By: Chantal Fernando

She slams the file down on the table, obviously losing her temper, the contents spilling out.

It’s the picture that gets my attention.

“Elizabeth Chase is a good woman, Ranger,” she says, softening her tone. “She volunteers to feed the homeless, she babysits her neighbors’ kids for free because they can’t afford a babysitter, and she sends all the money she can to help her younger sister pay for college.”

In the picture, Elizabeth is smiling, her long blond hair tumbling down her slender shoulders. Her blue eyes are looking right at me.

Judging me.

I pick up the photo, then glance at Faye, my expression giving away nothing. The thing is, I already know that Elizabeth Chase is a good woman. I know this firsthand. “Tell me everything.”

Her eyes dance with satisfaction.

She won. Like she usually does.

This time though, it’s not about Faye. The only reason I’m helping her is the woman in the photo.

Faye can be as smug as she likes.

All I care about right now is saving a woman I once used to know.

Six Years Ago

“Hello,” the girl says to me, tucking her hair back behind her ear. “You’re Cameron, right?”

I nod, smiling at her. I’ve seen her around the last few days but have never spoken to her. I came on this tour alone, a cruise around Scotland and Ireland, before all of us in the tour group head off to continental Europe, and it’s been one huge party from the second I got here. Everyone on board is young and looking for my kind of good time—no strings attached, just enjoying the right now and not worrying about tomorrow.

“Yeah,” I say, lighting up my cigarette and inhaling.

“I’m Elizabeth,” she says, smiling and then ducking her head, like she’s shy all of a sudden. I’m not a person who ever feels shy, so for some reason it amuses me. It’s an emotion I don’t really understand. I’m usually confident at best, comfortable at worst. I don’t generally give a shit what people around me think. If I did, there’s no way in hell I would have survived high school.

Wait a second, is this her trying to flirt with me? Yesterday, a pretty dark-haired girl walked up, pressed herself against me, and asked if I wanted to fuck. This is definitely a different approach, from a different type of girl. No judgment from me—after all, I did fuck that girl yesterday, and we both got what we wanted out of the night—but I have no idea what a shy, nice girl would be wanting from me. I have nothing to offer but my dick and a good time.

Maybe I’m wrong though; maybe she’s not as innocent as she comes off. Or maybe she wants to be a rebel for the night—to see what it’s like to be with a bad boy. I’m completely aware of how women see me. I’m six foot five, built, with a dark scruffy beard and longish hair that women seem unable to get enough of. I have tattoos, and I’m rough around the edges. No one would guess that I’m on break from my double major at college. No one really bothers to look beyond the exterior.

“Nice to meet you, Elizabeth. Did you have a good time last night?” I ask, attempting to make small talk with her. I’m not very good at it, but I think it will put her at ease a little. She’s a pretty enough girl, and I wouldn’t mind spending the night with her at some point during the trip if that’s what she’s after. My gaze drops to her chest, where her small breasts are pressing against her white top. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind having a taste of her one bit.

She clears her throat, so I raise my eyes back up to hers, grinning. “You were saying?”

She shakes her head, eyes looking a little sad before answering me. “It was good, yes. The club was pretty packed though. You don’t remember me at all, do you?”

I squint my eyes, wondering where the fuck I’m meant to be remembering her from. Have I fucked her before? This could get awkward if that’s the case, because I don’t remember doing so. Then again, I’ve kind of lost count of how many women I’ve been with. I cringe as that fact is brought to light. She watches me squirm for a few moments, before laughing, shaking her head at me. “No, we haven’t slept together, if that’s what you’re racking your brain over. We both went to Miles together.”

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