No Contest (Alaskan Sabears #1)(9)

By: Becca Van

She shifted on the bed and when she heard a rustle close by, she opened her eyes and blinked the haze from her vision. Tammy’s brother and his friend were both sitting in big armchairs set near the far wall and they were both staring at her. Heat crept up her cheeks and she cursed her fair skin, because she knew her skin would be as pink as a sunburn.

She went to sit up but groaned when her stiff aching muscles protested, specifically the ones in her lower back and surrounding her shoulder blades. She froze when the two huge men rushed to her sides.

“Don’t move, baby, we don’t want you hurting yourself.” Tarik shoved the covers down, lifted her into his arms and after Hodge had fluffed the pillows and put them against the headboard he set her back on the mattress.

It took a few minutes for her foggy brain to register the fact he’d called her baby. “My name is Celeste.”

“How are you feeling?” Hodge asked, drawing her gaze.

“A little better.”

“Do you still have the headache?” Tarik sat on the edge of the bed.

His shoulders were so broad and even though she was in the middle of the mattress, he was close enough for her to feel the heat emanating from him.

“Yes, but it’s not as bad as it was. Where’s Tammy?”

“She’s at home probably asleep,” Hodge answered, as he sat on the other side of her.

“What time is it?”

“Three in the morning.” Tarik bent his knee and rested his leg on the bed. His thigh brushed against hers.

Celeste eyed his muscular leg covered in black denim. It was so thick it reminded her of a small tree trunk. The man was ripped and full of bulging muscles. She cleared her throat and averted her gaze from his body and met his amazing jade green eyes. “Why aren’t I with Tammy? Why am I here? Where is here?”

“Don’t panic, love. We’d never hurt you.” Hodge stroked a finger over the back of her hand.

She snatched her hand away and glared at him. However, it wasn’t because she didn’t like him touching her. She’d pulled away because his touch had sent unsettling tingles racing through her body, which had centered in some very private places. She’d never had that happen before. In fact, she’d never reacted to the opposite sex with any interest whatsoever, and here she was reacting to two handsome, tall men.

Get your act together girl. This is Tammy’s brother and his friend. You have enough trouble with that creepy stalker after you without adding to your troubles.

Celeste decided the best defense was going on the offense. “Are either of you going to answer my questions?”

“We needed to watch you throughout the night since you had a head injury,” Hodge explained.

“Why couldn’t Tammy have done that?”

“She was exhausted after being so distraught with worry over you. We all saw the plane crash. She thought you’d died.”

“Oh!” Celeste gasped, and covered her mouth. Tears welled in sympathy for what Tammy must have been through. She met Tarik’s gaze when he smoothed his thumb across her cheek beneath her eye.

Suddenly she was back in that plane as it was dropping from the sky. Celeste began to tremble and pant as she once more heard the screeching of metal scraping along the ground and tearing apart. She was so lost in the terrifying horror of facing her own mortality, she hadn’t even noticed that Hodge had lifted her into his lap until his warm muscular arms surrounded her body, and pulled her against his chest.

She gasped and sobbed, soaking his shirt, her fingers twisted in the cotton material as she clung to him and bawled her eyes out. She hoped she never faced something so frightening again. After a while, the tears slowed and Celeste became aware of where she was. Aware of how hard and solid the thighs beneath her own ass and legs were—as well as the hand caressing up and down her back. She inhaled with a residual hiccup after her crying jag and had to swallow the moan building in her chest back down. Hodge was holding her and though his fresh, manly scent was different from Tarik’s, it was just as enticing.

“You okay, baby?” Tarik asked, running a hand over head and hair.

She sniffed and nodded, wiping the moisture from her face with the back of her hand. Her face felt tight and sticky now that her tears were drying on her skin, and her face began to itch. In fact, she felt decidedly grungy all over. She glanced about the room and when her gaze landed on her battered case she was shocked. The last thing she’d expected to see were the clothes and toiletries she’d packed before embarking on her journey. Gratitude swelled in her chest at the thought of someone being so…well, thoughtful. She wouldn’t have to borrow clothes or buy more.