“What can I do?”
“Nothing. I was just calling earlier to tell you, but I didn’t want you to worry.”
Since she’d sat up, they were nearly nose to nose as he leaned in toward her. “Not worry? You fell off your roof, Piper. You’re obviously in a lot of pain and you don’t want me to worry?”
“I fell off the lower part that’s just over the porch,” she told him, rolling her eyes. “I wasn’t up on the main part.”
“Don’t downplay it. You didn’t fall off a curb, damn it.” He ran his gaze over her arms, which had a few bruises and scrapes; apparently the landscaping and bushes had caught her fall. “Take off your shirt.”
Piper jerked her head back, pulled her brows together and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You go from attempting to kiss me the other night to wanting me naked? If you think I’m that vulnerable because I’m down—”
“Shut up and take your shirt off so I can see how badly you’re hurt,” he said, raising his voice over hers. “Can you just do one thing I say for once? Let me take these next few minutes and make sure you’re okay.”
“I told you I was.”
Damn insufferable woman. Couldn’t she just let her tough exterior down for a few minutes?
“Then humor me and let me see for myself.” He purposely softened his tone because Piper was a sucker for gentlemen. It was when he yelled that she felt challenged and got her back all up. “You can barely sit up on your own, so I know it’s more than a little discomfort.”
She hesitated, still holding his gaze and Ryan refused to back down. Not this time. She needed to see that he was dead serious about taking care of her.
“Would it make you feel better if I took my shirt off?”
Piper rolled her eyes, but made no move to remove anything. Why did he find her stubbornness and independence so damn attractive?
“You can either take it off so I can see, or I’ll do it for you.” He offered her his sweetest smile. “I assure you, I won’t be gentle.”
Her eyes widened as her hands went to the hem. Slowly, agonizingly so, pale skin was revealed until her torso was covered in nothing but a silky lace yellow bra. Damn, how could he have forgotten about that lingerie fetish she seemed to have?
He’d seen the woman in a bathing suit for crying out loud and he was her best friend. But there was something about Piper being half naked and vulnerable that brought out the caveman in him. He wanted to pick her up, take her to bed and spend the next several days examining her injuries, making them feel better.
Ryan’s gaze remained on hers as he reached out to slide his hands over the dark purple knot and bruise over her side. Goose bumps instantly dotted her skin and Ryan practically felt the tingle all through his own body.
Damn, maybe this had been a bad idea.
Too late now.
Way, way too late.
Piper closed her eyes. She wasn’t used to being on the receiving end of such treatment. And the way Ryan’s fingertips were gliding along her rib cage had her fighting hard to maintain her composure, to remain in her seat and not throw her arms around his neck and let him claim that kiss he’d tried for the other day.
Apparently injuries made them both horny because she was having instant flashbacks to raking her hands over his torso and the heat that had met her gaze.
“Ryan,” she whispered, opening her eyes to find his face even closer than she’d first thought. “I—I’m fine.”
His eyes traveled from her face to where his hand was sliding just below her breast. Suddenly the pain wasn’t her first thought.
“I need to see your back, too.”
She lifted her knee onto the couch and twisted her body. Ryan’s gentle touch along her bare back was just as potent as when he’d been examining her front. Those fingertips may be on the surface, but she felt that contact all the way to her heart.
“How bad does it look back there?” she asked, thankful her voice didn’t crack.
“Looks like you fell off a roof.” His hands continued to slide softly over her skin. “You have one hell of a knot and bruise. Are you sure you don’t feel like anything is broken? Shouldn’t you have an X-ray just to double check?”
Piper eased back around and smiled. “I’m pretty sure I’d know if something were broken. I hurt, but not that bad. And today is the second day, so it’s sorer.”