Plus, with two jobs and her mother, she barely slept as it was. Where would she fit in a relationship?
She opened her mouth, determined to tell him she only wanted a professional relationship, that he needed to forget about her and whatever it was he thought he’d seen when she looked at him.
So why did she hear her address spill from her lips?
She was crazy. She couldn’t let him into her house, couldn’t let Joyce or her mother hear his voice.
Surprise lit in his eyes, then, with a smile, he nodded. “I’ll follow you home and carry in the box.”
What had she done?
Because she wanted to know what it felt like to kiss Stone?
It wasn’t as if she were actually going to kiss him.
Only in her deepest darkest late-night fantasies and even then she barely gave her mind license to imagine Stone’s lips against hers.
She’d made a horrible mistake by giving him her address. Just what did he think it had meant? If he was thinking he was staying the night, he was going to be in for a rude awakening when he realized an invalid woman also lived at Carly’s address.
Carly got into her car, leaned forward, and rested her forehead against the steering wheel.
Clearly, she’d lost her mind.
Or maybe, because she hadn’t been able to verbalize the reasons why they could never be, her subconscious had taken control, and was going to confront Stone with the harsh reality of why he needed to forget her.
That harsh reality had certainly scared off the last man Carly had brought home.
* * *
Had Carly given Stone a bogus address?
If she had, Stone couldn’t say he’d be surprised.
He hoped she hadn’t, but had to wonder. She’d thrown it out at a point where the last thing he’d expected was an invitation to her home.
She hadn’t technically invited him to her house, but hadn’t that been what giving her address to him had essentially been?
As he’d only moved to Memphis a month before and was still learning the city, he programmed the details into his GPS and noted she only lived six minutes from the hospital and about fifteen from him as he lived over the bridge on Mud Island.
At least, he’d know pretty quickly if she’d told him the truth. And if she hadn’t?
Well, that should tell him that she wanted him to leave her alone.
Only she didn’t want that. He knew she didn’t.
She hadn’t even been able to say the words.
He’d flirted with her at the hospital on more than one occasion. She’d flirted back. Not overtly, but her smiles and sassy eye flashes and little laughs at his jokes had all been leading up to something. What had happened yesterday that had her scurrying back?
No matter how many times he replayed the conversation, he couldn’t fathom what had put her on the defensive.
Not quite liking the looks of the run-down neighborhood and having been warned not to go wandering around parts of Memphis he was unfamiliar with, Stone questioned again if Carly had given him a made-up address. He turned onto her street, and, best as he could tell, the houses on the street were small, older, but decently cared for.
His GPS told him he’d arrived at his destination and he pulled up his SUV outside a small once-white frame house that even in the dark he could tell needed some major TLC. Much more so than the surrounding homes.
That surprised him.
Carly was meticulous in her care of patients and all that she did at her job. To ignore upkeep on her home didn’t fit what he believed about her. He could be wrong, but he struggled to wrap his mind around the neglect that registered.
He wouldn’t have guessed her to live in the house of obvious worst repair on her street.
Then again, maybe she rented the place and her landlord was the slacker.
As a nurse, she made a decent salary to where she could afford to move if she was renting and things weren’t up to par. If she had some long-term lease that had her trapped in the run-down house, maybe he could call on a lawyer friend to get her into something better maintained.
He would help her find another place.
A place closer to his on Mud Island.
There was another car, a much newer sedan, parked in the drive beside hers. Did she have a roommate?
She must have just pulled into the short gravel driveway right before him as when he turned off the SUV’s engine and opened his door, Carly got out of her car.
“You really didn’t need to do this,” she said immediately, before he could ask about the other car. “Yes, it’s bulky, but I would have gotten the box inside without any problems. I was doing just fine before you came to my rescue.”
“No need to risk hurting your back when you have me.”
Whether she wanted him or not, he planned to help Carly because he suspected more was going on than met the eye with the woman who’d captured his imagination.