Chapter Fourteen – Scrambled Eggs and Sympathy
by Alison Henderson
“I guess they are,” Mitch muttered. Like his father. The old man hadn’t bothered to tell him when Marie died. Mitch had been away at college by then, but he would have come to the funeral. He would have written. He would have…something. “I’m sorry about your mother.” It was too little, too late, but all he could offer now. He’d save his confession for another time—or maybe never.
Candy tilted her head and gave him an appraising look. “Thanks. How are you feeling?”
He flexed his arm gingerly. “Sore.”
“I bet. I’ll get you some aspirin in a minute. How’s your stomach? Have you recovered enough to eat? We missed lunch, you know.”
Was that a subtle reminder of their fight that morning? He glanced up and met the glittering challenge in her hazel eyes. Memories of the argument brought back memories of the hours of passionate lovemaking that preceded it. She was still angry, but she’d done everything she could to take care of him. Maybe he was getting under her skin the way she was getting under his.
“I could eat.” He leaned forward and started to rise, but she pushed him back with a firm hand on his shoulder.
“Oh, no, you don’t. You stay right where you are. I have no intention of wrestling with your unconscious body again.”
A grin tilted his lips at the corners. “I’m much more fun when I’m conscious.” He reached for her but winced when pain shot through his injured arm.
A look of concern crossed her face. “I told you not to move.” She rose from the couch. “I might not be as good a cook as my mother was, but I scramble a mean egg.”
“I’ll take three.”
She arched a brow. “You’ll take what I give you and like it.”
He snapped a mock salute. “Yes, ma’am.”
Candy crossed the room to the front window and peered out. “The snow’s coming down hard again.”
Mitch twisted on the couch to see. “This is supposed to be the last of it. The forecast says it should stop by morning.”
“How long do you think it will take them to get the power back on and clear the roads?”
Her voice held a wistful note. Or was it his imagination? Better keep things light. That seemed to be the way she wanted it. “Why? Can’t wait to get away from me?”
She turned and smiled. “Well, you are pretty demanding.”
“Come over here and I’ll show you demanding,” he growled.
This time she laughed. “That’s mighty big talk for a one-armed man.”
“Hey, I’m better with one arm than most men are with two.”
Her smile faded. “I’ll fix supper.”
Mitch lay on the couch and listened to Candy bustling around in the kitchen. A couple of times she called out a question about where to find something, but mostly she kept quiet. He wondered what she was thinking.
After locating the matches, Candy lit the camp stove. It was a far cry from her compact, state-of-the-art kitchen in New York, but she managed to whip up a fluffy batch of scrambled eggs that would make Rachel Ray jealous. She even threw in some grated parmesan cheese she found in the fridge. She hoped the eggs would make up for the sorry state of the toast. She’d had to dangle the bread over the open flame of the stove, and the result wasn’t pretty.
“Here you go.” She handed Mitch a plate and fork and sat in a chair across from him with her food.
“Thanks.” He stabbed his fork into the mound of eggs like a healthy man who hadn’t eaten in way too long. She guessed he was feeling better.
Glancing at the gauze bandage on his arm, Candy swallowed hard. She’d almost fainted, too, when she saw the blood-spattered snow and the glazed look in his eyes. Fortunately, the executive in her had taken over. She’d sized up the situation and done what needed to be done. Now that the crisis had passed, she was amazed by her own resourcefulness. The wound wasn’t deep, but it was ugly. Chain saws weren’t exactly surgical instruments.
Mitch had propped his plate on his lap so he didn’t have to use his injured arm. It must hurt like the devil. She wished she had something stronger to give him than aspirin, but she’d scoured his medicine cabinet with no luck.
While she watched him eat, she was struck by a niggling feeling of familiarity deep in her brain. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but she felt like she knew him. Really knew him. She shook her head at the fanciful thought and turned her attention to her eggs. Maybe it was the memories dredged up by sharing the story of Michael. Maybe it was her mind trying to justify the fact that she’d fallen, or in this case leapt, into bed with a near-stranger. Maybe it was all those hours spent together in bed, mouth to mouth, skin to skin. That was certainly one way to get to know a man. Whatever the connection, it eluded her.
After they finished eating, she collected the dishes and washed them. When she returned to the living room, she found Mitch fast asleep on the couch with Major at his feet. She should wake him; he would probably sleep better in his own bed. But she hesitated. He looked so peaceful. She studied the hard, masculine angles of his cheekbones and jaw. What was it about him?
She’d decided to leave him where he slept and was adjusting the quilt when a hand shot out and grasped her wrist. She sucked her breath in hard and looked down into a pair of sleepy blue eyes.
“Come with me.”
Her breath released in a huff as she laid a hand against his forehead. It felt warm, maybe a little too warm. “You’re not going anywhere except to bed.”
“Exactly.” He threw off the quilt and struggled to his feet.
Candy grabbed his good elbow. “Hang on. I’ll help you. I imagine the shock from this afternoon has kicked in.”
She steered him to the bedroom and helped him lie down.
“Stay with me,” he said, holding her wrist to prevent her escape.
“That isn’t such a good idea.” Their lovemaking had been amazing. There was no denying it. But the storm would end soon, and their time together with it. She needed to start putting distance between them.
“Stay with me,” he repeated softly.
“It’s not so bad. I want you with me while I sleep.”
“Maybe.” He tugged on her arm lightly. “Stay. Please.”
Good sense warred with desire. A smart woman would tuck him in and say goodnight, but she wasn’t feeling exceptionally bright at the moment.
“Okay. But just until you fall asleep.”