Bursting With Love

By: Melissa Foster

Look away. Look. Fucking. Away.

His eyes would not listen to his mind, and he stared right back. “This is my show, and I run it my way. He’s part of the team or he’s out,” Jack said.

Savannah took a step forward and pulled her shoulders back. “What are you gonna do? Fly us all back to the airport and return our money?”

He met the challenge in her eyes with his own heated stare. “Yes.”

SAVANNAH’S CHEST CONSTRICTED, and a fist tightened in her stomach as goddamn Jack Remington stared her down with his black-as-night eyes. He looked like Chris Hemsworth and acted like Alec Baldwin. A wild combination of sweet and bad boy that sent a flutter of sensual excitement through her. She was not going to look away. She’d gone up against meaner wolves than him in the courtroom. She crossed her arms and planted her legs like her brother Rex might do. She’d mastered the Braden stance for the courtroom and on the rare occasion of going head-to-head with some asshole on the subway. She could do it just as well as her brothers, even if her legs were feeling a tad rubbery at the moment.

Remington didn’t budge. His face was a stone mask of clenched muscles and strength. Savannah felt the worried gaze of the others upon her. She was just about to give in when Pratt stepped forward.

“Pratt, okay? I’m Pratt Smith. Twenty-eight, an artist, and I’m here to…hell…I don’t know. Do something different for a few days. Now can we get on with it?” He looked away from the group.

Jack’s stare had not wavered from Savannah’s, and she knew that if she was the first to look away, just like in court, he’d win. She remained steadfast, though it was difficult not to allow her eyes to drift to the muscles that bulged in his arms.

Pratt picked up his backpack and headed for the woods. Jack grabbed Pratt’s arm and held tight, finally disengaging from his eye lock with Savannah.

“No one hits that trail ahead of me,” Jack said.

Savannah fumed. It was one thing to gain control of a situation and another to be an asshole all the time. Obviously, Pratt was going through something emotional. Why couldn’t ice-hearted Jack see that? Jack wasn’t her problem to fix, and by the sound of him, he needed a lot of fixing. I’m here to fix myself. That’s enough of a challenge.

“We have safety instructions, itineraries, and guidelines to go over. Settle down, and let’s get started.” For the next hour, Jack explained the dangers of the mountains—including everything from wild animals and poisonous plants to treacherous cliffs and harsh weather. “You will each carry your gear and your tents. If you can’t carry them, you won’t have them to use. If you don’t like the food, then you’ll drop a few pounds while you’re here. Memorize the laws of three. A person can live only three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Got that?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Now, for the rules. Rule number one: Never put anything in your mouth without clearing it with me first. Rule number two…”

As he explained the guidelines, trail safety, trail hygiene, and other details Savannah was sure were important, she couldn’t concentrate. She couldn’t help but scrutinize their leader. He spoke with a deep, commanding voice—one that made her wonder what it might sound like in a dark bedroom. No matter who or what he looked at, whether it was one of the others in the group or a plant he was pointing out, his gaze was so intense that it made Savannah shiver. Attached to his belt was a long leather sheath with a black knife handle sticking out of the top. Danger. That’s what came to mind when Savannah looked at Jack Remington. Even as she drank in every inch of his rock-hard body, he never shifted his eyes in her direction. In fact, he hadn’t looked at her since the one quick inspection he’d given her when she’d first come around the plane. Savannah was used to men taking a second glance at her. At five nine, she was hard to miss, but to not even garner a second glance? That rubbed her in all the wrong ways.

“How far are we walking today?” she asked.

Jack answered while looking at Aiden. “Three miles, and the only one who’s allowed to get tired is Aiden, and if he does, as we discussed”—Jack lifted his eyes to Lou and Lou nodded—“his mother or father will have to carry him.” He put a large hand on Aiden’s shoulder. “You hear that, buddy? If you get tired, your parents will have to carry you, and that’s a hard job, getting up this mountain, so can you be strong?”

Aiden nodded.

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