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“Now, you listen to me, Tatum,” Hart growled, walking over to the side of her car. She completely ignored her brother, sliding into the driver’s seat of her car and slamming her door.

“Bye, Jackson,” she sassed, waving her fingers at him. Hart looked about ready to spit nails and most of his anger was geared toward Ryder.

“Don’t you fucking touch her, man,” Hart ordered, pointing his finger at Ryder. They were garnering a good deal of unwanted attention and all Ryder could do was shrug as Tatum pulled away from the curb, leaving her brother standing there, mouth gaped wide open. Yeah—that was a complete cluster fuck and now, Ryder was smack dab in the middle of whatever family squabble Hart and Tatum had brewing—just where he didn’t want to be.

“Shit,” he said under his breath. Judging from the giggles of delight coming from Tatum, she knew exactly what she had just done, and pissing off Hart wasn’t a part of the plan. Well, his plan, anyway.

* * *

They rodein silence back to his house. The only time he spoke was when he had to bark out a direction to Tatum, since she had never been to his place. By the time they got to his house, all he wanted to do was take another pain pill and fall into bed. His leg was screaming at him and the last thing he wanted to do was go a few rounds with Tatum. He was pretty sure she’d win any bout they had and he was just plain tired.

She helped him out of her tiny sports car and he unlocked his front door, letting himself in. Usually, he played the gentleman but getting through the door on crutches was no easy feat, especially with the amount of pain he was in.

“Are you ever going to speak to me again?” Tatum asked. She sounded defensive and that was the last thing he needed.

“I did speak to you. I gave you directions,” he defended. Tatum barked out her laugh and he knew that this wasn’t going to end well for him. “Listen, I’m in a good deal of pain,” he said, trying to play the sympathy card. “All I want to do is take a pill and go to bed. Can we have this discussion later?” he asked.

Tatum seemed to lose a little of her fight and nodded, “Yeah—sorry. I guess I’m mad at Jackson and I just want someone to yell at. Let me help you up to your room,” she said. Tatum got him to his room and rummaged through his bag for his pills. She handed him one and went into his bathroom to get him some water to take it. “Here,” she offered. “While your sleeping, I have a few errands to run and I need to unpack. Then, I’ll figure out dinner,” she said.

“The spare room is just next door. Feel free to look around, make yourself at home,” he offered. She pulled his one boot off and helped him onto the bed, stowing his crutches on the side, in case he needed to get up.

“Thanks, Ryder,” she said. Tatum hovered over him and for a second, he thought she was going to kiss him. He smiled up at her, and he could tell that he was giving her a goofy, lopsided grin from the way she giggled at him.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“I think your pain pill is kicking in, Ryd,” she whispered, giving his cheek a quick peck.

He rubbed his cheek with his hand and grabbed her wrist just as she started to walk away from him. “I knew you were going to kiss me, Honey,” he mumbled. Tatum giggled again and stepped back toward him.

“That was just a peck on the cheek,” she said. “You know, like me telling you to feel better or something.”

“It’s the ‘or something’ that I’m interested in,” he slurred. “But your brother will kick my ass if I even think of doing the ‘or something’ with you.”

“Yeah, well, what my brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him, Ryder,” she breathed. This time, when she bent over him, she gently brushed her lips against his and Ryder didn’t stop himself from reaching up and running his hands through her long, dark hair. He pulled her down and sealed his mouth over hers, licking his way into her mouth. Her moan was all he needed to let him know that she not only liked it, but she’d also be on board for whatever else he wanted to do to her. Ryder released her and untangled his hands from her hair.

“The ‘or something’ is definitely going to make Jackson want to kick your ass, Ryder,” she breathed. Tatum ran her soft hand down his cheek and he leaned into her caress. He closed his eyes and the last thing he remembered was her soft, giggles lulling him to sleep. Ryder’s last thought was that it was going to be damn near impossible to keep his fucking hands off Hart’s sister—not that he was trying very hard.

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