The One For Me (Danver #8) (3 page)

BOOK: The One For Me (Danver #8)
3.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

He worked silently for a moment before setting two pieces of dry toast in front of her along with a chilled bottle of water from the refrigerator. “I know it’s not a great breakfast, but I think we should be cautious since you were still feeling nauseous just a short while ago.” Pointing to the food, which she still hadn’t touched, he added, “Now eat, while I talk.” She began nibbling on the bread while he seated himself across from her. “I was walking a few steps behind you when you left Danvers two days ago.”

“Two days?” she gasped out. “I’ve been here that long?”

“It was pretty late by the time we got here on Friday,
so not quite two days. You were staggering, so I asked you if you were feeling okay. You said you were fine, but then you promptly puked on me before passing out. My driver and I managed to get you into my car with the intention of taking you to a hospital. In the end, my house was closer, and I decided to bring you here first. You seemed a bit better when we arrived, and I hated to move you again. Therefore, I paid an absurd amount of money for my personal physician to make a house call. He did some blood work and—”

“WHAT?” Crystal gasped. “You took my blood while I was out of it?”

He gave her a puzzled look before shaking his head in amusement. “Angel, I’m not a vampire, so I didn’t personally take your blood. Dr. Francis handled that. I can assure you that he followed the same protocol here that he would have in the hospital. You’ll be glad to know that you’re not pregnant.” Wiggling a brow, he added, “Good news for both of us, right?”

“You—I,” she stuttered before managing to take a deep breath. “I could have saved you some money. I already knew that. You have to actually have sex to get pregnant!” she snapped. “And I’ve only been here for two days. I don’t think there was much risk of you being made a father this quickly. So I’m not sure why you’re relieved at the news.”

He began laughing, and dammit, she could only stare at him, admiring how sexy he looked when he smiled. It wasn’t fair for one man to have so much going for him. His midnight-black hair was thick and just begged for a woman’s hands to tug on the shiny strands. Even through the loose shirt he was wearing,
she could see the defined muscles of his shoulders and chest. He would no doubt have a set of washboard abs that you’d yearn to lick, and his eyes were an intense shade of blue that glowed back at her like twin sapphires. Somehow, he managed to be pretty, sexy, and rugged all at the same time. Her clit throbbed with pent-up desire, and she had to fight the need to wrap herself around his waist and beg him to fuck her—hard. She’d never had a sexual experience like that before, but she’d read enough romance novels to know that was what she wanted in the worst way. And she knew instinctively that Mark was a man who could give it to her.

She was still lost in her fantasy when a hand on her bare leg jolted her back to the present. She was almost certain by the grin on Mark’s face that he knew she was having dirty thoughts about him. “Well, it just clears the way, since you’ve expressed your desire to have sex with me several times in the last few days.”

Mortified, she whispered, “Oh no,” before dropping her head into her hands. It was fine to lust over him, stalk his Facebook and Twitter pages, and trail after him in the hallways of the Danvers building—as long as he didn’t know about her interest. But now she’d made a complete fool out of herself. She’d seen enough pictures of him with women on Google to know that she wasn’t even in the same league with them. He had been photographed at a lot of society charity events, but never with the same woman. “I was sick and didn’t know what I was saying,” she defended weakly.

“If you say so, Angel,” he said with a straight face. “The doctor said you had a viral infection along with
being anemic. That’s probably what caused you to pass out. I had my driver pick you up a bottle of iron supplements. Dr. Francis suggested that you talk to your OB/GYN about birth control pills since sometimes a heavy period can cause low iron levels.”

Crystal could only gawk as he talked about something completely personal as if they were discussing the weather. Most men would be terrified even to mention a woman’s menstrual cycle, but it didn’t appear to bother Mark at all. She quickly raised her hands and clamped them over her ears while his mouth continued to move. “I’m not listening to any more from you,” she said until he gave her an exasperated look. “Can we please not discuss my bodily functions? I don’t even know you.”

With a look that was hot enough to have her body tingling again, he said, “No, but you want to, don’t you, Angel? I’ve seen you around the office—or at least glimpses of you. I have to say that seeing you up close was a surprise—a damn good one.”

Dammit, he was charming and sexy. Crystal had no idea how to respond because she’d never really had a man compliment her before. Her ex’s idea of saying something nice was
I guess you’ll do
. Mark, though, looked at her as if he wanted to devour her. It was only fair since she’d wanted to eat him up from the first moment she saw him. Clearing her throat and breaking eye contact, she asked huskily, “Can we get back to what’s happened since I’ve been here? Did you stop to think that there are possibly people looking for me?”

“Being that it was Friday when you got sick, I didn’t
think anyone from work would notice. Plus, once Denny, my driver, found out who you were, I gave Brant a call and had him pass the information along to Declan.”

“Ella and Declan are out of town,” she murmured, remembering they were having a weekend away while Ava and Mac babysat for them.

“Yeah, I know. Ella called, though, and was rather freaked-out until I assured her that you were in good hands. She said to tell you that she’d cover with your mother.”

“Oh crap—thank goodness.” Crystal sighed.

“Do you still live at home or something?” Mark asked, looking confused.

Shaking her head, Crystal said, “No, but that doesn’t stop my meddling parents and my husband from minding my business.” When he appeared shocked, she quickly added, “I mean my ex-husband! We’ve been divorced for a while—but my mother chose him in the unofficial settlement and they gang up on me all the time.”

“Hmm, I see,” he murmured. “Well, back to what has transpired since you passed out at my feet. I brought you home, showered you off—clothes and all—then put you in one of my shirts. You don’t seem to remember it, but you were awake for the most part. You were sick a lot, though. I was going to take you to the hospital after I cleaned us both up, but you begged me not to. Said you were afraid of staying there alone. So instead, I brought the doctor to you. He suspected you just had something viral but did blood work to
verify it. That brings you up-to-date, as I’ve mentioned your mild anemia and negative pregnancy test.”

Crystal’s head was spinning as Mark finished running through the last two days at breakneck speed. Puzzled, she asked, “Why would you do all of that? You don’t even know me.”

Giving her a roguish grin, he said, “I feel like we’re pretty well acquainted now.” When she narrowed her eyes at him, he added softly, “I couldn’t take you to the hospital, Angel. You were so fucking scared for some reason when I mentioned it.”

Looking beyond Mark’s shoulder to where the sun was beginning to rise over the water, she rubbed her arm absently before saying, “I had my tonsils removed and had to stay in the hospital overnight when I was young. No one stayed with me, so I was alone, in pain, and scared out of my mind. My mom had told me before she left that I had better behave myself or the nurses would tell her in the morning and I would be in trouble. So every time they came to check on me and ask if I was in pain, I said no so that word wouldn’t get back to my mother that I’d been bad.” Trying to make light of what had been a terrifying experience, she forced out a laugh, adding, “It was a long night.”

“Ah, I’m sorry, Angel. Your reaction makes a lot of sense to me now. That was a real shitty thing to do to a child. Is your mother still a heartless bitch?”

Crystal began choking on the sip of water she had just taken. He got up and walked over to pat her on the back until she managed to catch her breath. “Sorry about that,” she said huskily. “It’s just that no one is
brave enough to call Dorothy Webber names. Most people are terrified of her.”

“Trust me, Angel, I’m fully versed in bad parenting. Mine aren’t exactly the type to give you the warm fuzzies either. Of course, I haven’t seen either of them in a while, so maybe they’ve turned over a new leaf.”

“How have you stayed away from them for that long?” Crystal asked incredulously. Considering her mother called her no fewer than ten times per week, it was hard to imagine going that long without her popping by for one of her awkward, unannounced visits.

Mark took her empty plate and put it in the sink before turning back to her. “It’s not complicated. They only communicate with me when they want something. I only wish that weren’t as often as it is.”

“You’re so lucky.” She sighed before she could stop herself. Mark chuckled, nodding his head in agreement. Then she forced herself to say the last words that she wanted to utter. “I guess I should be getting home now. You must be so ready to see the last of me.”
Please God, say no . . .

He didn’t speak for a moment. Instead, he studied her intently, as if looking for a sign of something from her. Just when she thought he wasn’t going to say anything at all, he shrugged his broad shoulders and grinned. “What’s one more night, Angel? I’d hate to take you home now and you have a relapse. Stay here and we’ll leave early enough tomorrow morning to swing by your place before work. Today, we can take it easy and watch some movies.”

Crystal could only gawk at his suggestion. She
wanted to stay more than anything, and he was making it possible without her having to do something crazy like begging. So why was she hesitating? She’d never get the opportunity again to spend time with the man she had all but stalked for months now. She looked down at her hands, trying not to let her excitement show. “I guess that would be all right,” she said, trying to sound flippant. She was on cloud nine until she remembered how she looked. “Um—do you think I could take a shower?”

He gave her a look that was pure wickedness. “Of course—but I should probably help you again. What if you get dizzy? I’ll do your back—and front—if you like.”

Down, girl—roll your tongue back into your mouth.
“I—er, believe I’ll be fine.” She’d never wanted to scream
before as she did now. She needed to remove herself immediately from the temptation he offered.

He rolled his eyes. “If you insist. After we’ve both showered, we’ll go back to bed for a while. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.”

Fighting back a yawn, Crystal nodded her head. “That sounds good.”

Mark led her to the same bedroom and handed her more clothing from his closet—this time a soft T-shirt. He then pulled a pair of boxer briefs from a nearby drawer and passed them along to her as well. “Knowing you aren’t wearing panties might be more than I can take. I’m only human, Angel. Hopefully, you can make those work.”

Crystal knew her face was probably five shades of
pink as she took the items and went into the bathroom, avoiding glancing at herself in the mirror. By the time she was finished with her shower and drying her hair, she was about ready to drop from exhaustion. When she opened the door and walked back into the bedroom, she was disappointed to find it empty. Mark had apparently decided to bathe elsewhere. Shrugging her shoulders, she crawled into the bed that she had so recently vacated and fell asleep almost immediately.

•   •   •

Mark stood staring down at the woman in his bed. It unnerved him that she looked so right lying there—as if she belonged. He rarely brought women to his home, and he certainly didn’t do sleepovers. He’d broken all of the rules with her already. He’d nursed her back to health for the last two days and then asked her to stay with him for another night. Hell, he was pretty sure he’d have begged if she’d refused. He was drawn to her and he had no idea why. He fucked women—period. She was beautiful—but he could get that anywhere. She was sexy—again, that was a dime a dozen. She was also innocent—even though she’d apparently been married at some point.

She might not remember it now, but while she’d been sick, she had looked at him as if he was her hero. She had nestled into his arms between bouts of sickness, bringing out protective instincts that he didn’t know he possessed. Dr. Francis had suggested Mark hire a nurse to care for Crystal until she had recovered, but Mark had brushed him off quickly. He didn’t want anyone else taking care of her, which was fucking insane. Even having another man’s hands on her
creamy skin while the doctor examined her was torture. He’d excused himself from the room at that point to have a glass—or two—of bourbon.

Mark was an alpha male; he always had been. He was the one in control of sexual encounters. Being that way, he’d learned, kept emotional hassles to a minimum. He was a leader—never a follower. He was dominant in the bedroom and liked to push boundaries. He didn’t cuddle, nor indulge in sweet talk. He’d never sent a woman flowers or anything even approaching a romantic gesture like that. So why was he so tempted to get in the bed and pull Crystal into his arms? He’d showered in one of the guest rooms with the intention of sleeping there as well, yet here he was. He couldn’t stay away. He’d been with her almost constantly because she’d needed him since she’d been here. She seemed fine today, though.

He had turned, forcing himself to leave, when her voice brought him back around. “Mark?”

Going to the bed, he sat next to her. “It’s me, Angel. I was just checking on you. Can I get you anything?” She didn’t need to know that he’d been staring at her for the last ten minutes.

“No,” she answered almost hesitantly. When he started to rise, her hand shot out and she grabbed his arm. “Do you—think you could stay with me for a while?” Before he could answer, she rushed on. “It’s just that I get kind of nervous in new places sometimes.”

He felt a wave of tenderness go through him as he remembered her telling him earlier about her ordeal in the hospital when she was younger. God knows he
hadn’t grown up with nurturing parents, but at least his nanny would have stayed with him had he been hospitalized. His poor Angel had been left alone to suffer. What a bunch of assholes. The decision made, he motioned her over, and settled in beside her under the comforter. Without a word, he lifted one arm and she was instantly under it and curled into his side. He dropped a kiss onto the top of her head as if it were the most natural thing in the world for him to be doing. He had no idea what was happening, but he had a bad feeling that he was in over his head with her.

BOOK: The One For Me (Danver #8)
3.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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