East of Redemption (Love on the Edge #2) (4 page)

BOOK: East of Redemption (Love on the Edge #2)
10.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

He stepped closer and reached out to touch my shoulder. I cut my eyes to him, and he jerked his hand back. “I know I could never make up for what I did. I was a stupid kid. And I was hurt—”

were hurt?” Unbelievable. I sucked in a deep breath. It was like I was eighteen again and alone and confused at my father’s funeral. “I thought something had happened to you! I thought I’d lost my father and my boyfriend in the same damn expedition! It wasn’t until I saw you on the news, claiming the find and announcing your deal for your new show, that I knew you’d left on purpose.”

“Again. Stupid. Kid. I shouldn’t have disappeared on you. I should’ve been there for you after you lost him.”

I held my hand up to stop him. I dug my way out of the eighteen-year-old girl I’d been and remembered the twenty-seven-year-old grown woman I was. “It doesn’t matter. The past . . . well, I’m sure that’s not why you’re here. If you wanted to apologize, an email would’ve sufficed. What’s really going on?”

He grinned, that damned half smile that I used to kiss off his face. “Still as sharp as ever. I always loved your ability to cut right through the bullshit.”

The L word had me swallowing a large rock lodged in my throat. I’d never allowed myself to love anyone again after him. Lust had happened, attraction too, but never love. And not one of the men I’d been with had been a decent match to the boy Easton had been. Not one of them made my insides scream and my thighs clench like he did . . . and we’d been kids. Now that he was all grown up . . .

No. Shut that down now.

“I need you,” he said, and I burst out laughing.

I held my fingers over my lips. “I’m sorry,” I said through my laughter.

He glared at me before chuckling himself, the sound breaking through years of tension. Damn, I’d missed him—he’d been my friend way before he’d been my lover.

After a long breath, he licked his lips. “I’m serious. I need your skills.”

“What do you know about my skills?”

“I’ve followed your career. You’ve had a hell of one, and you’ve barely even started. I need your eyes. The way you can capture a story in shots normal people would run from.”

“So I’m not normal?”

“Nope. And I wouldn’t have you any other way.”

“You can’t have me
way.” Why was it like no time had passed between us at all that he could talk to me just like he’d used to. Why did I like it?

“This is the chance of a lifetime, Rain.”

“A job? Seriously? That’s all you’ve got?” My stomach twisted. I’d wanted more from him and hadn’t even realized it until he stood before me—apologies, grand gestures, and all that romantic bullshit I swooned over on my Kindle.

job.” He regained my focus.

“Well, now you sound like you’re trying to sell me something. Don’t you have a whole crew at your disposal?”

“Have you been watching my show?” His eyes lit up.

“No. Of course not,” I lied. Whenever I was home, his was the show that dominated my DVR. I’d watch it in bed, ripping off the scab of hurt I’d never allowed to heal. “I know it exists, though, and you can’t really have a reality show without a film crew.”

His shoulders dropped a fraction. “The producers need something fresh. Something big. I have to do it with only one person, and there was only one person I trusted with an expedition of this magnitude.”

“Why would you trust me?” I focused on the camera around my neck, fiddling with it. “You don’t even know me anymore.”

“I’ll always know you.” His voice was barely a whisper, and it flared a need in my core. “You’re still the smartest woman I’ve ever known, and the strongest. There isn’t anyone else who could handle this.”

I pushed past the butterflies of hope flapping in my stomach. “It’s dangerous?”


Usually that’s all it took to get me to sign on to a shoot. I loved the challenge of capturing footage in places people were scared to venture—but with Easton? The dangers were far more than physical. Regardless of where his expedition was, he had the power to pulverize what little heart he’d left alive.

I shook my head. “I’m booked.”

“I didn’t tell you when.”

“You flew halfway across the world, Easton. You need me now or you wouldn’t have asked in person.”

He took a step back. “You’re right. We’ve got to move now or miss our window.”

“There is no

“Yes there is. You can’t pass this up. I promise you, people will kill for this shoot.”

I licked my lips. “Where is it?”


The word plunged a sharp knife into my chest. I hadn’t been back since my father had died. “No.”

Easton broke the distance between us, taking my hand and holding it to his chest. “Yes. It’s time for me to go back.”

My hand trembled against his hard body, but he held me steady.

“No one knows the legends better than you. And we both know I’m intimately familiar with the terrain, but there is a long list of other obstacles that will most certainly get in our way. I don’t want to do this with anyone else.”

His brown eyes reached into my soul and stirred up trouble. An easily recognizable sensation of how we used to be together—unstoppable—threatened my resolve against him. “You’re going back to the same cave that killed my father?”

He stroked the skin on the back of my hand, and my breath hitched as I read the answer in his eyes. I’d had an undeniable urge to return to the last place my father had been seen alive—and to the boy who’d been with him—since the local authorities had reported the accident to me and my mother nine years ago. Something inside me promised I’d get closure on the loss if I surrounded myself in the place he’d last thrived.

But I’d never been able to because the caves were unmarked, unsearched, and unable for me to track. Easton had never given up the exact location. He’d refused. I’d come to the conclusion it was because he didn’t want anyone else to know where the treasure was, but the pained look in his eyes now told me he was just as equally terrified and desperate to go back as I was.

“Will you, Rain?”

I slowly pulled my hand from his grasp, arching my head back and looking to the sky. The once bright, fiery orange had been dusted with a dark purple. I motioned toward my Jeep. “Come on. It’ll be night soon, and we don’t want to be caught without a camp in the bush at night.”

A grin shaped his lips as he followed me, but he suppressed any verbal celebration he might have wanted to have. I bit the corner of my lip as we made the walk back to my Jeep, desperately wondering what I’d agreed to, and the price I’d have to pay in order to enter the cave that had swallowed my father.


a nine-hour flight we caught out of Johannesburg, headed toward Tel Aviv, Israel, and I was wound tighter than the pack I’d stuffed in the small overhead compartment. I’d guessed how seeing Rain again would affect me, but I was in no way prepared for the woman she’d grown into. There were still hints of the girl I’d fallen for as a kid—the way she pounced on any hint of a challenge and the way her forehead crinkled when she was pissed but didn’t want to fly off the cuff. But she’d grown into one hell of a woman. I’d followed her career for years, having seen her numerous photos spread throughout a variety of magazines, including
National Geographic

Not one of the rare photos where
been in front of the camera—my personal favorite was one of her crouching down before a family of elephants—had given enough of a glimpse to get a true sense of her body. And damn it if I wasn’t prepared for how unbelievably sexy she was.

I unclenched my fists that rested on the barely there armrests. Rain sat in the seat next to me in a too-quiet calm, her shorts exposing tanned legs that went on for miles despite the space we were crammed into.

“I remember you as an easier flyer,” she said, breaking the silence I hadn’t realized was so suffocating until now. She arched an eyebrow at me before glancing down to my uncurling fingers. “Something happen in the last decade to change that?”

I shook my hands out. “No. Just a long, small flight.”

She nodded and returned to staring at her Kindle.

“We should probably go over logistics,” I blurted, desperate to keep those solid blue eyes on me. Shit, I’d been around the woman for a day and her presence was already turning me into a damned teenager again.

She gently closed the case and slipped the Kindle into the pocket before her. “We do have the time, don’t we?”

“Yes.” I couldn’t believe she’d let me off so easy. I’d expected to be bombarded with questions about my sudden exit in her life, or why I hadn’t shown my face at Harrison’s funeral. She didn’t have a clue that I had actually been there, but I took one look at Rain’s grief-stricken face, and all I’d seen was
. The pain that had twisted my insides had been enough to drive me as far as possible in the opposite direction, but I’d never outrun it.

At the very least, I assumed she’d ask questions about the specifics of her father’s death—which no one knew but me. I’d never told the authorities that I’d been the reason Harrison fell, or that I wasn’t strong enough to save him, instead simply leaving it at a horrible accident in an ancient, crumbling cave.

“What kind of footage are you wanting?” she asked, bringing me back to the present. “I barely got a look at the equipment you checked, and it’s kind of hard to gauge your needs when I have no idea what I’m working with.”

“This will be a much different shoot than I’m used to.”

“Me as well. I’m usually used to capturing wild animals, not wild—”

She quickly shifted in her seat and glanced out the window. Where was her head? I told my dick to relax and forced my eyes to her face instead of locking onto the way her breasts had pushed tight against her white T-shirt when she’d jolted in her seat. “I have to do this right or it won’t have the impact on the ratings I need. There can’t be anyone outside the two of us, and to add even more authenticity to it, we’ll primarily use GoPros, wrist cams, and only one high-definition handheld.”

Her eyebrows rose higher up her forehead. “You’re joking.”

“Not in the least. Some of my viewers have doubted my abilities to not only survive in the extreme situations I’m placed in but also my abilities to locate as many artifacts as I do. I’m hoping the raw footage, paired with the evidence that no one outside of you is with me on this expedition, will allow me to earn back their trust.”

Her eyes found the floor, and my chest ached. I cleared my throat, ignoring the glare from the man across the aisle. It was well past two a.m., but I wasn’t passing up the opportunity to talk to Rain . . . about anything.

“You aren’t required to function under the minimalist supplies that I will have to, but you won’t be able to assist me, either.”

“What if your life is really in jeopardy?”

“Then you can intervene, and we’ll hopefully work around it, or have killer footage for the show.”

She shook her head. “I’m not a princess, you know? Since I started selling my work, I’ve lived in the wild more than I have in a home. I can keep up with your pace.”

I licked my lips, remembering just how well she could keep up—on top of me, underneath me . . .
Down boy. You’ll never earn her trust back, regardless of the lengths you go to try.
Did I really want her trust back? She’d managed to make a wonderful life without me—as far as I could tell—and if I forced my way back into her life beyond this job, I’d only end up hurting her again.

“I don’t doubt that,” I finally said. “I’d feel better, though, if you at least were sleeping in your own pack-tent verses whatever makeshift shelter I have to scrounge up for myself. It won’t be luxurious for either of us, that’s for sure, but the reward . . .” The idea of actually stepping through the cave that had birthed the worst day of my life swallowed my words whole. I needed this. I didn’t know who I was without the show, without the mission, or the means to dump money into charities in an effort to cleanse myself of the sins that coated my hands.

“I can’t believe you’re actually taking me.” Her voice held the sound of hope where there should be hate. Her heart had always been too big. A battle raged inside me—the urge to keep her at an arm’s length for her own good, and the desire to lose myself in her kiss, her body, like I’d used to. It exhausted and exhilarated me, the hope for her forgiveness, and the truth of knowing I’d never deserve it.

BOOK: East of Redemption (Love on the Edge #2)
10.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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