Author: Jill Shalvis


Grace wasn’t thrilled that Josh had gone to bed instead of joining them for dinner. She’d cooked the steaks, checking up on him every five minutes until the stubborn lug told her to go away and not come back. She was pretty sure he meant just for a little while, and not for the rest of his life.


She put Toby to bed and sat at the kitchen table working for her bookkeeping clients, still surprised that she’d somewhat accidentally started a business, albeit a small one. Nothing nearly so impressive as working at a big-time investment firm or bank in Seattle, but she was enjoying it anyway. She had no idea what she’d do if she got one of the jobs she’d tried for, and since she’d gotten a call today from Seattle for a final interview tomorrow, that seemed likely.


She was still working when Anna came home a few hours later. Grace stood up to make another drive-by check on Josh.


“Why do you get to act all crazy over a guy and I don’t?” Anna asked.


“You have to earn the crazy,” Grace said. “You’re not old enough yet.”


“He doesn’t like it when people hover,” Anna warned.


“How about when they care?”


“Nope,” Anna said. “He’s not overly fond of that either.”


“Are you sure it’s not just him being a stupid guy and not knowing how to deal with someone caring about him?”


This stopped Anna. “I don’t know,” she finally said after giving that some thought. “He’s just always been the one to do the taking care of.” She hesitated. “Now that you mention it, I don’t know if that’s because he’s had to, or if he’d actually welcome help.”


“Maybe you should find out sometime,” Grace suggested. She moved down the hall to Josh’s bedroom.


The room was dark, but she’d left the bathroom light on. His bedroom furniture was dark wood, masculine. The bed was huge and dominated the room. Josh lay sprawled on his stomach, face turned away.


She moved into the room and sat on the edge of the bed, gliding her fingers over his forehead, brushing his hair back.


He sighed. “It’s been two minutes.”


“Twenty. Do you feel nauseous?”


“Grace, I’m fine. Go away.”


“What’s your name?”


He let out a long breath. “Ticked off and looking for a new nanny.”


“Funny. Follow my finger.”


He smacked her finger away.


“You are such a big baby,” she told him. “If one of your patients acted like this, you’d—”


“Assume they were good to go.”


She could see that he’d showered, which freaked her out. He could have fallen, and she had no idea what she’d have done with a two-hundred-pound, wet, unconscious male. She knew what to do with a two-hundred-pound, wet conscious one, but that was entirely different.


He’d pulled on a pair of sweatpants, barely. They were so low on his hips as to be indecent, giving her a good look at his broad back that led down to a very sexy pair of twin dimples, and a hint of a tattoo.


Grace grinned wide, unable to help herself as she ran her fingers over the sweats, nudging them down enough to expose…a lightning bolt. She laughed softly, and he muttered a very bad word.


“Why are you still here?”


“You have a concussion,” she reminded him. “I’m not leaving you alone.”


“Mild concussion. Jesus. Stop hovering.”


“Okay, I’d like to talk to Dr. Scott, not Asshole Josh.”


He snorted, then let out a long-suffering breath. It hadn’t escaped her that he hadn’t moved. And he was looking extremely tense, his muscles rock hard with strain, which was confirmed when she stroked her hand along his back and felt the stress there.


Aw, the poor baby. Leaning over him, using two hands, she began to work the tension from his shoulders and back. She thought about massaging his ass as well, but she didn’t want to take advantage of the man when he was down. “Tell me what I can do for you,” she said softly as she worked.


He let out a muffled groan into his pillow. “That. Don’t stop. Ever.”


“I won’t.” Especially since touching him was pure pleasure. His skin was warm, smooth, and smelled so good she wanted to eat him up with a spoon. “What else do you need? Anything.”


He groaned again. “I’m going to hope that promise doesn’t have an expiration date.”


She went still, then laughed softly. “You can think of sex now?”


“I can think of sex always. It’s a special, God-given talent. Wake me up later.”


“But—”


“Much later.”


Hmm. “Tell me what to look for, Josh.”


She couldn’t see his eyes since they were closed, but she sensed them rolling around in his head in annoyance. “Brain damage,” he said. “Bleeding, swelling, loss of muscle control. Death.”


She gasped. “What?”


“But if I’m still in pain, death is fine,” he said. “Just leave me dead. DNR.”


Do not resuscitate. Doctor humor. “That’s not funny, Josh.”


“Look, it’s not a big thing, okay? As long as my elevator goes to the top floor, let me be.”


“But how will I know?”


“Grace.” His voice held annoyance, frustration, and—his saving grace—affection. “You’ll know.”


“Okay, but you need to get better soon,” she said, just as annoyed, frustrated, and affectionate. “So I can smack you.”


Chapter 22


Life without chocolate is like a beach without water.


Josh?”


He had no idea how much later it was when he heard her whisper his name. He thought how odd it was that only the day before the sound of his name on her lips would have made him hard. Now he wanted to strangle her. “No,” he said.


“I haven’t asked you anything yet.”


He pried open one eye, noted the clock on his nightstand said midnight, and closed it again. Maybe she’d think he’d died.


“Josh.”


He sighed and rolled to his back. She wasn’t going to give up. Ever. He knew that now. “I’m still breathing.”


She sank to the bed at his hip and put her hand on his bare chest. Her fingers stroked him lightly, from one pec to another, her pinkie dragging over his left nipple.


His annoyance abruptly faded, and the age-old question of whether or not an injured man could get aroused was answered.


Yes, he could.


“Are you nauseous?” she asked.


“No. And I know my name, and I’m not hot or cold. I’m just right.”


“Can you follow my finger?”


“Grace, I have a finger for you.”


She sighed. “Fine. I’ll see you in a few hours.”


“Eight,” he said. “Eight hours.”


“Uh-huh…”


He knew she was totally humoring him, but her hand was still gliding over him, and her touch felt so good that he didn’t give a shit. In fact, he fell asleep just like that, sprawled out like a dog begging for his parts to be stroked…


And woke up a few hours later, overheated. It was a fever, he thought dazedly. He’d joked about dying, he’d mocked death, and now he really was going to kick the bucket.


Then his blanket moved. And moaned softly.


Not a blanket. It was Grace.


It was two in the morning, dark except for the bathroom light, which slanted over his bed.


Grace was still in her cute, gauzy little sundress. No shoes. He was under the covers, and she was on them, so she must have fallen asleep during one of her million checks. He was flat on his back, and she was curled up into his side, her head on his shoulder, hair in his face, breathing steadily, deeply, doing that almost-but-not-quite snoring thing, which made him smile.


The smile made his head hurt and reminded him why she was here in the first place. But he hurt a lot less than he had several hours ago. So much so that he rolled, tucking her beneath him.


She came instantly awake with a confused, befuddled, “What?”


He stroked the hair from her face. She’d stayed with him. She’d worried about him. She’d not left his side. He tried to remember the last time someone had been there for him instead of the other way around—and couldn’t. “You nauseous?” he asked.


She blinked. “Uh…”


“What’s your name?”


She blinked again and narrowed her eyes. “You’re making fun of me. I’ve been worried, you know, and—”


“Are you feverish?” He pressed his lips to her temple. “Nope.” He stroked a hand down her throat to her chest, spreading his fingers wide as she’d done to him, stroking sideways. He loved her breasts. They were full and soft.


Except the nipples.


Her nipples were always hard for him.


“What are you doing?” she asked.


“Seeing if you’re getting a chill.”


“By copping a feel?”


“Are you cold, Grace?”


“No.”


He smiled and lowered his head, lightly clamping his teeth on her nipple over her thin sundress.


She gasped.


“If you’re not cold,” he said, “then you’re turned on.”


“There are other options!”


“Name one.” He switched to her other nipple, and she moaned, arching up into his mouth, her fingers gliding into his hair and over his injury.


Which made him hiss in pain.


“Oh God, I’m sorry.”


Keeping a hold of her, he rolled to his back so that she straddled him. Then he urged the spaghetti straps to her elbows and tugged her dress to her waist. “Always.”


She frowned. “Always what?”


“You always make me feel better,” he said, cupping a breast.


She made a sound of pure arousal even as she shook her head. “Josh—”


He tugged her bra cups down and pulled her over him so he could suck her into his mouth.

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