She squeaked and opened one eye.
Not Freddy Krueger.
It was Aidan, face impassive, gaze sharp as he ran it down her body.
And damn if her nipples didn’t pretend to be cold.
“What are you doing?” she demanded, pushing herself up with a wrist, which sent an immediate bolt of fire up her arm. She gasped and fell back.
Aidan bent over the bed, a hand planted on either side of her body, effectively holding her down.
“Hey,” she said indignantly, ignoring the tears burning her eyes.
So did he, which was a relief.
“Lenny called,” he said. “Told me you need …”
“What? A rescue?” She laughed humorlessly, one part astonished and one part annoyed that he was doing it again and this thankfully chased her tears away. “In San Diego I could’ve fallen down my stairs and laid there dead for a year and no one would have even noticed.”
“You’re not in San Diego,” he said.
“No kidding.” She blew out a breath. “I’m starting to remember just how small this place is.”
“Admit it, you just missed me. But you don’t have to try so hard to get my attention, babe, you’ve already got it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Good to know.”
“How did you fall?” he asked.
“Backward. Fast,” she quipped, not about to admit she’d been startled by a bunny. A baby bunny.
“Smart-ass.” He began to check her over. As in he put his hands all over her and ran them over her body. “You’re bleeding,” he said.
“I’ll buy you new sheets.”
“Shut up.” He frowned at her wrist and found another problem at her ankle, all while she attempted to keep her T-shirt covering as much of her as possible.
Then he pointed to her shirt. “Lose it.”
“Later,” he said. “I want to see your ribs.”
“How about my foot up your ass?”
He met her gaze, his own stubborn and unbending. “Me or a doctor, Lily.”
He’d do it, too, she had no doubt. He’d drag her kicking and screaming out of here if need be. So she sighed and very carefully lifted the T-shirt to just beneath her breasts. “See? I’m fine—”
She broke off, the air backing up in her lungs when he ran his hands very lightly over her rib cage, stopping when she managed to suck in a breath.
“Bruised, not broken I don’t think,” he said, his voice quiet and calm and clinically dispassionate, in direct opposition to his eyes. “Turn over.”
She bit out a harsh laugh. “Yeah, that’s going to happen nev—”
He rolled her over and pinned her there with a hand low on her back.
She sputtered and fought him, but then went utterly still when he ran his fingers up the back of one thigh, scooping the edge of her boy-cut panties up a cheek.
“Also bruised,” he said.
“That’s where I landed. No worries, I’m padded nicely.”
“Nicely is right,” he said, and he removed his hands from her.
She leapt off the bed, tugged down her shirt, and had to tighten her lips not to whimper at the fast movement. “Okay, thanks. Be sure to lock the door on your way—”
“Did you hit your head or lose consciousness at any time?”
“No!” She didn’t want to need his help, wanted to lick her wounds in private rather than get turned on by his gentle touch. But she was stupid light-headed from getting up too fast and knew she wasn’t in the greatest shape.
And as much as she didn’t want to like it, she did like how he always seemed to be there for her, even if her brain kept telling her heart she didn’t want him to be.
He still wasn’t leaving. “Tell me what really happened.”
“I loaded up some wood and was making my way up the stairs when”—she broke off and grimaced—“something popped out of the wood. I nearly had heart failure and fell down the stairs. The end.”
He never took his eyes off of her. “What popped out at you?”
“A spider,” she said, because hey, that could’ve totally happened. Just because she’d freaked out over the baby bunny didn’t mean that there wasn’t also a spider. Maybe she’d been so busy falling down the stairs she just hadn’t seen the spider.
“A spider made you fall down the stairs?” he asked in disbelief.
“A big one.” She lifted her hands so that they were about a foot apart.
His lips twitched.
Her hands spread apart even wider. “It might have been a mutant spider.”
“Or a baby bunny,” he said.
She stared at him while he grinned wide.
“You knew the whole time,” she accused.
“Yep. Lenny told me.”
“Well isn’t that just like a man,” she said in disgust.
Aidan tipped his head back and laughed out loud.
“Fine. Whatever,” she said. “I’m taking a shower. Alone.”
“Make it lukewarm, not hot,” he said. “I’m going to the truck for my first-aid kit.”
“Aidan, I’m so not in the mood to play doctor.”
“Good,” he said. “I’ll play doctor and you play the nice, sweet, passive patient.”
She opened her mouth to retort to this but he was gone. Argh. She limped/hobbled after him and hit the lock. Proud of herself, she limped/hobbled to the bathroom and locked that door as well.
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