I eyed him skeptically. “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“No.” He shook his head and cupped his hands over his mouth to blow warm air into them.

“I can tell.”

“I’m from Florida. Moved up here this summer. I had no idea it got this cold so early.” He bounced around on his toes to keep warm.

“This isn’t even cold yet. Just wait.” I let out a small chuckle. “Why did you move up here anyway?”

“For a girl.”

I raised an eyebrow at him. “A girl?”

“Well, a woman. But yes. I got divorced a few years back and several months ago decided to try my hand at online dating. I found Sheila the first night and never looked further.”

“Wow. And you moved all the way to Minnesota for her?”

“Yep,” he said with a smile, nodding proudly. “Met her for the first time right here at this very airport.”

“Wait a minute.” I held a hand up in the air. “You never met her face-to-face but you moved across the whole damn country for her?”

“Yes, sir. Best decision I ever made, even with this weather. That woman makes my bad days good and my good days better.”

“Holy shit. That’s unreal,” I exclaimed, shaking my head incredulously.

“What’s unreal?” a voice called off to my right.

My eyes followed the familiar voice and saw a grinning Michelle walking toward us.

“Hey!” I immediately felt better just seeing her face. “What are you doing here? Sam said she’d arranged a ride for me.” I dropped my duffel bag off to the side and grabbed my crutches to stand.

She held both hands up. “Freeze! Don’t even try and get up.” She bent down and wrapped her arms around my shoulders, squeezing tight. The smell of her perfume drifted into my nose and I closed my eyes, hugging her back with everything I had.

“And Samantha did have a ride for you, but I called her and told her I’d pick you up instead. I left the kids with Kacie and set my alarm. No way was I letting some weird car service come out here for you at this hour.” She started to pull back but I tightened my arms again.

“Thanks,” I uttered into her soft blond hair. “I didn’t even see you sitting there. And I’m way happier to see you than some weird car service, too. That driver probably wasn’t near as hot as you.”

In one swift motion she pulled out of my hug and punched me in the shoulder. “Shut up. Let’s go home.”

Carl stepped behind my chair, but I stopped him.

“You know what, Carl . . . I think I got it from here,” I said as I pushed myself up from the wheelchair and grabbed the crutches. “Can you just toss that bag in the backseat for me?”

“Are you sure, Mr. Finkle” Carl asked, picking up the bag quickly. “I’d feel better if you let me help.”

“Seriously, what are you doing?” Michelle added.

“I’m fine, I swear.”

She pressed her lips together and glared at me as I slowly made my way to her car, but she didn’t argue.

Carl rushed past me carefully, opening the car door and setting the duffel bag on the seat. Then he shut the back door and opened the front one, stepping back and holding it open so I could get in.

I smiled and nodded in acknowledgement as I lowered myself onto the seat.

“Hope you get better fast, Mr. Viper.” With two hands, he gently closed the car door. I rolled the window down with one hand and reached into my pocket with the other.

“Thanks, Carl. Best of luck to you and Sheila.” I held my hand out for him to shake.

He grasped it firmly as his eyes lit up. “Thank you, sir. Best of luck to you and this beautiful woman, too. She drove out here in the middle of the night for you. You’re a lucky man.”

Michelle slapped both hands over her heart and looked at Carl with glassy eyes.

My eyes slid from her back to Carl. “Best decision you ever made, huh?”

“Ever.” His wide grin returned. “Have a great night, folks.”

“Bye! Thank you!” Michelle called out as I rolled the window back up. “What a sweet man. I can’t believe the nice things he said.”

I let out a quick laugh. “I can. I had a hundred dollar bill in my hand when I shook his.”

Her eyes widened and she punched me again. Then she slipped her hand in mine and drove me home.

Just like I figured, I hardly slept at all that night. Except instead of worrying about Viper and waiting for his call, I was worrying about Viper and watching him sleep.

I felt a little better that he was in bed next to me and not several states away, but every little groan he made had me jumping out of my skin. Thankfully the meds seemed to be doing their job at keeping the pain away, but they didn’t help with his restlessness.

“Are you okay? Do you need anything?” I asked quietly after he sighed for the fourth time in less than two minutes.

“No, I’m fine. Just uncomfortable.” He let out another sigh. “I hate sleeping on my back. This sucks!”

“I know it does, but I don’t think sleeping on your side or your stomach is a good idea with that big brace on your knee.”

“Staying awake isn’t a good idea, either,” he grumbled as he shoved the covers off of him angrily.

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

He opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling for a minute. “Yeah, roll over.”


“Roll over.”

I frowned and stared at him. “Why?”

“Please just do it.”

“Fine.” It was my turn to sigh as I rolled over and faced away from him. “But if you think this is some lame attempt to get yourself laid, that’s so not happening. I’m exhausted and you’re broken.”

“I’m not broken. Hush.” He grunted as he leaned on his elbow and turned on his side, scooting right up against my back and throwing an arm around my waist.

“What are you doing? Doesn’t this hurt? Are you okay?” I rambled.

His scruffy chin scraped the back of my neck as he nuzzled in close. “I’m fine. I sleep better with my dick in between your butt cheeks. That’s where it belongs.”

I smiled to myself and laced my fingers with his, happy that he, and his penis, were home with me. Within a few seconds, his breathing evened out and his chest vibrated against my back as he snored softly. Thankfully I wasn’t far behind.

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