"How are you feeling?"
I opened my eyes to see Ricky looking at me, deep concern on his face.
"Like hell," I growled, then immediately apologized. "I've felt better," I told him, trying to smile.
"What can I do to help?"
"How are your amputation skills?"
Ricky rolled his eyes, muttering, "Wuss." He handed me a couple of pills and waited for me to sit up before giving me a glass of water so I could take them.
By that time I was actually awake enough to realize that most of the pain I felt was all in my head and I told him so. That earned me a laugh—and the suggestion he could remedy that. And he did—being very gentle in the process. You gotta love a man whose every touch can make you forget there's anything, or anyone, in the world except the two of you.
By the time we finished I was feeling a hell of a lot better. So the slave driver made me get up and hit the shower.
"Don't get the bandage wet," he reminded me.
"I know. Been there, done that."
I managed to keep it dry, much to his relief. Then he insisted on checking my wound. It passed his inspection and he expertly wrapped my bicep in a fresh bandage. You see he's been through this before with me. Twice.
The first time almost ended our budding relationship. He knew what I did, obviously, since I was the one who got him out from under the embezzlement charges. That didn't mean he got the fact I sometimes ended up in dangerous situations. Though not often. In fact I 'm more likely to get hit by a car than fists or a bullet. But shit happens in my line of work.
So anyway, the first time, I ended up on the wrong end of a baseball bat, wielded by an irate husband who didn't like that I'd gotten the goods on him for a divorce case. When I woke up in the hospital—with a blinding headache and a bandaged cranium—Ricky was standing at the end of the bed.
"Is this going to be the norm?" he asked tightly. "Me visiting you in a hospital?"
"Not if I have anything to say about it."
Somehow that answer didn't do much to placate him. He left, came back when they released me so he could drive me home, and then informed me he didn't think he could deal with a relationship where he spent twenty-four/seven wondering who'd try to kill me next.
It took a lot of cajoling, which is not my strong point—trust me on that—but I managed to change his mind. Mostly because I finally told him I thought I loved him. The L word has a lot of power.