Thirty-One and a Half Regrets Page 96

Mason winked. “Since when did you back down from a challenge?”

“You’re not really going to refuse to ride in the ambulance if I can’t come with you, are you?”

He grinned. “You’re damn right I am. I almost always get my way.”

Laughing, I shook my head, then leaned down to kiss him, letting my lips linger on his. “Well, then you’ve met your match, mister.”

The paramedics wandered back and Maggie didn’t look at all happy. “We’ll bend the rules this time for you, Mr. Deveraux.”

Mason shot me an I told you so grin before they rolled his cart into the ambulance. I climbed in after him, shaking my head. For the whole ride, Maggie fussed over him, pretending I wasn’t there and that we weren’t holding hands, flirting up a storm.

After we arrived at the hospital, the staff got Mason settled into an exam room in the ER, and I took the seat next to his bed, shaking my head. “I remember this happening a little over a month ago. Only I was the one in the bed.”

The corners of his mouth tilted up. “We shouldn’t make a habit of this.”

“Deal.”

I laid my head against his arm.

“Joe still loves you,” Mason whispered in my ear.

“I know,” I whispered back.

He was quiet for a moment. “You know that I want you to be happy, Rose.”

My head popped up. “What does that mean?”

“It means I don’t want you to feel obligated to be with me. I know you didn’t want to break up with him.”

I leaned down to kiss him. He reached behind my head, holding me in place as he kissed me back more thoroughly.

“You can’t get rid of me that easily. I’m exactly where I want to be, Mason.” I looked around and rolled my eyes. “Well, maybe not in this room, but with you.”

His serious eyes searched mine. “Are you sure?”

“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

He kissed me for several minutes more, until a nurse cleared her throat. “Okay, love birds. There are enough rumors flying around about you without adding fuel to the fire.”

I lifted my head, blushing.

“And what rumors would those be?” Mason asked good-naturedly.

“That you’re madly in love.”

“That was fast,” I joked and turned to look at Mason. But the expression on his face told me it was true. Mason was in love with me. He probably had been for months.

Mason’s arm tightened around my waist.

“Well, you two will have to live without each other for a few minutes while I take Mr. Deveraux to x-ray.” She headed for the door. “And I take it he’ll be going home with you, Ms. Gardner?”

Mason looked uncomfortable, but I smiled softly at him. “Yes.”

The nurse left and Mason grabbed my hand. “Rose, that’s not necessary. I’m sure my mom will come and help.”

“Good. Do you think she’d mind helping us move into the farmhouse?”

“What?”

“I meant what I said earlier. I’ve decided to move into the farmhouse. And since you don’t have anywhere to live, I want you to stay with me.”

His mouth opened and he hesitated.

“It doesn’t have to be permanent, Mason. You can come and stay while you’re recovering, or until you get a new place to live. But I want you to come with me. It feels right with you there. Like home.”

“Rose… I don’t know what to say.”

“Then just say yes.”

He smiled, happiness radiating from his face. “Yes.”

Then I kissed him to seal the deal.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Two weeks later, I parked my truck behind Bruce Wayne’s beat-up Pinto in front of Mary Louise’s house. I climbed out and cinched the belt on my coat as I picked my way across the yard in heeled boots.

Bruce Wayne was in the backyard, bent over his shovel as he started to dig Mary Louise’s new garden pond. The oval shape was spray-painted in the grass and he tossed a scoop of dirt onto the canvas tarp next to it.

“How’s it goin’?” I asked.

Bruce Wayne looked up. “I thought you were going by the hospital, Miss Rose.”

“I am, but I wanted to stop and check on you first.”

He stopped digging and leaned on his shovel, giving me a sheepish grin. “I already promised I wouldn’t run off again. You don’t need to keep checking on me twice a day.”

“Yeah, well, you promised me that once before and you up and did it again.”

His gaze shifted to the dirt pile as he shuffled his feet. “I already told you that I did it for you.”

“I know. And thank you.” I spanned the distance between us and pulled him into a hug. He remained stiff for a second then his back softened a bit.

“It was nothin’,” he murmured as he pushed me away.

“Going undercover on your own to spy on Daniel Crocker to protect me? I wouldn’t call that nothin’. You put yourself in danger, Bruce Wayne.”

He looked into my eyes. It was one of the rare instances of direct eye contact I’d experienced with him. “Friends look out for each other.” He looked away and swallowed. “You taught me that.”

I planted a kiss on his cheek. “Yes, we do, Bruce Wayne,” I forced past the lump in my throat. “Yes, we do.”

He turned back to digging. “It was the only way I knew to protect you.”

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