Where We Meet Again (Arrow Creek 1)

Page 33

We stay on the line, but neither of us speak. I imagine he’s focused on driving, while I concentrate on not crying. The sound of an engine tips my head back. “Is that you?”
“I see the bridge. Where are you, Cam?”
“You drove into the park? Hope you don’t get a fine on my behalf.”
“Cami!” he barks. Mr. Calm and Collected loses his restraint when I get injured too. The depth of his concern unsettles me. “Where the hell are you?”
“I’m down the, uh, hill. By the river.” I swallow hard and close my eyes. When I hear his truck door slam, I force them open.
He peers down the hill. The distance shrinks his size. One hand grips his hip, and the other holds his phone to his ear. He remains silent over the line except for a single harsh exhale before the line goes dead.
He disappears from view. I may have worried that he left, but the rumble of the truck never comes. A moment later, he jogs down the hill toward me with a medical bag in his hand.
Nathan reaches me in record time and kneels by my feet. “Couldn’t make the walk back, huh? Did you forget to mention the climb?” His dark eyes flash to mine before he goes back to work retrieving supplies from his bag.
I shrug. “I figured you’d realize when you got here. Ow!” He peels the top of my sock back and pain rockets through my foot.
“Damn, that’s purple already. I’m going to just stabilize you and get you into the truck.”
My eyes train on his face while he works. I don’t want to see the damage or I might freak out.
He expertly secures my foot into a splint. Even though it feels tight, the stability instantly reduces the throb. “Let me see what else you have going on.”
I swat his hands away. “I’m fine. Take me home, I can get the rest.”
“I don’t think so. I’m taking you to the emergency room.”
“No, you’re not.” My voice is firm, but he isn’t listening. He prepares a wet gauze and dabs one of my palms.
“I am. If you don’t like it, I’ll call into dispatch to send you an ambulance.”
“I’ll refuse treatment.”
“Then I’ll tell them you hit your head and aren’t making rational decisions.”
“They wouldn’t listen to you.”
Nathan's eyes lift from my palm to meet my annoyed gaze. His voice lowers and softens. “I’ve been your partner for nearly a decade. You’re one of the strongest women I know. I’ve seen you stand up to men three times your size. You’ve always had my back at work and through losing Janessa. For the first time since I met you, will you let me have yours?”
There’s something unreadable there that I would have liked more time to figure out. I know I’m being stubborn. If I had my way, I’d force him to take me home. Once there, I’d limp around and grit my teeth until I couldn’t take the pain anymore. Kiersten would have to take me in to the doctor, and I’d feel like a jerk for wasting her time.
Accepting help is hard when I’ve taken care of myself for so long.
“Okay.” Nathan’s relief is visible, and he cleans a cut on my temple. “Just so you know, though, if I weren’t freezing and my foot wasn’t pounding, I would have kept arguing with you.”
He swears under his breath and sits back on his heels to remove his jacket.
“Oh, no, Nathan. I wasn’t saying I needed that.”
He’s done arguing too. As soon as he pulls his fleece off, he wraps it around my shoulders. “Put your arms in.”
I study him for a moment. My foot throbs now, and anything I say will stall us getting out of here. Once my arms are in, he zips it up to my chin.
I’ve worked with Nathan a long time, but this is the first time being surrounded by the smell of him. He’s woodsy with a hint of smoke. I bury my cold nose in the fabric near my chin and allow his residual warmth to seep into me.
Once he packs up the supplies, he hoists his bag onto his shoulder. I hold out my hand for him to help me limp up the hill. One second I’m on the rocky ground and the next I’m in his arms.
“Hey!” The fabric peels away from the cut on my back, sending a hot pain up my spine.