Branded as Trouble, Page 21Lorelei James
The pain in his eyes nearly had her carrying him to the hospital.
“I’m coming in there to make sure you don’t pass out. ”
“I’ll remind you this is the men’s locker room. ”
His breath tickled her ear and his voice dropped to a growl.
“So, the first time you see me completely naked, ain’t gonna be in front of a bunch of other guys. ”
“Good point. ”
Thirty minutes later, after the game ended and the crowd disappeared, India paced until Dr. Brewer ambled out. “Is he okay?”
“It’s not as bad as I initially believed, but he insists he’ll be better off with you than at the hospital. ”
Dr. Brewer measured her thoughtfully. “Are you up for taking care of him tonight? Because he’s as grouchy as a grizzly with a sore paw. And we both know he won’t take pain meds. ”
“How did I get elected as bear bait?”
“Ask Colt. He said that you…” Dr. Brewer looked around and lowered his voice. “You already played Nurse Ratchet when you shot him in the butt with a nail gun and you owe him big time. ”
“He said that? Haul him to the morgue. He’ll need funeral arrangements, not medical care when I get finished with him. ”
The doctor chuckled and rummaged in his coat pocket for a sheet of paper. “My home phone number is at the top. Call me if you need anything. ”
“Your wife doesn’t mind?”
“My wife is used to it, although human patients are a novelty.
This late in her pregnancy she can’t sleep. Which means I don’t sleep. ”
“Thank you. ”
A freshly showered, but very slow moving Colt exited the locker room. He managed a half-smile before he sagged against the brick wall. “Did Jay talk to you?”
“You should be in the hospital, not having me play nursemaid—”
“Forget it. ” He closed his eyes. “I’ll just go home alone and sleep it off. Ain’t like it’d be the first time. ”
Guilt kicked in. “Colt. Look at me. ”
His eyes opened.
“I’m sorry. I’m just worried and I’m not qualified—”
“Don’t matter if you’re qualified, I just want you with me. ” He winced.
“Stay put. I’ll get my car. ” India turned around as the side door slammed.
Cam strode toward them, an imposing figure in his khaki uniform. “What the hell happened?”
India froze. Even Colt snapped to at Cam’s commanding tone.
“I lost my footing in the game and smacked into the table. No big deal, besides I’ve got a helluva headache. ”
When Cam moved, India noticed Domini was right behind him.
“I heard about it on the scanner. ” Cam gave Colt a head to toe inspection. “You refused to go to the hospital. Big surprise.
Although, I’m startin’ to think maybe you’re not the best thing for him, India. Every time I’ve seen you two together in the last two weeks, he ends up injured. ”
“Shut up,” Colt snapped. “It has nothin’ to do with her. ”
Cam put up his hands in mock surrender. “Sorry. ”
“You should be. Why are you here anyway?”
“I need to talk to India. ” Cam motioned Domini closer. “I wondered if she could stay with you tonight. That asshole ex-husband of Nadia’s keeps calling to find out where she and Anton have gone. I’m afraid he’ll show up at some point and I don’t want her stayin’ alone. ”
India looked at Domini. Tear tracks lined her face. She’d wrapped her arms around her stomach, but it didn’t keep her body from shaking, even in Cam’s enormous jacket. The poor woman was seriously freaked out and India didn’t blame her. Nadia’s ex was a bad guy. “Sure you can stay at my place. I’ll get you set up before I leave—”
“Whoa. Leave? Where you goin’?”
“To Colt’s house. I’m keeping an eye on him tonight. Dr.
Brewer’s instructions. ”
“Huh-uh. If she is stayin’ in your apartment, I want you there with her. I don’t want her to be alone anywhere. ”
“Then why doesn’t she stay with you?”
Domini dropped her chin to her chest and studied her feet.
Come on Cam, here’s your chance, take it and run. Domini would rather be with you, not me. Why can’t you see that?
“Because she’s gotta work at the crack of dawn and your apartment is right above the restaurant, so that makes the most sense. ” Cam sighed. “Look. I’m about to get off shift. I’ll take Colt home with me and keep an eye on him if you watch out for her. ”
“Her? She?” Domini said. “I have a name, Deputy McKay and if you insist on treating me like a child—”
Cam whispered something directly in her ear that shut her up.
“Colt? You okay staying with Cam?”
He looked at India and shrugged. “I’ll be lousy company. It’s just as well Cam has to deal with me rather than you. ”
“It’s settled. ” Cam shifted his stance. “Miz Katzinski, would it be all right if I had a word with you? In private?”
Domini stomped away and Cam followed.
India stepped in front of Colt and placed her head on his chest.
“I’m worried about you. ”
“I’ll be good as new if I get some rest. ”
She kissed his chin. And his jaw. “Probably a good thing I won’t be taking care of you tonight. ”
“Why? Because you always interrupt my sleep a billion times and then pick a fight with me so I’ll kiss you?”
“No. I’d’ve tucked myself right in with you and there wouldn’t have been a damn thing you could’ve done about it because it would’ve been on doctor’s orders. ”
“You are ornery. ”
“And a little mean. Okay, a lot mean. ”
He shuddered. “Remind me not to piss you off. ”
Stupid Colt McKay should’ve taken his own advice about not pissing her off, India thought for the millionth time as she slammed a box of essential oil in the middle of the showroom floor.
She and Skylar spent Saturday afternoon at Sky Blue doing quarterly inventory and India was glad for the busy work. It kept her mind off Colt.
They’d had another fight. A doozy of a fight. A throwing-things-get-the-hell-out-I-don’t-want-to-see-you-until-I-cool-down kind of fight.
Naturally, her sister brought up the elephant in the room when the last box of lotion had been tallied. “Don’t you think you’re acting unreasonable?”
India slammed the cupboard door. “Nope. ”
“It’s been two days. ”
Two very long days. “So?”
Sky gestured to the enormous bouquet lined up on the counter.
“Obviously Colt is sorry. ”
“He should be. ”
“Aren’t you being hard on him?”
She whirled around. “What would you have done, if Kade had stormed into the factory, chewed you out for…something someone else had supposedly seen you do? Ripped you a new one in front of a customer? And then literally dragged you off to—” Kiss you until you couldn’t breathe, touch you so thoroughly you had to check your skin for branding iron marks. Turned you so dizzy with want and anger and fear you couldn’t choose which feeling made you craziest so you acted out on all three? At the same time?
“To what?” Sky prompted.
“To make your head explode. The man is infuriating. ”
“What is infuriating? That he wanted to talk to you because he was worried about your risky behavior?”
“Colt didn’t talk; he yelled. And isn’t there some legal confidentiality clause that Deputy Cam can’t call him up and tattle that he thought I was driving my m
otorcycle too fast?”
Skylar wagged her finger in India’s face. “Tough. You drive that deathtrap like Wyoming is the autobahn. I’ve been telling you that for years. And I wish Cam would’ve chased you down and given you a ticket. ”
“You’re siding with him? With both of them?”
“Yes. Cam only told Colt because he knew it’d be better coming from him than from someone else in this gossipy town. And Colt confronting you on your dangerous activity is not surprising because he cares about you, Indy. He really, really cares about you. ”
“Yeah? Then how do you justify Mr. Caring barging in here and going all caveman on me, practically dragging me away by my hair, in front of a client?”
“Simple. ” Skylar smirked. “He’s a McKay. ”
“That is not even close to funny, Sis. ”
“It wasn’t meant to be. Chest thumping is part of Colt’s genetic makeup and if you’re going to be with him for the long haul, you’d better get used to it. Besides, wasn’t the client just Colt’s cousin, Blake?”
“So, I doubt Colt would’ve acted so agitated if it’d been a stranger in your tattoo station. ”
“That is not the point! He acted totally inappropriate. ”
“You aren’t exactly blameless, India. You reacted just as inappropriately. ” Skylar rolled her eyes. “Honestly. Did you have to throw a wrench at him?”
India’s cheeks went hot with shame. “How’d you find out?”
“Colt told Kade. Kade is now blaming Eliza’s tendency to throw things on my side of the family. A wrench for godsake.
“It was the closest thing I could find. ” And the tool belonged to Blake, so it’d seemed like karma at the time. Now it just seemed stupid, dangerous and childish. She sagged into a chair. “God. This is so screwed up. ”
“What’s really going on? You have a nasty temper, but this knee-jerk ‘anger and retreat’ reaction is so unlike you. ”