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“Fuck, baby, I do. I love you. Let me show you how much. Let me make you feel good.”


“Your only job is to lie there and fucking enjoy. And as much as I love the sexy sounds you make, you need to save that voice, so no screaming, okay?”

“Shit,” she whispered. Could she do it?

“I stop the first time you shout.”

Looked like she had to try. “O-okay. I’ll be quiet.”

“Good girl.” Jinx gave her a playful wink and disappeared beneath the covers. He shoved her shirt up and kissed his way along her stomach.

Harper sighed. She wished she could do this every day for the rest of her—

Her eyes flew open. Holy shit. She could do this for the rest of her life. He was hers, and she was his.

She loved him.

She trusted him.

And she was free.

She was free to spend the rest of her life by Jinx’s side, in his bed, and on the back of his bike.

With her heart doing flips in her chest, she closed her eyes again and relaxed into his touches.

For the first time, she didn’t feel the heavy press of regret and betrayal.

She was exactly where she was supposed to be.

Happy and in love.


HARPER STOOD AT the water’s edge, letting the salty foam of the surf wash over her painted toes. The sun heated her exposed skin. Sweat dotted her forehead and ran down the small of her back. She wore a skimpy black bikini her incredible friends forced her to buy because they knew her boyfriend, her ol’ man, would lose his mind when he saw her in it.

And lose his mind he had. Harper had barely put the thing on before he peeled it back off.

Overhead, seagulls called to each other. All around her, people laughed and played in the gulf. Back on the beach blanket, her chosen family sat eating, drinking, and soaking up the simple joy of an afternoon on the beach.

But it wasn’t simple for Harper. Exactly eight years ago this day, she’d been arrested for a crime she’d never been a willing participant in. That day changed her life forever. Life had been beyond hard for so many years. In her wildest fantasies, she couldn’t have imagined standing here today, blissful and free.

She’d built impenetrable walls around her heart to protect herself from further pain.

But then, she hadn’t anticipated Jinx.

He’d been the unyielding force that managed to blow through her defenses. He called her Prickles, but his patience, kindness, humor, and bold personality plucked every spiny thorn she possessed, revealing her soft core. She opened up to him in a way that initially terrified her but became vital to her existence.

Jinx was more than the missing portion of her heart. He was the final piece of her freedom. The freedom to be herself, to love and be loved.

He was her soul.

She inhaled a final hit of the sea air, then turned around and started for their blanket. As she made her way there, a wolf whistle rang out.

“Yeah, baby, strut your stuff.”

Rolling her eyes, Harper swayed her hips and sashayed like she owned a catwalk.

Her friends cheered.

Jinx yelled out, “That’s it. Work it, baby.”

This was another gift he’d given her—the ability to be playful and let her hair down and be silly. It was the most incredible feeling, and she embraced it as she posed.

“Hell yeah, that’s my sexy lady.” Jinx hopped up from the blanket and ran toward her. The man was hot in his swim trunks with all that tattooed skin on display. There wasn’t a single woman who walked by who didn’t cast her appreciative gaze in his direction. But he never returned it, making Harper feel like she lived on top of a mountain.

“Let’s go get wet!”

Her eyes widened. “What? No. I’m not ready to go in.”

“What do you mean? You’re at the damn beach. We’re getting wet.”

She held her hands out to ward him off as she backed up. “No, Jinx. Not yet. Let’s have a snack first.”

His grin grew impish. “Snack? You know you can’t swim for forty-five minutes after eating.” The closer he got, the quicker he moved.


She picked up speed, shuffling back as she laughed.

All of a sudden, he attacked like a linebacker going for the tackle. He crouched and launched forward, tossing Harper over his shoulder before she had any idea what was happening.

“Jinx,” she shouted, laughing.

“We’re going in.” He ran toward the water as though holding a stuffed animal instead of a fully grown woman, bobbing and weaving around other beachgoers.

“Woohoo,” Liv yelled. “You know you love it, Harp.”

She laughed so hard it was nearly impossible to breathe. Water splashed up as Jinx ran into the surf. “Oh my God, don’t dunk me!”

“What? I didn’t hear you?” He flipped her off his shoulder and dropped her ass first into the water. She sputtered and sank like a stone. When she popped up a second later, Jinx had his back to her and his arms raised. “All hail the king!”