Colters woman, p.20
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       Colters Woman, p.20
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         Part #1 of Colters Legacy series by Maya Banks
Page 20


  “But how?”

  He smiled at her. “You’re over thinking this, baby. It’s quite simple. You’ll marry one of us in a legal ceremony. ”

  Her mouth rounded to an O. How stupid of her. That idea had never occurred to her and yet it made perfect sense.

  “Hell, I like the idea that she’s finally talking about us in a permanent sense,” Ethan said.

  She glanced back at him to see his eyes twinkling. Truth be known, she’d surprised herself. Was she a masochist to jump into another relationship on the heels of extricating herself from her first big disaster?

  This wasn’t a mistake. Couldn’t be a mistake. She wouldn’t allow herself to think it.

  Adam pulled out of the parking lot and drove off down the street. A few minutes later, he pulled into the lot of a sleek-looking hair salon.

  Holly looked over at him in surprise.

  He smiled back. “I asked for recommendations. This place came up several times. ”

  She leaned over and kissed him full on the lips then quickly piled out of the Land Rover.

  “Hey, it was my idea to ask,” Ethan grumbled as he slammed the back door.

  Holly grinned and gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek. She walked ahead of them into the salon and was greeted by a cheerful lady who looked to be in her forties.

  “I don’t have an appointment,” Holly began.

  “What’s your name, honey?” the woman asked.

  “Holly Bar…just Holly,” she said.

  The woman jotted down something on a pad of paper then beamed up at Holly. “Well, you’re in luck, Holly. I can take you right now. My name’s Jolene. Come on around and let me get you settled in. Then we’ll talk about what you need done, though I can tell you definitely need some color. ”

  Holly blinked as the woman herded her around the counter, chattering brightly the entire way. She glanced back at the men who had taken seats in the small waiting area. Adam smiled back at her then winked.

  Jolene whipped a cape out and secured it around Holly’s neck then ran her fingers through Holly’s shoulder length hair. “Honey, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you need to fire your stylist. This is one of the worst dye jobs I’ve ever laid eyes on. ”

  Holly smiled. “I’m afraid I did it. I was in a hurry. Messed it up. Can you fix it?”

  “Do you want to go blonde?”

  “No, I’d like my natural color back. ”

  Jolene studied the strands of hair in her hands for a minute. “Sure, I can fix it, honey. Don’t you worry about a thing. Come over to the sink and let me wash it for you. ”

  Several minutes later, Holly sat back in the chair, her hair damp from the washing. Jolene began combing her hair out and Holly relaxed.

  Jolene leaned forward and in a loud whisper said, “Now, honey, I’m not one to pry, but you have to tell me which one of those gorgeous hunks is yours. ”

  Holly froze, a smile hovering on her lips. For a brief moment, she considered just pointing out one of them, but why should she care what this woman thought of her?

  “They all are,” Holly said softly.

  Jolene’s brows shot up. “All? Oh honey, tell me you’re joking. Surely no woman is that lucky!” She shot Holly an exaggerated wink in the mirror.

  Holly chuckled then blushed.

  “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

  Holly nodded.

  Jolene shook her head. “Lordy. You have to tell me how you do it. I’d give my eyeteeth for two, much less three men who looked like that. ”

  Holly stared at her in amazement. There was no shock or outrage in the woman’s voice.

  “Well, never mind, honey, you’re obviously telling the truth. Would you look at the way they’re looking at you? Like they could eat you up for lunch. ” Jolene sighed wistfully. “There was once a time when a man looked at me like that. ”

  “What happened?” Holly asked, curious at the longing in the other woman’s voice.

  “Oh, we wanted different things. Or at least I thought I did. I just couldn’t accept what was staring me in the face. Lean back, honey, let me get this cotton around your forehead. ”

  Holly dutifully leaned back and waited for her to continue.

  “He finally got tired of waiting, I guess. Took off on his Harley and I never saw him again. ”

  “Oh, that’s too bad,” Holly said. “You don’t know how to find him?”

  Jolene looked startled. “Well, I never considered trying to find him. Of course, that was years ago. He’s probably married with a passel of kids by now. ”

  “Maybe,” Holly murmured.

  Two hours later, Jolene whirled Holly around in her chair to face the mirror.

  “There you go, honey. What do you think?”

  Holly stared back at her reflection. “It’s me,” she whispered. No streaks of blonde shone in her light brown hair. The ends had been trimmed and the tresses gleamed in the soft light.

  Jolene beamed back at her. “I thought you’d like it. ”

  Holly stood and impulsively hugged the older woman. “Thank you. ”

  Jolene steered her toward the waiting room. “Go see how your young men like it. ”

  Holly walked over to where the brothers sat. Adam stood and reached for his wallet.

  “You look beautiful, baby. ”

  She smiled and ducked her head. She glanced over at Ethan and Ryan who also nodded their approval.

  “Want to hit the shops and buy you some clothes?” Ethan asked. “There’s several down this street. ”

  “I’d like that,” she replied.

  She’d also noticed a boutique specializing in lingerie. A small smile curved her lips and she bit the inside of her cheek so as not to betray her thoughts. She’d love to buy a sexy new outfit and surprise them.

  Ryan held out her coat for her and she slipped it on. As they walked out, Holly caught Jolene’s eyes, and the hairdresser threw her a saucy wink and a thumbs up.

  At first, Holly hurried through the shops, sure that the men would be bored silly watching her clothes shop, but she soon realized they enjoyed seeing her try on new things.

  Her last stop was the lingerie store, and she made the excuse that she needed bras. Inside, she picked out two sexy outfits and grinned in delight at the idea of surprising them when they returned home.

  When she stepped back out, Ryan and Ethan reached for her bags.

  “Adam’s gone over to warm up the Rover,” Ethan explained as they stepped out to cross the street.

  They hurried forward. Out of the corner of Holly’s eye, she saw a sedan pull out from where it had been parallel-parked. She blinked in surprise when it barreled out into the street. Straight for them.

  Ryan and Ethan were a step in front of her, and she threw all of her weight into their backs, desperate to shove them out of the way. In the distance, she heard Adam shout.

  Ryan and Ethan stumbled forward just as the car careened by. Pain exploded in her hip as she felt the hard bumper glance off her leg. She went sprawling, her hands out to brace her fall.

  Chapter Nineteen

  Adam watched in horror as the car struck Holly and sent her spiraling to the street. He yelled her name again as he ran for her. Ryan and Ethan knelt beside Holly, and he shoved his way in. His breath caught in his throat when he saw her beautiful eyes open and stare up at him.

  Her face contorted in pain, and she struggled to get up.

  “No!” he shouted. “No,” he said in a lower voice when she winced at his tone. “Stay there, baby. Oh my God, are you okay?”

  He yanked his cell phone out of his pocket and punched in 911.

  “No, Adam, don’t,” she protested, holding her hand up. “I’m fine, really. It’s just my hip. The car mostly missed me. ”

  Mostly. Jesus. Was she trying to give him a heart attack?

  “What the hell was that idiot doing?” Ryan demanded, his voice shaking
as he stroked over Holly’s hair.

  Adam shot Ryan a quelling look. The hit-and-run was no accident, and he didn’t want Holly more afraid than she already was.

  “Holly, we need to call an ambulance,” Ethan said gently. “You could be hurt. ”

  By now a small crowd had assembled up and down the street. Adam heard the wail of a siren.

  “I don’t want to go to the hospital,” Holly said, her eyes pleading with Adam. “Let me get up. I’m only a little banged up. ”

  He wavered a moment, his concern for her overriding all else. She moved against Ryan’s hand, trying to squirm her way up.

  “Easy, baby,” he cautioned.

  Adam reached down and lifted her easily into his arms.

  “Can you stand?” he asked, unwilling to set her down yet.

  “I’m fine, really. Just a little shaken. ”

  With great care, he set her down on her feet. Ethan’s hands came out to steady her as she wobbled the slightest bit. She rubbed her hip with her hand, her fingers catching in the torn material down her leg.

  “These were my favorite pair of jeans,” she said ruefully.

  Unable to stand it a moment longer, Adam crushed her to him, his arms holding her tightly against him. He drew in several steadying breaths, trying to calm the adrenaline that buzzed through his veins.

  Some son of a bitch had just tried to kill her. He’d bet his entire cabin that it was her soon-to-be-ex-husband. He stared over at his brothers and saw answering rage in their eyes. He put a finger to his lips and they nodded their understanding.

  A police cruiser roared up seconds later, followed quickly by an ambulance. People crowded round as the paramedics examined Holly and the cops questioned everyone.

  An hour later, Holly signed no transport papers, and the crowd began to disperse. The responding officer took the last statement and climbed into his cruiser.

  Holly’s eyes were etched with pain and fatigue. Adam knew she hadn’t been completely honest about the extent of her injuries, and he planned to remedy the situation immediately.

  He tossed the keys to Ethan. “You drive. ”

  He bent and picked Holly up into his arms and cradled her gently against his chest. She didn’t protest, only expelled a weary sigh as she rested her head on his shoulder. He walked over to the Land Rover and eased into the backseat with her.

  Ryan turned around in the front seat, his eyes bright with worry. “Are you all right, Holly?”

  She stirred in Adam’s arms and put out her hand to touch Ryan’s arm. “I’m fine. I promise. Just a little shaky now that it’s all over with. ”

  But even as she offered Ryan reassurance, Adam could feel the tension in her body, see the pain in her eyes. He knew Ryan could see it too.

  At the hotel, Adam carried Holly to their suite and laid her on the bed. He wanted to see her injuries, make sure she was truly all right.

  Ethan and Ryan crowded in as Adam slowly pulled her tattered jeans away from her body. His hands trembled in rage as he saw the large bruise already forming on her hip and upper leg. Blood from a three-inch gash smeared her pale skin.

  Holly lay still on the bed, her eyes closed as Adam took stock of her injuries. He hated to disturb her, but he needed to know if she hurt anywhere else.

  “Baby,” he said softly.

  She opened her eyes, her eyelashes fluttering delicately against soft skin. She looked so damned vulnerable.

  “Are you hurt anywhere else?”

  She shook her head slowly.

  “We need to clean this up,” he said. “If I draw you a bath, can you soak for a bit and let me clean your leg?”

  She nodded.

  “I’ll go run the water,” Ethan said. He trailed his hand down her cheek then bent down and kissed her forehead. “Be back in a sec, doll. ”

  Adam watched as Ethan walked away with clenched fists. His brothers were as eaten up with worry as he was. And with anger.

  “Let’s get you out of the rest of your clothes,” Adam said.

  He eased the shirt over her head, careful not to move her more than necessary. Ryan sat at her head, smoothing his hand over her hair.

  Adam felt her begin to tremble. At first, tiny quakes shuddered over her body, but then she began to shake in earnest. Tears leaked from beneath her eyelids, and Adam’s chest tightened.

  He bent over and pulled her naked body into his arms. “You’re safe now, baby. ”

  She hiccupped softly, her breath snagging as she sucked in.

  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she said as she scrubbed at her face.

  Ryan scowled. “You had a terrible fright. ”

  “Her bath is ready,” Ethan said from the door.

  “Come on, baby. A nice, hot bath will make you feel better. ”

  Adam stood up and carried her into the bathroom. He set her gently down into the sudsy water. She hissed in pain as the water hit her leg.

  Adam cursed under his breath. “I’m sorry. ”

  She slumped against the back of the tub, eyes closed. “You were right. This feels wonderful. ”

  “You’re going to hurt tomorrow,” Adam said as he knelt beside the tub.

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