“It’s not his fault; it all happened so fast.” My voice croaks.
“Let’s get you in the car, darlin’; come on.” He helps me into the car, and for some reason I’m just noticing my body is still trembling. I can see that Grady wants to help calm my nerves but decides against it, knowing Jared would dislike that very much.
“He’s coming, just hold tight,” Grady assures, and gives me his jacket.
“Thanks,” I whisper, and mold myself in his jacket as he blasts the heat. I’m sitting in the back, curled up in a ball with my eyes closed. Today’s events are creeping up on me, and all I want is to be wrapped in Jared’s warm embrace.
I’m not sure how long we have been in the car, but I hear a door open then close.
“Thanks, bro; she asleep?” Jared asks Grady.
“Maybe, I don’t know; but she was shaking so badly I gave her my jacket.”
“Thanks, man.” Just the sound of his voice sets me at ease.
“Babe, come here.” He lifts me up and lays my still-shaking body on his.
He rubs my arms while trying to keep my body from trembling.
“I’m so sorry,” I hear him whisper, and that’s all I remember as sleep brings me under.
When I open my eyes I’m in an unfamiliar place.
“Hey, Erica. I know we only met briefly before, but you were kind of out of it. I’m Paul, the doctor for everyone around here. Your head was hit hard, so just lie down.” His kind, warm smile meets my eyes.
“Where am I?” I rasp.
“You’re at the bar. We’re in the back office,” he tells me. “Thank you so much for helping me.” I give him a small smile. His brown hair and green eyes are comforting. He’s not as big as the other men.
“Oh, he’s in the other room with the guys. I told them to make sure they give us some privacy. He likes to hover over you too much.” He laughs, and I laugh with him even though my head is still pounding.
“I am going to give you some pain meds, but I need you to take it easy and someone needs to stay with you and wake you up every couple of hours. You could have a slight concussion.”
“Ok, thank you.” I lay my head back on the couch in Grady’s office.
He says goodbye, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
It’s Not Over
I must have dozed off, because I’m woken up by strong hands caressing my head. When my eyes flutter open and I see Jared’s messy dark hair. Worried eyes stare back at me, so my hand goes up to cup his cheek. He sighs and leans into my hand, closing his eyes. When he opens them, he grabs my hand and kisses my forehead.
“Thank you,” I whisper.
“No need to thank me for anything.” He visibly swallows when I caress his hair. His head makes its way to my shoulder as he settles on me, with his arm wrapped around my middle.
We lie like that for a while, me massaging his head, wrapped around him securely.
He makes me feel like I’m the only woman in the world. I’m all he looks at and admires. He may be overprotective in some ways, but that just makes me adore him even more.
His head lifts and he positions both arms around me. He starts to carry me out of the room, and when I protest he tells me to shush, and I smile.
“Jared, I feel ridiculous with you carrying me out of the bar,” I protest while my hands wrap around his neck and I nuzzle his shoulder. I close my eyes and let him take care of me, because I know this is what he needs.
He carries me out, ignoring all those around us. When we get to the car he rescued me in, he places me in the passenger seat to buckle me in.
I give him a soft smile when he closes the door. I take a deep breath when he gets in the driver’s side.