“Of course she did. I’m surprised she’s not burning up my phone.”
“She said you might be sleeping and she didn’t want to disturb you.”
“So, she sent you to do it instead?”
“Yes,” he laughed, stepping inside with the foot and crossing over to the kitchen to set it down on the counter.
“Well, it smells good, anyway. You want some?”
“Of course,” he replied.
Kat looked him over. He’d looked better. He wasn’t at his worst, but she’d seen him look better. Whatever he was on had him a little sweaty, and his pupils were almost fully dilated. The food might do him some good.
“How are you then?”
“Perfectly fine. I slept in for a bit this morning and woke up feeling none the worse for wear. Whatever the doctor gave me seems to be working like a charm.”
“Pretty scary night, though, huh?”
“Not really. I never knew the difference. One minute I was just fine and then I just felt really tired. I hardly had time to think about why before I was out cold. Scarier waking up on Dad’s vet table. Thought I was getting spayed or something.”
Mike laughed and sat down on a stool as she passed a bowl over to him and sat down on her own. She turned to pull out spoons and noted him pop something in his mouth when he thought she couldn’t see. She sighed and lay the two soup spoons down before using a large one to transfer some of the stew into their plates.
She wanted to talk to him about whatever he was taking, but she’d wait until he ate something. Otherwise, he’d bolt, and who knew when he’d eat again. Mike was a big guy, but she could see some of his weight beginning to fall off with his addiction taking over his need for sustenance.
“So, your date. He seemed a little freaked out.”
“Yeah. I think he was. I talked to him earlier, and he kind of blew me off.”
“Ah, the called-to-be-polite bit,” he observed.
“I think so. Yeah.”
“Probably best. I know you want to find a nice Alpha, but he seemed a bit too old for you anyway.”
“The age thing doesn’t bother me, but I don’t suppose that matters now. I’m not going to worry too much about dating until I get this condition sorted out.”
“Good. Less for me to worry about,” he told her.
She smiled and dipped into her soup, taking a bite before turning to fetch them each a bottle of water. They remained mostly in silence until she was putting the bowls in the dishwasher.
“You want to stay and watch a movie or something?” she asked.
“Nah. I’ve got to meet someone in a little while.”
“Mike, I don’t want to nag you,” she began to say.
“Then don’t,” he cut her off.
“I’m just worried about what you’re doing to yourself.”
“I’m not doing anything to myself. I’m fine,” he said.
As expected, his defenses were up. He threw up his hands and then shrugged, smiling at her. She stood looking back at him with pursed lips.
“You need to get yourself together, Mike. I don’t want to lose you.”
“Never. I’m your big brother. I’ve got your back, sis,” he said playfully before jumping up and making a beeline for the front door. He paused as he opened it. “Call Mom. I was supposed to stop by and give her a report on my way out, but I’m going to skip it.”
Kat knew that just meant he didn’t want a lecture from her too, but the door shut between them before she could respond. She sighed and finished clearing away the counter before returning to the sofa to find a movie to watch alone. She’d no more than settle in when she heard a loud crash from outside and ran to the door, flinging it open to see what was going on.CHAPTER NINETravis
“Eight a.m. sharp,” Carl told him on the phone later that evening. “You find a suit?”
“Alright, I’ll pick you up at seven-thirty and we’ll ride to the hotel together. Pack a bag for your room there.”
“My room there?”
“Yes. If you take on this protective duty, she’ll expect you to stay in the hotel near her in case she wants to go out and needs you.”
“I didn’t realize it was a twenty-four/seven duty.”
“Does it matter? For the kind of money she’s offering, a free five-star hotel and expenses, you’d be crazy to say no. Did you still not read the contract?”
“I glanced through it.”
“Read the goddamned contract, Travis. It’s all in there. Anyway, you’re in addition to another set of bodyguards she’s bringing with her, so you’ll have some downtime. You can probably scare up some worthwhile entertainment from some of the wealthy women traveling without their husbands in the hotel bar while you’re not on duty.”
“Right. I need some jealous husband on my ass.”
“You need something on your ass after being behind bars, I’d think.”