Colters' Lady(5)

By: Maya Banks


“All right,” she said before she could talk herself out of it. “I think I must be crazy. This just isn’t done. I know you feel sorry for me, but you shouldn’t. You don’t know”

He held up his hand. “I know all I need to know. That’s enough for now. When you trust me, you can tell me the rest.”

She shook her head, but he reached across the table and caught one of her hands, bringing it down so he could hold it once more.

“You will trust me, Lily. I know it the same way I know you. We’re going to be something to each other.”

Again she shook her head, helplessness gripping her. But he simply rose and tugged her to her feet.

“My truck is parked at Margie’s Place. We should head back now before it starts to get dark.”





Seth opened the door to his house and held it as he waited for Lily to walk in ahead of him. She was nervous and on edge, and he didn’t know what to do to make her feel more at ease. It would take time—time he was willing to invest—to make her understand that he had no intention of doing her harm.

She hung back, clearly uncomfortable with walking into his space. He swept by her, allowing her to position herself between him and the door. He wanted her to feel safe and unpressured.

“The guest room is down the hall,” he said. “And the bathroom is right next door. I thought you could settle in and get comfortable. I’ll cook us a good dinner and afterward we can kick back and watch a movie.

You didn’t eat much at lunch. You have to be hungry.”

She smiled, and the shadows lifted and fled from her eyes.

“And of course there’ll be plenty of hot chocolate,” he added with a grin.

“I can’t wait,” she said huskily.

He motioned for her to follow him down the hallway toward his bedroom. “There’s something I want to show you in the master bath. I know I pointed you to the guest bedroom and bathroom, but I thought you might want to take a soak in the garden tub in my bathroom.”


13



When he flipped on the lights, he saw her gaze fasten longingly on the large tub in the corner. It was honestly not something he used or needed. He hadn’t even drawn water in it once. He always used the shower. But he could see Lily in it, up to her nose in hot water.

His heart beat a little harder and his groin tightened because he suddenly saw her naked in the tub. He shook his head, feeling like a bastard for the turn of his thoughts.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” she asked anxiously.

But Seth could see how much she wanted that tub. He smiled and touched her gently on the cheek.

“Why don’t you hop in now and I’ll get a start on supper.”

He left her to run her water, and he headed into the kitchen to see what he could rummage up for dinner. It was lucky for him he’d gone to the market the day before so he had all the ingredients on hand for a decent meal.

His dads had taught him to cook—taught all his brothers to cook—because A. his mother was hopeless in the kitchen and B. his dads lived by one truth: Women should be cherished and protected, and there wasn’t a woman more loved or cherished than Holly Colter.

Maybe that’s where the overwhelming protective urge he felt when he first saw Lily came from.

He shook his head. No, he felt a certain obligation to any woman in need, but it was different with Lily. She was his. He couldn’t explain it—in truth he was utterly baffled by it—but he didn’t fight it. It felt…right.

After browning the boneless pork chops in the pan, he put together the casserole and then popped it into the oven. It wasn’t exactly cordon bleu, but pork chop casserole was great comfort food, and Lily looked like she needed comfort most of all.

He set the timer and then his cell phone rang. The ringtone signaled it was someone from the Colter household. Probably his mom. With a smile, he dug his phone out and said hello.

“Hi sweetie.”

His mom’s voice, filled with warmth and love, came over the line. He relaxed. It was a natural reaction around her. He didn’t know of anyone who didn’t do the same when she spoke to them.

“Hi, Mom. How are you?”

“I’m good. I’m more interested in hearing how you are. You haven’t called in a while.”

There was gentle reproach in her voice that he didn’t miss. Guilt made him cringe.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “Haven’t had much to say.”

“Are you feeling all right? Are you still hurting?” she asked anxiously.

“I’m fine, Mom. I swear. My shoulder hardly bothers me anymore. I have a psych evaluation next week, and as long as I don’t froth at the mouth I should be cleared for work.”

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