Oh my God, he’s even more gorgeous up close
. It wasn’t the most appropriate first thought when he’d just run over someone -- especially when that person might be injured -- but Eli couldn’t help it. This close, the stranger’s mouth looked more sinful than sweet, and the curve of his neck gave Eli a strong urge to bite.
He didn’t realize he’d leaned a little too close until the man planted a palm in the center of his chest and pushed. “Back. The fuck. Off.”
Shaking himself out of his daze, Eli stood up. “Sorry. Are you all right?”
Eli had his doubts about that, considering the angle at which the man’s right leg was twisted, but he kept it to himself. The stranger pushed to his feet. He took a single step and yelped as his leg collapsed.
Lunging forward, Eli caught the man before he could fall. “What is it? Where are you hurt?”
“My knee.” The man leaned against Eli’s chest, keeping his right foot off the ground. “Shit.”
The stranger was the perfect height for Eli to bury his face in the thick brown hair. He settled for taking a surreptitious sniff. God but the man smelled good.
Inappropriate, Eli. Get a grip
Eli cleared his throat. “Let’s get you inside, and I’ll get some ice for your knee.” Shifting the stranger’s weight, Eli cinched an arm around his waist and pulled him close. “I am so, so sorry I hit you, uh…” He darted a glance at the pain-pinched face next to him. “What’s your name?”
“Tyron.” A slender arm slid around Eli’s back to grasp his shoulder.
“Tyron.” Eli lifted the man over the curb and onto the sidewalk. The tough-guy name didn’t match the slight body, the large, pale eyes, or the heart-shaped face. Not that it mattered, really. Just one more fascinating thing about him, as far as Eli was concerned. “Tyron what?”
Eli waited for more, but Tyron just limped along in tight-lipped silence. Not a big surprise, since most people weren’t too keen on making small talk with someone who’d just run over them with a bicycle. Eli gave a mental shrug. He’d gotten Tyron’s attention, even if it wasn’t exactly the way he would’ve planned to do it. Maybe once Tyron got over being mad at him, they could get to know each other.
He refused to think any further ahead. One step at a time. After all, he didn’t even know whether Tyron was gay. The odds were against it.
The door opened as they approached. The bartender, Zach, held it ajar for them. “What happened? Bridget said you ran into someone with your bike. Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, but the fall hurt Tyron’s knee.” Eli tightened his arm around Tyron’s waist and guided him through the doorway. “Can you get me an ice bag?”
“Sure thing.” Zach shut the door behind them. “Be right back.”
While Zach jogged off, Eli snagged an empty chair from a nearby table and lowered Tyron into it. “I’m gonna roll your pants leg up and have a look at your knee, okay?”
Tyron looked distinctly uncomfortable but allowed Eli to kneel at his feet and ruck up the right leg of his jeans. He winced when Eli revealed the knee, which was already swollen and starting to bruise. “Shit. I was hoping it wouldn’t look as bad as it feels.”
Eli prodded at the purpling flesh as gently as he could. Tyron flinched, and Eli yanked his hand back. “You should get that x-rayed.”
“Hell no. I’m not sitting around the damn ER for the rest of the afternoon.”
“I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow.” Tyron’s lips curved into a wan smile. “Are you always this much of a mother hen?”
“Only with guys I run over on my bike.” Especially the ones I want to get into bed
. He kept that part in his head where it belonged.
Tyron’s smile widened. His eyes warmed, and Eli felt a thread of heat curl in his gut.
A swath of emerald green fabric swirled at the periphery of Eli’s vision. He glanced up. Emmy smiled and knelt gracefully on the floor beside him, her long skirt settling into a gauzy green puddle around her. “Zach said we had an injury out here and asked me to take a look.” She handed a dish towel and a plastic bag full of ice to Eli. “By the way, Eli, Zach said to tell you he’s taking care of your bike.”
“Oh, good. Thanks.” Eli took the bag and towel. “Emmy, this is Tyron. Tyron, this is Emmy.”
“Hi, Tyron.” She pressed her fingers to the bruised skin on the front of his knee before he could greet her in return. He hissed, and she looked up at him. “Does that hurt?”
“Yeah.” Tyron swore and shoved Emmy’s hand away when she palpated around the inside edge of his kneecap. “Shit. Sorry. That hurts a lot
“Hm.” Taking the ice bag from Eli, Emmy wrapped the towel around it and pressed it to Tyron’s knee. “It’s probably just a minor sprain, but it’s possible you might have torn ligaments or something. You really need an X-ray just to make sure nothing’s broken, then an MRI to check out the ligaments and see if there’s any substantial injury.”
“Um. Okay.” Tyron put a hand over the ice bag to hold it in place. “I was just telling Eli that I’d go to the doctor tomorrow.”
Emmy pursed her lips. “It’s better if you go to the emergency room now.”
“I don’t have all day to sit in a damn waiting room.”
Sighing, Emmy rose to her feet. “I think you’re making a mistake. But it’s your decision.” She snagged a discarded drink napkin from a nearby table, pulled a pen from the pocket of her skirt, then scribbled for a moment. “Here. This is the number of a Reiki practitioner I know. I think it’ll help. Tell her Emmy sent you.”
Tyron took the napkin she handed him and stared after her as she glided off. “What the hell is Reiki?”
Eli stood, stretching out his cramped legs. “From what I understand, it’s a type of healing touch. Balancing the body’s energy or something.”
“Oh.” Tyron frowned at his knee. “Who was that, one of those homeopathic healers or something?”
“No. Emmy’s the cook here.”
Tyron’s eyes widened. “The cook?”
“Yeah. She knows a little bit about everything, first aid included.” Eli grinned. “Don’t worry. She knows what she’s talking about. I think she lets people believe she’s a flake just to keep ‘em off balance.”
“Oh. Okay.” Tyron ran his free hand through his hair. The thick bangs were swept aside for a moment, then fell right back over his eyes. “Look, I appreciate your help, and everyone being so nice and all, but I really, really
need to go. Could you call me a cab?”
Eli bit his lip, unsure of how to answer. On the one hand, he had no legitimate reason to keep Tyron here, especially when he’d made it obvious he wanted to leave. On the other hand, once he was gone there was no guarantee he’d ever be back, and Eli found the thought of never seeing Tyron again intolerable. Embarrassing but true.
A burst of inspiration hit. Eli laid a hand on Tyron’s good knee. “Why don’t you let me take you to the urgent care clinic? The wait probably won’t be as long as at the ER, and they can x-ray your knee and give you something for pain.” To Eli’s relief, he didn’t sound as pathetically eager as he felt. Just because Tyron made him feel like a teenage girl with a crush didn’t mean he had to announce it to the world.
Tyron darted a questioning glance at Eli’s hand but didn’t say anything or try to make Eli move. “I guess that’s okay. But I can take a cab there.”
The crafty gleam in Tyron’s eyes told Eli that once he got in a taxi, Tyron would bypass the urgent care and go straight home. Eli shook his head. “Nope. No cab. This whole thing is my fault, and I’m going to take care of it.”
Tyron’s eyebrows went up. “What’re you going to do? Ride me to the urgent care on your handlebars?”
“Ha-ha.” Pulling off his poncho, Eli unzipped the pocket of his shirt, fished out his cell phone, and brought up the cell number for one of the few other delivery people he employed. “I’m calling someone to take over for me so I can drive you.”
“Oh, come on. I --”
When his employee answered her cell, Eli held up a hand, silencing Tyron’s protest. “Hey, Kaylee. Listen, where are you with your deliveries? Can you take over the bike route for me?”
“A cab could’ve gotten here faster,” Tyron said after Eli explained the situation to Kaylee and cut off the call. “And you and whoever you were talking to wouldn’t have to interrupt what you’re doing.”
“Kaylee can be here in five minutes. And she can handle the rest of the deliveries with no problem. There’s nothing left for today that won’t fit on a bike.” Eli stuck the phone back in his pocket and flashed his very best dazzling smile. “Give it up, Tyron. You’re stuck with me.”
Tyron crossed his arms and scowled, but Eli didn’t miss the flash of heat in those big, pretty eyes or the way they darted a swift, appreciative look up and down his body.
Grinning, Eli pulled up a chair and parked himself next to Tyron. It looked like his day had just gotten much more interesting.