The second he breached the doorway, her spicy vanilla scent filled his nose and made his heart skip. Cursing his self-induced abstinence, he sat Paige on the bed and grabbed a plain white T-shirt from her closet.
“We have to hurry, little girl.” Tossing the shirt on the bed, he bent and started loosening the belt of her robe.
Climbing out of her shocked fugue, Paige cupped his hand. “I’ve got it. Grab a pair of yoga pants…second drawer on the left, please. Oh, and a bra and panties. Top right drawer.”
Austin retrieved the items and laid them beside her, then plucked a pair of tennis shoes from her closet. As the robe fell to the floor, he tried not to ogle her creamy flesh, full breasts and tempting nipples or the crimson curls framing her pussy but failed.
Paige was frantically tugging on her clothes and all Austin wanted was to lay her across the mattress and spend eternity dragging spine-bending orgasms out of her.
No time, fucker, barked the voice in his head.
Sadly, until he screwed his head on straight, there wouldn’t be any time again.
“Austin,” Cody yelled from the other side of the house. “We’re leaving.”
“We’re ready,” he called back.
Grabbing her purse, he dropped it in Paige’s lap, then lifted her off the bed and sprinted down the hall. Racing outside, he dragged the door closed with his foot and hustled to his truck while Cody and Zander loaded Raymond into the back of the ambulance. After securing Paige in the passenger’s seat, he hurried in behind the wheel and fired up the engine.
With sirens blaring and lights flashing Cody pulled onto the blacktop. Austin was right on his tail.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Houston, Dallas, and his dad standing at the edge of the driveway. Without looking at their faces, Austin sped by as he threaded Paige’s fingers through his.
“Will Cody or Zander call you if…if he doesn’t make it to the hospital?”
“I don’t know.” He didn’t, but suspected if a patient died en route, a physical would have to declare them deceased once they’d reached the hospital.
“What am I going to do if he doesn’t make it?”
Austin hated that she was fixating on Raymond’s death. Hated that she might be giving up hope.
“Don’t go there, Paige. Zander’s in back with him. He’s been trained for his job and has years of experience taking care of people, just like he is Raymond. I know he’s doing everything humanly possible to keep him alive.”
“I know,” she replied on a sob.
He needed to redirect her…change the subject.
“What were you doing in the kitchen when I came in?”
“Leaving a note for Johnny. I screamed his name, but he didn’t answer. I don’t know where he’s at…somewhere on the property.”
Great. She called for Johnny, instead of me.
Then again, why would she? Austin had been dodging her texts and offers to come see him for the past ten days, trying to find a way to bury his fucking past.
“He probably won’t see my note until he comes in for dinner. Once he does, I’m sure he’ll call to see how Grandpa’s doing.” There was an edge to her voice Austin couldn’t decipher. It was borderline brittle and tinged in sarcasm. “I don’t want to talk about him. Can we talk about something else?”
“Sure. Pick a topic, any topic.” Austin glanced at her and smiled, then merged onto the interstate behind the ambulance.
Yes, it was definitely a much safer subject.
“He’s…funny as hell to watch. He’s like a toddler that has to investigate everything new that’s around him.”
“Like what?” Paige asked with a ghost of a smile.
Austin told her about the colt chasing the butterfly. And how Glutton had tossed his head, trumpeting in fear before running to safety next to Rumor’s side when a jet flew over the ranch.
The flicker of light in Paige’s eyes was like a breath of fresh air and lifted a tiny bit of weight off Austin’s chest.
“I think he thinks he’s a dog.”
“Because the crazy colt likes chasing bunnies, squirrels, and birds.”
When Paige chuckled, it was the sweetest sound Austin had heard in over a week.
Her reprieve from sadness and worry was short-lived when Paige shifted her focus off him and back to the ambulance in front of them. She quickly wiped the tear sliding down her cheek before Austin lifted their still coupled hands and kissed her knuckles.
“I’ve missed you.” Her voice quivered.
“I’ve missed you, too, little girl. We’ll talk everything out soon. I promise.”