Not in Her Wildest Dreams(4)

By: Dani Collins

When had that happened? Fan-freaking-tastic.

“I’ll call them. See if we can work something out,” Paige said, even as she silently wailed that she so didn’t need this. “It will be okay.”

“Thank you, Paige.” Rosie let out a big sob and lurched out of Sterling’s grip to fling herself at Paige for a hug, but her feet weren’t moving as fast as the rest of her. As she pitched forward, her brow cracked into Paige’s cheekbone.

Jolting pain cut through the dull headache Paige was already nursing.

Shit. Really?

She tangled arms with Rosie, trying to push her away, but Rosie yelped and hung on, completely off balance. They both staggered and tilted. She was going down and taking Paige with her.

A strong arm scooped behind Paige’s back, firm and a little too proprietary, leveling her onto her feet. Sterling. Of course it was him, freaking white knight, clasping her into his muscled frame like some bare-chested hero from a romance novel cover, smelling like a high-end magazine sample.

He released Paige so he could pry Rosie off her and support her himself. Walter was making choking noises, but Sterling only wore an expression of pained patience.

Rosie touched her eyebrow and said, “That hurt.”

No kidding. Paige blinked back tears and covered her hot cheek, wondering if she was going to have a shiner.

Walter grumbled at them to get into the elevator and touched the button for the ground floor.

A moment later, Rosie went completely lax as Sterling buckled her into the passenger seat of Paige’s hatchback.

“Thanks,” Paige said begrudgingly from the driver’s side, twisting to put her purse on the floor in the back seat.

“You’re taking her to Grady’s? I’ll follow you, help you get her into the house.”

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it,” Paige dismissed, mentally rearranging her day and desperately wanting it to be over.

“She outweighs you. Is your brother there to help?”

She sighed. Who knew where Lyle was these days.

“Even if he’s not, I’ll manage,” she insisted.

He slid his gaze to where Rosie’s head lolled. It looked like Paige was tampering with a body.

“She said she can manage,” Walter said, jangling his keys.

“I’ll meet you at home, Dad,” Sterling insisted and closed the door on Rosie’s side, not giving Paige another opportunity to argue.

Please let Lyle be home, she prayed as she shifted into reverse and backed out of her spot, even though Lyle hated Sterling enough there might actually be a dead body at the end of any run-in those two men might have.

She really didn’t need Sterling coming to the house and being all judgey. She had done what she always did when she was there: vacuumed, dusted, cleaned out the fridge and brought in fresh groceries, but that didn’t change reality. The house was neglected and dated and worn. Lyle treated the bottom floor like something between a speak-easy and a metal shop.

She really didn’t need Sterling, with his Italian leather shoes—yes, she had noticed those and recognized the brand because her ex wore them—and his silk tie and his manor-born manners getting an eyeful of where she came from.

She was too ashamed.

Chapter Two

Rosie, as Paige called her, was still out cold when Sterling pulled up behind Paige’s silver Mazda outside the house where she’d grown up.

He took in the most salient fact, that her brother’s truck was not here, and moved to carry the unconscious woman into the house. She was leggy but tall and gave him the workout he had feared he would miss because he was traveling.

He was breaking a sweat by the time he was walking down the hall. “Which room?”

“Mine. On the left. We had to throw out Dad’s mattress and the new one isn’t here yet. This is where I put her an hour ago.” The bed was already mussed.

Paige came in behind him and quickly pushed the edge of the nubby yellow bedspread further out of the way.

Sterling didn’t ask why the other mattress was ruined. Stuff happened during medical distress that was best not dwelt upon. He had heard through his parents about Grady’s latest heart attack and knew a woman had been in bed with him when it had happened. Not sleeping.

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