Tempt (Take It Off)(10)

By: Cambria Hebert

I didn’t say anything because there wasn’t anything I could say that would make the blood stop flowing.

“Hold this,” he instructed, and I reached up to apply pressure to the wound. I could feel the warm liquid already soaking through the gauze to coat my fingers. Vaguely, I wondered how much blood I already lost, how much more blood I could afford to lose.

Nash was searching through the first aid kit, which thank goodness was a good size and stocked full. He lined up a few items on the top of the pile and then looked up.

“Do you trust me?”

“Yes.” How could I not trust a man who tried to save us and when it became obvious he couldn’t, he still covered my body with his?

“I’m going to clean your wound and then stitch it closed. It’s going to hurt. I’m sorry.”

The bottom dropped out of my stomach. “Have you ever stitched up someone’s head?”

“You’re my first.”

“Words every girl longs to hear,” I quipped.

He grinned. It made me forget for just a moment that I was bleeding profusely from my scalp.

“We gotta get this bleeding stopped,” he said gently, reaching up and pulling away my hand. The gauze came with it. It was completely soaked in red.

“Don’t look at it,” he said, tossing it aside and ripping open some kind of wipe or something. He swiped it across my head and I gave a shout of pain.

“Shit!” I yelled. “That hurts.”

“I like it when women talk dirty to me,” he said, continuing the torture.

“I’ll just bet you do,” I muttered darkly.

He chuckled and reached for another wipe. My heart pounded and my vision became a little blurry.

“You’re doing good,” he would say every few minutes.

Then he reached for a needle and some black thread. I thought I might pass out. I started shaking uncontrollably, my teeth chattering together like we were sitting in an igloo in shorts and T-shirts.

“Ava,” he said. He sounded so far away.

Then his warm hands were gripping my chin and he was turning my face up so he could stare down into my eyes. “Don’t you dare pass out on me.”

I just kept shaking. He cursed.

And then he climbed into my lap.

That was one way to get a girl’s attention.

His weight settled over me like a heavy blanket. His warmth was like a sauna and my skin soaked him in like a blooming flower on the first day of spring. His thighs were huge and they rested on each side of my waist, the core of him meeting my middle and his body pinning me back against the seat.

“You’re going into shock,” he explained. “Just breathe.”

I thought his weight might seem crushing, but it wasn’t. It was security; it was something solid in a tentative world. My hands twisted in the hem of his shirt and held on, their shaking slowing to a fine tremble.

“That’s a girl,” he murmured, placing his lips against my forehead.

My body calmed. My heart rate returned to normal. What he did for me nothing in that first aid kit could do.

“I’m going to go as fast as I can,” he promised.

I wondered what he was talking about.

And then the needled jabbed into my skin. I yelped and he bore his weight down on me even further, pinning me to the chair and keeping me still.

I hoped I never had to feel this kind of pain again. I felt every jab, every pull of the needle. It hurt so bad I sort of went numb. It was as if my body refused to feel that amount of pain.

And then he pulled his hands away.

I collapsed against the back of the chair like I’d just completed a marathon.

“Hey,” he murmured softly, taking my face in his hands. “You still with me?”

I nodded.

He kissed me.

The first brush of his lips was balm to my pain-laden soul. It was a soft, lingering kiss that stole my senses and made everything, including the pain, disappear. He titled his head just slightly, his lips dragging over mine. Mine parted and our mouths met again. His tongue teased the entrance of my mouth, tracing the outline of my lips, and then he planted his lips fully upon mine once more.

It was the best pain medicine I would ever know.

A small whimper left my mouth and traveled into his. He swallowed it like he was trying to capture some of my pain and take it away, like he was willing to shoulder some of my hurt so I would know relief.

It wasn’t really about romance. It wasn’t about passion.

It was more.

When he pulled back, he dropped a soft kiss to the tip of my nose. “Bella,” he whispered, the word sounding poetic as he spoke it in his native language.

It was probably the only word I knew in Spanish. It meant “beautiful.”

“I’m going to cover this now,” he said gently, reaching down beside us, cleaning off his hands and then rummaging around for more supplies out of the kit. “The worst of the pain is over.”