Wild For You, p.4J. C. Reed
I’m not usually one to dish out low blows, but someone needed to give this guy a wakeup call.
In the many years I’ve been working as a physical therapist, I’ve never encountered anyone so full of himself.
No one’s ever affected me this much, either.
“It was a mistake, Erin.” His hand reaches out to touch me. Startled, I jump up, my shoulder bumping into his hard chest.
“I thought you were supposed to help me get better, not knock me over and land me in a wheelchair,” Cash says with a smirk.
His voice is low and lined with gravity. Given that he’s not even budged from the spot, his statement is absolutely ridiculous.
“You should have thought about that before you pulled me on top of you.” I shake my head. “What are you doing out here, anyway? You kept me waiting for almost one hour.” My gaze rakes over his muscular body. Taking a step to the side, I try to infuse more anger into my voice, but all that comes out of my mouth is some raspy breathing that sounds suspiciously like I’m fazed by his proximity and near-nakedness.
Which I’m not, obviously.
I just wish he’d put some damn clothes on, that’s all.
“I can see right through you. You’re not as unaffected as you’re pretending to be.” The double meaning is there, hanging heavy in the air. His brows are drawn and his lips are twitching, as though whatever’s going on in his dirty mind is the joke of the year.
“I’m most certainly not affected by a great body and a bit of naked skin. I’m more bothered by the fact that you think it’s okay to lie around half naked.” The words leave my mouth before I can stop myself. I sound so defensive, I could crawl under a rock and die from sheer mortification.
“I wasn’t thinking along those lines, but now that you mentioned it. I had no idea you’d be bothered by the fact that I’m trying to relax in my own home.” His magnificent lips curl into a languid smile and my stomach sinks a little.
He looked gorgeous in that kitchen last night and this morning. But in the bright light, he’s stunning.
Sexy without even trying.
And everything I’ve vowed to steer clear of.
“You call that relaxing?”
“Okay. I’ll admit, I was hiding from you.”
His fingers graze the side of my face, as though to brush back my hair, but no breeze is blowing.
“I’m not your enemy, Mr. Body.” My mouth clamps shut at the realization I’ve just made a huge blunder.
He is Mr. Body, alright, but he doesn’t need to hear that from me. His sudden grin speaks volumes. Gathering every ounce of strength I have, I add frostily, “Mr. Boyd.”
His brows shoot up. “Yes?”
“You still remember I’m here for work purposes, right?”
“Of course. I don’t suffer from dementia. Or Alzheimer’s. Luckily.”
“Funny.” I smirk. “Now that we’ve clarified that part, I’m asking you to get ready for a little workout.”
The tip of his tongue flicks over his lips. I know what he’s thinking; I can see it in his hooded eyes and feel it in the electric current passing through his fingers into me.
You can’t blame a guy for being horny, and certainly not when he’s probably been shacked up in his house for way longer than he ever imagined.
“What did you have in mind?” His hand reaches up, probably to brush that imaginary strand of hair away from my face again.
Hell to the no.
I swat at his hand and turn on my heels, calling over my shoulder, “Please, let me do my work so you can start doing yours. I expect you to join me in the living room in five minutes, Mr. Boyd.”
With that, I head back inside, ignoring the low chuckle I’m pretty sure was for my benefit.
Once inside, I sit back down on the sofa, prepared to wait out the five minutes before I head back out to drag him to his first physical therapy session, if need be.
What the hell was I thinking?
This is going to come back to bite me for the rest of my stay.
* * *
* * *
An hour later, I’m still sitting on the sofa, wondering why I’m even putting up with Cash Boyd rather than packing my bags and leaving.
My patients get angry with me.
They yell. They sometimes cry. But no one stands me up. Ever. Because, inside they all want to get better.
But you can’t shove your help down someone’s throat if they don’t want it. That’s a fact. Cash Boyd seems to fall into the kind of category I haven’t met yet: the kind who can’t wait to get rid of me.
The kind who prefers to wallow and drown in self pity.
Pulling out my phone, I type up a quick text message to my sister to tell her that I’m fine. Taking a mental step back is a way to stop myself from packing up my therapy gear. I want to leave so badly, I almost dial the airport to inquire about the next flight back home.
But something holds me back.
I’m not wanted here; I get that. Trent warned me. I expected it, but somehow, I hadn’t realized how difficult his son could really be.
And so damn hot!
It’s not just his unwillingness to work with me. It’s also his damn remarks and the fact that I’m actually enjoying the way his eyes seem to drink in my body. I’m used to getting lewd remarks every now and then, but they never affected me in any way.
“That’s ridiculous,” I mumble to myself. “He’s just a guy.”
A hot one, I’ll admit, but a man, nonetheless.
By taking on this job, Cash Boyd has become my responsibility, not least because I made a promise to his father. And strangely, for some reason, unknown to me, I want to help him, which is why I’ll have to get a grip on this ridiculous attraction I feel toward him.
“Mr. Boyd!” I yell even though I know better than to expect an answer. My voice reverberates off the walls and—
“Mr. Boyd,” I yell again, this time louder. My voice echoes back at me, cementing the fact that I’m alone.
Still no answer.
Annoyed as hell, I head outside. He’s no longer on the porch. No sight of him whatsoever. It’s a huge house, so it comes as no surprise that I didn’t hear him go back inside.
Sighing, I decide to go for a walk to cool my head off.
No point of running after Cash Boyd if he’s in the mood to run from me.
Maybe he’ll give this a chance later when he’s come to his senses.
When I return from my walk, there’s still no sign of Cash. No note. Not even the faint scent of his aftershave. It’s like he was never here this morning. I’m about to pour myself another cup of tea when the door swings open.
“Mr. Boyd. I’m glad you’ve decided to—” Frowning, I turn around sharply and stare at the woman. She’s in her sixties with gray, curly hair that keeps falling into her face. She’s cradling two brown bags full of groceries that look too heavy for her small frame.
“I hope I didn’t startle you. You must be Erin?”
“I’m Margaret. I’m helping with the household.”
Of course, the guy has a housekeeper.
An estate as big as this must take a lot of time and work to maintain. And then there’s also the fact that someone must be cooking the stocked-up meals in the refrigerator.
I hurry to take the bags from her and place them on the counter. “Nice to meet you.”
She nods a thank-you. “Trent has told me so much about you. We were all so excited when you agreed to help Cash. How do you like it here?”
“It’s great.” I’m not even lying. I do like Montana, the country life, the house…maybe not so much its owner. “I have yet to get used to how quiet it is compared to Chicago.”
She lets out a laugh, and we proceed to unpack the groceries, and restock the frid
“I’ve just made myself a cup of tea. Would you like some?” I offer once we’re done. I refrain from mentioning my special blend.
“Sure.” She takes a seat at the table and folds her hands in her lap. As I pour the lukewarm tea into two mugs, I notice her gaze brushing over me. I’m used to relatives and friends of my patients assessing me. However, Margaret’s gaze is kind. If I didn’t know any better I’d even say it’s bordering on sympathetic.
I place the mug in front of her and sit in a chair opposite her.
“Trent was very taken in with your accomplishments. He said you were one of the best,” Margaret resumes the conversation.
I grimace. “Unfortunately, we’re not making much progress in this particular instance.”
She nods knowingly and takes a sip of her tea. “Cash can be quite stubborn.”
“Trent warned me. I just had no idea. It’s impossible to get through to him.” I hesitate, unsure how much to reveal. Truth be told, I’m so frustrated I feel like pouring a whole bucket of ice cold water over Cash Boyd’s head to give him a wakeup call. I need to tell someone before I lose my self control and make an unprofessional move. “He needs to begin his therapy as soon as possible. We were supposed to start today, but as you can see, Mr. Boyd is not here. I’ve been spending hour after hour waiting for him to turn up. I don’t even know where he is.”
“Oh, dear.” She shakes her head. “Hiding from you sounds like something he might do.”
I cock my head, trying to make sense of her choice of words. “Is he shy?”
“Shy?” She lets out a laugh. “Goodness, no. Shy isn’t a word I would ever use to describe Cash. He has his own mind, that one.”
“Is he introverted?” A recluse, I want to add but abstain from it because the word might just carry a negative connotation for some.
She shakes her head again. “Far from it. Ever since the accident, he’s been trying his best to make everyone’s life harder, including his. I’m surprised you haven’t left yet.”
I frown. “Harder? How so?”
She leans forward and her voice drops to a conspiratorial whisper. “I shouldn’t say this, but…the last therapists didn’t fare too well. The longest they stayed was two days.”
“They probably took his check and left,” I say dryly.
“A check?” Her brows rise.
“He offered me twice what Trent’s paying me to leave.”
“Of course. It had to be money. That’s how he got rid of them so quickly.” She frowns but there’s also a glint of pride in her eyes. “His father and I always wondered how he did it. We decided that he might have scared them away. Apparently, money can buy everything.” She lets out a laugh, and her eyes fix on me again. “But you stayed.”
I shrug. “I want to help him. That’s all. His offer wasn’t more appealing than that.”
“Not even double your paycheck?”
I shrug again. How can I tell her that I could have made good use of that money, but in the end my professional reputation is worth so much more than that?
“Not even that. But we can’t work together if he’s never around,” I mutter. “Do you have any idea where I might find him?”
So I can pour that bucket of water over his head.
“God knows. He could be anywhere.” She smiles kindly. “The best thing you can do is ignore him. He’ll get bored quickly.”
“How do you know?”
“He does it all the time, dear. To all of us,” Margaret says. “Now, between you and me? I reckon he’s had a secret bunker built.”
I smile because in all honesty, she must be joking. “I can’t just wait for him to get bored from his own disappearing acts. He even tells me to leave. I need to do something.”
I shouldn’t be gossiping about my clients, but it feels good to talk. Even if Margaret can’t really help me with my dilemma, she does know him better than I do, which in turn might help me find a way to get him to open up to me.
“You’re doing more than you think. You help him by just being here.” She places her hand on mine. “He knows you’re here. He knows you care. If he really wanted you gone, he’d be doing worse things than telling you to leave to get you off his property.”
“Locking the door and barring the windows.” Her mouth twitches. “He did it a few times. Once, he didn’t let me in for a week. He must have taken a liking to you.”
“I don’t think that’s the case.” The idea makes me blush, for some reason. He does like me, but not in the way she thinks.
“Just be patient. Cash always had a mind of his own. His passion for bull riding is just one example.”
“Why does he do it knowing that he’s risking his life?” I know the question is superfluous the moment I ask it. It’s like asking why people race cars or jump out of planes.
He likes to take risks. It’s as simple as that. But just because I see it all the time doesn’t mean I understand the idea behind it.
“He’s obsessed with it,” Margaret says. “Taming bulls has always fascinated him, but at some point it became his sport. Trent used to take him to watch, and one day—and I remember the day well—Cash declared that he wanted to try it.”
“You must have been with the Boyds for a long time.”
The expression in her eyes grows warm. “A very long time. After Cash’s mother died, I helped Trent with the house. Raising four kids on your own isn’t easy, so we all pitched in, cooking meals, helping with the cleaning. The Boyd kids became like my own. When Clara died, I cried for their loss until I had no tears left. As if losing their mother wasn’t enough of a tragedy. They also had to lose their sister.”
I don’t want to pry and yet I find myself asking, “Their sister?”
“Yeah. Clara was military. The eldest of the kids, and so responsible. Grown up for her age.” Her eyes focus on me as she ponders whether to disclose more. “She died in a bomb blast.”
“I’m sorry,” I whisper, even though I know no words can express the kind of sympathy any loss deserves.
“So am I.” She sighs and a tear rolls down her cheek. She wipes it away quickly and shakes her head. “The best thing about getting older is that you get wiser. You learn how to let go. You learn to appreciate what you have and let go of the things that don’t matter. The hate. The worries. The stress. Even beauty. You learn that even beauty is fleeting. That you don’t need it to be happy. All that matters in life is family.” She glances away and her gaze grows distant as though she’s a million miles away again. “Cash has always been stubborn. You can’t win a fight with him, so don’t even try. After his sister’s death, that trait of his just got worse. It made him fearless. A rebel. He threw all caution to the wind and just went for whatever he set his mind to. We all warned him not to ride that beast of a bull, but he wouldn’t listen. To this day, he’s adamant that he only fell because he lost his focus.”
Taking in her words, I begin to form a picture of the kind of man Cash is. Stubborn and fearless, but maybe also a little bit hurt and as a result afraid of losing control. Maybe I can work with that. Maybe that’s the side to reach out to.
We finish drinking our tea, and then Margaret gets up, her face strained as she places a hand on her lower back. “My age is working against me. I think I’ve pulled a muscle.”
“Can I help?” Without waiting for her response, I round the dining table and gently shove her hand aside to examine her back. As I begin to massage her tensed muscles, she closes her eyes and relaxes into my touch.
“Only if you let me show you around. There are plenty of things to do when Cash isn’t around. Do you like gardening?”
“Gardening?” I smile at the idea of me growing and eating anything that hasn’t come out of a grocery bag. “I’m far from having a green thumb.”
“I’m sure you do. You just haven’t discovered it yet.” She turns to me and motions for me to follow her. “Let me show you the greenhouse. It’
* * *
* * *
It’s late afternoon when I return, my hands, and arms dirty from helping Margaret, my hair smelling of sun, flowers, and nature.
The sun’s still high in the clear sky, burning everything with its harsh, unrelenting rays, but there’s also a shift in the air. I can almost feel the oncoming rain and can hear the splattering sound against the windowpanes. It will make such a nice change from the relentless heat and the deadly silence of the house.
The house is as quiet as I left it, and there’s still no sign of Cash. My stomach rumbles, reminding me that I haven’t eaten, but I’ll tackle that issue after a shower.
Stepping into the bathroom, I close the door behind me and proceed to undress. I look like a mess. Dirt cakes my face. Brown stripes of sweat and dust from carrying heavy bags of soil streak my skin. I probably smell as bad as I look. But my hands and nails are the worst.
I jump into the shower to wash off the dirt, but as I turn on the faucet, I realize there’s no water. Frowning, I walk the small distance to the basin and try both the hot and cold water.
“What the hell?” I grab a fluffy white towel, ignoring the fact that it’s going to be a dark shade of gray soon. Wrapping the towel around my body, I walk back to the kitchen where the sink is.
Again, no water.
There are only two possible explanations. Either Cash has a plumbing problem or—
My blood begins to boil in my veins.
“Cash!” I yell. No reply. I head for his bedroom and bang on his door. “Cash! Open up.” I’m so angry I’m completely oblivious to the fact that I’m only wearing a towel that barely covers my modesty. “I know there’s nothing wrong with your plumbing, so switch on the damn water.”
I bang harder and then press my ear against the door to listen for any movement. When nothing stirs, I open the door and peer inside his bedroom.
He’s not here.
I let out a frustrated groan.
How am I supposed to clean up without any water? Sweat is clinging to every inch of my body, and I can feel an itch spreading all over me. I’m about to close the door when I spy the open door to his bathroom.
Wild For You by J. C. Reed / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes