From book 2/3 of the “If You Can” series, Release Me If You Can.
He was up the stairs, bypassing the bathroom to grab a change of clothes before he doubled back for a shower when the door swung open, and the object of his thoughts stepped out. Quentin tried to avoid her, but they ended up colliding anyway, and horror filled his chest when she yelped and reached for her injured shoulder, while trying to keep her towel pressed to her body.
“Ouchhh, shit,” she groaned, closing her eyes as she sucked in a calming breath. “Oh my God.”
“Dammit. I think that may have pulled at your stitches a little. You’re bleeding,” he said, cringing at the red stain — blood mixed with the water from her skin — forming at the top of her towel.
Renata pulled her hand away, lifting it up to look it before she closed her eyes a little, like she was dizzy from the pain. Her grip on her towel moved from tenuous to non-existent, and Quentin — grudgingly — caught it as it slipped down, holding it closed against her body.
“Let’s sit you down, and get you bandaged up, huh?” Not wanting to find out if she was steady enough to walk, Quentin reached past her to push the bathroom door back open, then swept her into his arms to carry her in.
In the bathroom, he sat her down on a padded bench in front of the sink, set away from the toilet and shower, then washed his hands. Under the sink, he found an extensive first aid kit, and sat it on the bench beside her. He moved quickly, washing and bandaging the exit wound — which was worse — first, then moving in front of her, and kneeling down to tend to the entry wound.
“Hey,” he said, noticing that she still had her eyes squeezed shut. “When did you last take anything for the pain?”
She opened one eye, then gave him the sheepish grin of a child caught misbehaving. “Um… yesterday…morning.”
“Come on now, cher.” He gave her a playful, gentle smack on the thigh, an action he immediately regretted once his palm came in contact with her warm, still slightly damp flesh. She pulled in a sharp breath, and both of her eyes opened then, focusing on his.
Move it. Stop touching her, a little voice in the back of his head demanded. But… louder, stronger, was the little voice telling him to move a little higher, to see how she reacted to that.
He kept it where it was.
“Ain’t you supposed to be a sling?”
She swallowed hard, letting her gaze drift down to his lips before she finally answered, with a nod. “But not all day. I took it off to shower.”
“Mmhm,” Quentin grunted, as he reluctantly moved his hand from her thigh to carefully clean the stitches keeping her shoulder closed. “What’s your excuse for not taking your pain meds like you should?”
She winced as he gently pressed a clean, soft cloth against her wound to stop the last of the bleeding, but… the tension he felt emanating from her was more than just a reaction to the pain. This was something… different.
Renata gave her head a slight shake before lifting her gaze to meet his. “They make me all loopy, and dizzy. Makes it hard to think… and I’m finding that hard enough as is it.”
She glanced away immediately after those words left her lips, as if she’d given away a secret. He noticed then that she was shivering.
“You cold?” he asked, then looked around the bathroom for another towel to drape over her shoulders. Before she could respond, he was already on his feet, grabbing a towel, and then back in front of her, covering her bare arms. “That better?”
The corners of those soft, plush lips turned up in a smile. “Yeah. Thank you.”
She blushed a little at that, then turned her gaze away again as he pushed the towel back enough to resume his task. He moved a few of her braids out of the way, but they fell right back in place, and she gave a quiet laugh. Quentin sat back as she used her left hand to gather her braids, pulling them out of the way over her left shoulder. When she was done, she looked up at him and smiled.
Damn she’s beautiful. Quentin hadn’t known Renata long enough — in person — yet to know that he loved her hair pulled over her shoulder like that, hanging nearly to her waist. Sitting there in nothing but her towel, hair hanging over her face, skin still slightly wet… she kinda took his breath away, and for a moment, he couldn’t do anything but stare.
With a little chuckle, he finally nodded as he moved closer to her again. “Yeah. Thank you.” He pulled a tube of antiseptic from the first aid kit, then used a gauze pad to carefully apply it to her stitches. He rested his hand on top of her thigh, and when he touched her, pressing the pad to her shoulder, he quickly realized that she was trembling… again.
So… she’s not cold.
But if wasn’t that… what? Quentin lifted his eyes in attempt to meet hers, but she had her head turned, focused on something else. He kept his gaze trailed on her face as he tightened his grip on her thigh, and the way she briefly closed her eyes, lowering her brow into a slight frown made him wonder… was she… nervous? Was he making her uncomfortable?
“Sorry, cher,” he said, moving his hand away from her thigh.
Renata looked at him then, lifting an eyebrow. “For what?”
“Making you feel uncomfortable.”
Her eyebrows dropped as her eyes narrowed in confusion. “Quentin… I’ve never felt uncomfortable around you.”
So… if she wasn’t cold… or uncomfortable… what the hell was she trembling for? He covered the wound on her shoulder with clean, dry gauze, then held it in place as he reached for the tape, accidentally brushing a hand over one of her firm, ripe breasts through the towel. She inhaled deep in response, letting out the tiniest, almost imperceptible little sound, halfway between a sigh and a whimper. He froze for just a moment, and then… clarity came.
Been stuck in the house too damned long. Losing my common sense.
She wasn’t cold, or nervous, or uncomfortable… she was…excited. Horny.
Just the prospect of a horny Ren made blood rush to his groin. Trying to focus elsewhere, he retrieved the tape and quickly finished the bandaging of her arm and sat back on his heels.
Bad idea. Goddamn she’s sexy.
“Thank you,” she said, the soft, sultry rasp of her voice filling the silence in the room. “It always takes me forever to do that myself.”
“You’re welcome.” He didn’t move to get up. He wasn’t even sure why he was still there, other than a sudden desire not pull himself away from the citrusy vanilla scent of whatever she’d showered with. It reminded him of that first day she’d come up from the medical room… the first time they’d kissed. The memory of her sweetness made him want to do it again.
He drew closer to her, and she didn’t pull away. Her lips were parted, chest heaving, and from his formerly innocent place between her legs, he could feel the heat of her arousal, like it was calling to him. So… he answered.
She let out a trembling breath as Quentin cupped her face in his hands, then pressed his lips to hers, that first touch sending another wave of heat rushing to his groin, and what felt like straight electricity to his chest. She opened her mouth for him eagerly, and he obliged her by delving his tongue inside as she lifted her hand to the back of his head. Gently, trying not to jostle her too hard while she wasn’t wearing her sling, he drew her as close as he could, groaning at the feeling of the hot apex of her thighs pressed against him.
Just as sweet as the first time, Quentin thought as he lowered his hands to her legs, running them up the silky skin of her supple thighs, and underneath her towel to touch more of her velvety flesh. He withdrew a little, just enough to gently nibble her bottom lip, sucking it into his mouth to soothe it before he pushed his tongue in again. He moved his hands over her hips, and the sexy little whimper she let out almost took away his restraint.
She wasn’t just sitting there, being kissed. Renata was sucking, licking, kissing him back with an intense urgency that surprised him — but pleased him as well. If she was down… so was he, and he was already right there between her thighs, and… so much for lust vs respect.
With much reluctance, Quentin ended the kiss, sitting back on his heels again. Looking slightly flustered, Renata pulled her bottom lip into her mouth, blushing as she met his gaze.
“You good?” he asked, looking away as he stood, putting some distance between them before he hauled her into his arms and sucked on that bottom lip again himself.
“Yeah. Thank you again, for bandaging my arm.”
When he looked back, he avoided her eyes, knowing his chances of not being drawn back in were slim. “No problem, Ren. Make sure you put on that sling, please.”
He got out of there quickly, not looking back, not stopping until he was behind the door to his room. He leaned into the wall, then scrubbed a hand over his face as he let out a loud groan.
Never had Quentin been that close with a beautiful, consenting woman, and not taken things as far as she was willing to go. He wasn’t the type to overanalyze whether a woman was really ready or not — he preferred women that said it, and meant it. But… Renata wasn’t just any woman, and their current situation was far from typical. Their friendship still felt… fragile. The last thing he wanted to do was complicate their newly forged bond with sex that might later make her feel taken advantage of, but… goddamn.