ec556-moonthumb“So what business do you have with my sister?”

I glared at Max, if he so much as mentioned anything about last winter I would kill him.

“She’s housing some of my horses. We were supposed to write out a contract for how long, and what the payment would be, but I got called out for work. I don’t like leaving my debts unpaid.”

“You could have called her.”

“I could have, I’d rather conduct business face to face.”

I exhaled a long silent breath. They didn’t need to know Max and Rose already had an oral contract that worked well. Rose took care of my mountain property while I traveled, and Max paid Chase to take care of the horses, including mine, and Roses cat Pumpkin, along with Pumpkins new litter indefinitely. Chase worked for Max.

I’d been to his property. Even though he’d told Rose he was building his own barn, I didn’t see one being built, and no room around his cabin for a barn either. Unless he decided to cut down a ton of trees.

“So what do you do for a living?” Shawn asked.

I was expecting him to say it was classified.

“I’m an independent contractor.”

My eyebrow rose. The last time I’d talked to Max he still worked for the government.

Max grinned at me.

The waiter stopped by our table to take our plates and offer us dessert.

“I’m good.” I said, pushing away my barely touched salad. “We should probably finish up here if we’re going to catch the boat.”

“About that,” My sister said, looking guilty. “We’re going without you this time.”

Max tried to conceal his grin.

“It was a request.” Zoë said, picking up Charlie.

“We’ll see you tonight.” Shawn replied, while watching Max.

I threw some money on the table and followed them out the door. Max caught up to me as I was waving goodbye to Charlie. He wrapped his arm around my waist, pulling me close to him before brushing his lips over mine.

“We should go back to my place.” He growled softly under his breath.

“No!” I sighed, exasperated. I stepped out of his embrace. I turned toward the beach, kicking off my sandals as soon my toes touched the sand.

What was my problem? He was Hot! He wanted me. He already had me. It was only one night, but it was one unforgettable night! What was wrong with me?

I didn’t trust him, or maybe it was me I didn’t trust with him.

“Montana, we need to talk.”

I shrugged my shoulders and kept walking. We strode side by side in silence, away from the public beach until I veered towards the ocean. My eyes glazed over; all of a sudden I had this deep desire to go for a swim.

Max caught me before I dived into the ocean fully dressed. He threw me over his shoulder and carried me back up the beach. He sat down on a small mound of sand with me on his lap.

“Montana.” He snapped his fingers in front of my eyes. “Come back to me.” He gave me a gentle shake.” Montana.”

It took me a moment to focus on him, instead of the horizon beyond the ocean.

“Montana.” He tilted my face towards his and kissed me deeply.

I kissed him back before I realized what I was doing. I pulled away disgusted with myself. I didn’t want to lead him on.

“How did I end up in your lap?” I somehow lost a couple of minutes in time.

Max searched my eyes. “Did you sense something?”

“How could I? I’ve been fully muted for months now.”

“The Doc taught you well then?”

“Yes. You didn’t answer my question.”

“For some reason you tried to go swimming fully clothed.” He watched me closely.

“Hmm…” I didn’t remember wanting to go for a swim. I looked out at the ocean again before shimmying off Max’s lap.

“Can you still sense anything?”

“Yes, when I open myself up, which isn’t often.”

I used to be a sensitive, or at least that’s what I called it. I had no what to call myself now. I used to be able to get a good read on people, their intentions, and emotions.

When my sister and I won the lottery I started investing in small businesses I knew would thrive. I enjoyed helping people, and because I had this uncanny ability I knew who to invest with. Then I went on vacation and everything fell apart. I’d bought some land in the mountains, had a house built on it, and cruised up there last winter.

My plans were to just hibernate and take a break. Unfortunately, Rose didn’t want me to be alone, so along came Max and Chase. To make a long story short, somewhere in that debacle some men gave me an experimental drug. I still think it was Max’s employers, but they deny it.

Now I can feel other people’s emotions and intentions 100 times more than I could before. The doctor Max hired for me taught me how to mute those feelings. I have ever since. I no longer invest in small businesses though, because opening myself drains me.

“What happened with Blake?” Blake was my nemesis back then.

“He’s dead. He didn’t survive the knife wound.”

I searched Max’s face.

“It’s the truth.”

“Anything on a cure for me?” I really wanted to get back to work.

“No.”

I sighed and stood up. I was suddenly very tired.

“Why are you really here?”

“For you,” he stood up. “Don’t tell me you found that really boring guy that was going to replace me.”

I smirked. I almost wish I had.

“I’d beat him to a bloody pulp.” Max growled.

I swore he read my mind.

“And yes, I really am an independent contractor. I finished my last job then resigned.”

I wanted to ask him what he did as an independent contractor, but I wasn’t sure I was ready for the answer.

“Come on, I’ll walk you home.” He said clasping my hand.

Sterling- A Montana Dayton Novel Capter 1:3

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