Author: Jill Shalvis

“You’ll get used to the crutches,” she said, hoping that it was true. “But until you do, we’ll all take shifts here to make sure you have what you need.”


“I have what I need.” He grabbed her hand when she tried to move away. “My own private nurse.”


She laughed. “I was a nurse once for Halloween, but you should know, I’m not all that good at it in real life.”


“I bet you made a really hot nurse.” His eyes went a little glossy as he thought about it. “You and a short short, little white uniform, with white lacy thigh-highs and a devastatingly tiny thong. Or no thong. Yeah, no thong at all.”


“You’ve given this some thought,” she said, amused. And also a little turned on to be the center of his fantasies.


“I have a very active imagination.” He looked at her, no humor in his face when he said, “Something became clear to me today when I thought I was going to die.”


“Ford, you fell out of a tree and broke your leg. You were never going to die.”


“Could have,” he insisted.


“Did I give you too many of the happy pills?” she asked, checking the bottle. “Maybe the hospital meant for me to wait until morning to dose you again.” Shaking her head, she took a long pull from his soda.


He smiled. “I love you, you know. Probably, you should just marry me.”


Tara inhaled soda up her nose and choked for air as she wheezed and gaped at him.


“You okay?”


“I will be,” she managed through a raw throat. “When the shooting pains down my left arm go away.” She drew in a ragged breath. “What did you just say to me?”


“I want to do it right this time with you,” he said. “I want to get married. No more stupid Facebook, no more Logan, no more what-are-we-doing-with-each-other shit, and no more bad endings. Just you and me, and a piece of paper to make it official.”


She stared at him some more, then picked up the pills again. “Okay, seriously. What did I give you?”


With a deceptive laziness, Ford snagged her hand and tugged her on top of him.


“Careful,” she gasped. “Your leg—”


“Is fine. Since you aren’t in the mood to discuss getting married, there’s something else you can do.”


“What?”


“Kiss it and make it better.”


He was crazy. She was crazy. “Ford—”


“Please, Nurse Daniels?”


She let out a breath, then cupped his face. It was lined with exhaustion and drawn with pain. He was beautiful. She leaned in and kissed him softly on first one rough cheek, and then went for the other; but he turned his head and caught his mouth with hers, kissing her hard and deep.


“Better?” she asked breathlessly a long moment later.


“No,” he said very solemnly. “More.”


“Ford, about…” The marriage proposal. Had he meant to say it? Did he even remember saying it? She looked into his eyes and had no idea how to bring it back up. “When you—”


From within her purse, her cell phone rang with insistence.


“Maybe Logan’s gotten stung again,” Ford said hopefully as Tara dug the phone out.


“Hey,” Chloe said when Tara answered. “Our guests want to know if they could pay you to make them a dinner basket to go. They want to watch the sun set somewhere with a picnic.”


Tara was standing between the couch and the coffee table, her legs bumping into Ford’s uncasted one. “Uh…” She nearly jumped out of her skin when a big, warm hand slid up the back of her calf. “Sure. But—”


Ford’s warm, determined fingers headed north and her brain stuttered.


“They want wine, too,” Chloe said. “Do we have what you need for them?”


Ford palmed Tara’s ass. Squeezed.


“Um…” she said, closing her eyes when Ford groaned softly at the feel of her.


“I know it’s a bad time,” Chloe told her sympathetically. “And that you have your hands full.”


Actually, it was Ford who had his hands full. He slipped beneath her panties now, and she trembled as she smacked at his wayward hand.


The wayward hand was not deterred.


“Hang up,” Ford said.


“Shh.”


“Hey.” Chloe sounded insulted. “I’m just passing the information on here.”


“No, not you.” Tara bit her lip to hold back her gasp when Ford slid his uncasted leg between hers, forcing her feet into a wider stance. “Oh, God.”


“What the hell are you doing?” Chloe asked suspiciously. “You sound like you’re running a marathon.”


“I’ll make the dinner,” Tara managed. “Anything else?”


“Yes, lots else,” Ford whispered. “Hang up first.”


“Well,” Clueless Chloe said in her ear, “I get the feeling that this is going to be one of those meaningful Hallmark moments for our guests, so I thought we could also do up a really nice basket with some of my—”


Ford nipped the back of Tara’s thigh to get her attention.


He had it.


She gave him a push to the chest to slow him down, but he was a man on a mission. A quick tug, and her panties hit the floor.


He was nothing if not resourceful.


“Your leg,” she hissed, then bit back her moan when he lightly stroked right over ground zero.


“Not going to use my leg,” he said.


Good grief.


“… Hellllooooo?” Chloe said. “When will you be back?” There was something new in her voice now. Definitely still suspicion, but with a big dose of humor now, too. “After you’ve taken care of Ford?”


“Yes. No. I have to go,” Tara said, desperate to get off the phone before she got off in Ford’s hands. He already had her halfway there. “I’ll be there to get the dinner together.”


“Okay, but fair warning—Maddie’s going to be coming by there with some stuff for Ford so he can manage better on his own. Jax is with her.”


“ ’Kay, gotta go.” Tara dropped the phone and tried to remember why this was a bad idea.


She couldn’t come up with one reason. “Maddie’s going to come.”


“No, I called Jax when you were in the kitchen and told him I was fine.” His voice was thick with arousal. “But you. You’re going to come, Tara. You’re going to come hard.”


“Ford. We can’t… you can’t…” She shook her head, hoping he’d see reason.


But he was most unhelpful in that regard. He’d produced a condom from God knew where and tugged her down to straddle him. He was wearing basketball shorts that Sawyer had brought for him at the hospital, which meant easy access. With a single thrust of his hips, he drove into her, pushing her to sweet ecstasy. He murmured something in her ear, something soft and sexy, but she couldn’t hear it over the roaring of her own blood as he hurled her toward climax.


“Careful of your leg,” she gasped.


“It’s not my leg you should be worried about.”


Oh boy. He was right. As she flew over the edge, her heart and soul shattering in tandem, she heard herself cry out his name. And the very last thing on her mind was his leg.


Chapter 27


“It’s frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.”


TARA DANIELS


Touching Tara kept the leg pain from hitting the circuits in Ford’s brain. There was only room for one sensation at a time, and his hunger for her won out.


That worked for him. She worked for him. He couldn’t get enough. He had no idea how it was that he was lucky enough to have her with him here, but since he’d made a lifelong habit of not questioning things, he just accepted it. Accepted that she’d once again worked her way into his heart and made herself right at home.


For good this time. He knew that much.


They were still both breathing unsteadily, sweaty and tangled. He stroked a hand down her back, and she practically purred. He could hear his phone vibrating from the pocket of his shorts, but with his hands full of warm, sated woman, he couldn’t give a shit.


“Are you okay?” Tara murmured.


“I just came so hard my eyes rolled back in my head. I’m so okay I can’t believe it.”


“I meant your leg.” She slipped out of his arms. “But good to know where you’re at.”


“And where’s that?”


“Mellow from the great sex,” she said, looking around for her clothes. “Or maybe it’s the drugs.”


“No, pretty sure it’s you,” he said mildly. “And I hate to disagree with a very gorgeous, very naked lady, but that was more than sex.”


Someone knocked at the door. Tara clutched her dress to her chest and peeked stealthily out the window. “Sawyer,” she hissed, bending over for her underwear, giving Ford a world-class view.


“So,” he said, getting hard again. “I guess the question is—how much more than sex was that?”


She stopped in the act of buttoning her dress. “What?”


“If you ask me, I’d say it was way more than just sex. But ‘way’ probably isn’t an apt descriptive adjective.”


Tara stared at him. “And maybe our definitions of ‘way’ are different.”


“Dilemma,” he agreed. “Maybe you should just tell me in your own words.”


“Now? With Sawyer at the door?”


“That’d be great,” he said with relief, pulling up the basketball shorts and adjusting himself since round two was apparently not in the cards. Fucking Sawyer.


“I’m going to need more time than we have available,” Tara said.


“Really? You couldn’t just say ‘it’s a fucking boatload more than just sex, Ford, thanks for asking’?”


She shoved her feet into her heels. “Did you hit your head when you fell?”

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