him in the eye and wishing that he wasn’t such a nice guy and had just left her to freeze to death so that she had a reason to hate him.
Just when she thought he was going to argue with her, and why did she want him to care so badly? he nodded with a long-suffering sigh and gestured towards the open door of her bathroom. “Wash up and I’ll bandage it for you afterwards,” he offered, not sounding particularly happy about it, which of course just made her feel really freaking special.
“I’m all set,” she said, shifting her gaze away from him as she placed her hand over the nasty cut on the side of her boob and tried not to wince, or start crying hysterically, because oh my God, did it really freaking sting.
“You either let me take care of it, or you’re going to the emergency room,” he said in a hard tone that she really just didn’t feel like arguing with.
“Fine. Whatever,” she said with a tired sigh as she headed towards her bathroom, thankful when he didn’t follow and praying that he took this opportunity to make a run for it, because it was more than obvious that he’d rather be anywhere but here.
God, what he wouldn’t give to leave, he thought wistfully as he stared at her closed bedroom door, telling himself that he could leave, but he couldn’t. Not only was she his neighbor, not by choice of course, but from what Jodi had told him, she’d taken an order for their family at the last minute and had most likely spent her entire day baking for them. Since it was obvious that she’d injured herself while delivering that order, it would make him look like a complete asshole if he left now before he made sure that she was really okay.
It was times like this that he wished that he could be a complete asshole like his brother Lucifer, but apparently there was a one-asshole quota for every family and Lucifer happily filled that position. Looking around the small room with cookbooks and magazines stacked on every possible surface and corner, he decided to sit down and wait on the on the edge of the bed since it was the only piece of furniture not covered with cookbooks. Praying that she moved her ass, he found himself leaning back until he was resting against the large pile of pillows that she was hoarding, closed his eyes against the sharp light piercing his brain and making him rethink those pain meds that his father had offered him.
He hated pills, hated being sick, but most of all, he hated being here.
Once she’d managed to wash away the blood, pick out the small pieces of gravel stuck in the small cuts marring the side of her breast, it really wasn’t that bad.
At least, that’s what she told herself as she stood there, wincing as she slowly applied bacitracin to the long cut simply because she refused to give Duncan another peep show that would end with her self-esteem taking another hit. Ignoring the way that her ripped skin stung from the light pressure, she finished applying the first aid ointment and moved onto the oversized bandages. It took her five minutes, four “ouchies,” and eight bandages, but she finally managed to cover the damage done to her boob to her satisfaction and pull an oversized “Dixon Bakery” tee shirt on along with a pair a sweatpants.
Once she was dressed, she decided to run a comb through her hair again, pull her damp hair into a ponytail, brush her teeth and then reorganize her medicine cabinet. When that was done she moved on to staring at the closed bathroom door, wondering if she was going to have to deal with Duncan Bradford or if she was finally going to get a break and find her bedroom empty so that she could go to bed and get a few hours of sleep before she was forced to get up at four in the morning and head off to the bakery to start her day.
Deciding that there was no point in hiding in her bathroom any longer, she closed her eyes, shook her head and prayed that he left without giving her that look that told her exactly what he thought about her. Knowing that it was better to just get this over with, she opened the door, stepped into her room and opened her mouth to thank him and give him the excuse that he needed to leave when she realized that she had more than two hundred pounds of muscle passed out on her bed.
Two hundred pounds of male muscle was on her bed, which she could honestly say was a first. That fact that he was large and muscular wasn’t really the big deal, but the fact that he was male, because at twenty-eight years old, she was very unhappily a virgin. It was something that she’d definitely never expected to happen to her and the one thing that she would give anything to change.
Regrettably, there weren’t a lot of men knocking down her door, begging to relieve her of her virginity. It wasn’t as though she’d never had a boyfriend, because she had. In middle school she’d started going steady with Patrick, a nerdy kid obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons and all things geek-like. They’d gone steady until their junior year of high school at which point he’d let her know that he really didn’t like her that way.
They’d hugged, kissed a few times and once or twice he’d held her hand over the years, but he was never outwardly affectionate to her or really acted like they were anything more than friends. At the time she’d told herself that he wasn’t really into girls yet and would rather spend Friday night playing Nintendo than taking her to a movie.
That’s what she told herself at least.
Reality hit her two days after he dumped her when she’d grudgingly allowed her grandfather to talk her into getting out of the house and seeing a movie. Apparently, Brenda, her best friend at the time, had the same talk with Patrick and had convinced him to take her to the movies where Necie discovered along with half the town that Patrick was very much into girls.
He just hadn’t been into her.
After that she’d dated men, who were nice, polite and just couldn’t force themselves to be interested in her. Not that she was really interested in them, because she really hadn’t been. They’d just been guys that she’d thought were nice, polite and would never treat her badly by cheating on her or ditching her so that they could go to a comic book convention.
They’d also been the kind of men who really weren’t interested in her, never tried anything with her and with every rejection made her feel like the most unwanted woman in the world. She’d never been in love with any of them, so they’d never had the chance to break her heart, but their rejection had still hurt each and every single time. It was nothing like the way Duncan hurt her when he ignored her or gave her that exasperated look of his that let her know exactly what he thought of her, which wasn’t very much.
Now she had the man that hated her, and that she wished that she could hate back, lying on her bed, curled up on his side, hugging one of her pillows. She wished that she could say that he looked so peaceful and boyish in his sleep, but he didn’t. He actually looked like he was in quite a bit of pain and that he was on the verge of waking up, crankier than ever before and taking his bad mood out on her with his glares and indifference.
It really wasn’t something that she wanted to stick around for.
So, with a sigh and a grumpy little mumble, because she really wasn’t looking forward to sleeping in her old room on that old twin bed that creaked whenever she so much as breathed, she walked to her door, opened it, nearly swore, cleared her throat uncomfortably, nodded at the large man that she loved more than anything sitting at the table, sipping his coffee as he narrowed his eyes on her. “Well, have a goodnight then,” she said absently with an awkward nod, stepped back, shut the door and locked it with a pained groan, because she knew there was no escape for her now.
Friday, November 27
“Umm, I kind of need to get up,” he heard the little pain in the ass say, but he was too Goddamn comfortable to care.
“No,” he simply said, tightening his hold around the surprisingly comfortable woman and brought her closer, taking in her buttercream frosting and cookie scent as he snuggled her, loving the way that her large, warm bosom nestled his arm just right as he held her.
“I really have to go,” she said, giving his arm a little shove as she tried to wiggle he
r way to freedom, but he wasn’t ready to let her go yet.
So, with a little sigh of pleasure and a kiss to the top of her surprisingly soft hair, he mumbled, “Go to sleep, sweetheart,” seconds before he felt himself return to the most peaceful sleep of his life.
Okay, this was definitely awkward, she thought as she once against tried to wiggle her way to freedom, but apparently all those drills they had him run at the Fire Station had really paid off, because she couldn’t move an inch.
That was a problem.
For many reasons, one of them being the large man moving around in the kitchen, making coffee, who was no doubt waiting for her to leave her room so that he could spend the rest of the day tormenting her. The second reason of course being that she really wasn’t sure what to say or how to act around him anymore. Not that she ever really had, she reluctantly admitted to herself. He clearly had no idea whose bed he’d fallen asleep in last night and she really didn’t feel like being there when he figured it out.
Taking a deep breath, and admittedly sucking in her gut that one too many cupcakes and brownies may have contributed to, she slowly, oh so slowly started to wiggle her way out of…
Oh, my God! Did...did he just growl?
Yes, apparently he did, she realized, trying not to panic as his obscenely large arm tightened around her, holding her hostage and making her realize that there was a very good chance that he was going to keep her right where she was until he felt like waking up and letting her go.
That really just wasn’t going to work for her.
So, she tried to push his arm away only to once again find herself pulled closer against him, with him nuzzling her neck and sighing contently as he palmed-
Yup, that was definitely her breast that he was palming.
As she laid there, unable to really move, and let’s be honest here, with every passing second she really didn’t want to move out of his arms, she realized that she’d just gotten to second base. Granted, it wasn’t on purpose and he’d probably be really pissed off once he realized who he was feeling up, but it was a first for her.
She should definitely be outraged, she tried to tell herself as she finally gave in and snuggled closer to him, deciding that if she couldn’t escape without the aid of the jaws of life then she might as well enjoy the moment, however short it may be before the glaring started and she knew that there would be glaring.
There was always glaring…
Whenever he spotted her, whether it was when she was leaving the house, driving down past the fire house, walking down the street or when he came into her family’s bakery, Dixon’s Bakery, he always shot her a glare that told her exactly what he thought of her, which wasn’t a hell of a lot. Again, not that she could blame him since whenever he made the mistake of being within a hundred feet of her something bad, and usually scar-worthy, happened to him.
She still felt really bad about that dumpster thing…
She should make one last attempt to get out of this bed, she mused as she snuggled even closer to him, for warmth of course, and not because she liked the way that he tightened his arms around her or that incredibly hot groan he released when she did it. She definitely needed to get going, she reminded herself, thinking of all the cakes, muffins, donuts and breads that she needed to start preparing for the morning rush.
She should definitely be going, she decided around a yawn as it became increasingly difficult to keep her eyes open. After another minute of struggling to stay awake she gave in, closed her eyes and tried not to freak out when he did another one of those growl thingies.
Was that normal?
Whatever it was, it was actually quite soothing. She’d just close her eyes for a little bit and then she’d figure out how to escape before the glaring began.
Oh, fuck no, he thought, unable to believe just how badly he’d fucked up even as he pulled the small woman that annoyed the living shit out of him closer to him, unable to help himself.
Christ, she felt so fucking good, he couldn’t help but notice as he closed his eyes and allowed himself to savor the peace that having her in his arms brought him. This was so wrong, so fucking wrong, but he couldn’t help himself. He’d never in his life felt anything so good and for a minute, he didn’t give a damn that it was the annoying little neighbor that made his life a living hell that made him feel like this. He needed this, needed her and God help him, but he never wanted to let her go.
But he did, because this was all wrong.
This sense of peace wasn’t because of her, he told himself as he reluctantly released her and pulled away. It was the drugs that his father had given him last night. They’d kicked in and knocked him on his ass and unfortunately for him, they’d done it when he was in the bed of the most annoying woman that he’d ever had the misfortune of knowing.
“Good morning,” the elderly man sitting at the table, casually holding a gun in his lap, said with a warm smile that stopped Duncan dead in his tracks and actually scared him a hell of a lot more than that gun that was carelessly aimed in his direction did.