“It’s so beautiful,” she murmured. “You must love the peace and quiet.”
“I do,” he agreed, refusing to waste any time thinking about Rebecca. She was out of his life, for good. Three more feet and they were up to his front stoop. “Can you navigate the step all right? Or should I carry you?”
“I can do it,” she responded quickly.
He held the door open for her, and she limped inside, heading for the closest chair. “Thanks,” she said with a sigh. “Feels good to sit down for a moment. I hate to ask for any more favors, but I’d appreciate a ride home.”
“I’ll drive you home as soon as we clean up those wounds.” Didn’t she realize there was blood oozing out from the dirt filled abrasions? “Sit tight, I’ll be right back.”
“Wait, you don’t have to—” she began, but he ignored her. He went to rummage through his bathroom cabinet, finding everything he needed: dressings, tape, antibiotic ointment. When he returned, he discovered she’d made her way into the kitchen.
“I don’t want to bleed on your carpet,” she said with a hint of defensiveness. “And I washed the scrapes on my hands with soap and water.”
He set the supplies on the table and then went over to fill up a bowl with soapy water. He brought it over and knelt beside her. “This might hurt,” he warned as he took a soft washcloth and began cleaning her knees.
The abrasions weren’t too bad, and she didn’t say a word as he cleaned them up. “What’s the matter?” he asked when he finished putting fresh dressings in place. “Did you think a measly doctor wouldn’t know how to dress a wound?”
“No, you did a fine job,” she said in a low voice. She avoided his gaze. “Thanks so much. It’s a good thing I’m off work for the next two days. A bit of rest and I’ll be as good as new.”
“You might want to see your doctor. He’ll write you an excuse to stay off work longer if needed.”
“I’ll be fine,” she repeated. “I’m sure you want to get back to your run, so if you could just drive me home, I’ll get out of your hair.”
She was acting a bit strange, and he thought she might be having more pain than she’d let on. He loosened her running shoe. “First, let’s wrap up this ankle.” The swelling hadn’t gotten too much worse, which was a good sign since she’d been walking on it for the past twenty minutes. Maybe there wasn’t any ligament damage. “Better?” he asked when he’d finished wrapping it snuggly.
“Much.” Her voice sounded strained. “Thanks. Again.”
He stared at her for a moment, trying to gauge her mood. He rose to his feet and crossed over to the fridge. He pulled out a bottle of water and handed it to her. After taking a swig of his own water, he took a bag of frozen peas out of the freezer. “Here, use this as an ice pack,” he said, draping the bag over her ankle.
She let out an unexpected chuckle. “Too funny. I have a bag of frozen peas that I use as an ice pack, too.”
He couldn’t help but return her smile. “I bet every runner has a bag of peas in their freezer.”
“Maybe,” she agreed. She took a long drink of water before recapping the bottle. “So, is there anything else you think you need to fix, Dr. Allen? Or should we get going?”
He had the insane urge to offer to make her dinner but stopped himself just in time. “I’ll drive you home. Here, lean on me. My car is in the garage.”
“No problem.” She held on to the peas and the water bottle with one hand and held him around the waist with the other. It was a short distance, but he found he missed her touch once she was safely tucked into the passenger seat.
Larissa kept glancing out her window on the ride home, and he got the sense she was avoiding him for some reason. After about ten minutes, he pulled up to her apartment complex.
He insisted on helping her up to her apartment despite her protests that she’d be fine. “Do you need anything else?” he asked after she unlocked the door.
“Nope, but thanks again. See you later,” she barely got out before she shut the door firmly between them.