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By:Amanda Lance

“Maybe you can deal with ’em, but I can’t. I’d rather not have you and know you’re alive than not have either.”

Addie backed off again and glared at me. Did she have any clue what she was doing to me? Was she doing in on purpose?

“There are not many choices here, Charlie. You can leave, not tell me where you’re going, but I’m just going to come after you. I’ll apply for a passport, go to the port of Singapore—”

“You wouldn’t dare—”

“Ben’s house is somewhere in Healdsburg, California. If you aren’t there and Elise and the guys don’t tell me where you are, I’ll just wait there until you show up. Or if I get impatient, maybe I’ll just start exploring some ports on my own.”

“You ain’t bein’ funny.” I almost growled at her.

Stepping forward, I waited to touch her again ’til she gave me a sign it was okay. But with her arms crossed and her eyes all fierce I didn’t know if that would happen again. “I’m not trying to be. You tried to get rid of me once, Charlie. It won’t work a second time.”

I took her by the shoulders, gentle this time, though. If I could shake some sense into her, it might break me, but at least I’d know she’d stay alive and safe.

“Stop bein’ so damn stubborn. You’re gonna ruin your life.”

“Weren’t you the one who said all or nothing?” She smiled. “Well, I want all or nothing, Charlie. And you’re all I want.”

I leaned against her and sighed. Maybe she could sense that I didn’t really want her to leave and that was what was making her hold on so tight. I was sabotaging my lecture without really know it. I smiled a little so she couldn’t see. Addie knew it, though. She already knew me better than I did. “You’re too much for me.”

“Then accept your fate.”

“Just promise me you won’t do nothin’ stupid.”

“Promise me you’ll stick around.”

I tensed up. It really would be a cold day in hell before she let me get away with anything. “Damn it.”

“Adam Harpsten is still in charge of my case. He updates Dad constantly, and still seems to think you were involved somehow. The next time you guys steal something, I just have to look for an explosion within a few hundred miles—”

Pulling her tighter, I couldn’t help but smile a little. “This is extortion.”

“I prefer ‘happy shakedown.’”

I let myself smile all the way. “Nothin’ but trouble.”

She wiggled the beanie back on my head and planted a quick kiss on my cheek. “You know, I was just dreaming about you.”

“Oh, yeah?” I kissed her collarbone again. It was the only thing I could think to do so that I didn’t start laughin’.

“Yep.” She kissed my unemployment stamp and smile against me.

“What did you dream?”

“I dreamt that we lived happily ever after, of course.”

I pulled away just enough to get a better look at her face. Sure enough, she was completely serious.

“Sure.” I rolled my eyes at her.

“Just you wait and see, Charlie Hays.” She kissed me ’til we both couldn’t stand it no more. “Just you wait and see.”

And she was so damn convincing, I just knew she had to be right.