In which Nate administers a special kind of first aid.
The way Adelie nodded and pressed her lips together took away any flirty mood he’d entertained. She took a deep breath, her hand wiping her cheek. Christ, if she was still crying because of that guy, it must’ve been a hell of a story. Her pain went deep. He moved close and touched her arm. She turned, completely undone, and just like that he wrapped his arms around her and folded her into a hug. He hadn’t planned to extend it into an embrace, but to his surprise, Adelie relaxed with a deep sigh and leant into him. One single ragged sob emerged from her and pierced his heart. He couldn’t remember when he last comforted a crying woman. This felt a lot like his first time in a cockpit: Accelerating faster than he could think and he wasn’t sure he was entirely in control. Luckily, autopilot kicked in before he could baulk. Without giving much thought into it, he rubbed her back and made soothing noises. She sighed, her nose pressed against his neck. Oh, sweet baby Jesus…
“Is this part of your usual service too?” Her voice was muffled, but he could hear the tease. Granted, a teary, watery tease, but a tease. Someone else was in need to get back to solid ground. He cleared his throat.
“No, it’s not.”
She lifted her head from the shelter of his body, giving him a long look. “It’s not? Your tactic is not to make the lady cry to have a reason to hug her?”
He adjusted his hold around her to a loose circle, arms crossing behind her lower back, far away from the temptation of catching an errant tear coursing over her cheek. “No, I’m not Mr Comfort. I’m not the right guy for hugging and listening. I’m the one for dancing the night away and having fun, err, elsewhere.”
This brought a smile to her face. “And what you’re doing right now is not hugging and listening?”
Damnit, now she had him cornered. And she knew it, as her biting her lower lip told him. He made his poker face. “What I’m doing right now is just first aid.”
“Ah, I see.” She settled back against him, nose burrowed between the jacket collar and his neck. Autopilot took over again, his arms tightened around her, one hand rubbing the space between her shoulder blades. Tentatively and slowly, her arms wound around his waist. Warmth spread from where her body touched his. “I do like your particular brand of first aid, though,” she mumbled. His hand slipped under her ponytail, up to her neck, his thumb caressing her warm skin. With every stroke, he felt her becoming less and less tense. This was more like it.
“You really put me through the motions, though. First forcing me to practice my rescue skills, now you’re testing my abilities in administering first aid…” He couldn’t resist teasing her a little. She untangled herself from his arms and shot him an amused look.
“You should consider yourself lucky I’m not set on practising mouth on mouth resuscitation. Who knows where this might end.” She twirled a strand of her ponytail around her finger while she looked at him with her damn eyebrow arched. He ran his hand through his hair, rubbing his suddenly hot neck, gazing at the ravishing beauty in the orange light of the setting sun. Her hair glowed in a dark chestnut, and her skin had a faint rosy tint. Her lashes were still wet and sticking together, making her all the more adorable. Then her bright smile broke through her unreadable face, the sight nearly stealing his breath.
“Too bad, this is the one and only field I can confidently call myself an expert in,” he growled, taking a step towards her.