If She Dares (Contemporary Romance)
a slew of conflicting feelings. She’d already known she would have rather had dinner with him than Mitch, but actually seeing the two of them side by side had been brutally unfair to her date. Few men could measure up next to Jack.
    He ran a hand through his hair, looking rueful. “Should I apologize? For running off your...friend?”
    “Apologize? I may send you a fruit basket in gratitude. He’s not a friend. He’s the nephew of one of my mom’s neighbors. An awkward dinner with him at my parents’ house was the price of their watching Mags for me.”
    “Ah. Good.” He rocked back on his heels. “He wasn’t the guy for you.”
    She couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re basing that on twenty seconds in the hallway?”
    “Guess I just didn’t like the look of him.” He glanced away, taking a deep breath. “I do owe you an apology, though. Not for tonight, but for yesterday. You probably figured this out, but I... I’m not good at discussing my parents.”
    “Yeah,” she said softly. “I got that.” Sympathy squeezed her heart. She wouldn’t pry into his past, but it was clear he hadn’t shared the kind of happy childhood she and her sisters had enjoyed.
    Riley hadn’t realized, even into adulthood, how sheltered she’d been. No one in their immediate family had faced any serious illnesses or divorces. She’d only lived in two different houses before going away to college; both her sisters and her parents were close enough to be a regular part of her life. She was blessed. And she supposed that, subconsciously, she’d always assumed bad things happened to other people. Until the break-in last year. The entire time that man had his grip on her, beneath the paralyzing terror had been an almost manic disbelief.
This can’t be happening. This can’t be happening
.
    Something in Jack’s expression told her that, even if he hadn’t gone into a job that made him hyperaware of crime, he’d already understood that people were capable of terrible things.
    He cleared his throat. “Anyway. I just wanted to tell you I was sorry. Good night.”
    “Night, Jack.”
    He walked away, but just as she was closing her door, he paused. “We’re okay, right?”
    “Better than okay. You’re the one who helped me smuggle a dog into the building, and you helped me put an end to a lousy blind date. I owe you big time.”
    “Riley Kendrick owing me a favor.” His eyes glinted with humor, and something about his smile made her feel deliciously nervous. “I like it.”
    “Is there, um, something specific you have in mind?”
    “Not yet. But I’ll think of something.”

6
    N OBODY COULD POSSIBLY be expected to stay indoors and work on a Saturday like this one. For the first time in recent memory, there was no hint of rain in the air; the sky was gloriously blue, and bright sunshine gilded the city. Riley could feel its warmth even through her living room window.
    When she’d told Mitch last night that she was behind on work, it had been the truth. But she took the weather as a sign that today was the perfect day to follow through on her promise to visit Wren’s new job. She could get some fresh air and make her sister look good. Win-win.
    The lingerie shop, Vivien’s Armoire, was one of the retailers in a picturesque open-air mall. A horseshoe of twenty to thirty stores followed a curved, red brick pathway, dotted with fountains and benches. In the center of the U were restaurants and parking spaces. The lot was crowded—obviously Riley wasn’t the only one who’d been coaxed out by the glorious weather. She parked by a bookstore at the far end of the complex and enjoyed her stroll, window-shopping at a boutique and inhaling appreciatively as she passed a coffeehouse.
    Wren, working on a window display, spotted her before Riley even entered the store and waved so excitedly she almost knocked over a faceless mannequin.
    They met just inside the door. Wren was beaming but kept her voice low enough that nearby

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