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Bad For Me(10)

By:Codi Gary

“Hiking. I thought I was the only one who used this trail.”

“No, I come down here often.”

“Me too. I was trying to get down to the river, but I need to clear out the path.” Everett took his pack off and began to reach in for an extra bottle of water. “Want a water?”

“Thanks, I’m covered.” She held up the bottle already in her hand before popping it open to drink.

Everett’s cock hardened without warning as he watched her place the mouth of the water bottle to her lips, the muscles of her throat working as she drank. Droplets of water rolled down her chin, and when she finished drinking, she held the bottle against her forehead and neck. Suddenly, he wanted to be the one trailing the bottle over her skin.

The erotic scene playing out in his head made his erection worse, and Everett shifted his pack in front of him. What the hell was wrong with him?

“So why did you want to go down to the river?” she asked.

“There’s this place I like to go and relax. It’s on a huge, flat rock overlooking the Snake River. It’s just been one of those days, you know?”

“I’m having one of those days too,” she said.

“I’m sorry. I hope my assault on your paper didn’t affect it.” He watched her lips twitch and hope flared inside him. That was pretty damn close to a smile.

“No, and thank you again for the replacement. Most people wouldn’t have bothered.”

“Maybe not, but it was my pleasure,” he said.

“What’s with the piece?” She waved her water bottle toward his thigh where his Glock was holstered.

“It’s just in case I run into a bear or cougar. I don’t need any more scars jacking up my pretty face.”

“I see. I’m actually a little surprised to see you again today. We’ve lived in the same place for five years and never crossed paths before.”

“Maybe it’s fate.”

She didn’t look amused; she looked downright suspicious. “I don’t believe in fate.”

“Well, I don’t have any other way to explain it. I’ve been using this trail since I was a kid, and aside from the good-weather months, I hardly bump into anyone out here.”

He hadn’t meant to come off as defensive, but he got the feeling she was accusing him of something, and he didn’t like it.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have implied anything. I usually run earlier, but I had somewhere to be today, and . . . well, I’m sorry.”

Everett let it go but couldn’t ignore the questions that Callie’s suspicion raised about her and her past.

“Well, we’re going to keep going,” Callie said, putting one of her ear buds back in.

“Be careful out here, especially at dusk.”

“That’s sweet, but I’ll be fine.”

Everett started to open his mouth to argue but changed his mind. “Have a nice day.”

She paused, staring at him strangely before pushing in her other bud. “You too.”

As he watched her run off, the dog loping beside her, Everett hoped fate would throw them together again soon. One thing was for sure: Callie Jacobsen was a mystery he wanted to solve.

Chapter Three

CALLIE WAS IN the dark, a blaring alarm screaming around her. The only thing louder than the noise was the sound of her heart pounding. She reached along the wall, trying to find the deactivate button, anything to quiet the sounds.

Blinding pain sliced through her back, and she fell to the floor. Writhing, she turned to look up at her assailant, knowing who it was before she even saw his face.


His face was twisted into a terrifying mask of hatred, and she tried to move, to pull herself across the floor and away from the glittering knife in his hand, but she was paralyzed.

The knife swung down toward her, and she screamed . . .

Callie woke up sobbing, the soft, wet brush of Ratchet’s tongue on her face pulling her out of the nightmare. With shaking hands, she wrapped her arms around her dog and buried her nose in his fur. She breathed in the calming lavender-and-vanilla baby shampoo she used for his baths, and slowly, her trembling subsided. She flipped off the alarm clock on the nightstand when she realized it was still going, breathing a sigh of relief when all was quiet except for the sound of her heartbeat and Ratchet’s panting.

God, it had been months since she’d dreamed about Tristan. Not since the last letter. It didn’t make sense.

Climbing out of bed on unsteady limbs, she made her way to the bathroom and splashed water over her face. The cold was jarring but just what she needed to pull her completely out of her terror.

Ratchet sat next to her, leaning his body against her leg as if to reassure her. I’m here. You have nothing to fear. It was amazing how he could read exactly what she needed.