“Um…nothing. Just something I read in the book. Go back to sleep. You need your rest.”
“And what do you need?”
Besides forever with you… “For you to get better.”
A day or so later, Roth felt almost back to normal. However, Tressa was still making a fuss over him taking it easy. He’d never had someone make such a big deal over his well-being. It felt…good.
The worst part of being sick hadn’t been feeling like the tennis ball in a match between the Williams sisters; it was not being able to kiss Tressa in the deep, passionate manner he craved. He shot a glance toward the stairs. She’d been up there for an awfully long time. What was she doing? Taking a nap?
Pushing off the sofa, he climbed the stairs. When he heard Tressa on her cell phone, he stopped.
“Fine. I’ll meet you. I have to go.”
Her words were low but sharp and cold. That had to mean only one thing. It’d been her ex on the line. By her own words, they were done. So why had she agreed to meet him? A ping of jealousy rippled through him, followed by mounds of concern.
Taking a deep breath, he tried not to jump to conclusions. Continuing the climb, he said, “Hey.” Tressa flinched at his words. He noted the look of distress on her face when she turned to him.
“Um, hey. Everything okay?” she asked.
“Yeah. Everything’s fine.” When his eyes briefly slid to the cell phone in her hand, she tossed it on the bed. “Everything okay with you?” A part of him wanted her to tell him she’d been on the line with her ex, while another part of him simply wanted to ignore what he’d heard and trust that there was no reason to be concerned. For him, trusting was far more easily considered than applied.
“Perfect, now that you’re here.”
Tressa closed the distance between them, wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head on his chest. Her grip was snug, as if something had her rattled. What in the hell had Cyrus said to her? Anger tightened his jaw, diluting the emotions he’d previously felt. All he experienced now was that insistent need to shield her. He cocooned her in his arms, giving her the comfort he suspected she sought.
“Mmm. Your arms feel so good.” She tilted her head upward. “How do you feel?”
“Like a new dollar bill. Thanks to your TLC.”
“You know what would make you feel even better?”
Yes, he did. Making untamed, insanely hot love to her. But he decided to get her answer first. “What?”
“A hot bath.”
Oh, he liked her suggestion even better.
Taking his hand, she pulled him toward the bathroom. As the tub filled, she poured several capfuls of rubbing alcohol into the water. This woman loved her rubbing alcohol. Since he’d got sick, she rubbed his chest down every night in the stuff. “Something my mother used to do,” she said.
He didn’t know if her home remedies actually worked, but between the rubbing alcohol and the potion she’d made him drink, he’d experienced very little chest congestion. Guess he couldn’t discount them completely.
Stripping and climbing into the steamy water, he protested when Tressa said she wasn’t joining him. Instead, she sat on the edge of the claw-foot tub, lathered a rag and began to wash his back. He hummed in satisfaction. “That feels amazing. A brother could get used to this kind of treatment.”
“And a sister could get used to giving it to him.”
When silence filled the room, he toyed with the idea of mentioning he’d overheard her conversation. Okay, eavesdropped, if one was being technical. Instead, he went a different route. “Have you talked to Vivian? You know she likes you to check in. I guess she wants to make sure I haven’t fed you to a bear or something.”
Tressa swiped the rag over his shoulders. “There’s not a bear in North Carolina that can handle me.”
Well played, he thought, considering how she’d craftily deflected his question. Maybe he was being a fool, but something deep inside him said he had nothing to worry about. He just hoped that something was right. “Really?”
“Well, this chocolate bear can handle you.” In one swift motion, he had her in the tub with him. Her arms flailed as if she’d fallen into shark-infested waters.