She’s brought two men to their knees and there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
I understand now. Cassie is love. She has too much inside of her for just one man. Thank God I’m lucky enough to be one of them.
There’s a buzzing somewhere in the tent and I realize the sound must be what woke me. Careful not to rouse Cassie or Sam, I sit up and hunt through my discarded clothes for my phone. When I recognize the number on the caller ID as the sheriff’s office, I pull on my jeans and leave the tent to answer.
“Sheriff,” I answer.
“Morning, Miles.” There’s a creaking of a chair. “Ran that name and birthdate through the system, focusing the search on Boston. Got a hit that might interest you.”
My stomach sinks. I almost don’t want to know the rest. Ever since I took the information from Sam’s résumé and relayed it to the sheriff, guilt has been slowly creeping up on me. Now? After what we both shared with Cassie? My suspicion almost feels like a betrayal. Still, I was put on this earth to protect my girl and I’m not taking any chances. That reminder bolsters me.
“That right?” I clear my throat and walk a little farther from the tent. “Tell me what you’ve got.”
“Samuel Bolton Dobbs, twenty-six—Bolton is a middle name, you see—born in Boston. Got a record longer than my arm. Got into a lot of scrapes as a boy and went downhill from there. Assault, robbery, weapons charges. The man’s bad news.” The sheriff falls silent and I can hear my heart rapping against my eardrums. “Served his time, but he’s wanted in Massachusetts for violating his parole. You want me to do something about this, Miles, or are you handling it yourself?”
Silently, I say a prayer, thanking God for that rural way of life. In this wild part of the country, men handle their own problems and the police only interfere if absolutely necessary. I don’t know what I’m going to do about Sam and his lies of omission yet, but at least I know the cops aren’t going to descend on the farm before I decide how to handle the situation.
“I’ve got it covered,” I say, a scratch in my voice. “Thanks, sheriff.”
I hang up the phone and turn, finding Sam watching me, just outside the tent.
“Sheriff, huh?” He absently scratches his bare chest, but his eyes are hard. “Something you want to talk about, Miles?”
“Matter of fact, there is.” I use my phone to gesture to the tent. “She deserved to know who she was getting in bed with.”
His throat flexes with a swallow. “I tried to tell her last night.”
“That ain’t good enough.”
Sam is silent for a long moment. “You’re not going to take her away from me.”
Is that what I want to do?
Christ, I don’t even know. This connection we’ve fostered between the three of us feels right, but how is that possible when Sam is a criminal? Not in a million years would I let a man like him near Cassie, yet standing here looking at Sam, I still don’t see an inmate. I see the only other man that held Cassie the way she deserves. Protectively. Coveting her, the way I do.
I’ll test him.
I’ll find out what’s below his surface, then figure out what to do. If he’s dangerous in any way, I can’t have him around Cassie.
“And if I try to take her away from you?” I drawl.
Slowly, his chest starts to heave, fingers stretching and curling to fists at his sides. “Don’t back me into a corner. I’ve been fighting my way out of them my whole life. And this time I actually have something to fight for.”
He’s talking about Cassie.
I can see in Sam’s eyes that he’s fallen in love with her, too—and I don’t know if I’m capable of robbing a man of the most precious gift imaginable. Her. If someone tried to take Cassie away from me, I would fight like a fucking animal to keep her. But Sam has a violent past and if I’d only met him on paper, I would die before letting him within a hundred yards of Cassie.
A muscle jumps in Sam’s cheek. “Well?”
Before I can answer, Cassie comes out of the tent wearing my T-shirt, the hem reaching past her knees. Fuck, she’s beautiful, all rosy and rumpled, her lips swollen from kissing two hungry males. She rubs at her blue eyes for a beat, before seeming to realize something is amiss.
“What’s wrong?” She squints into the morning sun. “Miles?”
I sigh, knowing I have no other choice but to tell her the truth. Any kind of secrecy on my part would make me unworthy of her. “Cassie…” I pinch the bridge of my nose. “There’s no easy way to say this. Sam is wanted in Massachusetts. He’s been in prison for robbery, assault—”