Read Cricket Cove Online

Authors: T. L. Haddix

Cricket Cove (12 page)

BOOK: Cricket Cove
13.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Chapter Eighteen

L
ogan was glad the next day’s classes had been cancelled due to the flu because he certainly wasn’t going to be getting much sleep on Amelia’s couch. The furniture itself was comfortable. Logan was the one with the problem. The glowing hands on his watch dial told him it was just after midnight. He muffled a groan as he counted the hours until dawn.

After seeing Roger’s truck, Logan’s adrenaline had kicked in, and the warrior had risen up. Now that the fear had gone and he was lying on the couch in the dark, staring up at the ceiling, the kiss was just about all he could think of.

“What the hell possessed you to kiss her in the first place?” he asked himself again under his breath. As much as he chastised himself for acting hastily, he couldn’t really find regret for that part of the evening. Seeing her in the tiny tank top and sleep shorts really hadn’t helped the situation.

His attraction to her just added to his guilt. If he’d thought it would do any good, he would have fallen to his knees and begged forgiveness. Somehow he didn’t see that going very far. Not after what he’d done.

A soft click at the end of the hall caught his attention and he held his breath as he listened closely to see where she was going. When he heard the back door open, then close quietly, he sat up with a frown.

“Where in the world do you think you’re going?” he muttered. He grabbed his glasses and his holstered gun, shoving the latter onto his belt, and hurried down the hall. He opened the door just in time to see her hang a robe up on a hook, leaving her as naked as the day she’d been born. They both gasped.

“What are you doing?” he growled as she pulled the robe down to cover herself.

“I’m sorry. I thought you were asleep. I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“Well, I wasn’t.” And she had no idea how much she’d disturbed him. Even though he hadn’t turned a light on and the porch was dark, shielded from the night by the curtains she’d pulled on all sides, his night vision was good enough that he’d gotten a good look at her bare skin.

“I couldn’t sleep, so I thought a run might help. I’m sorry.”

Logan forced himself to calm down. She sounded so miserable he felt guilty. “No, I’m sorry. You just startled me.” He ran a hand through his hair, then scrubbed at his face. “If you want to go ahead and change, I’ll get my boots on and come with you. But I can’t let you go by yourself.”

She clutched the robe at her throat and looked down at her feet. “Do you want to change and go with me as the cat?”

He was tempted. Very tempted. He hadn’t been able to run recently. But his hip was still unhappy with the cold weather, and he hesitated. “How long are you planning on being out?”

“Not long. And it would be more a stroll than a run. I just need to get out of the house for a bit.”

“Then yeah, if you don’t mind, I’d like that.”

She smiled. “Maybe you’ll even purr for me.”

Logan blushed. “Maybe.”

“I’ll go ahead and shift, and then you can come out after I’ve gone off the porch.”

“What do you do about locking the door while you’re out?”

She padded across the porch to pull back the curtain that hid a thermostat hanging on a far post. “There’s a key under here in a hidden slot.”

“Okay.” He went back inside and closed the door to give her privacy. When he heard a soft yip from the other side, he went back out. Standing on the porch was a beautiful silver wolf. When she started wagging her tail, he felt a smile start to spread across his face. He crouched down in front of her.

“Look at you.”

Amelia came closer to him, sniffling his hands as he held them out, then giving them a swift lick of approval. She danced in place playfully as though asking him to hurry up.

“Give me a minute.”

She slipped through the curtains and he rose, pulling his shirt over his head as he stood. In seconds he was naked and he hung his head, letting his mind still. He focused on the mountain lion inside him, and his muscles heated up as he started to shift. The process wasn’t painless, but it invigorated him like nothing else. Once it was complete and he was the cat, he stretched out any kinks that were left from the transformation and left the porch.

Amelia was waiting for him in the yard. When she saw him, her body froze for an instant, and then she erupted in a bouncing, happy ball of energy. He stood still as she circled him, sniffing his face, his ears, his feet. She got to his long tail and Logan tensed, not sure what to expect. Sure enough, she gently nipped at the end, causing him to jerk and grumble. He waved his tail back and forth indignantly and gave a little growl. It didn’t deter her one bit, as she panted and leaned against him, then took off like a shot up the path that led to the top of the mountain.

For all her enthusiasm, she was quiet, and within seconds she’d disappeared into the trees. Logan followed more cautiously, ignoring the desire to run after her and play. As much as he had healed, his endurance was still low and he knew he had to conserve his energy.

Unlike his human form, the cat had excellent vision. He kept up with her well enough, not letting her get too far ahead but giving her space to run. As they crisscrossed the mountainside, much of the tension he’d been carrying in recent weeks faded.

They didn’t stay out too long, as she’d promised, but by the time they got back to the trailer Logan’s hip was starting to protest. He had one more thing he wanted to do before shifting back into his human form, however, and he head-butted Amelia’s side to urge her onto the porch ahead of him. She got the message and went up the steps. He sat down to wait while she shifted, and seconds after he heard a soft sigh, she pulled the curtain back.

“You can come up now.”

He got to his feet with a groan, which came out mostly the same as when he was human, and walked up the steps. He rubbed against her legs, letting a long, low purring rumble out as he passed.

Amelia laughed and grabbed at her robe, which he’d knocked loose with the motion. “Oh, my gosh. You’re purring!” Covered again, she sat cross-legged on the floor and held her hand out. Logan obliged her by bumping it with his head. He let out another purr as he lay down at her feet and stretched.

Even though his hip was starting to throb, he stayed on the floor and let her pet him until she was satisfied. She tugged on his ears, scratched his chin and his chest, and played with his paws. The whole time, he purred.

“Thank you for this,” she told him softly as she got to her feet. “You didn’t have to. I appreciate it.”

Logan let out one last purr as a response.

She got the key and unlocked the door. “Come on in when you’re ready.”

Regaining his human form took a little more effort than he’d expected it to, and he cursed his disability. After he was human again, he stayed on his hands and knees panting for a full minute. He cursed under his breath. If the way the muscles in his low back, left hip, and leg were seizing was any indication, he’d be lucky if he could get dressed again, much less walk inside.

Amelia tapped on the door and opened it a crack. “Logan? You okay?”

“Working on it,” he ground out. He snatched his underwear from the stack of clothes he’d taken off and managed to pull them on. “Do you have any pain meds?”

She opened the door all the way and he saw that she’d slipped pajamas on. “Yes. Over-the-counter. Did you hurt yourself?”

“No. I’m just not fully healed. I’ll be fine. I just need a minute.”

He was cold, though. Now that they weren’t running, the sweat that coated his skin was quickly turning dangerous in the freezing night air. He started shivering.

“You stubborn man, why didn’t you say something? I didn’t have to go out.” She came onto the porch and helped him to his feet. “What can I do? Don’t say nothing.”

Logan sighed, feeling like an invalid. “How big is your bathtub?”

“Big. We updated it not long after I moved in. Do you need to soak?”

“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”

She steered him into the bathroom and Logan rested against the sink as she stopped the tub up and started the water running. While he watched, she opened a cabinet and pulled out a tub of Epsom salt. She added two heaping scoops to the water.

“This should help quite a bit. How hot do you want it?”

“Almost scalding.”

She tested the water, and even the way her pajamas tightened over her hips and rear didn’t distract him from the ache in his body.

“This will be ready in just a minute. I have some muscle relaxers from where I had my wisdom teeth taken out. My jaw tightened up and I had to have something to relax it. Would that help?” She told him what the medicine was, as well as what pain medicines she had on hand.

“That’s the same relaxer I have at home. Let me have two of those and two of the extra-strength pain tablets, please.”

She got the medicine down as he moved closer to the tub. The water had filled up quickly, and he groaned as he turned it off.

“Here. I’ll get you a glass of milk so you aren’t taking these on an empty stomach.” She handed him the pills and left. Logan almost couldn’t stand waiting until she returned to get in the water, but he did. As soon as she handed it to him, he downed the medicine.

“I’ll be right here in the bedroom if you need me. Do you need help getting in?”

Her cheeks were flushed and she wouldn’t meet his gaze, but Logan knew she’d help him if she had to.

“No. I should be okay. Thank you.”

“Just tell me if you need anything.” She pulled the door almost closed.

Logan let his underwear drop and carefully got his feet free, then stepped into the tub. He held on to the safety bar someone had wisely installed on the opposite side and eased down into the water. He couldn’t hold back a groan of pleasure mixed with pain.

“That’s good. That’s so good. Thank you.”

He heard the back door open. “I’m getting your clothes, so don’t freak out,” Amelia called. “I’ll put them here on the washer.”

“Thank you.”

Some protector he’d turned out to be. He’d probably be able to fight if Roger broke in, but it would take a strong surge of adrenaline to overcome the pain he was feeling. Logan felt useless.

After he’d soaked for several minutes, he let the water out of the tub. He wasn’t looking forward to standing up, and if it hadn’t been so damned pathetic, he would have grabbed some towels and a pillow and stayed in the tub for the rest of the night.

Using sheer force of will, he got out and dried off. Amelia tapped on the door as he was sliding his underwear over his hips.

“Yeah.”

“Doing okay?”

“Doing great.” He opened the door to her concerned face. “You mind if I sleep like this? I don’t think I can get my pants back on right now. I can manage the shirt.”

She scowled, even though she was blushing. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I don’t mind. And you’re taking the bed.”

Logan sucked in a breath, his pride taking a hit, but she cut him off before he could do more than open his mouth.

“If you try to sleep on that couch, you’ll be in so much pain tomorrow Archer will have to come get you. So you’re taking the bed. Did the bath help?”

He eased past her. “Some. The meds should start kicking in soon. I’m sorry about this.”

“Why? I’m the one who insisted on going out.”

Logan stopped, despite the pain, and turned to face her. “Why the hell are you being so nice to me? After what I did, you should be enjoying this.”

“If you’d hurt yourself while being an asshole I would be enjoying this. But you didn’t. And you’re here tonight to protect me, and maybe I’m a dupe for thinking that means anything. But you didn’t have to stay, you didn’t have to come back, and who knows what might happen if you hadn’t. So no, I’m not enjoying seeing you in pain. Go lie down. Do you need a heating pad or anything?”

“No.”

He’d known she was dangerous before but now, with her trying to take care of him despite how badly he had hurt her, she was damned near irresistible. More to save himself than anything, Logan went. He put his glasses on the nightstand and stretched out facedown on the bed with a groan. When she handed him a small pillow, he looked at her questioningly.

“Put it between your knees. Zanny swore by her knee pillow when she had Molly.”

He was skeptical but he did as she’d suggested. The relief was immediate, and he sighed. “Thank you.”

She covered him up to his hips. “I thought you might like that.”

Logan almost jumped out of his skin when she touched his shoulder, the pressure gentle but firm.

“Where does it hurt?” She traced the scars from where he’d been wounded, as well as from the first round of surgery to remove the shrapnel. “This isn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though I suppose it was worse for you.”

He didn’t know what in the world inspired him to raise his arm up and show her the long scar that crossed his armpit. It had healed well enough but it was still a startling sight.

“Ouch.”

“More in line with what you were expecting?” He jerked when she traced it as well.

“Unfortunately. Is this from the last surgery?”

“Yes.”

Though Logan had undergone surgery immediately after the ambush to have the shrapnel removed, his doctors had missed a piece that was lodged behind his shoulder blade. When he hadn’t improved the way he thought he should, he’d told his doctors something wasn’t right. They hadn’t listened. When he collapsed with a raging infection, they’d done extensive scans and found the piece they’d missed. His doctors had warned him that he would have muscle damage from the surgical cuts, but thanks to being a shifter, those had healed much faster than they’d predicted.

Now that the pain meds were kicking in, Amelia’s nearness and the way she was touching him was having a rather predictable effect on his body.

Her touch turned more impersonal as she found the spasming muscles that wrapped around his torso. Logan cursed under his breath as she kneaded the knots.

“I’m guessing that’s the spot.”

“One of them,” he ground out.

BOOK: Cricket Cove
13.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Night of the Living Dead by Christopher Andrews
Irresistible Passions by Diana DeRicci
Daughter of Satan by Jean Plaidy
The Cold Kiss of Death by Suzanne McLeod
Cat's Eyewitness by Rita Mae Brown
Beggar’s Choice by Patricia Wentworth
The Heart's Ashes by A. M. Hudson
Swan Peak by James Lee Burke
Conditional Offer by Liz Crowe