Kade stood. “Thanks for patchin’ me up. I’m tired and I’ve gotta be up early so I’m headin’ to bed.”
While Sky paced alone downstairs, pretending to clean the kitchen, wondering why she was such an idiot about this relationship stuff, she heard Eliza fussing on the baby monitor. After she picked her up, she realized Kade wasn’t in their bed. She wandered into the hallway. The door to the bathroom was open, but the door to the spare bedroom was closed.
So, he’d opted not to sleep with her tonight.
Can you blame him?
A loud thump sounded from inside the room. What if he’d hurt himself because he had too much pride to ask her for help?
You would know about being too proud.
The stupid voices in her head always offered advice way too late.
She took a chance and knocked. “Kade? You okay?”
“Fine. Hang on a second.”
Kade opened the door. His gaze landed on Eliza and he smiled softly. “Hey, baby girl. What’s the ruckus?”
At the sound of his voice, Eliza turned her head.
“She’s probably hungry. She didn’t finish her last bottle.”
“Sorry I didn’t hear her. She okay? Not sick or anything?”
“Not as far as I can tell, besides her crying jags the last couple days. I think you were right. I think she’s teething.”
“I’d offer to take the midnight shift, but I thought she’d shriek if she caught sight of my ugly, beat-up mug in the middle of the night. And to be honest, I’m in more than a little pain right now.”
Sky didn’t respond; she was too busy staring at the duffel bags next to the bed. He stiffened when he realized she’d seen them. Somehow, she swallowed the lump in her throat and asked, “What’s going on?”
“I’m gonna be busy at the ranch for a few days.” He shuffled his feet and looked anywhere but at her. “After what happened earlier today, and now with this, I decided we could both use a break.”
You decided? What about me? Don’t I get a say? Don’t we? Her hold on Eliza increased.
“You can reach me any time on my cell. I probably won’t check my messages until late, but if it’s an emergency, you can call my mom and she’ll track me down.” Kade stroked Eliza’s cheek. “Gonna miss you bad, sweet thang. Be good for your mama, okay?
I’ll see you soon.”
“You aren’t going to try and take her with you?”
“No.” His pain-filled eyes searched hers. “I’d never take her from you, Skylar.”
Oh no. What was going on with them? When had they returned to polite strangers?
“I know what you thought and you were wrong. Some things that were said in the heat of the moment shouldn’t have been said at all.”
Immediately she wondered, things like , marry me?
Eliza protested her hungry state and Skylar took a step back. “I, ah, need to feed her.” She started down the hallway. The door closed softly, but it echoed in her head as loudly as if he’d slammed it.
After Skylar got up with Eliza again for her two o’clock feeding, she couldn’t go back to sleep. She paced in the hallway outside Kade’s room, wondering if it was the best thing for him to be sleeping alone. What if he had a head injury? Weren’t you supposed to check on concussed patients every few hours? Rather than risk waking him by knocking, she quietly opened the door and tiptoed into his room just to double check on him.
Kade was splayed in the middle of the bed. His right hand held the bag of ice on his right eye.
Sweat beaded on his skin. She leaned over to place her hand on his forehead. Damn.
His skin was hot to the touch. The poor man was burning up, no wonder he was completely naked. Sky went to the bathroom and returned with two wet washcloths.
She perched on the edge of the bed, which woke Kade up. “Skylar? What’s goin’ on?”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. I came in to check on you and your whole body is feverish. How do you feel?”
“Like I got the crap kicked out of me.”
“You did. I thought you might like it if I cooled you down a little.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I know. I want to. Please. Let me do this for you, okay?”
Well, he hadn’t barked no. That was a good sign. “Do you feel nauseous?”
He shook his head and groaned. “Except when I do that.”
“Then don’t do that,” she half-chided. “Hold still. I’m going to move this ice bag aside for a bit.” She sucked in a harsh breath and it froze in her lungs. Oh man. He was on track to a serious shiner.
“Nothing. Just relax. This cloth might be cold at first.”
Skylar began with his forehead. Avoiding his swollen eye, she sponged the sharp planes of his face, cheekbones, temples, his generous mouth, lingering on his strong jawline. She wiped the long line of his neck.
He sighed deeply.
She continued across his collarbones and shoulders. Down his pectorals. He hissed, not with pain when the nubby washcloth drifted over his ni**les and the disks hardened into little points. Skylar realized since she’d handed Kade control of their interludes, he’d never allowed her to spend much time exploring his beautiful, strong body. She hadn’t lingered on learning how he liked to be touched above the waist. She hadn’t traced the delineated muscles of his abs and stomach with her tongue. Which was a damn crying shame, and a situation she’d rectify pronto.
Skylar admired his meaty biceps and thick forearms as she ran the washcloth along his brawny arms. The back of his hands were scarred and scabbed; the palm side of his hands were callused and rough. The hands of a working rancher. She knew these strong hands could rein in a thousand-pound horse, or fix barbed wire fence or even knock a man out cold. But she also knew how unbelievably gentle these powerful hands could be on her body. On her face. On their child.
She switched washcloths and finished his torso, his rib cage, the flat belly and his narrow pelvis, spending time on that sexy, sensitive strip of skin stretching from hipbone to hipbone. Skylar circumvented his groin even when his full erection indicated he enjoyed her ministrations.
Kade’s legs were dusted with dark hair and were all sinewy muscle. She swept the cloth down his thighs, repeated the process for his ropy calves, but she avoided his feet.
When she finished, she half-expected he’d be watching her intently, but his eyes were closed. His breathing wasn’t slow and easy, but choppy, restless. She knew he wasn’t asleep.