She glanced at the clock. Ten o’clock. A second later the house phone rang like clockwork. Without even looking at the caller ID, she knew it was Roth. He’d called her every day for the past week at the exact same time. Ten o’clock sharp.
“Hello,” she croaked.
While it had taken a few days, she’d finally succumbed to Roth’s cooties. In bed with a pounding headache, stuffy nose, congestion, a sore throat and a fever had not been how she’d envisioned spending her remaining time off.
However, there had been a silver lining to this dark cloud, and he’d waited on her hand and foot. Every morning he’d dropped by with breakfast on his way to work. Every day at lunch he’d either personally delivered or had food delivered to her. Every afternoon after a long day’s work, he was at her front door ready to nurse her back to health.
Roth’s smooth tone poured over the line. “Hey, beautiful. How ya feel?”
Tressa groaned. “Ugh. How do I sound?”
“Like a world-renowned opera singer.”
“If you were trying to make me smile, it worked.”
“That’s always my goal,” he said. “Have you had any of the remedy I mixed for you?”
“Um…yes. Several ounces, I believe.”
Immediately, she asked forgiveness for the lie she’d just told. Roth had attempted to remake the home remedy she’d whipped up for him at the cabin when he’d fallen ill.
Unfortunately, what he’d brought to her bedside had been the color of dirty pond water and tasted like a lukewarm mix of turnip-green juice and hot sauce with a twist of lemon. But she’d taken several sips because he’d gone through the trouble of preparing it.
She made a note to pour a few ounces down the drain before he arrived later that evening. Had to keep up appearances.
“I wish I were there with you,” he said.
“I wish you were here, too.”
“I have several things here at the office I have to complete before I leave, then I’m all yours. Are you hungry? I can have something delivered.”
She loved how this man took such good care of her. “No. My appetite is a bit wonky today.”
“Well, get some rest and I’ll be by tonight.”
“You’ve been spreading yourself thin, Roth. Go home and get you some rest. I’ll be fine. I am a nurse, remember?”
Roth chuckled. “Don’t worry about me. And I’m perfectly aware of your profession, Nurse Washington, but I’ll see you tonight anyway.”
She wasn’t going to argue. They said their goodbyes and Tressa snuggled against her pillow, wishing it was Roth’s chest instead.
A beat later her cell phone chimed, indicating a text message. Eyeing the screen, she frowned. Cyrus.
Can’t make the meet tomorrow. Something came up. Need to reschedule.
“Again, huh,” she said to the screen, then sighed. This was the second time he’d squandered the opportunity to collect his things. Not giving him any more of her energy, she tossed the phone aside. She’d deal with him later.
Tressa got her wish several hours later when Roth undressed and slid into bed next to her. Despite her low-grade fever, his warm body was just the remedy she needed. She felt so guilty taking up so much of his time, but craved spending every available minute with him. She prayed this new relationship excitement never wore off for either of them.
Nestling under his chin, she wished she could smell his manly scent, but her clogged nose made it impossible. “I’ve missed you,” she said.
“I seriously doubt more than I have you.” Roth placed a finger under Tressa’s chin and tilted her head upward. “Kiss me, woman. Just a little peck. I can’t stand my lips not touching yours another day.”
“You want my cooties?”
“Wasn’t it you who told me I can’t catch the same cold twice?”
“Yes, but we can’t be certain you’re the one who gave me this cold.”
Roth’s eyes narrowed in animated accusation. “Let me find out you’ve been out here, kissing other men and collecting their cooties.”
Tressa kissed Roth under the chin, his five-o’clock shadow pricking her lips. “There is only one man’s lips I’m concerned with. But I’m also concerned about his well-being. So…” She kissed the tip of her fingers and pressed them to his forehead, the tip of his nose, his cheek, then his chin. “That will have to do for now.”