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He jerked his head to a table on the other side of the room. “Ghost. Water bottle.”
Ghost went to the table and grabbed a water bottle in his teeth. He brought it to them, letting the bottle slip free into Markus’s waiting hand. She expected it to be punctured in at least one place, but it wasn’t.
He handed her the bottle. “You earned this.”
“Water? I earned a lot more than this.” She held up the bottle. “Try that pepperoni pizza in the bottom of my freezer. Talk nice to me, and I’ll share it with you. Oh, wait. I forgot you’re carb-free. Well, more pizza for me. If the weeds were growing outside, I’d make you a dandelion salad.”
“Actually, Little Miss Snark,” he said, setting the clipboard on the bench behind him, “that’s not a bad idea. Dandelion leaves are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.”
“Well, don’t botanical factoids just get your heart racing?” She stood and her leg, unaccustomed to the workout, promptly gave out from beneath her.
Markus grabbed her upper arms, steadying her. Instead of releasing her right away, he just stared at her, frowning and scowling, if that were even possible. “Yeah. They do,” he murmured.
His gaze dropped to her lips and he took a step closer, cupping her face with one hand. The fresh scent of whatever soap he’d used filled her lungs, along with his own brand of sexy-as-hell man-scent. As he slowly lowered his head, her lips parted and she held her breath.
Was he going to kiss her? Did she want him to? Oh. Yeah. She did, and with every inch their mouths drew closer, her stupidly hopeful heart pounded faster.
Who knew dandelions were the way to this man’s heart?
Markus released her and when he stepped back, there was no missing the flicker of regret in his eyes. “We should get that pizza in the oven,” he said in a voice so gruff it sounded as if someone had taken sandpaper to his vocal cords.
As she watched him and Ghost go up the stairs, Cassidy breathed deeper to slow the wings of those beating butterflies in her belly. Kissing him had just leaped to the top of her Most Wanted list, but it was just as well he hadn’t gone through with it. Getting too attached to him would be in direct violation of the second item on her New Year’s resolutions list: Never, ever, get her heart broken again. Just as importantly, being kissed by him would only have given her a fleeting taste of something that wouldn’t last. Sooner or later, Markus would leave. He was part of another world, and he’d only dropped into hers temporarily.
What she ought to do was make the most of his company and his physical therapy while it lasted. Then call it good when he left.
Cassidy took a deep breath then grabbed her cane and headed for the stairs. Not that she was close to falling in love with Markus, but getting hung up on a guy like him would be stupid. It had never been in her nature to give up on love or stop hoping for it again, even if the price to be paid for love gone wrong was loss and pain, but with Markus, that pain was guaranteed.
And she wasn’t ready for more pain.