Undercover Avenger. Rita HerronЧитать онлайн книгу.
Focus on the job. On catching Hughes.
His resolve set, he wheeled through the doors to the locker room, but the young blond candy striper winced as her gaze landed on his scarred thigh. He gritted his teeth and rolled past her, stopping directly in front of Melissa Fagan, daring her to do the same. She didn’t. She simply offered him a smile and gestured for him to follow as if his injuries didn’t faze her.
He gave her credit for not flinching, when he had almost gagged the first time the doctor had removed the bandages and he’d seen the mounds of discolored, purplish-red mangled flesh that had once been his solid, slick muscular thighs and arms and chest.
Of course, she was simply doing a job. Maybe she’d become immune to reacting to patients the way he’d forced himself to be impersonal when he dealt with victims. God knows, he’d seen some horrors in the past few years.
He remembered the courage the brutalized women he’d helped had shown as he gritted his teeth and endured the painful stretching and warm-up exercises she instructed him to do. He wouldn’t complain. Wouldn’t growl at her or curse even though he desperately needed to vent.
He would suffer through torture if it would make him whole again.
Damn it, his thigh completely cramped. The shooting pain radiated all the way from his upper leg down through his calf. Nausea gripped his stomach from the impact of the muscle spasm, but he sucked in air to control it.
“That’s right, breathe in, out.” Melissa gently kneaded the muscle, slowly stretching his leg and fitting his foot against her thigh. He focused on the deep-breathing exercises to stifle the rage of temper that attacked him at his helplessness.
Her silky hair swayed around her shoulders as she leaned forward to press her fingers into his leg, rubbing and massaging with long nimble strokes that felt like heaven.
He stared at her hands. He’d never quite appreciated the power of the pleasure they could offer a man. At least, not when the act wasn’t sexual. Her fingers pressed harder as she leaned forward to continue her ministrations, and he glimpsed the perfect pale skin of her neck. But he didn’t dwell on it or allow himself to enjoy the sweet fragrance of her soap and shampoo or the way her lips were the color of sun-ripened raspberries. And when images of her long dark hair cascading across his stomach intervened, he banished them, as well.
“That’s the reason we start with those basic warm-up and stretching exercises,” she said softly. “Although cramps are inevitable, especially in the early stages of therapy.” She angled her face toward him and smiled. The light softened her already pale green eyes. “Feeling better?”
He nodded, reminding himself that her smile and the soft words she murmured in that thick, sultry voice were intended to encourage him to work harder. They were also filled with compassion that he didn’t want to need or feel.
Because feeling only meant more pain. And he had reached his limit.
THE SIGHT OF ERIC’S proud stubborn chin thrust high as he wheeled toward the locker room stirred Melissa’s admiration even more, but the sensations she’d felt when she’d massaged the cramps in his legs had her heart pounding. When she’d helped him into the whirlpool, she had watched the bubbling water ooze over his flesh and had ached to soothe the tension from his strained face, the strain caused by working so hard to camouflage his agony.
She had never reacted this way to a patient before.
Touching and massaging body parts had become rote, impersonal. Yet, her stomach had fluttered when she’d placed Eric’s foot against her leg and touched his thigh. He had struggled to contain his reaction, although she’d glimpsed the fine sheen of perspiration that had beaded his lip when her fingers had pressed against his sensitive skin.
Hating herself for allowing personal feelings to intervene during work, she justified her reaction as a product of loneliness. She’d moved to a new place. She felt isolated and wanted to connect with someone.
She had been lonely and isolated her entire life.
Dismissing the melancholy thought, she wiped the back of her neck with a gym towel and hurried toward the break room for coffee. She could not start lusting after her patients. Good grief, she would lose her job. Not that she planned to stay here long. No, as soon as she discovered her parents’ identity and location, she’d hightail it to wherever they lived.
Eric Collier’s tortured dark eyes rose to taunt her.
The sooner she left town, the better.
Deciding to forgo the coffee, she went to search for the old records. They would either be kept on microfiche or stored in the basement of the main facility, not in the rehab building, so she detoured through the breezeway that connected the rehab building to the main hospital. Confidential or not, she had to see if the hospital still had records on Candace Latone.
She checked over her shoulder as she hurried down the hallway to the restricted area, determined to keep a low profile so as not to arouse suspicion.
EVERY MUSCLE AND JOINT in Eric’s body throbbed with pain. Even his teeth hurt.
It still hadn’t kept him from noticing Melissa Fagan though, or reacting as a man would to a woman’s touch.
Damn. He tossed the towel into the dirty-clothes bin and wheeled toward the exit. Forget the shower. He’d take one when he returned to his room. Where he had privacy and strangers didn’t have to watch him drag his butt from the chair to another one to wash his battered body.
He hesitated, chastising himself for indulging in a pity party. He had noticed others suffering while they worked through their own therapy. A young boy, about twelve. What was his story? An elderly woman—did she have family? A tiny toddler with leg braces—God.
Seeing them had affected him. At least enough to jolt him out of his own depression and finish the reps Melissa had assigned him. She’d warned him not to overdo.
Hell, he’d barely been able to manage the exercises she’d asked of him.
He hated the weakness. Hated immobility. Hated that a beautiful woman like Melissa had to see his ugliness.
He’d told Cain he could do his job, but what if he couldn’t?
Fighting the uncertainty over his recovery, he thrust himself forward, pushing down the hall. Maybe he’d take a scenic tour of the hospital on the way out and study the layout. At least then he could say he’d started investigating. If anyone stopped him, he could always claim he’d gotten lost.
Play up the invalid bit.
Just as he rounded the corner near the bottom floor, he spotted Melissa. He wheeled to an abrupt stop, watching her from a distance. Breathing in her beauty and telling himself not to.
But a frown pulled at his mouth. She was checking over her shoulder as if she thought someone might be following her. He edged into the corner of the doorway behind the open doors so she wouldn’t see him. She bit down on her lip as her gaze scanned the hall. Apparently deciding it was clear, she ducked into the doors and disappeared.
He inched the chair from behind the doorway and wheeled closer. The sign on the door said Restricted.
From the nervous look on her face, she wasn’t supposed to be entering the area. So what exactly was she up to?
Melissa eased down the long corridor, listening for voices or footsteps, peering at the frosted glass of the doors labeled to identify the areas. Several labs caught her attention, along with a hallway that led to another restricted area and a dark cavern of testing areas connected by steel slab doors that required special clearance and were designed with passkey codes. The entire wing felt alien and cold, the air stale. The absence of antiseptic odors or other chemical scents seemed odd in itself. Gray linoleum, light gray walls, reinforced-steel beams supported the forbidden structure. She felt as if she’d stepped into a tomb.