“It’s not.”

“Yes,” she said. “It is—” She pulled back and her heart stopped. Just stopped. “Oh, my God, you’re covered in blood.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes you are!” She carefully tugged up his shirt and gasped. “You’re got a huge gash across your side.”

He looked down. “Huh. Look at that.”

She gaped at him. Then went hands on hips. “Strip,” she demanded.

His mouth quirked, but there was a tightness to it and a grimness to the set of his face, making her realize that he was in real pain. And he’d hidden it. “I mean it,” she said firmly. “Strip.”

“Not even going to buy me dinner first?” he asked, but kicked off his boots and then unbuttoned and unzipped his pants. He tried to pull his shirt over his head and hissed in a breath. “No go,” he said, and tore it off instead.

She gave a completely inappropriate shiver of sheer lust before taking in the bruises and cuts on his torso, and her heart squeezed again. All her fears coming to life right before her.

He’s still breathing, she reminded herself, trying to calm her racing pulse. And joking around. He was going to be okay but God … his poor body. “Oh, Aidan.”

“That’s ‘Oh, Aidan, I want to fuck you right now,’ right?” he asked with a male’s eternal optimism.

“Lie down,” she said, and pointed to the bed.

“Great idea,” he said, and flopped backward onto the bed. “I’m done in. Maybe you wouldn’t mind doing all the work on this round. I’ll take up the slack on round two.”

“Don’t move,” she commanded.

He flashed another brief smile. “Love it when you go all dominatrix on me.” He closed his eyes. “I’m all yours …”

She snatched his keys and his phone and ran out to his truck, thumbing through his contacts until she found Hudson.

“Yo,” he answered. “You’re alive. Thanks for answering your texts, asshat.”

“It’s not Aidan,” she said. “It’s Lily.”

“He all right?” Hudson immediately asked, going from pissed to emergency calm in zero point two.

“I think he needs stitches, but he won’t even admit he’s bleeding.”

“Of course not, he’s an idiot. Where is he?”

“My place. It’s—”

She was talking to dead air. “Damn Kincaids and their phone etiquette.” She unlocked Aidan’s truck and found his first-aid bag. She locked up the truck, turned back to her building, and plowed right into Hudson.

She put a hand to her heart. “You both need bells around your neck,” she said.

He took the duffel bag from her, shouldered it, and took her hand, pulling her along at his pace, which meant she was nearly running.

“He’s not bleeding out,” she promised.

“Of course not. He’s too ornery for that.” Inside, he headed straight for her bed and sat on the mattress at Aidan’s side. He looked over his brother’s injuries, swore, then strode into the bathroom, where she could hear him washing his hands. When he came back, he started digging into the bag.

“I’m fine,” Aidan muttered.

“You’re a dumbass,” Hudson responded.

Aidan opened his eyes and slitted Lily a look of amusement, which vanished quickly when Hudson squirted something over Aidan’s raw chest.

Aidan swore the air blue.

“Suck it up,” Hudson said, and tore open a pack that looked suspiciously like a suture kit.

“What are you doing?” Lily gasped, when Hudson began stitching up Aidan, who lay there perfectly still, his hands fisted in the bedding beneath him.

“Don’t worry,” Hudson said without looking up from what he was doing, which, near as she could tell, was torturing Aidan, given the seriously profane muttering still coming from his mouth.

Don’t worry? Was he kidding? She felt bells clanging in her head, and her vision got cobwebby. “You’ve … done this before?”

“I became a pro on Jacob, although I think this one puts Aidan in a dead tie.”

She made a sound that was pure anxiety, and Hudson spared her a look, narrowing his eyes. “You going to faint?”

“No!” Maybe …

He held her gaze, his own steady. “I need a cold, damp washcloth or something and a glass of ice water. Lily,” he said firmly, when she just stared at him. “Go.”

She ran to the kitchenette and came back with both, which she held while she stared at the scene before her.

Aidan was gritting his teeth and staring up at the ceiling, his face damp with sweat. Her heart squeezed, and she moved to his other side and put her hand over his.

He flicked her a quick gaze of surprise and managed a smile for her.

She rolled her eyes at him and sat at his side. “And we didn’t get him to the hospital why?” she asked Hudson.

“Hello, have you met him?” Hudson asked. “He’s got more rocks in his head than actual brains.”

“Fuck. You,” Aidan said between his gritted teeth. “Last time I stitched you up, you cried for your mama.”

Lily divided a horrified look between the two of them. “You two play doctor a lot?”

Hudson shrugged. “Shit happens.” He glanced up from his hands to Aidan’s face, smirked, and then went back to work. “Hate to crack his image for ya, but he’s really just a big baby, emphasis on big.”

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