“Funny,” I murmured and lifted up one side of her sheets so I could crawl into the bed behind her and spoon up against her. “Didn’t I already tell you I can survive one night without sex?”
Her voice was throaty and tired. “Yeah, but...wouldn’t this constitute as a second night?”
“Nope, because you ended up giving it to me that night, too. So I’m claiming this as my one and only abstinent night.”
“Thanks,” she mumbled, burrowing back against me. “I appreciate it, because I don’t even want to move.”
I kissed her shoulder. “Good, because you don’t have to. I’m here to take care of you.”
When I started to lightly knead her shoulders, she groaned. “Oh God. That feels good. I swear every muscle in my body is sore.”
“Poor thing,” I cooed and kissed her hair. “I’ll massage it all away.” And I damn near did too—I kept rubbing long after she’d gone to sleep on me. Then I just buried my nose in her hair and held her.
I fell asleep holding her and was still holding her when tremors began to wrack her body.
“Care?” I murmured, half out of it as I blinked myself awake. “Caroline? Shit, what’s wrong?”
“So...cold.” Her teeth chattered and shoulders shook.
“Yeah, well you’re burning up.” I sat up so I could reach across her and snag her pain reliever. “When’s the last time you took this?” I calculated the hours after she told me, and it wasn’t quite time to give her another dosage, but I said, “Fuck it,” and sprinkled two tablets into my palm.
I helped her sit up, and she had to lean against me to swallow and drink some water. When I made her take another gulp of water, she frowned but obeyed. Her cheeks were flushed with fever, and that worried me.
“What can I get you?” I asked as she lay back down and closed her eyes.
“Blankets,” she mumbled.
So I scoured her room for every extra blanket and, hell, a couple sweaters I could find. After I piled them on top of her, I burrowed back in with her. It was hot as fuck under the covers and right up against her. But she appreciated my heat, so I held her close and let her take all the warmth I could give her.
After sweating my balls off and listening to her breathing even out, I threw off half the blankets covering me and hung a leg out one side as I gasped for cooler air. Then I set a hand on her back and listened to her breathe, hoping she didn’t take a turn for the worse. I fell asleep with one leg hanging off the side of the mattress and one hand on her back.
The next time I woke, I was soaking wet. Caroline’s fever must’ve broken because she was sweating all over me. I sat up and removed most of the covers. Then I found a towel and dabbed her dry as best I could without waking her.
I was just sponging up her damp forehead when I heard something across the room. My gaze shot up to find a frozen, wide-eyed Aspen halted in the open doorway.
“Sorry,” she whispered, holding up her hands as if surrendering. “I was just checking in on her and Brandt. How’s she doing?”
There was no reason to try to think up any excuses for why I was there. I was already caught, red-fucking-handed. But Gamble’s women wasn’t screaming her head off, so I kept it casual and just answered her concerned question. “I think her fever just broke. She’s sweating like a whore in church.”
She smiled and nodded. “Good. That probably means it’s out of her system. It looks like you have everything handled, so I’ll leave you to it. Good night.” She eased out of the room, closing the door behind her.
I sat there a second, waiting for her to wake her husband, so he could storm in and kick my ass, but thirty seconds passed and nothing happen. Then a minute went by.
Gam’s wife wasn’t going to rat me out.
Relief swamped me, but then so did sadness. Even his own wife knew better than to tell him about us. Everyone must know he would not take the news well.
I sighed and lay back down beside Caroline. I probably should’ve gone home then, but I was tired as fuck after being up and down so much throughout the night. Another couple hours with her wouldn’t kill me. Besides, I didn’t want to leave.
More hours passed. A gray dawn filtered into the room as I came to. The feeling of being watched nagged at my conscience, so I opened my eyes and nearly shit my pants to find myself eyeball to eyeball with Colton.
“Motherfucker,” I hissed, springing upright. “Shit, don’t do that to people. It’s creepy as hell.”