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How had she let this happen? How had she gotten here again, being confused, in the dark, and not knowing what the hell was happening because of a man? But this was different. She sat there fearing for the man, not fearing him or what he’d done.

Sitting there, feeling like she could crawl out of her skin with worry for Jinx, set off a lightbulb in her head. The intensity of her internal reaction, the way she wanted to jump out of the car and run home just to feel like she had control, was something she’d never experienced.

She wanted to see Jinx alive and unharmed more than she wanted her next breath.

She wanted to arrive at her apartment and find him waiting for her with the wide smile she loved so much and his arms open for her.

And that said it all, didn’t it?

She loved his smile. Loved his presence in her life. Loved the way he made her feel each and every day. Loved waking up to him. Loved going to bed with him.

She just loved him.

Plain and simple, and yet the most complicated emotion in the world. This was the exact position Harper had promised herself she’d never end up in—emotionally shackled to a man. Jinx had the power to destroy her heart and life, and she’d given that power to him.

What the hell had she been thinking, allowing herself to get close to him?

You were thinking of how wonderful it felt.

Well, it doesn’t feel good now, does it?

She let her head thunk against the window as a few rogue tears leaked from the corners of her eyes. Her chest ached with a hollow sadness.

“Harper?” Jo said from the seat in front of her a few moments later. “We’re here.”

She straightened off the door, wiped her eyes, and gazed up at her dark, lonely apartment. “Thanks for the ride.” God, she sounded miserable even to her own ears.

Jo turned. “I’ll come wait with you. Tracker can stay down here.”

“No. I got it. Thanks.”

Frowning, Jo and Tracker exchanged a glance. “Harp…” Jo said.

She lifted a hand. “Look, I’m sorry if I’m being bitchy, but I want to be alone right now. Okay?”

Jo stared at her as though trying to see inside her head.

“Please, Jo.”

“Babe…” Tracker ran a hand down his ol’ lady’s arm.

With a heavy sigh, Jo finally ceded, “Fine.”

“Thank you.” She started to open the door as Jo spoke again.

“But we’re waiting right down here until Jinx shows up. Deal with it.”

Tracker chuckled, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t argue with her, Harper. She’s damn fierce when she wants to be.”

More tears filled Harper’s eyes. Why the hell was Jo being so nice to her after she’d been such a shrew the entire ride. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“None necessary, hon. It’s what family does.” Tracker winked while Jo gave her a nodding grin.

“I’m not—”

“Now you’re gonna piss me off,” Jo said, holding up a finger. “You are family. Deal with that too.”

Afraid if she spoke, her voice would wobble and she’d cry more, Harper reached out and squeezed Jo’s hand.

“Go on up. We’ll talk tomorrow,” Jo reassured.

As she trudged up the stairs toward her studio apartment, Harper had to admit that knowing they were sitting down there in support helped her keep her shit together.

She stepped in, turned on the light, and gazed around the room.

What now?

Reading a book wouldn’t work. She’d never be able to concentrate. Same with watching television or trying to listen to music.

“Fuck it all,” she muttered as she walked to her small couch. She sat down and stared at the door, willing herself to remain calm and not think the worst.

And that’s all she did for the next hour until the door opened and the most beautiful sight walked into her apartment. Jinx, on two legs, tall and handsome as ever. A large bandage covered his forearm, but aside from that, she didn’t see any other visible injuries. Relief hit with such ferocity she couldn’t hold back a sob.

“Jinx!” She shot off the couch, flew to him, and threw herself into his arms.

He caught her as she’d expected but with a pained grunt and a stagger backward.

Immediately, she released him. “What’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” She frowned.

“Nah, baby, I’m okay.” He cupped her face. “Damn, it’s good to see you.”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Something’s not right. You hurt more than your arm.” She reached for the hem of his shirt, and he sighed.

“I promise you it’s not that bad.”

“What’s not that bad?” she asked as she gently lifted the T-shirt. A gasp ripped from her as she saw the bandage taped to his side. “Oh my God. I slammed into you. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay, baby. They numbed it all up to stitch it, so I barely feel anything now.”

An obvious lie, but she let him have it. “What happened?” she asked, still staring at the bandage as she held his shirt up.

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