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Lucas watched as Adrianna gave her head another vigorous shake, glaring at the paramedic. He instinctively moved toward her to see what was wrong. She’d been through enough and he didn’t want this guy making her more upset.
What am I doing? She’s not my responsibility. That thought didn’t slow him down for an instant. He came to a stop in front of the paramedic, narrowing his eyes on the man. “Is there a problem here?”
The paramedic scowled, not appearing intimidated by Lucas’ surly attitude in the slightest. Pretty damn brave of him, Lucas admitted with grudging respect, given that the guy was no taller than Adrianna, and almost as skinny.
“She refuses to go to the hospital to get checked for a concussion,” the paramedic complained. “Maybe you can talk some sense into her.”
Lucas frowned at Adrianna and her stubborn chin jutted forward, a kiss-worthy pout pursing her mouth. Did the woman have no sense whatsoever? First, she shows up at a strange house late at night, then stuck around when she should have been hauling her fine ass out of there. Although there was a good chance he’d be dead if she hadn’t, which ticked him off further. It was his fault she’d been injured, and dammit, she was going to the hospital to get checked out if he had to carry her there.
“I’ll take her.”
She gave him a look of exasperation. “I’m not going.”
“Yes . . . you are,” he returned, his annoyance rising. What the hell was wrong with this woman? Stubborn didn’t even come close to her attitude.
She crossed her arms and tapped her slender bare foot, irritation marring her pretty features. Her alluring eyes flashed a deep shade of green. “No. I’m not.”
She shifted her gaze to the paramedic in a look of reproach, then spun around and headed for a blue Ford Focus parked in front of the house.
“She can’t drive,” the paramedic snapped.
“Right,” Lucas agreed, sprinting after her. “I’ve got this.”
He came up behind her just as she neared the Focus, her steps slowed, then came to a complete stop by the driver’s side door. But she didn’t open it. Instead, her shoulders drooped and her head fell forward as she tugged the blanket more tightly around her. When a tremor shook her shoulders, the need to comfort her nearly undid him. She was due for a meltdown after what she’d been through.
His annoyance fell away at the sight of her distress. “You okay?”
“My car’s broken,” she said, her voice no more than a whisper. A chill nipped the air as a slight misting rain fell on them.
He reached for her and slowly turned her around, placing a finger under her chin and tilting her face up. Her eyes were glassy with tears. “What?” he asked softly.
She blinked moisture from her lashes and squinted up at him. “I had an accident”—sniffle—“on the way here and now it won’t start.” Her bottom lip trembled.
His gaze fell to her mouth and an urge to press her back against her car and taste those full pouty lips coiled inside him. He swallowed hard and forced the image out of his mind, but it was harder to force the desire from his body. “You weren’t hurt?”
She hadn’t appeared injured when he’d seen her peering inside the dirty window. His eyes dropped back over her body, accessing her injuries. His body tightened, noting the way her conservative outfit, still damp, clung to her soft curves.
His mouth pressed tight. Since Susan’s death, he’d taken less than a handful of women to bed to scratch his itch. All one-nighters who knew the score. This woman had ‘long-term’ written all over her. Lucas didn’t do long term.
Adrianna continued. “I just need my purse.” Her voice shook and two fat tears leaked from her eyes. “And I—I lost my glasses when that man hit me,” she ended on a wail.
The thought of Ellis touching her, hurting her, made Lucas want to do some damage to the guy. His nostrils flared and his spine stiffened. Too bad the bastard was already dead. The anguish he heard in her voice bothered him. On pure instinct, Lucas found himself leaning in to comfort her. Inhaling her sweet floral scent reminded him of everything good in the world and the reason men like him fought to protect innocence.
Two more tears rolled down her face, one dripping off the end of her cute nose. An emotion that could only be described as tenderness flickered to life inside him. An emotion he’d sworn never to feel again. An emotion he sure as hell didn’t want. One he did his best to tamp back down, as the need to claim and protect her smoldered, like a low burning fire. Then she sniffled again, the sound soft and feminine, as two more tears fell.
Like throwing gasoline onto a flame, the emotion exploded, raging out of control.
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