How could she explain how bone weary she felt? How every muscle in her body ached with fatigue and from the toll moving her mother had taken? How she had so much work that night that just the thought of it was overwhelming?
She should get started.
When she met Stone’s gaze, he was studying her as if trying to figure out a complicated puzzle. She took another bite so he wouldn’t think she didn’t like her dinner.
“This isn’t about last night, is it?”
Meeting his gaze, seeing the uncertainty there, she felt a need to reassure him hit. He was a good man. He didn’t deserve her craziness. “I don’t regret last night. Do you?”
“Are you kidding me?” he asked. “Last night was amazing. Come on,” he surprised her by saying as he stood up from the dining table. He held his hand out. “I want to do something.”
Placing her hand in his, Carly arched a brow. Curious, she let him lead her to her small sofa.
Didn’t he know if she lay down she’d be out like a light? She started to argue.
“Lie down, Carly,” he repeated, his voice more firm.
Carly’s gaze dropped to the sofa. She needed to keep a clear head, to stay awake. Or maybe he meant to… “Stone, my mother is in the next room and there’s no door to shut for privacy and—”
The twinkle was back and he laughed. “I like where your mind went, but that’s not where mine’s at.” He waggled his brows. “Not at the moment. But later, after you’ve relaxed a little, then yeah, I’d like to see if I missed kissing any spots last night.”
“You didn’t,” she assured him, memories heating her cheeks. “I’ve never been kissed like that.”
“Good, I don’t want anyone else kissing you that way. Just me.”
“They haven’t, not even Tony. I…” She cut herself off. No way did she want to talk about Tony, especially not to Stone.
But rather than question her on her ex, he let go of her hand and pointed to the sofa. “Humor me for a few minutes and lie down, Carly. Do this for me.”
Curious and compelled to do as he wanted, she lay down, propped her ankles on one armrest, her head on the other.
“Now, close your eyes.”
“What?” She frowned. He didn’t know what he was asking, how little sleep she’d gotten the past week, but especially the last few nights.
“Do you trust me, Carly?”
She stared at where he stood next to the sofa. Lord help her, she did trust him. She’d never have let him into her bedroom if she hadn’t.
“Then do as I ask,” he ordered in a gentle, but determined tone. “Close your eyes and keep them closed.”
Carly closed her eyes, willed herself not to go to sleep, and listened to him move to the end of the sofa. She almost jumped when his hands grasped her shoulders. His brilliant, magical fingers that had touched her all over the night before now applied just the right amount of pressure as they kneaded into her achy muscles.
Dear sweet heavens above!
“That feels good,” she told him. “You really don’t have to do this.”
But don’t ever stop, please.
Because his fingers were working the tension out of her neck and shoulders, were working magic through every tight, strained, painful fiber of her body. A different magic from the night before, but that magic was there, too. That magical chemistry seemed to always be an undercurrent between them.
“I feel guilty letting you do this,” she murmured, thinking she might go into full-out purr mode any moment. “You worked all day at the hospital. I didn’t.”
“Somehow, Carly…” his voice was low, as soothing as his hands “… I’m positive you worked harder than I did. Taking care of someone you love who’s ill isn’t easy.”
Something shifted inside Carly. Something sweet and tender and grateful and completely foreign.
Tony had never understood. Not once. That someone as wonderful as Stone did seemed impossible.
“Thank you.” Her voice broke a little, but she didn’t care. How could she care about anything when her body was going from a tight mess to ooey-gooey butter?
“You’re welcome, Carly. Anyone told you how beautiful you are today?”
She smiled. How could she not? “I did get a text saying something along those lines.”
“You got that? I wondered when I didn’t hear back.”
“I was at the neurologist’s when it came through and before I could respond, Dr. Wilton came into the room. Then…” Then, she had gotten caught up in what was going on with her mother and had forgotten she hadn’t responded. Would he be upset if she told him the truth? “I’m sorry I didn’t text back.”