Reckless Love Page 14

“We’re here¸” Ty announced from the front seat, then looked back at us. His mouth dropped open, but he quickly closed it.

“C’mon,” Kenzie said as she sat up. She wiped her face with her sleeve, then got out of the car without looking at me.

Eleven

MacKenzie

What the hell was I thinking when I agreed to work with Ian on his rehab?

The truth was, I knew exactly what I was thinking. I had seen the pain in his eyes when the doctor gave him his prognosis. Six to eight weeks’ recovery time meant potentially missing his first pro fight, the one Chris had lined up for him in Vegas. That fight was only seven weeks away. If he was going to get back in shape and have a shot at winning that fight, he needed all the help he could get.

Which was why I was sitting on my living room floor with Alexa at three o’clock in the morning, surrounded by every anatomy textbook I had, laptops open. As a nurse, I knew anatomy. But to get him through the injury, I needed to brush up on some of the physical therapy aspects. Lucky for me, she had offered to help.

Alexa worked night shifts at the hospital, so she was used to being up this late, but I never stayed up late unless I was out at a club and being highly entertained. So, almost never. To compensate, I was pounding my fifth cup of coffee.

I gave her a sly smile. “You don’t need to stay up this late. It’s your night off, go bang your hot-ass boyfriend. At least then one of us will be getting laid tonight.”

Alexa laughed and blushed, but then she got a far-off look in her eyes. “I’m sure I can stay a bit longer with you and still manage to get laid.” She paused, then said, “What’s going on with you and Ian, anyway?”

She looked a little wary, as if I might bite her for asking, which was weird because I always talked to her about guys. But as I tried to answer the question, I realized Ian was different. I felt something for him deep inside, in a place I never shared, not with anyone.

“Nothing’s going on,” I insisted. “I’m dating Chris.” I think. “I’m just helping Ian recover.”

She gave me that look she always did when she knew I was lying, but wasn’t sure she should call me on it.

I sighed. “What?”

“It’s just that you seemed so upset that Ian got hurt, and then there was the night you called me from dinner. What did you call him that night? Amazing?”

“So? I was drunk. Everyone’s amazing when I’m drunk.”

It was kind of true, but I felt my fingers dig into my palms again. Alexa needed to back off or I’d break. Please don’t let me fall apart again.

“Oh, okay,” she said.

This time when she gave me her Kenzie-you’re-so-full-of-it look, I just ignored it. That was how she knew not to push anymore. Alexa was an expert at reading people and knowing when not to push, something I absolutely valued in a friend.

I turned back to the book I was reading, only I could hardly concentrate on the words in front of me. My thoughts kept returning to the moment in Ty’s car when Ian had pulled me close and just held me. Why did he do that? Why was he so pushy, trying to find out why my hands were bleeding? No one ever cared about that, so why did he?

God, I felt like such an idiot for falling apart in front of him, but in that moment, it just felt so good to let him hold me. It was like his strong embrace held me together.

I’d never fallen apart like that before. I hated it. Something about Ian was just so protective and so safe that for just a moment I felt like it was okay to let go. I hated that he did that to me because I don’t let go. I don’t cry in front of other people. Ever. It makes you vulnerable, and when you’re vulnerable, people can hurt you.

And honestly, what was I even crying about? The fight before Ian’s, I was eating it up—the competition, the testosterone filling the room. Hell, I even loved it when Ian was messing with Steel. But when Steel punched Ian in the throat and I saw the very real pain in Ian’s eyes, how he fought for breath, something changed. I raced for the cage, wanting—no, needing—to make sure he was okay.

When I realized I was holding my breath, I knew. I needed him to breathe in the same way I needed my own breath. It was so stupid. So weak.

“There’s nothing going on between us, not at all,” I told Alexa. And at that moment, I was determined that I would mean it. But the thought of spending so much one-on-one time with him during his recovery made my chest tighten, and I knew I was in trouble.

Twelve

MacKenzie

Ian’s address told me that his place had to be nice; I just didn’t realize how luxurious it would be. I couldn’t help compare his building to mine. My ugly little four-story was a reality-cop-show backdrop, whereas his was closer to the set of the next rich playboy movie. His building was about a hundred years older than mine, yet in much better shape. It was beautiful.

I was craning my neck to appreciate the detailed architecture about twenty stories up when a doorman opened the door for me. He checked to make sure my name was on the list before motioning for me to go past the desk. “Down the hall, take a left, last one at the end.”

At least Ian lived on the first floor. I didn’t think I could handle it if he’d lived in a fancy top-floor penthouse. My tennis shoes squeaked on the marble floors as I followed the doorman’s directions.

I was wearing what I always wore to the gym, having just come from there, but here my short-shorts and tank top felt ridiculously inadequate. I wrapped my arms around myself to stay warm in the air-conditioning, and maybe also to cover up a little since I was starting to nip out. As I made my way down the hall, I wondered if I would be able to coach him through physical therapy with my arms locked across my chest. Yeah, right. He’d just better not give me crap about it or I was leaving.

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