“You do know the California mascot is the bear, right?”
With that, he grabbed the stack of mail, turned heel and walked out the front door.
Lara didn’t even have time to yank her chin off her chest and ask where he was going before he slammed it shut. The slick sound of a lock sliding home rang out, followed by the roar of his bike.
She ran to the window in time to see him ride away.
Lara beat her fist against the glass, both comforted and infuriated that it was as solid as steel.
She sniffed as her gaze drifted to the dense woods visible outside the cabin.
Locks could keep bears out, right?
* * *
“YOU GET THE timing on the truck looked at?” Dominic asked, striding across his mother’s kitchen to grab a beer to go with his lunch. “I told you it was off last time I was home.”
“Yeah, yeah. You told me, I got it fixed.” Lucas rolled his eyes. “You ever get tired of telling people what to do? As bossy as you are, I’m surprised you’re not a captain yet.”
“Give me time.” Dominic grinned. Captain Castillo. Yeah, that had a nice ring to it. “I’m not bossy. I’m wise, big brother. Wisdom is meant to be shared. Especially when your ass is gonna be stranded on the side of the road without it.”
“Yeah, yeah. So why’s your wise ass back here? I thought you’d been called to duty.”
“Not officially.” Dominic wasn’t saying more than that. He’d been cleared to bring his brother in as far as using Castillo Security to track Banks’s sister. But that was the extent of it.
“You had me run someone. The sister of one of your team, right? You get her taken care of?”
Oh, yeah, he’d taken real good care of her.
He’d scared the hell out of her, stalked her to her apartment, done her on a hotel room floor, intimidated her, then locked her in his cabin.
Of course, she’d doubted his word, blown his mind, sexed him stupid, then walked out on him.
All in the space of twenty-four hours.
They were one hell of a couple.
“Dom?” Lucas prodded.
He gave a jerk of his chin, hoping Lucas would take it for a nod.
“So you’re off duty again?”
Lucas dropped into the opposite chair and gave him a narrow look.
“Where’s the girl?”
Dominic debated. Technically, his association with Lara wasn’t classified. It wasn’t even sanctioned. So Lucas knowing wasn’t a big deal.
But it felt like one.
Finally, Dominic sighed and admitted, “My place.”
“What?” Lucas yelped. “You brought her here?”
If he’d accused his brother of dressing in drag and joining a nunnery, Lucas couldn’t have sounded more surprised.
“It’s a long drive to Coronado,” was all Dominic said, focusing on his lunch.
“But...you brought her back here?”
He didn’t know why his brother kept asking that question with such a shocked expression. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t brought women back to his place before. That was one of the key reasons he had the cabin on the far side of the Castillo property instead of a room here at the main house.
To bring women.
He looked up from his plate, heaped high with tamales, beans and rice, and shrugged.
“Yeah. She’s locked up in my cabin.”
“Seriously?” Lucas scratched his head. “Is she a hostage or something?”
“She’s an assignment with a history of stupidity.” Like showing him new levels of sexual pleasure, then running out on him before he could see how much better it could get. “She’s not safe on her own.”
“So why didn’t you bring her to the house for lunch?”
A late lunch, since the rest of the family and the ranch hands had eaten and, even though it was Saturday, were already back to work. But all it’d taken was putting on his sad face to get his grandmother to heat up a plate before she’d left for her place. He’d fill another for Lara before he went back to the cabin. See? Nice guy.
“I told you, she’s an assignment.” Dominic hunched over his plate, trying not to feel guilty over leaving Lara there. Alone. He remembered her face, pale with exhaustion and pinched with fear.
Apparently rejection made him a class-A jerk.
So much for being a nice guy with a talent for charming the ladies.
“If she’s just a job, why’re you hiding her away?” Lucas asked, obviously trying to push his little brother’s buttons. “Your usual MO is to keep women away from the house because you say they’re temporary and you don’t want them getting any crazy long-term ideas. So what’s the deal? Is this assignment of yours gonna take one look at your graduation picture in the hallway and start hinting at ring sizes?”