her phone but even here there was no signal. Surely they had to have the means to use a phone. She had to call her dad and send him her location so he could send help.

But first, she needed to get out of these wet clothes. She whimpered and sobbed her way through removing the clothes, all properly ruined now. Her boots...

Without thinking she stepped into the shower and opened the faucet. She only needed to wait a very short while before the water ran hot.

She stepped in under the jets and instantly felt herself warm up. She used their shampoo and conditioner and their soap. Ordinarily, she was a product snob, only using her personal bests, which had cost a fortune of course, but the need to be warm and clean seemed to surpass her need for maintaining her beauty standards.

Part of her couldn’t deny the blissfully mellow pleasure she took from the shower. The sandalwood scent of their soap, shampoo, and conditioner, the soft clean bath sheet that gently enveloped her in its comfort, were like balms to her soul.

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