At Last (Lucky Harbor #5)

And good Lord, the way he looks at you is contributing to global warming

Chocolate is not a matter of life and death--it's more important than that.

Does he even see us?" she whispered.

As she spoke, the bear slowly tipped his big, furry head back, lazily studying Amy and Matt from his upside down perch.

Yeah, he saw them. Reacting instinctively, she turned and burrowed right into Matt. "If you laugh at me," she warned as his warm, strong arms closed around her. "I'll kill you."

He didn't laugh or mock her. For once, he was unsmiling, his jaw dark with stubble, eyes hidden behind his reflective Oakleys. "No worries, Tough Girl," he said, his warm, strong arms closing around her. "And anyway, I'm hard to kill.

Everything's better with chocolate.

From around the blind curve of the trail, the main appeared. He was tall, built, and armed and dangerous, though not to her physical well-being. Nope, nothing about the tough, sinewy, gorgeous forest ranger was a threat to her body.

But Matt Bowers was lethal to her peace of mind.

He looked her over, making her every nerve ending tingle with awareness, though his gaze was more inquisitive than sexual, as if making sure she was okay, though she had no idea why she wouldn't be.

Then he smiled, and oh, how her misbehaving nipples loved that predatory smile. If his intense, concerned once-over had done things to her, his smile just about undid her from the inside out.

-Amy

He slid her a look, and she held up her hand in a solemn vow, making him smile. "Were you a Girl Scout?" he asked.

"Not even a little bit," she said.

-Matt and Amy

He turned her ninety degrees. "To get back to the ranger station and your car, you want to go southwest," he said.

Right. She knew that, and she stalked off in the correct direction.

"Watch out for bears," Matt called after her.

"Yeah, okay," she muttered, "and I'll also keep an eye out for the Tooth Fairy."

"Three o'clock."

Amy craned her neck and froze. Oh sweet baby Jesus, there really was a bear at three o'clock. Enjoying the last of the sun, he was big, brown and shaggy, and big. He lay flat on his back, his huge paws in the air as he stretched, confident that he sat at the top of the food chain. "Holy shit," she whispered, every Discovery Channel bear mauling she'd ever seen flashing in her mind. She backed up a step, and then another, until she bumped into a brick wall and nearly screamed.

"Just a brown bear," said the brick wall that was Matt.

I can't believe you lied about chocolate," Mallory said. "Lying about chocolate is...sanctimonious. Do you remember all those bad girl lessons you gave me?"

Amy rubbed the spot between her eyes where a headache was starting. "You mean the lessons that landed you the sexy hunk you're currently sleeping with?"

"Well, yes. But my point is that maybe you need good girl lessons. And good girl lesson number one is never tease when it comes to chocolate."

-Amy and Mallory

Good girl lesson #2: When your BFF sends you a gorgeous guy, you call her and thank her. That's good manners. Good girl lesson #3: Stop scowling. You'll scare away the aforementioned gorgeous guy.

I'm not here to solve your problems. I'm here to support you in your own decisions. I'm not going to walk away, Amy. Not now, not when the going gets tough, not ever. I'm right here at your back."
"For how long?"
"For as long as you'll have me. I love you, Amy."
Staggered, she stared at him. "But you don't do love."
"I never said that. I said love hasn't worked out for me. But all it takes is the right one. You're the right one."
No one had ever said such a thing to her before, and it made her heart swell hard against her ribcage. "I love you, Matt. So much."
He smiled like she'd just given him the best gift he'd ever had. She settled against his good side, and they stared up at the star-laden sky. "I knew I'd find something on this journey," she said. "I wasn't sure what, but I knew it'd be something special.

Listen," she finally said. "I might've given you the wrong impression when I...bumped into you with the bear thing."

"Bumped into me?" He couldn't help it, he laughed. "You tried to crawl up my body."

"Which is my point," she said stiffly. "My sleep-out adventure isn't going to include crawling up anyone's body."

"Will it include sleeping?"

-Amy and Matt

Matt?"

"Yeah?"

A barely there sigh escaped her lips. "I really want to sleep with you, but..."

"Damn," he said. "That was a great sentence right up to the 'but'."

-Amy and Matt

Matt?"
"Yeah?"
"You okay?"
"Working on it." His voice sounded unusually tight.
"I thought you said you did this a lot."

"Yeah. I do. But apparently not with anyone I'm wildly attracted to."

This caused certain reactions in her body that were best not experienced in mixed company. "It's just panties," she finally whispered.

"And they're really great panties," Matt agreed. "But it's not the panties, Amy. It's you.

Matt hit the floor with a wheeze, and then it was Ty's turn to be smug. "Gotcha."

Hell, no. They'd been at it for thirty minutes, and Matt was exhausted to the bone, but the last one down had to buy breakfast. Kicking out, he knocked Ty's feet from beneath him. Then it was Ty's turn to land with a satisfying thud.

"Jesus," Josh muttered from the weight bench.

Josh was also a good friend, but he didn't know much about having fun. He was a doctor, which left his taste for occasional recreational violence greatly diminished.

"You keep going at each other like that," Josh said, "and you'll end up in my ER."

Breathless, Matt rolled to his back. "Sorry, I only play doctor with the ladies.

One of life’s little mysteries is how a two-pound box of chocolate can make a person gain five pounds. M

She found herself smiling. "Was the big, bad forest ranger scared?"

"I stared a fire," he said instead of answering, and the typical guy avoidance of admitting fear made her smile in the dark. "But even after I had a roaring fire, I still felt watched."

"What did you do?"

His hand was still gliding up and down her back, absently soothing, not-so-absently arousing her further. "I got up and searched the perimeter," he said. "Often. I finally fell asleep holding my gun, and at first light was startled awake by a curious teenage bear."

"Oh my God," she said on a horrified laugh. "What happened?"

Amusement came into his voice. "I shot the shit out of a tree and scared the hell out of us both. I fell backward off the log I'd fallen asleep on, and the bear did the same. Then we both scrambled to our feet, and he went running off to his mama. If my mama had been anywhere within two thousand miles, I'd have gone running off to her just the same as the bear."

-Matt on his first night out as a ranger

The calories in chocolate don't count because chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, and everyone knows that beans are good for you.

The calories in chocolate don’t count because chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, and everyone knows that beans are good for you.

You're not going to be bear bait," he promised, turning her so that she was behind him. "Not today anyway."

She grabbed a fistful of the back of his uniform shirt and pressed up against his back. "How do you know?"

"Well, you're behind me, for one thing. So if anyone's going to be bear bait, it'll be me. And brown bears are extremely passive. If we take a step toward him, he'll take off."

She let go of him, presumably so he could do just that, even giving him a little nudge that was actually more like a push. With a laugh, Matt obliged and stepped toward the bear, waving his arms. With a look of reproof, the bear lumbered to his feet and vanished into the bush.