“Your mother doesn’t know. We aren’t naive. We know you have a sex life. I just don’t want to see it nor should our employees have to see it. That was embarrassing.”

“Look, I forgot about the cameras. They’re new. I was drinking and forgot.”

He walked over to me and once he used to tower over me. I thought he was the tallest most powerful man in the world. Now we were eye to eye, and I was still fucking intimidated. His scowl didn’t help ease me either. “You’re not a kid anymore Cruz stop acting like one. Grow the fuck up. Now.”

“Hot damn, I get to watch a good ole ass whoopin’, and I don’t have any popcorn,” Grant Carter interrupted us. Dad continued to glare at me. He didn’t stop because his friend had arrived.

“Morning, Grant,” Dad said when he finally turned toward him and let me out of his threatening stare.

“I thought this was a friendly game this morning, but seeing as Junior is here and he hates golf, there’s gonna be some excitement.” Lila Kate’s dad was rarely serious. He was the easiest going of my dad’s close circle of friends. He was absolutely nothing like his uptight daughter.

Another car door slammed, and I moved my attention back to the parking lot. Rush Finlay was headed our way. Nate’s dad was here too. What the hell? I looked back at my dad. “So this isn’t some sick way to punish me?” I asked trying to figure out what was going on. If he wasn’t going to ride my ass the next few hours then why were we here?

He cocked one eyebrow. “Oh no. It’s punishment. For you. Not for me.”

I realized then what was happening. Sneaky bastard. He planned on making my morning hell, and he’d have witnesses to make it more entertaining for him. Twisted man.

“Damn,” I muttered, and he laughed then.

“What did he do this time?”

“I had the unfortunate pleasure of watching my son fuck on camera.” Dad gave me another dirty look.

“What?” Grant asked as his eyes went wide and he grinned ear to ear.

“The security cameras are new. I forgot,” I said annoyed.

That got loud roars of laughter from both Grant and Rush. I stalked off ahead of them not wanting to listen to their jokes about this. I’d be mocked the entire eighteen holes.

“If that is all this is about, give the kid some slack. Isn’t like you didn’t have your share of pussy all around this place when you were his age. Hell, we all did.” Grant was trying to take my side.

I glanced back to see what Dad would say.

“Your daughter is finished with college. She’s left to find her path. She’ doing something. Achieving something. She has goals. Ambition,” he argued.

I was still stuck on the Lila Kate being gone bit. Where did she go? When did she leave? That didn’t sound like Lila Kate at all. She was always up her parents’ ass, doing what they wanted. I probably wouldn’t have even fucked Chanel in that clubhouse and gotten caught on video if I hadn’t been fighting off my attraction to Lila Kate. She messed with my head.

“That’s not a good excuse,” Rush added. “Phoenix is giving me hell. Girls aren’t easy because they’re girls. You just got fucking lucky because Lila Kate is exactly like her mother.”

She had left town? And Grant was okay with this?

“Who went with her?” I asked trying to get back to what was important here.

“You just let her take off on her own?” I asked wondering if he’d lost his goddamn mind. He’d always been so overprotective.

“She’s at Nate and Bliss’s right now,” Rush added.

She was in Sea Breeze. She hadn’t gotten far. “Where she going next?”

“She’s not making sex videos in the clubhouse that’s for damn sure,” Dad drawled.

No. She’d never do that. Lila Kate wasn’t that kind of girl. She also wasn’t the kind to run off like this. Alone. But then she’d only gotten as far as Alabama. There was a good chance she’d come back home. Probably would. But . . . what if she didn’t?

BLISS HAD NICE friends. But I didn’t expect anything less. Today was fun. Enjoyable. I was glad I went. Now I needed to focus and decide where I would head next. Bliss had gone to the library where she worked to check on some things. I had decided to stay behind do some planning.

With the warm breeze, a towel to sit on, a notepad, and my iPhone for research, I sat down on the sand facing the water. My sunglasses shaded the sun, and it was peaceful. It felt like home. The part I loved. The warmth, sound of the waves, sand between my toes—things I had grown up with, and they’d always be a part of me. Wherever I ended up.

Making notes I was torn between going through Birmingham and visiting my friend or to keep going until I reached Nashville. Enjoy the city some then head on to the Smokey Mountains. It was either that or head west to Louisiana. I’d never been to New Orleans. That could be exciting. Traveling alone might not be very smart though.

“Mind if I interrupt?” the voice startled me, and I lifted my gaze to see Eli. I didn’t think he’d come around again after this morning. At least I had hoped he wouldn’t.

I wanted to say, “Yes, I do mind,” but my manners wouldn’t allow that. “I guess not.”

He sank down beside me and sat on the sand. I didn’t offer part of my towel. If he was going to make us do this, then he was going to get a sandy bottom.

He gave a soft chuckle. “You were the last person I was expecting. I was almost convinced I’d made you up in my mind.”

That was ridiculous. “Get drunk like that often?” I asked just to be snarky.

“Never. Rarely. I’m sorry I was last night.”

I bet he was sorry. “I can imagine.”

He didn’t say anything for a few moments. I studied the notebook in my hand.

“After the third dance . . . I, well, things go black. I remember nothing.”

He was reminding me again how forgettable sex with me was. Great. Just what I wanted to discuss. I wasn’t sure I believed that anyway. How did one just black out?

“You’re not going to tell me what happened are you?” he said when I didn’t respond.

I shrugged. “Nothing really. We walked. You stumbled a bit. I sobered up from my brief buzz, and then I left you with your aunt.”

If he didn’t remember it, then I wasn’t going to give him a recap. It would be my secret.

“That’s it.” I wasn’t a liar. I avoided looking at him when I confirmed the lie because I knew my expression would give me away.

He sighed. “Then why do I get the feeling you hate me for something? The girl I remember from last night was friendlier.”

Not going to answer that either. “You were drunk. You don’t know if I was friendly or you just thought I was.”

He smirked then. “You went for a walk on the beach with me. That’s pretty damn friendly.”

He had a point. I lifted my gaze to meet his, and was honest about what I was willing to be honest about. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again. Last night was my first time alone in a bar. It was my first time dancing with a stranger and drinking with one. I thought it was a memory I’d have, not something that I’d have to face at breakfast the next morning.”