One Hot Holiday

November 19, 2019

She’s running for her life. He’s the safe haven she never expected to find. The holiday season is about to get HOT.

Hiding out for the holiday season in the heart of the South? Not something that Haley Quick ever expected to have on her to-do list but then…she never expected her ex to want her dead, either. Turns out, life is full of surprises. Time to deal. Haley has ditched New York for a crazy little dot on the map known as Point Hope, Alabama. It’s a town gone extra crazy for the holidays, and Haley is sticking out like a sore thumb with her very much Grinch-self.

But enter sexy sheriff Spencer Lane…Tall, muscled, and made with an extra dose of sex appeal, he is exactly the kind of man that Haley should be avoiding. He’s charming, he looks way too good in a Santa hat, and, oh, yes, he’s her new landlord. The hits just keep coming. She can’t afford to let Spencer learn all of her secrets, a tough job since she is living with the man. No sex, though. It’s purely a business relationship. Except…the holidays in the South sure do get HOT. Or maybe that’s just sexy Spencer. Usually, Haley falls for the bad guy. It’s the whole reason she’s running for her life. She can’t help but wonder…What would it be like to fall for a man like Spencer?

He just got his Christmas wish.

Sheriff Spencer Lane can’t believe his luck. The most beautiful, fascinating woman he’s ever seen has just dropped into his life like a gift from, well, the big guy in red. Only the problem is that Haley seems to think Spencer is some by-the-book, nice guy. Probably because of the badge. And if she wants him to be the hero, that’s a role that he’s happy to play for her. But the truth is, Spencer has plenty of darkness inside, too. An ex Navy SEAL, he knows how to get sh—um, stuff done. He also knows how to be very, very naughty.

When danger threatens his Haley, all bets are off. No one is going to hurt her. No one is going to threaten her. Not in his town. Not on his watch. The nice guy will show Haley just how bad he can be.

Fake snow, a parade of wild elves, and a stalker ex don’t make for the merriest of times, but in Point Hope, anything can happen—and it usually does. Ready for a steamy story that will get you in the ho-ho-ho spirit? Settle back, curl up with Spencer, and have yourself a jolly old time.

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Chapter One

The gorgeous blonde in the tight jeans, sexy boots, and long, brown coat was about to get her sweet ass run over by a group of elves.

She hauled a suitcase behind her, dragging the massive beast on its clunking wheels as she tried to cross the road. She didn’t seem aware of the approaching elves, even though they were ringing their bells like maniacs and singing Christmas carols at the top of their very healthy lungs. The elves careened down the street on their decorated bikes. Bikes covered in merry green and red ribbons, some even sporting twinkling holiday lights. Seriously, it should have been hard to miss them.

The blonde missed them.

She plodded along, her head down, her curly hair sliding over her face, and Sheriff Spencer Lane knew that he had to act. After all, his job was to serve and protect.

The elves sang out, “Have a holly, jolly Christmas—”

Just as Spencer made his move. He lunged into the street, raced toward the woman, and locked an arm around her waist. She screamed when he touched her, and he was pretty sure a delicate fist drove at him, but he grabbed her and her luggage, and he rushed out of the line of fire right before the elves came barreling by on their bikes…one after the other after the other…

“Let me go!”

He immediately did. The elves kept flying past them. And singing. Their voices would haunt his dreams. No, not dreams. Nightmares. Definitely his nightmares.

“Listen, buddy, what in the hell are you—” She stopped. Her gaze was locked on his chest. Or rather, on the shiny star that was clipped to his breast pocket. She stared at the star and a tremble shook her body.

“Sorry, ma’am,” Spencer told her, keeping his voice mild. “But you were about to get mowed down by the elves, and with them singing so…” Badly, so very badly. God, would some singing lessons kill them? “Ah, loudly, I didn’t think you’d hear a warning.” He inclined his head toward her, but she didn’t see the movement. She was still too busy staring at his star. So he lifted a hand and brushed it over the star. A casual flick of his fingers to get her attention. “Just wanted to make sure you didn’t get hurt.”

As if the movement of his hand had broken some kind of spell, her gaze snapped up to his. She blinked, then her lips—luscious, red lips—parted.

But she didn’t speak. She just stared.

Huh. Okay. Well, he decided to do some staring, too. And, damn, but Spencer liked the view he had. Sexy. Beautiful. Her face was a delicate oval. Her nose was a cute friggin’ button. Her lips—Jesus, no way he’d be forgetting that sensual mouth anytime soon—were full and bow-shaped. Big, hoop earrings hung from her cute little lobes, and a red scarf slid down her body. A body that he’d already noticed was in very fine form.

He cleared his throat. Get your shit together, man. “Are you…visiting?” Spencer finally asked. Be visiting. Be visiting and be single.

She licked her lower lip.

Fuck me. He cleared his throat and tried to ignore the growing hard-on he had for her. The sheriff was supposed to be professional, dammit. He did not start drooling every time he saw a pretty woman. “Ah, do you need any assistance?”

She backed up. Not just one step—but like five fast steps. The elves were still racing behind her—most of the town was dressed for the practice run of the holiday parade—so he had to grab his mystery lady again before she got hit.

His hands closed around her shoulders, and he pulled her back against him. “Be careful.” His voice had lowered. “I don’t want you hurt.”

Her scent wrapped around him. She smelled like raspberries and cream. Sweet. Delectable.

“You’re…a cop.”

Oh, yeah, there was a whole lot of tension in her voice.

Spencer let her go. He tried a smile for her. It was his…I’m harmless. Don’t be scared of me smile. It usually worked. “I’m the sheriff here.” He nodded. “Sheriff Spencer Lane, at your service.” He gave a little incline of his head—


He knew it when he saw it, and fear was suddenly stamped on her pretty face. Spencer didn’t like that, not one bit. Tension snaked through his body. “What’s wrong?”

At his question, the fear vanished. A smooth mask slipped over her face. “Why, nothing. Just a little jarred by the…” She looked over her shoulder and waved vaguely with one hand. “Elves?”

He wasn’t going to buy her act. Too late, he’d already seen her fear. Now he was focused, and his instincts were screaming at him. He wasn’t just some small-town cop. He’d been a SEAL, he’d been a private government operative, and he’d even been a bodyguard for the rich and famous during a very short stint in his life. He’d seen shit that would traumatize most folks. Hell, wasn’t that the reason he’d retired back home to his sleepy little town of Point Hope, Alabama? To get away from the madness for a while?

“Why are there elves on bicycles?” She tucked a curling lock of hair behind one ear. “Is that a normal thing here?”

Normal? Ha. Like that beast existed in this town. “There’s not a whole lot of normal in Point Hope. That’s a point of pride for us.”

Her eyes widened. Night had blossomed in the town, but there was plenty of light. Another Point Hope tradition—holiday lights were everywhere. Like…everywhere. Big, sweeping trees lined the streets and storefronts, and every single tree was decked out with small, white lights. The soft glow allowed Spencer to see that her eyes were the darkest, deepest shade of green imaginable.


“Normal is boring,” he added, his voice gruff. “Life is much more fun when you’re coloring outside of the lines.”

“I…” She looked away.

Something tells me there isn’t a single boring thing about you. “Didn’t catch your name,” he told her, trying to sound polite.

Her gaze jumped back to him. “I’m…Haley. Haley, ah, Quick.”

There was the faintest hesitation there. A hesitation that had his instincts blaring. Had the woman just given him a fake name? So not boring. He offered his hand to her. “Welcome to Point Hope, Mrs. Quick.”

“Oh, I’m not married.”

Excellent to know. He smiled.

Her fingers reached for his. Her touch was tentative, and her skin was insanely soft. His fingers curled around hers. Warmth surged through his whole body, a quick, electric jolt. She gave a little gasp and immediately yanked her hand back.

So she’d felt the spark of attraction, too. Another excellent-to-know point.

“You didn’t tell me why elves are on bicycles.”

He liked her voice. It was warm and rich, and every now and then, he caught the faint wisp of an accent. New York. Upper New York.

“They’re prepping for the annual holiday parade. We had a few incidents last year.” When you were wearing a full elf costume, peddling a decorated beast of a bike, ringing bells, singing, and throwing candy to kids who came out to watch your parade…well, not everyone was coordinated enough to pull off that mega combo. The results had been very unfortunate and not pretty. Elf bike pile-ups weren’t ever fun. “So we’re taking precautions and doing a run-through this year for safety.” They’d ditched the candy treats portion of the event so the elves could keep their hands on the bikes.

“Right. Safety.” She looked at the ground. Spied her suitcase and made a grab for it. “Thanks for the save. I was lost in my own head and didn’t even hear them coming.” She gave a quick wave. “Nice to meet you, Sheriff Lane.”

She turned away. He should have let her go. It would have been gentlemanly not to say—


Haley stiffened. “Excuse me?” Her head swung toward him.

He put his hands on his hips. “I called you a liar.”

Her mouth opened. Closed. Then… “That’s rude.”

His own lips twitched. “True. But you didn’t think it was nice to meet me.”

“I—how do you know that?”

At least she wasn’t lying again.

Spencer closed the distance between them. Maybe his nostrils flared so he could pull in her sweet scent. The woman truly smelled incredible. Good enough to eat. “Because as soon as you saw this…” He tapped the star on his chest. “You tensed up. You became afraid.”

He waited for another lie. He’d always been good at spotting liars.

And good at spotting trouble.

While Haley Quick was as sexy as the best sin he’d ever seen, he also knew that the woman was trouble. From the top of her blonde head to the bottom of those sexy boots.

When she didn’t speak, he prompted, “Want to tell me why you were afraid?”

“I was afraid because I was almost run down by about thirty elves on bicycles.”

His head cocked. “That the story you’re going with?”

“That’s what happened. I was grabbed by a stranger—”

Spencer winced. “I was trying to save you.”

“And nearly run down. That kind of situation would stress anyone.” Her gaze held his. A challenge if he’d ever seen one.

Did she have any idea how very much he loved a challenge? Spencer nodded. “Fair enough. But, just so you know, you don’t need to be afraid of me. I’m one of the good guys.”

She laughed. “That’s adorable.” Haley shook her head. “But there is no such thing as a good guy.” She turned on her heel. Dragged the clunking suitcase toward the crosswalk. “Good-bye, Sheriff Lane.”

Bam. That was how you dismissed a man. He watched her walk away with her chin up, her suitcase rolling, and her shoulders thrown back.

Haley Quick. I am sure I will be seeing you again.

He turned away and—

An elf on a wobbly bike barreled right into him.

“Sonofabitch,” Spencer growled as they both went down.


Haley stopped in front of a massive, wrought-iron gate. She sucked in a deep breath and decided that she was grateful for the fact that, just two weeks before Christmas, the temperature was a warm seventy degrees. She’d walked from the main “downtown” area of Point Hope in order to get to this destination. Walked along a sidewalk lined with an assortment of flowers. Beautiful, blooming flowers…in December. Every street corner had been lit with a glowing lantern and a merry wreath. The night had been quiet, just punctuated by the random sound of insects.

This place…it was so very far from her home. New York wasn’t ever quiet. There were always people talking. Cars buzzing by. Sirens screaming in the night. There was always activity and excitement, and that energy had fed her soul.

She’d loved New York. Adored her life there as a gallery manager. She loved the shows. The pulse of the city. The art. The parties. And then…

Then it had all been taken away from her. In a blink, she’d lost everything she’d worked so hard to achieve.

Don’t think about it. Not right now. You’re almost safe. She just had to get past the gate and get to the room she’d rented. When she’d been planning her escape, she’d found this tiny place online. A rental that she could afford, in a place as far and as different from New York as possible. The perfect place to hide.

He won’t ever think to look for me here. He would think that she needed big cities. Fancy hotel rooms. He won’t find me.


Haley spun around.

The sheriff was behind her. The ridiculously sexy sheriff who’d maybe saved her from an accident in town. There were flickering gas lights on either side of the wrought-iron gate, and those lights let her see him—well, not perfectly—but well enough to recognize the absolute trouble that he was.

“Are you following me?” Haley demanded as she put a hand over her racing heart.

“Nope. In fact, I was here first.”

Her gaze shot around. “Where’s your car?”

“Where’s yours?”

Her hand fell. “I don’t have one. I walked here from town.”

“And you were…dropped off in town?”

She did not like the suspicion in his tone. Or the fact that he’s been following me. She totally didn’t buy that he’d been there first. “I was dropped off, yes. Just a few clicks on my phone and I had a driver who brought me to my destination.” Only she hadn’t wanted him to take her completely to her final destination. Just in case she was tracked. Just in case someone eventually paid off the driver to get her location.

So she’d been dropped off downtown. After her run-in with the elves and the sheriff, she’d walked to…


The sheriff crossed his arms over his chest.

A very wide and muscled chest. This wasn’t some hick sheriff—and, confession, she’d rather imagined that a town like Point Hope would have a hick sheriff. Someone who spoke with a super heavy drawl and enjoyed drinking sweet tea on a wide porch. Spencer Lane didn’t have a heavy drawl. Instead, he kind of sounded like Matthew McConaughey. And he looked jacked. Like he worked out every single day and enjoyed the hell out of his workouts. He was probably around six two, with linebacker shoulders, thick black hair, and he had dark eyes that had seemed to see right through her.


He’d pegged her correctly. She was a liar. And she’d continue to be one because she was worried about the little matter of her survival.

“There a reason you’re loitering out here, ma’am?” he asked.

Loitering? Her spine snapped straight up. “Listen, stalker sheriff…”

Did he laugh? She wasn’t laughing.

“I happen to be renting a space at this address. I wasn’t loitering. I was preparing to go inside.”

“Ah…” A sharp nod. “That’s right. The owner does rent out the guest cottage, but to my knowledge, that cottage is scheduled to be occupied by a Luke Shaw.”

Oh, no. If he knew who was renting the cottage…

“I mean, that is the name I was given when I was contacted through the rental site,” he continued smoothly. “I was told that Luke Shaw would be paying in cash for the property when he arrived. I know most folks require a credit card to secure a rental, but, hey, it’s the holidays, so I decided to be generous.”

This couldn’t be happening. Could. Not. “You own the property.” The sheriff owned the property. Her safe haven—was his?

“Indeed, I do.” He smiled as he dropped his arms and strode forward. “I thought it was suspicious that Luke Shaw wanted to pay in cash, but then I figured, I’m the sheriff. If someone is trying to pull something shady, I can handle it.”

Her mouth had gone dry. Totally desert dry.

“Are you trying to pull something shady, Haley?” His voice was low. Husky. In another world, she probably would have found it sexy.

Who was she kidding? His voice was sexy. Toe-curlingly-so. But he’d asked her a question and she had to—

Think. Give him an excuse. Because she had nowhere to go. If the sheriff turned her away, what was she going to do? “It’s not always safe for a woman traveling alone to announce that fact.” She swallowed. “I preferred to keep my identity private until I arrived, at which point, obviously, you’d realize I’m a woman.”

He nodded. “And Luke Shaw is…”

“A combination of two of my favorite movie character names.”

His head cocked.

“Luke Hobbs. Deckard Shaw.”

A warm laugh broke from him. “So you like things fast.”

He’d obviously caught the movie reference. “And furious,” Haley added, as the sound of his laugh seemed to wrap around her.

“A woman after my own heart. I like things fast, too.” His laughter faded. “You know, this is the second time you’ve lied to me.”

A fist seemed to squeeze her heart. “I told you, a woman traveling alone—”

“Haley, come on. Let’s be real. You want to pay in cash. You booked the cottage under an assumed name. Obviously, you’re hiding.”

The night was too still. He was too close. And she was about to panic.

His body tensed. “I have to ask, are you involved in anything illegal?”

“You think I’m a criminal?” Haley gave a hard shake of her head. “I’m not. I don’t—look, I haven’t broken any laws.”

“But you are hiding.”

Absolutely. “Listen, Sheriff—”

“Why don’t you try calling me Spencer? I mean, after all…we’re neighbors.”

Not just neighbors. He was her landlord. She stared straight at him and said, “Spencer, I’m vacationing. A holiday vacation. Is that such a foreign thing?”

He leaned in close, so close his crisp, masculine scent teased her, and he put an arm out to—

To type in a security code on the gate’s keypad. There was a little click and a mechanical whir of sound before the gate opened.

Her breath eased out in a low rush.

Spencer didn’t back away. “Most folks take Christmas vacations in the mountains. They want snow. They want ski trips. Guess you were in the mood for something else?”

She swallowed. “Guess I was.” He was so big, and those shoulders were actually quite a thing of beauty. If you happened to find super broad shoulders to be—

He stepped back. “Want me to carry the luggage for you?”

Immediately, she clutched her handle even tighter. “I got it.”

A nod. “You’re not very trusting, are you? I mean, you just found out your landlord is the sheriff. Shouldn’t that make you feel more at ease? After all, I’m not some crazed killer or criminal.”

Yeah, that would be my ex.


“I get it. You’re the good guy.” That was what he’d told her before. But she stood by her previous words. There is no such thing as a good guy.

“You don’t believe me.”

“Let’s just say I’ve heard the line a time or twenty. And just because you have a badge, it doesn’t make you good.”

“You’re right. It doesn’t. A badge doesn’t make anyone good or bad. We make ourselves that way.” Spencer slipped by her. “I’ll show you to the guest cottage.”

She kept her death grip on her luggage and banged and clunked her way after him.

Spencer glanced back at her. “I was out front because I knew my…new tenant would be arriving tonight. If I’d known you were the tenant, I could’ve given you a ride from town.”

“I liked the walk,” she answered quickly. “I didn’t need a ride.” Her gaze darted around the area. Holy crap. The main house was huge. White, with giant, white columns. Two stories. A sweeping porch on the first level and a balcony on the second level. The place was lit up by carefully arranged lights, and she swore it looked like a mansion you’d see in Southern Living or something. When she’d booked the rental, she’d been thinking it would be a room. Room. But hadn’t he called the rental a guest cottage?

The place was insane. And…expensive. It looked super, super expensive.

He turned to fully face her and gave a soft laugh. “Family home.”


“You were wondering how in the hell a sheriff could afford this place. It’s a family home. That’s how I got it. When my grandfather died, it came to me. I’ve been working on restoring it. It’s been a slow but steady process. I’m not quite done with the main house yet. Most of the rooms are finished, but a few of the others…” Another laugh. A warm laugh that seemed to slide under her skin. “Let’s say they are in transition.”

Okay. Transition was a nice word. Her own life was in transition.

He started walking again, leading the way as Spencer told her, “The cottage is good to go, though. I actually fixed that up first. I was living there until last week when I decided, hey, why not open it up to guests? I put a few pics online, and you were the first person to contact me.”

She’d been lucky. Very, very lucky because this place was perfect…for hiding.

“Eventually, the plan is to turn the main house into a bed and breakfast. But before I can do that, I’ll have to get a manager on to help me.”

He was looking to hire someone? “Um, when would you want that manager?”

Spencer stopped and swung around to face her. “Why? You interested in the job?”


“Because I thought you were vacationing.”

Haley forced a shrug. “You never know what can happen. Maybe I’ll like the town and decide to stay.”

His gaze drifted slowly over her face. “No, you never know what may happen.” He turned away. Pointed to the left. “The cottage has a great view of the bay. You come out tomorrow evening, and you’ll see a sunset that you’ll never forget.”

They strolled down a small path, one nestled under enormous oak trees, and she caught her first view of the cottage. One story. Small, but glowing with lights. Big shutters. Enormous windows. It looked like something out of a storybook. It was unbelievable.


She had to blink away tears. It’s the exhaustion, that’s all. I’ve been running on fear and fumes. I’m just tired.

Spencer marched up the steps and unlocked the door. “You have your own kitchen and bathroom. There’s a small den and a bedroom. It’s stocked with towels and food, but if you need to do any laundry, you can come to the main house.” He swung open the door. “After you.”

She pulled her suitcase up the steps. Haley eased past him and hurried into the cottage. As soon as she crossed the threshold, some of the tension leaked from her body.


That was how she felt in that warm cottage. Black and white photos of the bay and of the small town were carefully arranged on the crisp, white walls. There was a massive, white couch, one that had a comfy-looking blue throw on the arm. A big bookcase. A TV arranged in the middle of the wall. The hardwood floor shone beneath her feet. The kitchen waited to the left. A galley-style kitchen with white cabinets and a gleaming, marble countertop.

“Put the countertop in myself,” he explained as he shut the door and followed her inside. “You watch a few home improvement shows, and what can I say? You get the urge to try things yourself.”

She spun toward him. “It’s amazing!”

His brows climbed.

She’d been way too excited. She should settle down. “I really like it. Thank you.”

He pointed to the left. “Bathroom and bedroom are that way. Bedroom has French doors that open to a small patio area. You head straight from the patio and you’ll find stairs that take you down to the bay. By the way, I don’t recommend going for any late-night swims.”

“Don’t worry about that.” She didn’t mention that she couldn’t swim. Haley cleared her throat. “The place is perfect, but, ah, is there a security system?”

His dark eyes narrowed. “The sheriff is right next door. You can consider me your personal security system.”

That was nice and all but…“I’d really rather have an alarm.”

His lips curved as his eyes gleamed. “We don’t exactly have a lot of crime here in Point Hope.”

“You can never be too careful. Sometimes, you think you’re perfectly safe, then you find out that you were dead wrong.” You find out that someone you trusted actually wants to hurt you, and you have to run.


Start your whole life over.

Haley let go of her suitcase. “There are dead bolts on the front door. That’s good.”

His square jaw hardened. “What are you afraid of?”

My past coming back to swallow me whole. “It pays to be careful.”

“True.” Spencer nodded. He stepped closer to her, and she tipped back her head to stare up at him. The man was ridiculously attractive. He looked like he should have been on a magazine cover or making blockbuster movies. Muscled and sexy, he was the last man she’d expected to have as a landlord. Sheriff Sexy.

He leaned toward her. “If anything scares you, I’m right next door. My cell number is already written down next to the phone in the kitchen. If you need me, I’ll be here in a flash.”

She didn’t know him. She certainly didn’t trust him. But at his words, a little more of her tension slipped away. “I have my payment for you. Just give me a second.” She turned away and bent as she fumbled with her suitcase.

“How long have you been traveling?”

“Too long.” She’d gotten tired of looking over her shoulder. Tired of always being afraid. So she’d packed up. She’d left. No forwarding address. No clues given to her whereabouts. She’d taken all of her cash, and she’d vanished.

Haley found the envelope that she’d prepared, and she slid it from her suitcase. She rose and extended the payment to him. “Here you go. You’ll find all the cash inside. Full payment for a month’s rental.”

He took the envelope. His fingers slid over hers. A surge of heat and awareness flooded through her.

Well, hello, trouble.

Haley yanked her hand back.

He didn’t count the money. Just stared at her. “I can help you.”

Her stomach knotted. “What makes you think I need help?”

His lips thinned. Then… “I can tell when a person is running.”

“I’m not running. I’m at my destination.” But thanks, Sheriff Sexy, for making me nervous.

“Are you in trouble with the law?”

Oh, jeez. “If I am, would I confess that to a sheriff?”

His lips quirked. “Probably not.”

She shook her head. “I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m just a woman who wanted a vacation and decided to go someplace new.” She wondered if he would call her on the lie.

She was even holding her breath as she waited—

“Good night, Haley.”

He turned and headed for the front door. She stood, rooted to the spot, in the middle of the cottage. He reached for the doorknob. Stopped. Looked back at her. “Welcome to Point Hope.”

A little dot on the map. A random place that she’d found because the name had intrigued her and because it had been so very far away from her home.

Spencer’s deep, dark eyes pinned her in place. “I promise, you’ll be safe here.”

Such a strange promise to make. Did he realize that she never felt safe? Not anymore.

But he opened the door and walked away. She rushed forward and locked the deadbolt. She spun around and stared at the cottage. Everything seemed cheery and warm. And quiet. So incredibly quiet.

Haley slid off her coat. Dropped it on the back of the couch. Then she pushed up the sleeves of her shirt. Time to get busy unpacking—

She stilled. The bruises were still visible on her left wrist. Dark bands that circled her skin. A shiver slid over her.

He won’t find me here.

He probably wouldn’t even look for her. She was long gone from his life. And soon, he’d be nothing but a bad memory for her.

A nightmare that she’d finally escaped.

She yanked the sleeves back down and reached for her suitcase even as Spencer’s words seemed to ring in her ears…

“I promise. You’ll be safe here.

She knew better than to believe a man’s promise. She also knew better than to trust Spencer Lane. After all, she’d been burned by a handsome face before. Sometimes, a man could look gorgeous on the outside, but inside…

He was a real fucking monster.


She was totally lying to him. Did Haley think he couldn’t see her lies? This was far from his first ball game, and he knew the whisper of a lie when he heard it, even when the lie fell from lips as sexy as hers.

Spencer went back to the main house, booted up his computer, and he had the main details of her life in about five minutes.

Turned out…Haley Quick was her real name. When she’d hesitated over saying her last name, he’d thought she might be giving him an alias. Maybe she’d hesitated because she almost had given him a fake name.

But, no, Haley Quick was real.

She’d shut down her social media pages. Tried to erase her digital footprint, but he found her. After all, he had connections that most people didn’t. And he used those connections without a hint of remorse. Hacking into a few government resources that showed him…

Haley Quick. Age twenty-four. Graduate of NYU. Single. No children. An up and coming gallery manager who had organized many high profile shows in the past. No criminal record. No outstanding warrants.

No red flags.

Maybe she was a woman who’d just come down south to escape the winter snow. A woman who wanted a quiet vacation.

Spencer thought of the fear he’d seen on her face. In her eyes.

And maybe I’m fucking Santa Claus.

Haley Quick was running scared, and he didn’t like it. Not one damn bit. He rubbed his chest as he stared at the computer screen. Distantly, he could hear the waves crash onto the beach below. In his mind, he saw Haley. Beautiful Haley. Lying Haley.

If Spencer had his way, there would never be fear in her eyes.