As she staggered to a stop, the man peeled the card from his pants and held it out to her. “Lose something?” His deep, gravely voice sent a shiver all the way to her toes as she took in the six-foot- plus wall of muscle.
Kira wasn’t a small girl by any stretch, but in front of him, she felt tiny. “I... uh... dropped that.”
He read the card aloud. “Take a chance, huh?” Kira started, knowing those weren’t the words she’d read a moment before. With a shrug, he pressed it into her hand. “Better hold on tighter next time.”
When his fingers left hers, something pricked into her shoulder. She slapped her free hand against the pain and felt something. In her palm, she held a tiny golden arrow, but when she blinked, it was gone—replaced by a very dead wasp.
The guy in front of her, t-shirt straining against his chest as he moved, leaned close. His words belied the gruff tone of his voice. “That’s weird. Someone must have fucked with a nest. You aren’t allergic, are you?”
“N—n—no,” she stammered, staring at the arrow-wasp.
Gently, he gripped her wrist and tipped her hand until the insect fell to the ground. “Why don’t I take you to first aid anyway?” The words on the card drew her gaze: Take a chance. They’d
been different before; she was sure of it. Then Kira looked up at the man in front of her, his leather jacket and jeans such a stark contrast to Nolan’s polo and pressed khaki shorts, and the wasp sting burned. The strange, but not painful, heat traveled from her shoulder through her body to settle between her legs. She bit her lip, wondering where the feeling really came from. The guy in front of her wasn’t her usual type. Too big, too muscly, too rough around the edges right from his worn boots to the scruff along his strong square jaw.
In her mind, her teeth grazed that same jaw, and a shiver ran through her as she tore her gaze away. “Yeah. I think the pain is getting to me.”
Releasing her wrist, he rested his hand on the small of her back. The heat of his skin seared straight through Kira’s thin tank top. Her throat went dry within ten steps, and she had to swallow hard before she could speak again. “Thank you for your help, Mr....”He arched an eyebrow at her quizzically before answering. “Stanford. I prefer Jesse though. I killed the last guy who called me mister.”
Kira froze, fighting against the light pressure of his fingertips. “You what?” she squeaked.
He twisted his head and winked. “Kidding. Mister just makes me feel old. And you are...”
“Sorry. Kira Murphy.”
“Well, Kira Murphy, who needs to learn to take chances, consider yourself safely delivered to first aid.” He nodded toward the rickety trailer with the sloppily painted red cross on the side. “Have a good night.”
His hand fell from her back, and this time she shivered from the loss of his heat—heat she very much wanted back. But Jesse had already melted into the crowd. “So much for taking chances.”
With a sigh, she went inside to have the sting tended.