“This looks cozy.” Someone observed from behind them, the low male voice tinged with a hint of mockery.
Sadie froze. No way. She hadn’t heard that voice in more than ten years. But she recognized it immediately. No freaking way.
Maybe she was wrong. She was probably wrong. She had to be wrong.
Beside her, Ryan turned toward the voice. “Bo! Hey, man, what’s up?”
Bo. The name slammed into her gut, as if someone had written it on a piece of paper, tied it to a boulder, and hurled it straight at her.
Oblivious to her sudden discomfort, Ryan stood, shaking hands with the person behind them. Sadie remained frozen. She had not been mistaken. How did this happen? What was he doing here?
“Sadie?” Tugging on her elbow, Ryan provided the answer. “Say hi to our stunt coordinator, Bo Ibarra.”
Not trusting her ability to stand, Sadie, glanced over her shoulder. “Hi.” She smiled weakly then forced herself to look up, meeting his gaze. “Stunt coordinator, huh?”
“That’s right,” Bo said. His light brown eyes were exactly the same. Still, that unique tawny shade that reminded her of an Irish halfpenny she’d once found in her nana’s coin collection, still framed with the most incredibly long and ridiculously thick eyelashes she’d ever seen. His hair was darker, only streaks of the golden blond she remembered glinting here and there. And shorter, much shorter. Last time she’d seen him, it had brushed his shoulders. But what hair Bo had chopped off on top of his head, he’d made up for on his face.
A full beard covered his lean cheeks, hiding the cleft she knew dimpled the center of his chin. The fact she was aware of that feature despite it being hidden from the world felt . . . intimate. Sadie squirmed in her seat, recalling all the times she’d pressed her lips to that dimple. Dragging her attention away from that spot, she noted the beginnings of laugh lines creasing the corners of his eyes. She wondered if, besides the cleft, the beard hid more laugh lines around his mouth.
Had there been much laughter in his life? She hoped so. “Bo-dacious is one of the best in the biz,” Ryan continued, patting Bo on the back. “Soon as my agent told me we’d be filming in Chicago, I got on the horn and insisted they hire you, man.” Ryan turned to Sadie. “Ain’t nobody better to have your back than Bo-dacious here.”
“Dude, come on, I told you to knock it off with that Bo-dacious crap,” Bo said, taking the sting out of his words with a light punch at Ryan’s arm.
“You have a stunt company?” Sadie asked, unable to mask the surprise in her voice.
“I do,” he said. “Windy City Stunts.”
“I’ve heard of it.” Sadie nodded. “But I didn’t . . .” She hesitated. “I didn’t know it was your company.”
“It is.” His mouth twisted.
The answer was spoken softly, but his words were sharp. Biting. An accusation. An acknowledgment of the fact she’d not bothered to stay up to date on what he’d been doing in the years since . . . well, in the years since she’d last seen him.
She hadn’t. She’d been afraid to. And she never thought she’d see him again. Certainly not here. Not now. Not like this.
Digging deep, Sadie got to her feet and turned to face Bo. He seemed bigger than she remembered. Not in size exactly, not taller or thicker, but sturdier. More substantial. The last time she’d seen him, they’d been teenagers. A man stood before her now.
“That’s great,” she managed.
“Yeah, I started with some freelance gigs. Did that for a couple of years before helping form WCS. Now it’s become the number one source for stunt performers in Chicago.”
The pride in his voice was unmistakable, and well- deserved. The company had an excellent reputation— even she knew they were the go-to company to hire in this city.
“Wow. I’m happy for you,” Sadie said, and meant it too. Despite everything that lay between them, everything that had happened, she was truly glad to see him doing so well.
“Hold up.” Ryan glanced between her and Bo. “Do you two know each other?”
For a moment, neither of them answered.
“Yeah.” Always the braver one, Bo spoke first. “We were friends as kids.”
“Yep,” Sadie agreed brightly. Too brightly. “Friends.” Throat tight, eyes stinging, she added, “Although it’s been a long time. Ten years, I think?”
“Eleven,” Bo said, eyes never leaving her face. “But who’s counting.”
Sadie’s heart began to beat faster, wild and fluttery, thumping against her sternum like a bird trying to escape its cage. She knew exactly how many years it had been. Despite her best efforts, she’d never been able to stop keeping track.
“Small world, huh?” Ryan chuckled, either completely oblivious to the tension zipping around him or a better actor than she’d realized. “I met Bo last year when I guest-starred on an episode of Chicago Rescue. He set up this amazing stunt, right? An explosion that sent me flying out a twelfth-story window.” Ryan brushed one palm over the other, pumping a hand skyward, as if to demonstrate his airborne body.
Sadie’s skin crawled at the thought.
“Got any cool stuff like that planned for us, man?” Ryan asked, eager as a kid about to ride a roller coaster.
Sadie hated roller coasters. Hated heights of all kinds, actually. She didn’t even do well with escalators. Bo, of course, knew this.
Fuck. She jerked her head toward him. Would he use that knowledge against her? He could. Easily.
“I have some ideas,” Bo answered Ryan, but kept his gaze on her, his tawny eyes giving away nothing.
“Do stunt coordinators usually come to first reads?” Sadie asked, struggling to hide the wave of anxiety crashing through her.
“Occasionally.” Bo shrugged, the thick line of his shoulders rising and falling. “Depending on the complexity of the stunts, directors will sometimes ask me to sit in on a read, so I can get a feel for things. Identify potential problems.”
As he talked, he’d begun rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. Sadie tried not to stare as the strong masculine lines of his forearms were revealed. What was it about a man rolling up his sleeves that immediately upped his hotness factor? And with a guy like Bo, whose hotness level was already off the charts, it simply wasn’t fair. “Is that what you’re doing today? Identifying potential problems?” Because she could think of a few.
Bo looked at her, a knowing twinkle in his eye as if he was aware of how discombobulated she was. “For one, I’ll decide which stunts I think are suitable for the actors to perform themselves.”
“Oh?” Sadie rubbed her palms on her jeans.
A grin curved one corner of his mouth as he nodded. “Don’t worry, I’m not here to make anyone do anything that makes them uncomfortable.” The teasing edge of his smile eased the vise around Sadie’s heart.