A Perfect Ten

Page 175

“Hey,” Mason’s offended voice broke in. “That’s not very nice. We hauled our tired asses down here every day this week to not even get to see you most of the time, and this is how you repay us?”

Ignoring him, Oren tugged me closer. “God, I love you,” he murmured and pressed his forehead to mine, only to mutter, “ouch,” and pull away.

“Sorry, sorry.” I backed off too, pressing my hand to my mouth because I really was sorry, even though I also wanted to laugh and cry with joy because my Oren was back.

Ten was back.

“Jesus.” He winced and prodded his bandage gently. “What the hell happened to me anyway? People are just saying an accident. But they’re not saying what kind. The last thing I remember...” He paused and glanced at Noel. “You were pissed as hell at me, but you still let me tag along to your family picnic. And...we played padiddle on the way there with the boys, but...that’s it.” His eyes flared with horror. “Shit. We weren’t in a car accident, were we?” His gaze roved frantically around the room. “Where’s Colton and Brandt?”

“They’re fine. They’re home.” Noel set a reassuring hand on Oren’s shoulder. “We all made it to Rainly Park safe and sound. We had a picnic, and then you took Colton and Caroline off to show them the waterfall.”

Oren nodded, but his brow wrinkled in confusion. “And then...I was bitten by a poisonous snake who...” He lifted his arm and eyed it strangely, “...had some wicked awesome ninja skills that put me in an arm sling and leg cast, and mangled my face?”

“And then the soil around the waterfall eroded,” I corrected, “when Colton got too close to the edge.”

“Shit. Did he fall in?”

“Almost. He caught hold of an old root protruding from the embankment, and you were able to pull him up to safety. But in the process, you fell in.”

“But the kid’s okay?” Oren asked insistently.

“Just a scratch or two,” Noel said. “He was pretty upset after you got hurt—thought it was all his fault—so Aspen and Brandt are home with him right now.”

“Poor kid.” Ten reached for my hand, and I can’t even express how amazing it felt to tangle my fingers with his. When his gaze met mine, he blew out a breath. “So, what about me? Am I going to be okay?” Once again, he touched all the bandages around half his face.

A smiled bloomed across my face. I knew he was going to be just fine. “Aside from the brain damage, you just have a dislocated shoulder, fractured leg, and some bad scratches.” I paused, drew in a deep breath. “Oh, and the doctor says there will probably be permanent scarring on your face.”

Oren’s fingers paused on the bandage. “Permanent?”

I nodded and reached for his hand to pull it away. “I bet scars on you will look sexy.”

His gaze filled with torment, and I wanted to tell him he’d always be the most handsome man I’d ever known, but Noel spoke up. “The good news is, after you saved my little brother’s life, I’m not pissed at you anymore.”

Oren glanced at him. Then he sniffed, “Yeah, as long as I give your sister up, though, right?”

Noel just kind of shrugged. “Meh. After you saved her life too, I figure you’re stuck with her now.”

“Saved her life too?” Oren said slowly, turning his gaze to me.

I wasn’t going to answer him, but Noel had to say, “After you started to fall in, she tried to pull you out.”

Oren whirled to me. “Christ, Caroline. You didn’t? You could’ve fallen in, too.”

“She almost did,” Noel seemed eager to blab. “She was slipping toward the edge, but you let go of her hand so she wouldn’t.”

“You’re fucking right I did.” Oren nodded as if there were no other logical step.

I shook my head. “I might’ve been able to save you, hold on long enough until Noel made it to us.”

But he shook his head too. “I don’t care. What you did sounds too risky. Never in a million years would I let anything bad happen to you. For that, I guess I can handle a couple scars. I was too damn handsome anyway.”

Though everyone else laughed, I stared at him, amazed over how lucky I was to be the woman he loved. I knew I didn’t deserve it, but I was going to cherish it with everything I had.

Noel grasped his shoulder. “Hey,” he murmured.

When Oren looked up at him, my brother gulped loudly. After swallowing away his pride, he said, “I’m sorry.”

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