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Page 13


“Is this the woman that Trevor and Jason think he’s going to marry?” his nephew asked with that long-suffering expression that all the younger men in his family wore until the Bradford curse hit them and knocked them on their asses.

“Only one way to find out,” Jared said, already heading for the door, more than curious about his future niece.

Chapter 8

“No, I’ll definitely be in tomorrow,” Jodi said, struggling to ignore the constant itching that only seemed to be getting worse with every passing minute.

“Do you want me to double check the supplies for the kid’s craft group?” Jenna, a volunteer who was covering for her at the library, asked as Jodi shifted the phone to her other ear so that she could bend down and take a peek in the oven to make sure the cookies were baking evenly.

“We should have everything but the glitter. Dan is supposed to drop that off along with the glue tomorrow so we’ll be all set by Thursday morning. Besides,” she said, pausing to shut off the oven timer and don a pair of sturdy oven mittens, quickly pulling out the hot cookie sheets from the oven and replacing them with the pans she’d had sitting on the kitchen table, “we’re shutting the library down for the summer. I’d rather use up everything that we already have so that we don’t have to worry about finding a place to store it.”

“That’s what I figured,” Jenna said, as Jodi carefully placed the hot pans on the counter to cool.

“Could you please tell Mr. Jennings that I’m working from home today,” she asked, once again thankful that she had a job that allowed her to work from home when needed, and today she definitely needed to work from home.

Actually, what she really needed to do was go to the hospital and have these frightening hives or boils or whatever they were looked at, but at the moment she didn’t have health insurance. Then again, if it got any worse she wasn’t going to have much of a choice in the matter. She’d have to suck it up, go down to the walk-in clinic and agree to a payment plan that she couldn’t afford, which of course was the reason why she’d been cooking ever since the jerk across the hallway had dropped her off, she mused as she looked around the kitchen overrun with cakes, brownies, cookies, breads, and casseroles.

Her refrigerator was already overflowing with food and she had absolutely no idea what she was going to do with all of it. She’d tried calling the guys, hoping they’d come relieve her of some of this food, but for some strange reason none of them were answering their phones. She’d briefly considered packing all the food in the car and bringing it down to the police station, but she’d quickly dismissed that idea. She really wasn’t in the mood to explain why she looked like she had the plague.

“He already knows and he said that was fine. I hope you feel better, Jodi.”

“Thank you, Jenna. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She hoped she would at least. But as she hung up the phone and contemplated jumping under a hot shower, again, she wasn’t so sure. Trying to ignore the mindless need to itch every last square inch of her body, she picked up her spatula and began the task of removing the cookies when there was a knock at the front door.

Sighing with relief, and hoping that she could talk whoever it was at the door into running to the pharmacy and buy her some calamine lotion, she quickly headed to the door and opened it, only to frown in confusion when she met the curious gazes of two incredibly handsome men. The youngest one looked down at her, looking a little lost while the older man, an incredibly handsome older man that looked vaguely familiar, grinned hugely down at her.

“Tinkerbelle?” the younger man said, sounding unsure as she turned to glare up at him.

She opened her mouth to give him a piece of her mind when both men tilted their heads, sniffed the air and, she was pretty sure, groaned in ecstasy.

“God, something smells good,” the younger man said with a wistful smile that may have distracted her from his Tinkerbelle comment.

“Are we interrupting something?” the older man asked, sharing a look with the younger man that she couldn’t quite interpret.

“No,” she said, shaking her head as she crossed her arms in a desperate attempt to keep from scratching. “I just felt like cooking.”

“I see,” the older man said, his expression suddenly smug. “You enjoy cooking?”

“Yes,” she said, eying the two men standing in front of her. “Umm, can I help you?”

“Actually,” the younger man said, gesturing to the things covering her arms, neck and face, “we came here to help you. My name is Dr. Aidan Bradford. My brother told me that you had a reaction to a substance that you came in contact with last night.”

“Your brother?” she asked, eyes narrowing as she looked the younger man over and noted the similarities between him and her tormentor living across the hallway from her.

“Yes, he’s my brother,” Aidan said with a long-suffering sigh that had her biting back a smile and instantly liking the large man. “He’s also the one who told me that you might need some medical attention,” he explained with a charming smile that had her stepping back and gesturing for the men to come in.

With a nod and a smile, the men stepped into her apartment and followed her into the kitchen, just in time it seemed. The oven timer chimed in demand as she hurried across the kitchen and grabbed her oven mitts. She managed to shut the timer off and pull the cookies out of the oven before they burned. As she set them on the counter she caught her unexpected guests’ expressions.

Looking as though they were lost in a dream, they slowly looked around the kitchen, taking in every cookie, brownie and delicious treat that she’d spent the last seven hours cooking and…..

Was that a whimper?

Yup, definitely a whimper, she decided, biting back another smile as she gestured to the food around them. “Are you hungry?”

“Always,” the men said in unison, looking deadly serious as they continued to gaze around them.

“Help yourselves,” she said, gesturing to the food.

“Bless you,” Aidan said, reaching for a brownie only to come up empty handed when the large plate suddenly disappeared.

“You should really be looking her over,” the older man said around a large brownie as he backed away, plate of brownies lovingly cradled in his arms.

“Greedy bastard,” Aidan muttered as he, reluctantly, turned his attention away from the brownies and looked at her. “Can I see your arm?” he asked, looking close to pouting over the brownies, she assumed since he couldn’t stop himself from sending the plate in the other man’s arms a wistful glance.

“Oh, God, these are so damn good,” the older man groaned, taking another large bite.

Pleased that he was enjoying the brownie, a recipe she’d created a few years ago, she pulled up her sleeve and tried not to cringe as she showed the incredibly handsome doctor the hive thingies covering her arms. With a frown, he shifted his attention from the brownies to her arm. He gently traced the outer edge of one hive with the tips of his fingers.

“You had prolonged exposure,” he said, sighing heavily as he pulled the backpack off his shoulder and started rummaging through it.

“Is it contagious?” she whispered, throwing the food around them a nervous glance and calling herself all kinds of stupid for not considering that before she offered them any food.

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