“Count of three,” he said. Tatum nodded and when he got to three, she stood, pulling him up with her. She was stronger than he gave her credit for. “Thanks, Honey.”
“Sit on the bed and I’ll get your pain meds,” she said. He did as she ordered, still feeling a bit woozy, but not wanting to admit it. Tatum came back with the pill bottle in one hand and a cup of water in the other. “You know, it says to take this medication with food. You didn’t eat much dinner earlier, did you?” she asked. He hadn’t, but that was because she had run off and he had chased—well, more like hobbled after her, leaving his dinner behind.
“No,” he breathed.
“Yeah—I went downstairs after you went to bed and cleaned up the kitchen. I put the leftovers in the refrigerator. I’ll go warm some up. You sit here and don’t take these until I get back,” she demanded. He gave her a mock salute and she rolled her eyes at him. Honestly, she was worse than any drill sergeant he’d ever had, barking orders at him, and she was a hell of a lot more intimidating.
He propped his pillows behind his body and leaned back against them. He must have hit his head with the way it was hurting, but that wasn’t something he planned on telling Tatum. She was already bossy enough when it came to his care—he didn’t need to give her anything more to stress about. He still wanted answers about why she had run off and hid in her room after their kiss at dinner and if she knew he was hurting, she’d insist that he rest. First, he wanted answers. Then, he’d rest.
“Okay—I brought you up some orange juice too. It will give you some sugar and when my blood sugar is low, it’s what I have to drink,” she admitted. Tatum flicked on the lights and he blinked against the brightness.
“Low blood sugar?” he questioned, squinting up at her.
“Yeah—I have diabetes. It’s manageable but I have to check my blood sugar every so often and if my levels are off, I have to give myself an injection. My medication is in your fridge, sorry,” she said.
“Not a problem,” he said. “Sorry, I had no idea.”
Tatum giggled, “Well, it’s not like I’m wearing a sign or anything. Unless you count this,” she said, holding up her wrist to show him a shiny metal bracelet. “It’s my medical alert bracelet. Jackson bought it for me when we found out about my condition.” Ryder took the tray from her and put it across his lap. God, the food smelled so good, his stomach growled. Not finishing dinner wasn’t his best decision, but he didn’t seem to be making good choices lately. Tatum turned to leave and he reached out and grabbed her wrists.
“Stay with me—you know while I eat,” he said. She seemed torn about what to do and when he added a pathetic, “Please,” to his request, she climbed onto his bed and sat down next to him, covering her bare legs with his blanket. “Thank you.” He spooned a mouthful of chicken and dumplings into his mouth and moaned.
“You like it?” she almost whispered.
“So fucking good,” he agreed.
“You know, you really should follow the directions on the medicine bottle, Ryder,” she chided. He was beginning to like the way she was trying to take care of him. He never really had that in his life—well, besides his mother. He moved away from home when he was just eighteen, when he joined the Air Force, and had been taking care of himself ever since.
“Got it,” he said around a mouthful of food. “Thank you, nurse,” The image of her dressed as a sexy nurse made him hot and he shoveled another bite of food into his mouth to cover up his moan.
“You hit your head, Ryder,” she assessed, checking out the lump on his forehead. Tatum ran her fingers through his hair and Ryder couldn’t help himself, he leaned into her touch. “I thought you said you didn’t hit your head.”
“Honestly, I’m still a little dizzy. I think I did hit my head, but I can’t remember what happened besides feeling woozy and going down. The next memory I have is you on top of me, waking me up.” He flashed her his smile and she giggled.
“Well, you wouldn’t wake up, so I had to get on top of you and be rather persistent,” she said.
“By persistent, you mean that you rubbed yourself all over my body, right?” he teased.
“Did not,” she defended. “You were just tough to rouse.” He looked down at his dick and back at her, cocking his eyebrow at her. “Well, everything except that was hard to get up,” she said. He laughed at her word choice—she seemed to always be sticking her foot in her mouth. “Shit,” she grumbled. “I can’t seem to say the right thing around you.”
Ryder pulled her hand into his own. “I kind of like it,” he admitted. “You keep me on my feet.” Now it was her turn to laugh.
“See, now you’re doing it too. I think I’m the reason you aren’t on your feet, literally,” she assessed.
“Right,” he said. “Well, I like your little play on words. It’s cute.” She wrinkled her nose at him.
“Thanks,” she said. Tatum gently ran her fingers over his forehead and he winced. “I think you might have a concussion. You can’t sleep for long. I’ll wake you every hour so you can try to get some rest.” Honestly, he wasn’t tired but he knew that as soon as he took his pain meds, he’d be out like a light again. Still, he hated that she was going to have to forgo sleep to keep an eye on him. It was his stupid fault that he ended up on the floor. He should have eaten his dinner instead of taking the pills on an empty stomach. His doctors warned him not to do that but he was being a stubborn ass and ended up doing what he wanted.
“How about you just sleep in here with me and that way, you can just roll over and nudge me awake. It will save you some time and hopefully you’ll be able to get some rest,” he said. He knew he sounded like he was trying to trap her in his bed with him and yeah—he was. But, after their kiss at the dinner table, Tatum had been distant and kept her walls up. He hated that, and he was hoping that he’d be able to break them down some to get to know her.
“I can’t sleep in your bed with you, Ryder,” she protested. He knew she was going to give him a fight over sleeping with him. Hell, he wanted to ask her for so much more, but this would at least be a start.
“It’s not like that, Tatum,” he lied. “I just wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing that you were running in here every hour to check on me. I’d feel awful. Hell, the reason I fell was because I was an idiot and didn’t eat before taking my pill. I’d be able to relax more knowing that you were in here with me,” he said. “Besides, if I have to get up, you’ll be here to help me and I won’t end up on the floor again,” he said. He knew he was playing dirty but he didn’t care.
She looked so torn, he almost felt bad about playing the, “I need help” card. He knew he was playing on her sympathies. It was, after all, why Tatum agreed to move into his place with him. She was adamant about helping him after running him down with her car. Tatum took his tray from him and handed him a pain pill and water she had gotten him earlier.
“You can take these now,” she said. She disappeared from his room with his dirty dishes, shutting off his light on her way out.
“Guess I have my answer,” he whispered to himself. He tried, but he wouldn’t chase after her and beg, not again. Tatum was going to come to him sooner or later, he just hoped he wouldn’t have to wait too long. He was betting that she was already counting down the days until her obligation to help take care of him was up. He knew that she needed a place to stay for a few weeks until she got back on her feet but he also knew that their living relationship was temporary.
The pain meds started working and he settled into his bed, pulling his covers up over his almost naked body. He was tired and with any luck, he might be able to get in a few more hours of sleep and this time, when he woke up, he wouldn’t fall on his ass and need his new houseguest to help him off the floor.