Read an excerpt of Tangled,
by Kate Douglas
A prequel to the INTIMATE RELATIONS series from St. Martin's Press
Now available as a single title, ebook novella
See Excerpt Below
Originally released in the HOT ALPHAS anthology
Tales of romantic suspense from
St. Martin's Press
Featuring stories by:
HOT ALPHAS NOW AVAILABLE IN MASS MARKET PAPERBACK
"This collection of four short stories wastes no time in getting hot and sexy. Hot Alphas is a great partnership of talented authors who complement each other perfectly. Each story leaves readers content and satisfied, much like the characters themselves!"
Reviewed by Terri Dukes for RT Book Reviews
I was not disappointed!...Tangled is last, but definitely not least. I don’t think I could have loved Nate any harder...Each story complimented the last and I tore through these with delight. LOVED!
Reviewed by Obsessed with MyShelf reviews
I was first introduced to Nate and Cassie in Intimate from the Intimate Relations series...The author does a great job in this short story of creating fully developed characters that are both exciting and interesting.
_ Reviewed by Teri Lloyd for Sportochick's Musings
_ Reviewed by Teri Lloyd for Sportochick's Musings
"Tangled- Win! ...Grab a glass; you will savor the romance and be surprised by hints of mystery and suspense."
Reviewed for I Smell Sheep
Reviewed for I Smell Sheep
RATING: 4/5 Douglas writes the best steamy goodness and totally pulled through on some hot lovin', an awesome story...It was sweet and sexy and a great way to end the anthology.
Reviewed by Herding Cats and Burning Soup
Reviewed by Herding Cats and Burning Soup
“Well, shit.” Nate Dunagan stood on the wrong side of the locked gate currently barring him from reporting to his new job at the Tangled Vines Dry Creek Valley vineyard, and honestly didn’t know whether to laugh, cut loose with a primal scream, or just keep cussing. He really should have expected this, considering the day he’d had. After a ten hour drive from Paso Robles that should have taken less than five—thanks to a grid-locked San Francisco Bay Area—a call from Marcus Reed, his new boss, telling Nate he’d be unable to meet him tonight as planned, and a dead cell phone, the locked gate was totally apropos.
Daylight was fading fast and the charger for the dead phone was stuck somewhere in one of the boxes with all his belongings in the back of the Silverado. According to his new boss, the winemaker would let him in. All he had to do was give her a call.
“Crap.” Nate let out a frustrated breath, glanced at the dead phone in his hand and then stared up the driveway to a nice looking farmhouse at the end. The farmhouse was dark, but there was a light in a small cottage nearby, and a brighter light on the top floor of a fairly large barn set a couple of hundred yards north of the cottage.
That was probably his apartment. The one he couldn’t get to. Marcus Reed had said it was the second floor of a remodeled dairy barn.
Nate glanced at the truck and muttered another curse. He’d stopped in the little town of Healdsburg to pick up a pizza and a couple of cold beers before heading up the valley. By now, the pizza was probably cold and the beer warm. He glanced toward the lighted cottage, back at the cab of the truck and figured, desperate times and all that...
After he locked his truck and stuck the keys in his pocket, Nate climbed over the gate. Certainly not the way he’d planned on showing up for the new job. There’d damned well better be someone here who could let him in, or he’d be spending a long night in the truck with cold pizza and two warm beers for company. Still, as he trudged down the gravel drive toward the cottage, he had a feeling it was asking for a little too much, to think something might go right today.
Cassie fumbled for the cell phone that had somehow worked its way to the very bottom of her tote bag, dragged it out and checked caller ID. Staring at the screen through two more bars of Proud Mary, she thought seriously about sticking the phone back in her bag.
Of course, that wouldn’t work. Not at all. “Hello.”
“Marc Reed here. Has the new vineyard manager arrived? Nathan Dunagan. I was supposed to meet him at the ranch, let him into the apartment over the barn, that sort of thing, but I got tied up in a meeting. He should be there by now, but he’s not answering his phone. Have you seen him?” Without giving her time to answer, he added, “Make sure he has keys, show him where everything is. Get him settled. Tell him I’ll be there in the morning. Early.”
“Yes, Sir.” She imagined a salute. Again, probably not appropriate.
“I gave Nate your cell number. He’ll call when he gets to the gate so you can unlock it.”
“I’ll let him in.”
“Good.” The line went dead.
She stared at her phone. Jackass.
Shoving the phone in her pocket and shoving the brand new absentee owner out of her mind, Cassie stared out the window. Damn she was going to miss this place. The cottage was okay, but nothing like this, her mom’s kitchen with all the windows across the back and the breathtaking view of vineyard and redwood covered hills.
This was her favorite time of day, when the sun slipped behind the trees.
Her favorite place in the whole world.
It should have been hers. Damn it all. It really should have been hers.
The perfect view wavered. Angry, she swept her hand across her eyes. She wasn’t going to cry.. It was too late for tears, for what ifs...for wishing she’d known before it was too late.
“Dad, I’m so glad you don’t realize what you did. But damn....”
She took one last swipe across the spotless granite counter, folded the plain, white cotton towel over the edge of the sink, and walked out the back door of the only home she’d lived in for all her twenty-eight years.
Locking the door behind her, she walked across the yard without looking back. The guest cottage lay just beyond a tangled hedge of old roses, their stems unpruned for the past two years as her father slowly descended into the dementia that stole more of him each day.
When Marcus Reed and all his startup billions bought Tangled Vines before the bank took it, she’d seen his purchase as both a blessing and a curse. He’d saved them from bankruptcy and paid enough that she could afford the assisted living facility her father’s failing health demanded. Plus, Marcus had offered Cassie a decent job when he’d insisted that she and her winemaking skills be included in the deal.
As if she had a choice. She’d wanted to hate the man for buying the vineyard and small winery for a fraction of its worth, but he’d continued to surprise her. So far, he remained an owner in name only, and things had essentially stayed just the way they’d been when her father was still healthy and running the place with Cassie in charge.
She was still in charge to a certain extent, but she was no longer one of the owners, and no longer living in what used to be her home. Marcus Reed wanted the main house for his own occasional use and the apartment over the barn for the new vineyard manager. He’d offered Cassie the small cottage, the original house her mom and dad had lived in before Cassie was born. The catch was Cassie’s promise to stay on as winemaker for at least the next five years.
Five years? Sounded like forever, but it wasn’t as if she had anywhere else to go.
She’d aired the cottage out and moved some of her belongings in this past week. The rest, including most of the furniture remained in the main house. The new owner had said she could leave what she wanted and they’d deal with everything later. She appreciated that. She really couldn’t deal with another thing. Not now.
Except now it appeared she had to deal with the vineyard manager. Her original plan—opening a bottle of their best zinfandel wine and drinking it all by herself—was going to have to wait.
“Excuse me. Are...”
“What tha...?” Cassie bit off a scream and spun around, almost tripping over her feet. A strange man stood just a dozen feet away; she knew the gate was locked and no one should be anywhere near, so...
“I’m sorry.” He took a quick step back, held up both hands, and smiled.
He didn’t look dangerous when he smiled. Not that he’d looked dangerous before. Actually, he looked pretty impressive. Lean and rumpled in faded jeans and wrinkled camp shirt, but still dark and sexy and way too much man for her comfort level.
Especially on this side of her locked gate.
“I’m sorry I startled you,” he said, answering what she was opening her mouth to ask. “I’m Nate Dunagan. Marcus Reed hired me. You are Cassie Phillips, aren’t you?”
She let out a soft breath. Relieved, and more than a little interested. “I am.” Smiling, she added, “I thought you were going to call.” She glanced about, looking for his vehicle, except she was certain Lupe had locked the front gate. The hired hand never forgot things like that. “How’d you get here?”
He smiled again, but she thought it looked a bit strained. “I drove, but your gate’s locked. I would have called, but the battery on my phone’s dead, and I would have arrived a lot earlier, except I’ve had the trip from hell trying to get here. Would you mind unlocking the gate so I can get my truck in?”
“C’mon, Nate.” She laughed, somehow feeling lighter than she had all day. “Your day doesn’t sound any better than mine.”
She was damned easy on the eyes. Nate glanced at her, sitting beside him in the cab of the Silverado with the box of cold pizza in her lap. He pulled in beside the barn he’d spotted from the road, and took another, more thorough look. Cassie Phillips was beautiful, in an offbeat way, with long hair that wasn’t quite red curling past her shoulders; waves of curls that stopped just short of frizzy. He guessed the color was what his mom called strawberry blonde, but it fit her. So did the freckles across her nose and the blue eyes, the snug purple tank top, worn jeans, and work boots.
Talk about fit—those faded jeans fit her like a second skin.
She turned and gazed steadily at him for what felt like a really long time. Long enough to be pretty unnerving. Finally she sort of nodded at the box in her hands. “This pizza smells really good, I haven’t eaten since this morning, and I’ve had just about as crappy a day as you have. How about I help you unload your truck, show you where everything is, and then we take the pizza over to my house and reheat it.” She shrugged and then smiled.
That smile changed everything. “I’ll share my salad if you’ll share your pizza.”
He returned her steady gaze long enough for her to look a little unnerved. It seemed only fair. “Works for me,” he said. “C’mon. Show me where I’m going to be living for the foreseeable future.”
She unlocked the door into what looked like a sturdy old barn on the outside. Inside, it had obviously been upgraded to serve as a tasting room. Simple and attractive, but definitely not a place he wanted to live.
“This way.” She grabbed a couple of his bags, carrying them with the ease of someone used to heavy lifting. Impressed, Nate picked up a large box of miscellaneous stuff. Packing had never been his strong suit, but he followed her up a flight of stairs to a spacious second floor studio apartment. It was comfortably furnished with a small kitchenette and a spectacular view of the vineyards and old oaks. The sun was long gone and the sky already a deep, dark blue. He imagined it would be absolutely beautiful in the morning when the sun rose over the hills to the east.
Best of all, it had a king-sized bed that was freshly made up, clean towels folded in the bathroom, and a coffeepot and fresh coffee in a canister on the counter.
All the necessities.
The two of them had all his stuff unloaded after a couple more trips.
“Is that it?” Cassie had already picked up the pizza, so Nate grabbed the two beers he’d bought. They were definitely warm, but at this point he was so tired he really didn’t care.
Cassie led him to the small cottage instead of the big house. For some reason, he’d figured she lived in the house.
“No,” she said when he asked. “Mr. Reed wants it for when he’s here visiting, but I’ve got the cottage rent free. I hope that’s the same deal he gave you on the apartment.” She pushed the door open with her butt and he followed her into the small house.
“It is. He doesn’t seem to worry much about money, does he?”
“I’ve noticed.” She turned on the oven and stuck the pizza directly on the rack. “I’ve got cold beer in the refrigerator. Those are probably warm by now.”
“Thanks.” He opened the door on the refrigerator and sighed over an entire rack filled with bottled craft beers. Glancing over his shoulder, he shot her an appreciative grin. “This is impressive. I could fall in love right now.”
She laughed, a sound so joyful Nate stopped in the process of opening his beer to look at her. She stood there in front of the stove with a huge grin on her face.
“My dad always said the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. My mom would shake her head and say no, it was through the quality of beer she kept in the refrigerator. I always keep cold beer on hand for when I bring my father home for visits.”
He noticed she hadn’t mentioned another man.
She rummaged through a drawer and a cabinet and pulled out napkins and silverware, then grabbed paper plates out of another cabinet and set them on the bar separating the living area from the kitchen. Nate stayed out of her way while she mixed a big bowl of salad with what looked like homemade dressing and filled another paper plate of salad for each of them.
Last she took the hot pizza out of the oven and placed it on a wooden cutting board she’d set on the bar. Standing back, she studied the setting for a moment and sighed. “I’m beat. There are real dishes here somewhere, but I’m too tired to hunt for them.”
“It’s a lot fancier than I ever do. Smells wonderful.”
“Sit.” She reached for a bottle of wine sitting out on the counter, used a puller to get the cork out like she’d done it a million times—which, given her profession, she probably had—and poured herself a glass. Then she paused, grabbed another glass, and poured one for Nate.
“I’ve got my beer.”
She stared at the goblet in her hand. “Yeah, but this is my wine. I want you to know what those grapes you’re going to be babysitting are used for.”
One sip and Nate knew for certain he’d made the right decision. He held the glass up to eye level and noted the deep red color of the wine, the way light barely made it through the heavy red. “This is amazing.”
She tipped her head, accepting his compliment. “Thank you. I took over as Dad’s winemaker when I graduated from Davis. I’d helped him from the time I was a kid, but he’d basically done it himself for over twenty years. He was good. I think my wines are even better.”
“Did he retire?” He took a bite of pizza.
She didn’t look at him. Stared, instead, toward the dark window. “Dad has Alzheimer’s. It was so subtle at first that I didn’t really notice, but before long it was obvious he was changing. It’s horrible, really. Steady and inexorable, a truly grim march toward death.”
“I’m sorry.” He set his pizza back on the plate. “He can’t be very old. What are you, twenty-five or so?”
She laughed. “You’re on the right side of close. I’m twenty-eight, but lately I’ve felt years older. Dad’s eighty-five. He married late, after he retired from government service, and bought the land in 1984. It was originally a dairy but the cows were long gone and there were some grapes planted. Overall, it was pretty run down when he took over.”
Shaking her head, she chuckled softly. “He said he’d always loved a challenge, that this was one of his biggest. He met my mom shortly after he moved in. He’d already fixed up this cottage, and even though there were over twenty years between them, they fell in love. They got married, and had finished building the house next door by the time I came along a couple years later.”
Cassie shrugged and glanced away for a brief moment. Then she focused on Nate. “Mom died of breast cancer when I was fourteen. That left my dad with a teenaged girl to raise on his own.” She shot him a sly little smile. “That’s how I learned wine making. He figured keeping me busy in the cellar was better than wondering where I was all the time. I thought it was cool because I got to taste the wine.”
“It’s got to be tough, watching him now.” His grandfather’s slow decline had been painful beyond belief.
“It is. He had a damned good life, but it’s so wrong, watching time steal from him when no one else could ever get the upper hand. What makes it so hard is that he’s well aware he’s losing ground. He was an army colonel, a decorated veteran who spent years in the Secret Service.” She took a slow sip of her wine.
Nate watched the subtle ripple along her throat as she swallowed, the way her eyes slowly closed as she savored the taste. But was she savoring, or grieving what she’d lost? Not only her parents, but the home and vineyard where she’d been raised, the winery with an amazing reputation that she’d helped build. All now belonging to someone else.
“Yeah,” she said. She turned and looked at him. Her eyes glistened, but the tears didn’t spill. “Time and age are proving there are some battles even the best men can’t win.”
“Is that why you sold to Marcus Reed? Because of your dad’s failing health.”
“That’s the really sad part. The plan all along was for the winery to come to me, but Dad was handling the books while the dementia was beginning to take hold. He made some bad business decisions. The place was paid for, but he borrowed against the vineyard a couple of years ago to buy more land without telling me. He wanted a wine cave that’s across the road. It was dug into the hillside years ago, back before prohibition. We couldn’t afford the payments on the new mortgage, but I didn’t find out until we were so far in arrears there was no digging our way out. This is a small winery—our biggest year we did just under two thousand cases—and he paid top dollar for the cave and surrounding vineyard. The good thing is, he got some beautiful old zinfandel vines that still produce really well. The bad thing is, we couldn’t pay the bills. We were getting ready to declare bankruptcy when Marcus Reed stepped in with enough cash to pay off the mortgage and pay for Dad’s care.”
She swiped at one errant tear that had obviously managed to slip free. Nate merely nodded. “But you’re still here?”
“Yeah.” She smiled in a sad sort of agreement. “I’m still here. I’m part of the deal. We were making award winning wines during the whole mess, and I guess that’s what Mr. Reed wanted. The awards, the accolades. In that respect, we came out okay. I still have a roof over my head, and dad’s taken care of. I have to concentrate on what’s important. What really matters.”
Obviously it was family that mattered. Nate’s respect for Cassie continued to grow.
The conversation flowed as smoothly as the wine they drank. He told her about his childhood in upstate New York, how he’d wanted to be a farmer since he was just a kid growing up on his grandparents’ farm. At first it was the idea of eating the fruits and vegetables he’d helped grow, the eggs he’d gathered, the milk he’d squeezed out of one of the two cows his grandfather kept, he liked working with his hands. When he got older, he’d discovered good wine, especially the different varietals. Curious about the process, he’d learned about wine making, which was all about the grapes, and that took him full circle, right back to the farm, to the whole concept of growing grapes to make premium wines. They talked about their classes in viticulture—his at Cornell, Cassie’s at UC Davis—and Nate’s decision to find work with a smaller winery, just like Tangled Vines.
He wanted to do it all: from planting the rootstock and nurturing the new vines, to pruning and trellising and every step of the process, right down to supervising the picking and the delivery of perfect fruit.
His goal from the time he’d graduated from college had been the smaller, hands-on vineyards, but all his experience to date had been with a big factory sized operation, since they had been the only one hiring. Still he kept wanting that same intimate experience he’d gotten in college, the chance to work with the vines, with the soil. To try new things, get his hands dirty, and get to know every square inch of the vineyard.
Marcus Reed had offered him the job of a lifetime, and it was such a rush to see the same excitement in Cass, the same dedication to the process from grape to wine that Nate felt.
Cassie told him about growing up on a small vineyard, about the responsibility that almost overwhelmed her during her mother’s illness, what it had been like watching her dad fail and the struggle to keep everything going entirely alone.
But she’d done it, and she’d done a good job. Her life on the vineyard, working with the wines was all she’d ever known. She loved everything about wine making, the thrill of the harvest and the rich aroma of fermenting grapes that hung over the valley during crush, the process of combining the various barrels to find the perfect blend. If not for her father’s financial problems, she’d still be living in the big house, still making her own award winning wines.
“I don’t get it,” Nate said. He took another swallow of Cassie’s amazing wine. He’d passed on more of the craft beers for the finest old vine zinfandel he’d ever tasted, but one part of the equation eluded him. “Why did Marcus Reed hire me? If you’re doing so well with the wines and the vineyard, where do I fit in?”
She took a sip of her wine and grinned at him. “Trust me. You’ll fit. Dad was the vineyard manager for years, and the young kid who helped him, Lupe Medino, started right out of high school. We have a couple of guys who come in on a seasonal basis when they’re needed. They’ve been thinning out suckers this past week, but the rows still need to be disked to knock down the weeds. Lupe took over managing the vineyard this past year when it was obvious Dad couldn’t do it. He’s really good. He’s smart and he works hard, but he goes to the junior college and won’t have time to do the job the way he has in the past. Plus, he’s aiming for a four year school to finish out his viticulture degree. You’ll have him to help you when he’s available, but he won’t have time to run the vineyard.”
“Makes sense. What do you know about the new owner? He told me he wants to change the name from Tangled Vines to Intimate, something about a line of some kind of jewelry he’s planning to come out with next year.”
Cassie merely shrugged, though it was obvious to Nate she wasn’t happy about the name change. “He’s the owner. He can do what he wants.” She glanced away and then stared at the empty pizza box and laughed. “Wow, I sure hope you ate most of that.”
She was really stunning when she laughed. Nate went to take another sip of his wine, realized the glass was empty and reached for the bottle. “I told you I was hungry.” He picked up the empty bottle and held it to the light. “Must have been thirsty, too. Was this full when we started?”
This time she raised her eyes to the ceiling as if looking for strength...or maybe it was forgiveness. “That bottle was full, and so was this one.” She leaned over and picked up an empty off the floor. “It’s almost eleven. We’ve been eating, drinking, and chatting for almost four hours.”
He’d been exhausted when he arrived this evening, but now he felt energized— he didn’t want what had been an absolutely perfect evening to end. He didn’t want to overstay his welcome, either, so he stood and gathered up his paper plates and the empty wine glass. “I guess that’s my cue to let you get some rest. Thank you, Cassie. This was a much nicer welcome than I expected. I’m really looking forward to working with you.”
He tossed the plates and set the glass in the sink. When he turned, Cassie was standing beside the counter with her plates in hand, staring at him again in that unnerving way she had. She made Nate feel as if she looked beneath his skin.
“I’ve enjoyed myself, too,” she said. “Thanks for sharing your pizza.” She tossed the paper plates in the trash and then stuck her glass and silverware next to Nate’s in the sink.
When she turned, they were mere inches apart. Her lips parted in surprise and he should have stepped back, given her room. But whatever had been simmering between them all evening slowly, steadily—as if he watched one of those stupid slow-motion explosions in a movie—exploded.
He cupped the back of her head with his palm and looked into her eyes. She didn’t move, but this time when she looked at him, there was nothing at all unnerving in her stare. He saw heat and desire, a need every bit as powerful as his own. As he slowly dipped his head to take her mouth, he gave her every opportunity to pull away.
She didn’t. One hand rested on his shoulder, the other softly caressed the back of his neck. Just before he kissed her, she sighed. It was the smallest hint of surrender.
It was all Nate needed.
She tasted of pizza and wine. The lush flavor of grapes was heady enough on its own, but combine that with the taste of Cassie Phillips and Nate freely admitted he didn’t have a prayer of stepping away.
This was probably one of the stupidest things she’d ever done. She had no time for a man in her life, not now, but damn this guy could kiss. He was tall and lean, at least six two or three, and movie-star gorgeous. When she first saw him, she’d thought of Bradly Cooper with his thick, dark hair and beautiful blue eyes, but beyond the way he looked, he was funny, smart and compassionate. He’d kept her laughing most of the evening with his dry sense of humor, and the time had flown. She hadn’t sat and just talked with a man for almost three years.
She’d never spent time talking with a man like Nate Dunagan.
The rambling conversations with her father didn’t count, and she was too damned busy trying to hold things together to spend any time in town where she might actually meet someone single and interesting. But Nate talked passionately about his work, about his hopes for the future, about what he wanted to do here at Tangled Vines.
They agreed on so much it was almost unsettling.
When he finally broke the kiss and rested his chin on top of her head, they were both breathing hard. She wanted him. The need was so primal, so visceral, it left her shaken, but that kiss hadn’t been enough. Not nearly enough.
He held her face between his palms and kissed her again, lightly. “Damn. When I first saw you, I thought you were beautiful, but I never expected to like you as much as I do. Or want you as badly as I do.” He laughed. “But I do, Cassie. Which means I’d better leave before I use any arguments I can think of short of brute force to haul you off to bed.”
She laughed and buried her face against his chest. He felt so wonderfully solid. Strong enough to lift some of the overwhelming pressure of trying to keep Tangled Vines alive for the past couple of years while everything went to hell. “Nate, there hasn’t been a man in my bed for over three years. I probably wouldn’t remember what to do with you if I got you there.”
He chuckled and nuzzled the sensitive skin behind her ear. But he didn’t let her go. “I imagine it’s sort of like riding a bike.”
“Ya think?” She gazed up at him, head tilted, and realized their teasing had taken on a more intimate note. Was she ready for this? She was certainly attracted. Probably too attracted.
He kissed her again, and she found herself opening to him. Holding him close enough to feel the solid proof of his erection against her belly and the yearning, tugging pull deep in her womb. When the kiss ended by mutual consent, both of them were breathing hard. “Wow.” She licked her lips. “Maybe you’re right. It’s all coming back to me.”
“Me, too.” He kissed her again, quick and hard. “I don’t want to leave.”
“I don’t want you to go.” She unbuttoned the top button on his shirt, and then the second so she could run her fingers over the hard curves of his chest. “We’d need protection,” she said. “If I have any condoms, they’re out of date.” Then she raised her head and grinned at him. “And believe me, I am so sorry right now that I’m not prepared, because I’d really like for you to stay.”Chuckling, he reached for his hip pocket and pulled out his wallet. “Don’t give up hope. Not yet.” He dug through the notes and bills that filled the thing, and came up with one relatively new looking foil packet. “I’ve got enough for one shot, so we’ll have to make it good.”
She took it from him and cocked an eyebrow. “Just how good are you?”
He kissed her. “I’ll let you be the judge of that.”
She felt so comfortable with him, as if they’d known each other for years rather than hours, but at the same time the thrill of someone new, someone smart and funny and drop dead gorgeous, was its own aphrodisiac.
At least that’s what her body was telling her.
She ran her hand over his hair. It was thick and so dark it was almost black, surprisingly soft, like silk beneath her fingers. “I do want you to stay,” she said. “It’s probably the wine talking and I’ll hate myself in the morning, but tonight has been the most fun I’ve had in so long I can’t remember as good a time. I’m not ready for it to end.”
He kissed her. Briefly, sweetly. “I’ll do my best to keep you from hating yourself.” He winked. “Or hating me, either.”
A flash of caution had Cassie adding, “No commitments, no promises. Just tonight, okay? We have to work together starting tomorrow.”
He ran his fingertip along the bridge of her nose and touched her lips. “No promises, no commitments. But I can tell you already, tonight is going to be amazing.” Before she had time to react, he picked her up, holding her in his arms as if she were just a child. The room spun, but she held on tightly to Nate—and the condom.
And pointed him toward the bedroom.
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