Hunger Awakened(10)

By: Dee Carney

Movement grabbed her attention again, and she swung her gaze to him—above the waist still—another frown drawing down her eyebrows when he staggered. “Are you feeling any better? Or different?”

He shook his head before his body bowed. An arm wrapped around his waist, as if trying to hold his insides in place, before he swayed. Bast dropped like a stone weight, his head cracking against the tile with a sickening crash.

Alice scrambled to her feet, throwing open the shower door and rushing to his side only seconds later. “Bast!”

Ice water stabbed her skin. How had he been able to stand it? At least five minutes of freezing torture, like the snow had melted only a nanosecond before. Her skin erupted in goose bumps right away, but she fought down a shiver.

When he moaned, his body writhing on the stone floor, she steadied him with a hand. “Hold on. Lemme check you out first.” Her voice sounded shaky. “That was one hell of a fall.”

“Christ, it was.”

“How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Somewhere between zero and ten. I’m leaning toward two.” He laughed, mirthlessly. “I don’t get sick,” he insisted.

Alice tried not to smile. She pushed her hands through his hair, trying to locate any sign of damage. “Yeah, well, you lying here beneath a freezing shower says otherwise. I’m surprised you didn’t break something when you hit the ground.”

“Too mean to die. Too mean to break. And it sure as shittin’ ain’t gonna happen while I’m buck naked.”

This time Alice did smile, helping him to sit upright. No blood poured from his head. No particular tenderness at the site. He’d probably get one righteous goose egg, but she could live with that. Her poor, abused shirt clung to her body, but some of the red streamed from it, circling the drain before being sucked away. The secondhand jeans became an unbearable weight, turning dark beneath the saturation.

“Shit.” Bast wrapped his hands around hers. “Your fingers are turning blue.”

She’d started to shiver too. “That might be true, but you’re still throwing off some outrageous heat. The water’s practically evaporating off your skin.”

He stretched above them in a graceful catlike move and turned the knob. When he pulled her to him, settling her in his lap, Alice let out a squeak of surprise. Her body curved against his, molding next to him as if they were designed for nothing—and no one—else. “I won’t risk you getting hypothermia.”

Curled beside the warmth of his bare skin, she almost purred in contentment. “One of us has to go. You need the cold, and I need the heat.”

“You’re right.” His low timber sent another shiver skating over her spine. This time, the temperature of the water held zero influence over her reaction. “One of us should go.” His breath felt close, his lips closer. “Which one?”

Neither of them made a move, which suited her just fine, but Bast’s mouth whispered over the skin of her neck. She tried to regulate her breathing, gone erratic since stepping into the shower, but pulling her concentration away from Bast seemed an impossible task. He was insanely good-looking, built like a god, and she hadn’t seen any action since George Junior left the presidency.

“You’re making it difficult to think.” And breathe right.

“I’m trying to make you warm.”

She hiccupped a laugh. “It’s working.” Boy, was it working. Her heart pounded, blood racing through her veins, making her nipples and between her legs swell with arousal.

This wasn’t right. She didn’t know this man at all. Just because he looked nice, drove a nice car and lived in a nice house didn’t mean he was the kind of guy she should give liberties. She’d thought he might be a drug dealer; still thought it. “Just tell me you don’t do anything illegal to maintain your lifestyle,” she added.

“I’ve been a mercenary in the past.” He followed his statement with the touch of his lips beneath her jaw.

“But now?” She gasped. That warm mouth, the trail of fire would consume her.

“I protect important people. Nothing illegal.”

“Thank God.” Later she’d think about her impulsivity. Maybe even chastise herself for it. Right now there was a very aroused male draped around her body. He might be feeling a little under the weather—okay, maybe a lot under the weather—but his readiness suggested it’d take more than illness to stop him in his tracks.

But what of the illness? What could make him sick like this? “No drugs, right?”

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