“My attention embarrasses you?”
“Well, yeah. Obviously.” I gesture to the empty room around us. “Unless commandeering security booths so that you can talk to your female employees is something you do every day—”
“Then this is embarrassing. Everyone in that lobby was staring at me because you were with me. You were touching me.”
He raises a brow. “A hand at your back is simple courtesy.”
“No,” I correct him, because I’m not crazy and I won’t let him make me feel that I am. “Offering your arm is simple courtesy. Your hand on my lower back is something else entirely.”
“Really?” He smiles at me, just a subtle turning up of his lips that shouldn’t raise my blood pressure or send shivers down my spine. Somehow it does both. “What is it, then?”
“What is . . . what?” I stumble over the words a little as I try to get my brain cells back in working order.
“My hand on your back. If it isn’t courtesy, what is it?”
The word is right there on my lips, and I nearly say it. Nearly blurt it out. But I can’t, because it’s crazy to think such a thing, let alone say it. Crazier still to want it. Which I don’t, I assure myself. I never have.
Except I feel strangely bereft now that he has let go of my hand. It’s an odd feeling, and one I don’t like. I take a step back, two, and I can tell from the way he narrows his eyes that he’s not happy with my sudden retreat. But before he can say anything, the door slams open. Jose stands there, a grin on his face and a large bag of ice in his hand.
Ethan walks over to take the ice from him, and I shudder in relief. I feel like a prisoner who’s just been granted a stay of execution—relieved but still unsteady, because I know it can be taken away at any moment.
Sure enough, Ethan waits for Jose to back out of the room before closing the door behind him. I watch as he locks it this time, and any relief I felt slowly drains away. Because he’s stalking toward me, a long, lean panther of a man whose intentions are clearly written on his face. Intentions that are a long way from honorable.
“Where does it hurt?” he asks after he stops in front of me.
“Hurt?” My mouth is so dry I can barely get the word out.
“Your hip. Where’s the bruise?”
“Oh, right.” I yank my eyes away from his too-pretty face, gesture awkwardly to the top of my hip. “Here.”
I try to take the ice pack from him, but he brushes my hand away. Then slowly, gently, presses it to my hip.
His fingers are big and warm where they rest against my waist, a direct contrast to the cold of the ice pack. For long seconds, I don’t move. Don’t breathe. I can’t. Not when he’s so close that I can feel the brush of his hair against my cheek as he tilts his head down to watch what he’s doing.
“Is this the spot?”
“Yes.” My breath breaks on the single syllable.
His head jerks up then, his gaze locking onto mine. I’ve never seen eyes so intensely blue—or so turbulent, like the storm-tossed Pacific as it beats against the shore.
The way he’s looking at me is overwhelming. Terrifying. . Like he wants to devour me and at the same time shelter me. I stand frozen—nothing so much as prey to his predator—while I wait to see which instinct will win out.
Have a great weekend! I'm going to see Catching Fire tomorrow and can't wait!!!!! Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to check back next week.