Then, I head to the kitchen, thinking I’ll cook some food, ready for when he wakes up.

Only I open the fridge, and it’s empty, except for bottled water, beer, and what looks to be an old carton of Chinese food.


I try the freezer and get vodka and ice cream.

I look in the cupboards, and they’re bare, except for chips, cookies, and peanut butter.

Does this guy not eat?

Looks like I need to go to the store.

I grab a bottle of water and head back into the living area.

I put the water next to Gabe, so he’ll have a drink if he wakes up before I get back from the store.

I grab his key from the table and get my bag, and then I head for the elevator.

Harry’s at the security desk when I get down there.

“How’s Mr. Evans doing?” Harry asks me.

“He’s sleeping at the moment,” I tell him. “I need to go to the store, as it’s like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard in his kitchen.”

Harry laughs.

“Do you know where the nearest store is?”

“Take a right out of here, and there’s a store on the corner of the block. Couple of minutes’ walk. It’ll have everything you need.”

“Brilliant. Thanks.”

I head out onto the street and take the directions Harry gave me, and I find the store, no problem.

I grab a cart and fill it up with groceries. Then, I pay and pack my stuff up into a few bags.

Thank God I’m not too far from his building, as I’ve got a lot of stuff.

I lug the bags back to his building.

Harry rushes to open the door when he sees me. “Do you need a hand, getting these upstairs?” he asks, taking a couple of bags from me.

“No, I’ll be fine. If you could just get me in the elevator, that’d be great.”

Harry puts the bags on the floor in the elevator for me, and I climb in.

“You sure you don’t want a hand?”

“No, I’ll be fine. But thank you.” I don’t really want him to come up with Gabe sleeping on the sofa.

Using Gabe’s key, I get the elevator moving.

It opens up, and I grab all the bags. My heels click on the floor, so I kick them off. Barefoot and being quiet, I carry the bags through the living area, heading to the kitchen.

Gabe is still sleeping.

I dump the bags on the counter and then start unpacking the food.

When I’m done, I start on making some soup for Gabe when he wakes.

I hope he likes carrot and ginger soup. It’s one of my favorites.

I love cooking. I used to cook for Jeremy all the time. It’s not so much fun though when you’re only cooking for yourself.

I make up the vegetable stock I bought. Then, I chop up the carrots and boil them in water to soften them. I pour the stock into the sparkling clean blender. Add in the carrots, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, sour cream, and some wholemeal bread, and I blend the whole thing together. Then, I pop it in a pan on the stove and heat it through.

When I’m done, I head back into the living room.

The smell of cigarette smoke tells me that Gabe’s awake.

“Hey,” I say, walking over. I open the door to the terrace to let in some fresh air. “You sleep okay?”

He rubs the palms of his hands over his eyes. “Yeah. Guess I needed it.”

I walk over, pick up the ashtray on the coffee table, and hand it to him.

“Thanks.”

I perch on the sofa next to him. “I made soup. I hope you like carrot and ginger.”

“I wondered what that nice smell was.”

“Surprised you could smell it over the stench of your nicotine stick.”

“Surprised you can cook.”

“Hey!” I shove his arm with my hand.

God, his biceps are big.

He chuckles. “Just kidding, Speedy. Where did you get the food from?”

“This crazy place called a store. You heard of one before?”

He gives me a look. “Of course I have.”

“I wouldn’t have thought so with how bare your cupboards were.”

“I always order in. Or eat out.”

“Well, you have an amazing kitchen back there that was in serious need of use. So, I went to the store and bought you some food. You owe me a hundred and twenty bucks by the way.”

“Did you buy the whole store?”

“Just the essentials and enough to feed you for the next week.”

He leans his head back against the sofa and takes a drag of his cigarette.

I’m mesmerized by the set of his lips around that cigarette and then the way the smoke flows out of his mouth before curling up into the air.

Smoking is gross. But, somehow, he makes it seem sexy.

“Thank you.” He turns his head to look at me. “I appreciate you cooking for me.”

The way he’s looking at me, warm brown eyes on mine, I can feel his stare in every part of my body. And it feels good.

“So”—I clear my throat, looking away—“do you want to eat now?”

“Shower,” he says. “I feel gross.”

“How is that going to work?” I ask.

He stares down at the boot on his leg. “Fuck if I know. Guess I can take it off while I shower.”

“Nope. Tate said under no circumstances are you to take it off. So, it’s shower with the boot on. Or would a bath be easier? I could keep the water low, and you could hang your leg out of the bath. Rest your foot on a stool.”

“Sure, I guess that could work.” He shrugs.

“Okay. I’ll go run you a bath.”

I head off to his bathroom and get the bath going. I find some bubble bath that says it helps with muscle relaxation and pour it in.

I need something for him to rest his foot on while he’s in the tub.

There’s a stool under the vanity unit. I pull it out and set it next to the bath.

Perfect height.

The bathroom has started to steam up, and my shirt is sticking to my skin.

I hear the sound of Gabe’s crutches on the wooden floor of his bedroom.

I shut off the taps.

“It’s ready,” I tell him.

“Thanks,” he says, coming into the bathroom.

“So…” I twist my hands in front of me. “Will you be okay getting in…or do you need my help?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Okay. Right then. Just holler if you need anything.”

I back out of the bathroom and close the door behind me.

I hear the swoosh of his clothes being removed, and I try not to think about Gabe getting naked behind the door.

He’s naked in there.

Lord help me.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I force all thoughts of naked Gabe away. Then, I take myself out of there and into the kitchen where I give myself a much-needed infusion of coffee.

Ava

“Speedy!”

I hear the urgent call of my name, so I come running from the kitchen.

“You okay?” I call through the bathroom door. I don’t want to just go barging in there.

“Where have you been? I’ve been calling you for ages.”

“Ages? How long?”

“Well, I yelled your name, like, three times.”

“Three times is hardly ages, Gabe. And I was in the kitchen. What’s up?”

“Will you come in? Talking through the door is annoying.”

I push open the door, and there he is, in the tub, in all his naked glory. Leg hanging out of the bath. Cigarette in hand. Bubbles covering the important part. Olive skin as far as the eye can see. A smattering of dark hair on his ripped chest.

Dear God.

He looks sexy as hell.

My heart starts thumping, my pulse skyrocketing through the roof. My girl parts shimmy with pure joy.

Gulp.

I look away, lifting my eyes to stare at the wall, because, if I keep looking at him, I might do something crazy, like climb in the tub with him.

“I can’t believe you’re smoking in the tub.” My mouth has gone dry. I run my tongue around it.

“What else am I supposed to do in here?”

“I don’t know.” I cross my arms over my chest. “Relax.”

“I am relaxing—with a cigarette.”

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