This story can only be found bundled with the Erotic Novella “Waxing Critical”
“Sit down.” Nathan motioned to the worn couch against the wall. I’ll get something to clean that knee.”
Jane limped around the battered coffee table and sat down with a sigh. What had been a mediocre date had turned into a horrible one when her car had slid into the curb a few blocks from Nathan’s apartment. Nothing seemed to be damaged but it was clear the roads were too dangerous for her to drive across the city to get home. Which meant spending the night with Nathan.
Well. At Nathan’s. Not with Nathan. Warmth kissed her cheeks at the thought and she shrugged out of her coat, trying to pretend it was something other than embarrassment. She should have ignored his plaintive “I guess I’ll walk home,” when they’d realized the weather was turning nasty and the buses were no longer running. But she’d felt guilty, knowing that she was never going to call him again despite having promised to, and offered to drive him home.
To top it all off, while walking from her stranded car to Nathan’s apartment she’d slipped and cut her knee. Which was just fantastic. She was injured and spending the night with a guy she’d only just met.
It would have been okay if he’d been a little more…
Jane paused, chewing her lip thoughtfully. A little more what? She wasn’t even sure. It wasn’t like he was ugly. Or boring.
“All right.” Nathan cam back into the living room, his hands full. “Let’s see what we can do about that knee.”
Reluctantly she pulled the edge of her skirt up.
He smiled. “That doesn’t look too bad.”
“Well, it hurts like hell,” she snapped.
“Yeah.” He pulled a washcloth out of the vague jumble of stuff he’d brought from the bathroom, dipped it in the dish of warm water and rung it out. “I’ll be as gentle as possible.”
Jane leaned back against the cushions and stared at the ceiling as he dabbed at her skinned knee. It was not as painful as she had anticipated, but somehow tears still prickled, hot and salty. “Ouch.” She jerked at the sting of alcohol.
“Sorry.” He slathered some antibiotic gel over the raw skin and taped the bandage down quickly. “All done.”
She looked at it critically. “Not bad.”
“I did a training stint as a paramedic. Never finished but I can clean and bandage anything.”
“Anything.” It came out sounding snide.
“Well, short of a severed limb.” He paused and grinned, slow and easy. “Short. Severed limb.”
Part of her wanted to giggle hysterically. Instead she frowned.
Nathan shrugged. “Never mind. Major trauma are a stretch. But this…” He laid his hand on her knee, gently. “This is easy.”
Her heart thumped hard enough to make her ears ring. Is he flirting with me? Just as she started to shift away from him, he stood up and began gathering the first aid things off the table.
“Be right back.” He disappeared up the hall.
Jane flopped back on the couch with a sigh. “Right.” Pulling back the curtains, she peered out. Still storming. Damned freezing rain. By morning everything would be covered in ice. She’d be lucky if she could get home by the end of the week.
The lights flickered and she jerked. “Uh, Nathan?”
“You might want to light the candles on the coffee table.” His voice was indistinct, winding down the hall from the bathroom. “There’s matches there somewhere.”
Somewhere. She poked at the drift of comic books doubtfully. The lights flickered again, going out for several seconds before snapping back on. Jane shoved the comics aside more enthusiastically. When she found the matches they were the kind that come in a little cardboard book, which she hated. She hated the thought of being stuck in the dark more.
A few moments of fumbling and she managed to get a match lit, then one of the candles before the electricity went off and stayed off.
There was a soft thump down the hall. Quickly followed by not so soft cursing.
“Are you all right?”
“Yeah.” Nathan came down the hall holding a much brighter light than her single candle. “Camping lantern,” he said with a pleased grin. Shoving the comic books into a loose pile, he set the lantern down and wiped his hands on his shirt. “You want something to drink?”
“I guess.” Jane reached down and untied her shoes. Her feet were freezing. Actually, all of her was freezing. She looked at the blanket on the back of the couch doubtfully. It looked clean. A cautious sniff. It smelled clean too, so she pulled it down and wrapped it around her shoulders.
Nathan returned and settled on the other end of the couch. “Sorry. If the power were on I’d make coffee. Instead your choices are soda.” He plunked a couple cans down. “Or Jim Beam.”
Common sense said she needed to keep away from the alcohol, but the thought of drinking anything cold was just too much. “Whiskey,” she said.
He poured two generous glasses, handed her one. “To warmer weather.”