Waking up with JC in my arms was coming out of a dream but realizing it had been real all along. He was sprawled half over me, his hand curling on my chest, his head on my shoulder, and even though my arm was numb, I didn’t want to move and wake him up. For the first time in months, I’d slept without waking up to check on JC or to creep around the quiet Veterans Center feeling on edge. I’d put all my trust in these Sanctuary people based solely on Eddie’s contacts, but there was something about this place, plus Nik and Morgan, that made me feel as if that was the right thing to do.
I reached for my cell phone as gently as possible and flicked through the notifications. According to Eddie and Grace, all was quiet at the Center—there’d been the usual letters and more paparazzi. Today, a press release was going out to say that JC Baker had left Tennessee, with additional vague details about a private Caribbean island to recuperate. That should be enough to throw journalists and fans—and stalkers—off the scent. The people who knew where we were now apart from me were JC and, of course, the team at Sanctuary that I needed to trust.
JC stirred in his sleep, muttered something, and for a second, I chased to hold him, then felt as if maybe he would want to wake up without me hanging over him. I didn’t want to cause him to have a panic attack or for him to feel trapped in my arms, so I took the opportunity to slide out from his hold, watching in silence until he settled back against his pillow, his hand extended to where I’d been lying. For a long time, I sat and watched him, his face more youthful in sleep, all the worries and fears smoothed away, and his breathing regular and reassuring. His hair was messed and sticking up, and I could see the scar—a thin white line that gave nothing away of what was still in there and where his hair wasn’t growing back.
“Stop staring, freak,” he muttered, and my gaze flew to him as he smiled up at me. Had he caught me staring at the scar? I didn’t mean to look at it. “It’s just a scar,” he added.
Shit, he did see me staring.
“I wasn’t staring,” I lied.
“It’s okay,” he reached for my hand and laced our fingers. “Are you going somewhere?”
Was I? I recall that I didn’t want to spook him and thought it was good to get up to give him space. What kind of a stupid idea was that?
“I thought maybe you’d want some… I don’t know.” Space. Time.
“Coffee?” he asked hopefully as he stretched one-handed, and I saw the wince as his aching muscles protested, probably after what we’d done.
“Are you okay? Did I hurt you last night?”
He raised a single eyebrow. “No.” He tugged me, and I sprawled over him before I could catch myself—so much for bodyguard reflexes—then he held me close, and now it was my turn to bury my face in his neck. I wriggled so I was lying next to him as best I could, and he huffed a laugh as he hugged me hard. I’ve spent so long thinking I would hurt him—treating him as if he were made of glass—when he was a strong man who could easily hold me tight.
“Do you think they have stuff here?” he asked thoughtfully, and I lifted my head to catch another frown.
“No, stuff, condoms, lube, that kind of stuff. Not that I’ve been with anyone for three years now, and I got tested…” he was waiting for me to finish. How did I tell him that I’d had sex with only one person other than him, and it had been a freaking nightmare because my heart hadn’t been in it, and all I’d really wanted was JC? That would be admitting too much, right? But I loved him, and he loved me, and honesty was important.
“Once,” I began, then stopped.
Suck it up, Adrian. “I’ve only been with one guy other than you, and it was a long time ago.” I didn’t tell him it was me trying to see if I could forget that I loved JC. Nor that it was a way to come to terms with the fact I would never have him. There was such a thing as too much honesty this early in the morning.
His eyes widened. “Oh,” was all he could manage.
“Have I fucked us up? I’m not some obsessive stalker who—
He pressed a hand to my mouth to stop me from talking. “I love you. Now, did someone sexy and gorgeous mention coffee?”
“Nope, it was just me.”
He smiled up at me, “yeah, sexy and gorgeous.” Then, he released my hand and stretched again, his naked body against the white sheets was everything I needed and more, but yeah, coffee was a good start, and then maybe later…
“I can read your thoughts,” he observed. “Coffee, then lube?” he waggled his eyebrows, and I tried not to let my gaze rest on the scar at his hairline.
“Coffee.” I agreed.
I pulled on jeans and yesterday’s T-shirt, knowing I’d come back and get a shower, and at the last moment, I pushed my gun into the waistband at the small of my back and unlocked the door. I headed for the kitchen, no sign of Nik or Morgan, but there was coffee.
“Morning,” I turned to face the owner of the voice.
A stranger dressed in black from head to toe, with blond curls, green eyes, and a smirk on his lips, stared back at me—I had my gun out in an instant, pointing it at his chest.
“Woah,” the stranger raised his hands where I could see them. “I’m Kayden, Sanctuary medical director.”
The name was familiar, but I didn’t move, and we were in a standoff. I saw Kayden relax, a muscle at a time, and saw the way he balanced his weight on the balls of his feet, watching his hands clench at his side as he readied himself for battle, and my chest tightened as adrenalin flooded me. Here was someone trained to take down a man with a gun, and I was ready for it.
“Shit,” Nik said as they walked into the kitchen, moved directly between Kayden and me, glancing back at the new guy. “Fucks sake, Kayden, I told you to stay in the ops room.”
“I wanted coffee,” Kayden said.
“It’s okay,” Nik reassured me, “this idiot is Kayden—he’s part of the bigger team.”
Kayden peered around the bulk that was Nik and threw me a cocky smile.
“Kayden Summers, here to assess JC Baker for medical options and support? You can put the gun down unless you’re going to shoot me through Mr. Man Mountain here.”
Nik rolled his eyes and didn’t move, and after a moment where I played every single scenario in my head, I finally put the gun on the work surface next to the mug but didn’t let my guard down, watching the new guy with caution. I’d had enough trouble accepting Nik and Morgan, let alone a third person.
“You know I could have disarmed him,” Kayden boasted and then winced when Nik shoved at him.
“Kayden, meet Adrian.”
“Ahh, the bodyguard, former army, right? I can tell, you’re not loose enough in your—”
“Kayden, for fucks sake, shut up,” Nik groused.
“I was just being honest with the guy,” Kayden pressed a hand to his chest, looking as if butter wouldn’t melt.
I extended my hand to him after another pause, and Kayden gripped mine, and we shook for the briefest of moments.
Then I picked up the two mugs in one hand, my gun in the other, and deliberately side-stepped Nik and the new guy, nodding to Morgan, who came in as I left.
“Kayden!” Morgan exclaimed, and the two men hugged. “When did you get here?”
I heard the men talking, but I was determined to take coffee to JC, and I didn’t hear anything else. When I was back in the room, with the coffees, I relaxed.
“I love you,” JC announced, and sat up to take the coffee, inhaling the scent and sighing dramatically.
“Are you talking to me or the coffee?” I asked, and he grinned at me.
Out there, I was an insane person pointing guns at people and entirely on edge, but in here, I was with JC, and as long as I was with him, all was right in my world.
Still, I locked the door.
Then shoved a chair under the handle to stop further Sanctuary operatives from messing with my head.
Just in case.
Have you read?
Beckett Jamieson, AKA Robert Bullen, has been rescued by Sanctuary from a situation in which he nearly died and is left temporarily blind.
Doctor Kayden Summers is the Sanctuary operative assigned to look out for him.
It soon becomes clear Beckett is the key to evidence left by his mom. Evidence that may well destroy the Bullen family. The two men become involved in a critical retrieval situation and when bullets start to fly there is only one thing between Beckett and death. Kayden.More info →