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Page 54


“I’m sorry,” he said, having absolutely no idea what else he should say.

“It’s fine,” she said with a little sniffle.

“Really?” he asked, kneeling down in front of the bathtub and for some reason, not believing her.

“I-I just need a minute,” she said, squeezing her eyes shut tighter as she licked her lips and somehow managed to curl up into a smaller ball.

“No one got hurt,” he said soothingly as he reached down and touched her shoulder only to pull his hand back with a muttered curse when she flinched.

“I just need a minute,” she said, taking a deep breath as he knelt there, contemplating hunting his brothers down and kicking their asses.

“Sweetheart, it’s fine. It was just a little misunderstanding,” he said, reaching for her only to have her flinch away from his touch, again.

“I-I just can’t get the screams out of my head,” she whispered. “The screams……they were just……..,” she said, swallowing as she shook her head, clearly unable to go on.

He sighed as he stood up and pulled his shirt off. He tossed it aside as he kicked his shoes off. “It goes away. Trust me,” he said as he unsnapped his fly and pushed his pants and boxers down.

“When?” she asked with a shuddering sigh that had him chuckling as he grabbed the shower curtain and pulled it aside so he could join her, careful not to step on the beautiful woman curled up in the fetal position on the bottom of the tub.

“Soon,” he promised her as he reached down and picked her up.

“It was horrible,” she said with a little sniffle that had him smiling as he kissed the top of her head.

He settled her on her feet, but didn’t let her go. “I know,” he said, still wondering how his brothers could have fucked up this badly, especially right after their mother had taken each of them by the ear and read them the riot act before they’d been allowed inside.

“Your mother looked mad,” she said, pressing her face against his chest as she grabbed onto his biceps and held on tightly.

He chuckled as he wrapped his arms around her, careful of the healing rug burn covering her back and arms. “Well,” he said, thoughtfully pausing only long enough to press another kiss to the top of her head, “they did break the rules.”

She sighed against his chest, but he did feel her relax. “Rules?”

“Mmmhmm,” he murmured, closing his eyes as he enjoyed holding her in his arms. Nothing in life ever felt more perfect than this. “My mother created a list of rules for us when we were little to help cut back on incidents like the ones today.”

“Smart,” she said, pressing a kiss against his chest as she settled more comfortably in his arms.

He chuckled as he closed his eyes and stood there, savoring this moment with her. For the past three days he’d forced himself to be content with holding her hand and small kisses when all he wanted to do was wrap his arms around her, touch her, kiss her, run his hands over her and slide back inside the tightest, wettest hold that he’d ever experienced.

“Is that why you were avoiding your family?” she suddenly asked him, but it wasn’t enough to distract him away from what was really on his mind.

“Hmmm?” he asked, kissing the top of her head as he gently ran his hands down her back, testing the waters.

“Your back,” she said, giving him an, “Oh,” moment.

Another kiss. “Yes, I didn’t want to wreck their trip. The bullet didn’t paralyze me, but it was close. It did a lot of damage and so did the surgeries. So anytime I go somewhere that has restrictions for back injuries I warm a bench.”

She nodded as she pressed another kiss to his chest. “That’s what I figured.” Which of course made him curious…..

“Is that why you didn’t go on any of the fun rides today?” he asked, tracing his fingers up and down her spine.

“I went on all the fun rides today,” she assured him, removing her hold on his biceps and wrapping her arms around him.

“You didn’t go on any of the rides that I couldn’t go on,” he pointed out, allowing his fingers to move further south, tracing the cleft between her cheeks.

She chuckled softly as she admitted, “I didn’t want to go on any of the rides that you couldn’t go on.”

“Because you’re in love with me?” he half-teased.

“Yes,” she said softly, taking him by surprise before she added, “That and I’m afraid of heights.”

Chapter 36

“Would you let go of me?” Danny asked with a heavy sigh.

“Will you forget what I just said?” she asked, tightening her arms around the large man that she’d just foolishly admitted to being in love with, because apparently she was incredibly stupid.

He stilled. “Did you mean it?”

She stilled. “Why do you ask?”

He sighed, trying to step back, but all he managed to do was to pull her away from the hot water since she refused to let him go. “Are you going to let me go?”

“Not until you answer me,” she said, tightening her hold as she buried her face against his chest in an attempt to save herself from further humiliation.

He sighed heavily as he leaned down and kissed the top of her head again, which she decided to take as a good sign that she hadn’t just scared him off. “I’m not in love with you, Tink, and I can’t make myself say those words to make you feel better,” he said softly, trying to soften the words with another kiss as she stood there feeling like her heart was shattering into a million pieces.

It surprised her how much hearing that he didn’t love her actually hurt. She hadn’t realized just how much she’d come to care about him until recently. Of course, the first clue should have been the fact that she’d been willing to ask for the time off, risk killing her credit card and using up the small savings she’d been able to put away over the past couple of months. She’d been working so hard to clear the debt she’d been stuck with and this trip was going to set her back a bit. She hadn’t wanted to do it, but she’d wanted to be here with him.

Of course, she also didn’t want to stand here, naked in the shower, mortified beyond words and trying to hide against his chest after she’d somehow confessed something that she was still getting used to either. How she wished that she could turn and walk away with some dignity…and clothes, clothes and dignity would be really nice right about now.

“I am however,” he said, pausing to kiss the top of her head as she stood there trying to figure a way out of this, “going to keep you.”

“Keep me?” she asked, tilting her head slightly to the side so that she look up at him as she frowned with disgust, “Like a puppy?”

Grinning, he leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. “More like my own personal fairy,” he teased.

Glaring, she opened her mouth to tell him that she wasn’t a freaking fairy when he cut her off with another kiss on the tip of her nose and continued, “I’m not in love with you,” he said, apparently deciding that repeating that fun fact was the best way to continue this conversation, “but I am planning on spending the rest of my life with you, Tinkerbelle.”

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