Gabe frowned as he reached for the small tube of antibacterial cream. He’d brought the whole pharmacy with him. “I came as soon as I heard you scream. There was no one up here.”
“I didn’t see anyone, but I know what I felt.” A shudder rolled through Nic. “I didn’t just slip. I’m not clumsy.”
“You were pretty clumsy back in the day.” He gently rubbed the cream over her arm, his eyes shooting to her face when he heard the harsh inhale. “Sorry.”
Her cheeks flushed in the prettiest way as she shook her head. “There was no vine at the top of the steps.”
“There was. I just snapped it off and tossed it.”
“I didn’t . . . I didn’t see it.”
Gabe was silent as he finished with the cream and then picked up the gauze. Could she have been pushed and not have tripped over the vine? The mere thought of that pissed him off, but he had no idea who could’ve done it. Or why.
Taping the ends of the gauze together, he lowered her arm to her thigh. “How are you feeling? Dizzy? Nauseous?”
“I feel fine,” she insisted. “Thank you for cleaning up my arm.”
“It’s no big deal—” He looked up as he heard footsteps. A second later, Dev appeared at the top of the steps. Right behind him was Sabrina.
Gabe felt Nic stiffen.
Dev stared down the steps, his expression unreadable. “Do I even want to know what is going on?”
“Nothing.” Gabe looked over at Nic. “Everything is fine.”
“It does not look like everything is fine,” Dev replied. “Are you injured, Nikki?”
“No,” she answered, craning her neck to look up the steps. “I’m okay.”
“Did you fall down the steps?” Sabrina asked the question in a way that sounded like she was trying not to laugh.
“Yeah.” Nic looked away, focusing on the steps before her. “I fell.”
“Oh no.” Sabrina placed a hand on Dev’s arm. “I do hope she doesn’t try to get workmen’s comp.” She gasped. “Or sue you.”
Gabe opened his mouth, but Nic was faster. “Contrary to what you might think, I’m not desperate enough for money to throw myself down the stairs.”
Sabrina’s eyes narrowed.
“That’s good to hear.” Dev’s response was dry. “So, you did fall down the steps?”
Gabe waited for her to say she was pushed, but he heard Nic sigh as she picked up the bouquet and said, “I did, but I saved the flowers.”
The next day Nikki felt like she’d fallen down a flight of steps because, well, she’d fallen down a flight of steps.
God, she’d been so lucky she hadn’t cracked her head open or worse. She wasn’t even sure how she ended up only with a few scratches. Kind of felt like she had a guardian angel perched on her shoulder yesterday.
She still couldn’t believe that Gabe had been the one to find her. Not only that, but he’d actually taken care of her as if he didn’t hate her.
But he hated her.
He just wasn’t going to let her lie on the stairs, bleeding and banged up.
Nikki winced as she reached up, grabbing two cans of cream of chicken soup. She cradled them to her chest as she picked up a pack of noodles.
Was I pushed?
That question had been haunting her since yesterday afternoon. She knew she’d felt something hit her back. She hadn’t just lost her balance. Someone pushed her, but who? Gabe had said no one was up there and he said there was a vine covering the floor, and she doubted that he’d lie about that. She hadn’t seen anyone nor heard anyone run away. Granted, she’d been falling down the stairs screaming, so she probably wouldn’t have heard anyone, but she knew she’d been pushed. If it wasn’t a person then the only other option was a . . . ghost had pushed her.
She didn’t laugh at the absurdity of the idea. She’d basically grown up in this house. She’d never seen anything, but she’d heard stuff—footsteps in the hallway when no one was there, a woman’s laughter when there was no other female around, and things moving.
A shiver danced down her spine. She wasn’t sure what was worse. An actual living, breathing human being who wanted to see her injured or a ghost who decided she needed to take a quick trip down the steps.
Either way, she was grateful that Gabe hadn’t said anything to her father. She’d been able to hide the bandage yesterday by wearing a cardigan and today she wore a shirt where the sleeves went to her elbows.
She thought about the car that had seemed like it had been following her almost to the front door of her parents’ house. Another shiver shook her. The car hadn’t been following her and maybe . . . maybe she did trip over the vine. That sounded more likely than someone pushing her.
Nikki left the pantry and made her way back in the kitchen. As she reached the island, she heard the sharp rap of heels clicking off the wood floors. She knew who it was before she walked into the kitchen.
Irritation pricked at her skin as Sabrina entered. The woman looked flawless, as usual. Her chic bob defied the laws of physics by not having one single strand of hair out of place. She wore dark slacks that seemed to repel lint of all forms and a pressed, wrinkle-free blouse that was tucked into her pants so perfectly Nikki wondered how that was even possible.
Nikki also wondered what in the world she was doing in the kitchen. She doubted that woman knew the difference between a spatula and a fork.
“Hello, Nikki,” she said, saying her name like it was a newly discovered STD. “I wanted to make sure you were aware that I’ll be joining Devlin for dinner tonight.”
Unfortunately she was aware. “Yes. I was informed of that this morning.”
Her gaze flicked to the island. “I do hope you’re not making whatever that is for dinner.”
“A casserole was—”
“I don’t care what was on the menu,” she interrupted. “I will not eat a casserole for dinner.”
“Then you might want to order out,” Nikki replied, keeping her voice level.
Sabrina’s gaze sharpened. “Is that a serious response or are you just being a smartass?”
Honestly, she wasn’t being a smartass. Sort of. “Only the chicken has thawed out. For me to make something else, the meat wouldn’t be ready—”
“Then I would like a broiled herb butter chicken breast,” she cut in, and Nikki suddenly wondered if she was working at a restaurant. “Would that be too difficult of a request to make? Too hard for your obviously limited skillset?”
Limited skillset? Aw, Jesus be testing her. “I can make that for you. Would you also like a salad?”
Sabrina’s lips twisted into a smirk. “You should’ve offered that before telling me I needed to order out.”
Counting to ten and only making it to five, Nikki bit back a curse. “Would you like a salad with your chicken breast?”
“Yes, I would love a salad with my chicken breast.”
Nikki nodded and then turned away, hoping Sabrina would take the hint.
She didn’t. “How are you feeling after your fall?”
A chill skated down her spine as she turned back to Sabrina. There wasn’t a single second where Nikki believed genuine concern had prompted that question. “I’m feeling fine. Thanks for asking.”
Sabrina nodded. “I’m glad to hear that.”
Nikki was going to call BS on that.
“I would hate to see something tragic like a serious fall happen to you, when you’re so young.” Sabrina smiled then. “I’ll see you at dinner.”
Another icy chill danced over her skin as Nikki watched Sabrina leave. A horrible thought occurred to her as she stood there. Had . . . had it been Sabrina who’d pushed her? She’d been at the house yesterday. Obviously. Could she have snuck away from Devlin and done it? Nikki had spilled the champagne on her, but that seemed like a drastic retaliation even for someone as petty as Sabrina.
But what if it had been her?
Thank God that after Wednesday, Nikki had to only worry about getting dinner prepared and served to Devlin, which was like serving food to a wall, and Gabe, which was like serving a water buffalo.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com