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The One For Me (Danver #8)(8)

By:Sydney Landon

Crystal could only gawk at his suggestion. She wanted to stay more than anything, and he was making it possible without her having to do something crazy like begging. So why was she hesitating? She’d never get the opportunity again to spend time with the man she had all but stalked for months now. She looked down at her hands, trying not to let her excitement show. “I guess that would be all right,” she said, trying to sound flippant. She was on cloud nine until she remembered how she looked. “Um—do you think I could take a shower?”

He gave her a look that was pure wickedness. “Of course—but I should probably help you again. What if you get dizzy? I’ll do your back—and front—if you like.”

Down, girl—roll your tongue back into your mouth. “I—er, believe I’ll be fine.” She’d never wanted to scream YES before as she did now. She needed to remove herself immediately from the temptation he offered.

He rolled his eyes. “If you insist. After we’ve both showered, we’ll go back to bed for a while. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.”

Fighting back a yawn, Crystal nodded her head. “That sounds good.”

Mark led her to the same bedroom and handed her more clothing from his closet—this time a soft T-shirt. He then pulled a pair of boxer briefs from a nearby drawer and passed them along to her as well. “Knowing you aren’t wearing panties might be more than I can take. I’m only human, Angel. Hopefully, you can make those work.”

Crystal knew her face was probably five shades of pink as she took the items and went into the bathroom, avoiding glancing at herself in the mirror. By the time she was finished with her shower and drying her hair, she was about ready to drop from exhaustion. When she opened the door and walked back into the bedroom, she was disappointed to find it empty. Mark had apparently decided to bathe elsewhere. Shrugging her shoulders, she crawled into the bed that she had so recently vacated and fell asleep almost immediately.

• • •

Mark stood staring down at the woman in his bed. It unnerved him that she looked so right lying there—as if she belonged. He rarely brought women to his home, and he certainly didn’t do sleepovers. He’d broken all of the rules with her already. He’d nursed her back to health for the last two days and then asked her to stay with him for another night. Hell, he was pretty sure he’d have begged if she’d refused. He was drawn to her and he had no idea why. He fucked women—period. She was beautiful—but he could get that anywhere. She was sexy—again, that was a dime a dozen. She was also innocent—even though she’d apparently been married at some point.

She might not remember it now, but while she’d been sick, she had looked at him as if he was her hero. She had nestled into his arms between bouts of sickness, bringing out protective instincts that he didn’t know he possessed. Dr. Francis had suggested Mark hire a nurse to care for Crystal until she had recovered, but Mark had brushed him off quickly. He didn’t want anyone else taking care of her, which was fucking insane. Even having another man’s hands on her creamy skin while the doctor examined her was torture. He’d excused himself from the room at that point to have a glass—or two—of bourbon.

Mark was an alpha male; he always had been. He was the one in control of sexual encounters. Being that way, he’d learned, kept emotional hassles to a minimum. He was a leader—never a follower. He was dominant in the bedroom and liked to push boundaries. He didn’t cuddle, nor indulge in sweet talk. He’d never sent a woman flowers or anything even approaching a romantic gesture like that. So why was he so tempted to get in the bed and pull Crystal into his arms? He’d showered in one of the guest rooms with the intention of sleeping there as well, yet here he was. He couldn’t stay away. He’d been with her almost constantly because she’d needed him since she’d been here. She seemed fine today, though.

He had turned, forcing himself to leave, when her voice brought him back around. “Mark?”

Going to the bed, he sat next to her. “It’s me, Angel. I was just checking on you. Can I get you anything?” She didn’t need to know that he’d been staring at her for the last ten minutes.

“No,” she answered almost hesitantly. When he started to rise, her hand shot out and she grabbed his arm. “Do you—think you could stay with me for a while?” Before he could answer, she rushed on. “It’s just that I get kind of nervous in new places sometimes.”

He felt a wave of tenderness go through him as he remembered her telling him earlier about her ordeal in the hospital when she was younger. God knows he hadn’t grown up with nurturing parents, but at least his nanny would have stayed with him had he been hospitalized. His poor Angel had been left alone to suffer. What a bunch of assholes. The decision made, he motioned her over, and settled in beside her under the comforter. Without a word, he lifted one arm and she was instantly under it and curled into his side. He dropped a kiss onto the top of her head as if it were the most natural thing in the world for him to be doing. He had no idea what was happening, but he had a bad feeling that he was in over his head with her.