No Contest (Alaskan Sabears #1)(10)

By: Becca Van

St. Lawrence Island was small, and she doubted that the place had a store for her to go on a shopping spree. From what she could remember Tammy telling her, the population of the small Alaskan Island had the grand total of fifteen hundred residences.

Celeste had looked at the meager photos of the place that she’d found online. Savoonga was the name of the isolated town she was staying in and though she knew there were a couple of other towns on the island, she was happy to stay put and spend her time with her best friend.

When she spied the ajar door on the other side of the room she hoped that it was a bathroom because she was hankering for a shower. There was nothing in the world better than feeling clean and she hoped the warm water would also ease some of the aches and pains in her body.

“What are you thinking about, love?”

She shivered in response to Hodge’s deep cadence and the vibrations that brushed over her arm and shoulder as he spoke. There was something weird going on with her. She’d never reacted to a man, nor had she’d ever been drawn to them the way she was to Tarik and Hodge. She loved having them touching her and hearing their deep rumbling voices each time they said something. She could have spent hours listening to them talk and never become bored. It was as if their voices somehow mesmerized her, as did the way they smelled.

“Is that a bathroom?” She pointed toward the door.

“It is,” Tarik answered, as he rose.

“Can I have a shower?”

Hodge stood lifting her with him and although he was tall and muscular she was still impressed by his easy strength. She wasn’t a lightweight even though she was slim. Celeste maintained a strict regimen of exercise and had small defined muscles in her arms and legs. She’d always been told that muscle weighed more than fat and she wasn’t short.

She gripped Hodge’s forearms as he lowered her feet to the floor when she went a little dizzy.

“Damn. I’m not sure this is a good idea,” Hodge said, as he locked gazes with her.

“Yes, it is.”

Tarik came up behind her, wrapping his arm around the waist as if to steady her, and then he leaned around to meet her gaze. “What’s wrong? Is your head hurting?”

Celeste blinked over the concerned frown and words and though she appreciated their care, she thought it was a little over the top. They didn’t know her at all, but she assumed they were worried because she was Tammy’s friend.

“I’m fine,” Celeste said automatically.

“You’re as pale as a ghost.” Hodge looked her face and body over.

“I just moved a bit fast and felt a little woozy. I’m okay now.”

Tarik released her waist and stepped back. She released Hodge’s arms and shifted away from him, trying to prove to the two men that she was okay. She wasn’t about to let on that she still had a bad headache even if the drumming inside of her skull had been worse earlier. Nor was she going to tell them how stiff and sore she was. She’d been taking care of herself for years and had learned to depend only on herself.

“I’ll start the shower,” Tarik stated, as he turned back to the bathroom.

“I’ll get your things,” Hodge said, as he walked to her luggage. His hand was so big he had trouble getting his hand around the handle, until with a growl, he bent down and gripped one of the wheels instead, lifting it with ease. He carried it over toward the bed and just as he was about to set it down, the wheel came off and the case dropped onto the bed.

Celeste rolled her lips together trying to hold the giggle bubbling up in her throat from escaping, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. Hodge’s gaze was going back and forth between the wheel resting on his large palm to the case now on the bed. It was the sheepish expression on his face and the hint of a blush creeping up his cheeks that set her off.

A giggle burst from between her lips and then she started laughing. He met her gaze and gave her an embarrassed grin. “Sorry.”

She waved her hand in the air as she got her mirth back under control. “Don’t worry about it. It wasn’t your fault. The wheel’s been loose and wobbly for a while. I was thinking about buying a new one anyway.”