What was it about these guys, all these guys, that were making me like this?
“Sleep well, my lady,” Stevie called, collecting his clothes off the floor. “We’ll do this again soon.”
“God I hope so,” I heard myself say as they ambled out of the dorm, leaving me in a soaked pool of confusion and hormones.
I was drenched in sweat as I opened my eyes again and the pain searing up my leg was nearly unbearable.
The dorm was pitch black, all the beds empty and I wondered where everyone was. I opened my mouth to call out but all that escaped was a cry of agony instead and I whimpered as more sweat formed around my brow.
I needed to find Dan and get my hands on some painkillers before I blacked out from the searing pain.
Grunting, I positioned myself into an upright position and slowly, I moved my body off the bed, hobbling toward the door. My legs were wobbly but I dared not stop. No one was around to pick me up if I fell this time like Bash had been last time.
Gritting my teeth, I made my way through the massive cabin, looking for signs of life. I wondered where the men had gone to sleep.
Or was it daytime?
I had no idea but as I stumbled through the hall, my breaths short and ragged, I didn’t hear anyone’s voice.
I paused in a doorway and exhaled with relief when I saw Dan hunched over a desk, his brow knit in concentration. Even through my pained vision, I could see he was stressed about something.
“Hey,” I wheezed and his head jerked up instantly to look at me. For a moment, he looked like he’d seen a ghost and he only gaped at me but he quickly recovered when he saw my situation.
“What are you doing out of bed?” he demanded, leaping from the chair and striding around the side of the desk toward me.
“I-I’m in a lot of pain,” I mumbled. “Do you think you could give me something?”
A deep scowl touched Dan’s face.
“Where the hell is Graham?” he demanded, reaching for me and I fell gratefully against him.
“Jesus, you’re shaking,” he sighed. “I’m going to carry you, okay?”
I didn’t protest and allowed myself to be collected in his strong hold, thankful to be off my leg.
“Seriously,” he demanded. “Where is Graham?”
I shrugged but it was barely a motion in my state.
“Was he supposed to be with me?” I mumbled.
“Uh, yeah. He was.” There was an unmistakable annoyance in Dan’s tone.
“Maybe he had to go to the bathroom,” I offered lamely. I knew Graham didn’t like me. I had no idea why but his attitude toward me did not match the others in the least. He acted like my presence was somehow offensive to him even though I’d barely said two words to him since I’d arrived. He did his best to avoid me so it was really no shock that he didn’t take babysitting duties well.
I couldn’t fault the guy—I was a stranger who had taken over his house. They were a close-knit group and probably sick enough of sharing with each other. They didn’t need another mouth to feed.
If you can call what they’re doing “feeding.” They are terrible in the kitchen. As soon as I’m feeling better, I’m going to rectify the food situation in this place.
“Are you okay?” I asked when Dan lowered me back into the bed I’d been monopolizing.
“Me?” Dan scoffed. “I’m fine.”
“You didn’t look fine in the office just now,” I replied. He leaned under the bed where the medical bag had been all along and cast me a sidelong look. If I’d known it had been there, I wouldn’t have bothered him.
“You don’t need to worry about me,” he insisted, opening the case. “Just focus on getting better.”
“I can be a good listener,” I insisted. “So far all I’ve done is take advantage of your kindness.”
Dan eyed me.
“Are you taking advantage?” he asked gruffly and I was taken aback by his tone.
“I-I only meant that I can pull my weight around here too,” I said weakly and his face softened.
“You can’t even stand on your weight,” he teased and I blushed.
“You know what I mean.”
He gave me a shot of Demerol but he didn’t rise from my side and again, I was struck by his attractiveness.
It was surreal, these men, this handsome bunch of strangers whose lives I’d chanced upon. I wanted to know them, know what went on in their heads, feel their skin, hear their secrets.
He moved his eyes toward my injury, slowly slipping off the bandage to peer at the wound.
Slowly, he cleaned it with alcohol and nodded curtly.
“It’s not infected. I think it’s going to heal well.”
“Dan…” I murmured. “Look at me.”
His dark eyes met mine and he sighed.
“I’m just stressed about work,” he confessed unexpectedly. “Bills are piling up and it always seems to be on me to take care of things financially.”