There was a moment of silence. Was he wondering the why of that last part? “What about before you lived here?”
She concentrated on lathering her hair one-handed. It couldn’t be someone from before Cedar Creek, because so very few people who’d known she existed had lived to tell. If her parents had had friends or fellow freaks, she had never met them. Her father, she supposed, had family somewhere, but she’d never met them, either.
“I was eleven, Sam. Not an age when you usually make many enemies.”
“So why the hell is this guy after you?”
Her sigh was almost soft enough to get lost in the rush of the water. “I wish to God I knew.”
* * *
When the water shut off, Sam’s breath caught in his chest. He felt like he was fourteen and about to see his first real live naked girl, his whole body turned to nothing but anxious hormones and lustful thoughts. But he wasn’t fourteen, Mila wasn’t his first naked girl, and though he was anxious and lustful, he could control it. Hopefully. He handed a thick white towel over the curtain to her, then picked up another one as she swept the curtain back.
Naturally, the bath towel covered more than the swimsuit, but she was naked under that towel. And beautiful. And wet. Any man alive who didn’t appreciate the image of a wet naked woman wasn’t really alive.
She held on to his arm as she stepped out of the tub, then he dried her hair with the second towel. It streamed long and shiny down her back and smelled of summer jasmine. “Feel better?” he asked as he blotted thick strands of hair with the towel.
“A shower makes everything better.”
Draping the towel over her hair, he rubbed, shaking her head enough to make her giggle. Milagro Ramirez giggled. Another check in the red-letter-day column on his calendar.
She looked so innocent and needy, and so beautiful and sensual, and he was needy, too—so damn needy. His hands stilled, his breath locked in his chest and he lowered his head until his forehead rested against hers. She had stopped breathing, too, and he wondered if she felt the same heat and desire and curiosity and lust that he did. He wondered if she had ever been naked with a man before.
Judging by her edginess and awkwardness when they’d met, he would guess no. He didn’t care. He’d never been with a virgin before, but that didn’t stop him wanting her, oh, hell, so much.
He wanted to take away the towel that hid her. To look until he’d memorized every part of her. To kiss her. Touch her. Show her. Claim her. He wanted…
In the hallway, Jessica passed, singing a song with the lyrics of “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” but nothing of the melody. Good Lord, if she really wanted to drive Wynona into a psychotic episode, all she had to do was show up at Grace Tabernacle in the morning and sing loud.
He winced, closed his eyes and tried to gather enough oxygen that his voice wouldn’t crack like an adolescent boy’s. “She puts us in here together, then sings church hymns?”
Mila’s breath came out warm against his cheek. “Gramma’s…unique.”
“That must be where you get it from.” Reluctantly, he lifted his head, gave her a regretful smile and laid the damp towel aside. “Are you ready for some clothes?” Because Gramma or no, either you need to put some on or I’ve got to take some off.
“I think I can manage except for the splint.” With her good hand, she gestured to the small pile of clothing: black gym shorts, a Cedar Creek Chieftains T-shirt and a pair of plain white but very tiny panties.
“Those obviously didn’t come out of Jessica’s closet,” he remarked as he found a dry bit of towel and patted her left hand and wrist dry. It pained him when she winced, even more that she tried to hide it.
“Why do you say that? Because the colors don’t scorch your eyeballs?” she teased. “No, I keep some clothes over here. Gramma’s got some at my house, too. Just in case.”
He didn’t ask what was the just-in-case prior to the last two weeks. He wasn’t sure he could handle knowing right now.
With her left arm dry, he slid the splint in place just as the ER nurse had and secured the Velcro fasteners. “Feel okay?”