DG bolts around the corner, slams smack into Glitch’s back, and ricochets backwards onto the floor.
“Ow!” They say together, DG rubbing her forehead and Glitch pressing a hand to the nape of his neck.
“You have a thick head, Deege.” He chuckles to himself and ambles down the hallway, ignorant of the hot glare she sends after him.
She stares after him, realizing he had forgotten to help her to her feet.
Her attention is suddenly drawn to an outstretched hand in front of her face. Cain is at the other end of that wide, warm hand, the slightest hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth. He pulls her to her feet in one fluid motion, and she is propelled towards him with the momentum. They are standing very close when she finally comes to a stop.
Instead of clearing their respective throats and taking a polite step backwards, neither one shows any sign of wanting to move.
“Don’t go, Cain.” She stares into his clear gaze, wishing she could hear the thoughts so obviously swirling behind those startling blue eyes. But he always did put up walls between them.
“What’s keeping me here, Deege?”
Damn his eyes—I can’t tell what he’s thinking.
She is the one to move first, taking that dreaded step back to put distance between them.
“Lots of things,” she falters. “We—we need protection.”
His brows lower above eyes that rarely meet her gaze these days, but she is familiar with this look of approval as he says, “This is the safest place for you. Besides, they need me out there where the action is.”
DG can’t stem the tide of denial that sweeps over her. “But you can’t go. You just can’t.”
He shakes his head, and she knows he can see right through her arguments.
“I’ll ask Mom to raise your salary,” she continues. “I’ll ask for your own room and complete privacy whenever you want it.”
“Deege, I already have—”
“And you can use the best horses whenever you want. Oh, and the cook will be required to make anything you want at any time of the day. I’ll give you free access to any part of the castle. I’ll—”
“Come on, Kid.” He places a hand on her upper arm.
She’s really clutching at straws here. “No, you can’t go. I’ll give you—I’ll give you five kisses if you stay.”
He is visibly taken aback. His eyes widen, his mouth at first a tight, thin line—but then the corners slowly lift into a rye smile. “Five kisses, eh?”
“Yeah.” She steps forward and pecks his cheek. “That’s one.” She leans over and kisses his other cheek. “That’s two.”
“Deege,” he takes a gentle but firm hold of both her wrists, closing his eyes for a moment as though praying for some return of sanity.
But she’s having none of it.
She steals this opportunity while his eyes are still closed and gently brushes her lips against his. She hears a sharp intake of breath before his arms wrap themselves around her—and she is being soundly kissed by Wyatt Cain. By a Tin Man—her Tin Man.
He draws her tightly against him, his lips meeting hers for several delightful moments before he pulls away. Her eyes open a bit sluggishly as she tries to recover from the unexpected reciprocation of his affection.
“This doesn’t mean I’m staying,” he says in a low growl, resting his forehead gently against hers.
She’s momentarily outraged. “Well, then I take all of them back!”
“Too late,” he says with a grin, and leans forward to steal another kiss.
But she’s too quick for him. She snatches his infamous hat from atop his head and takes off down the hall in a sprint.
“Not without your hat!”
DG navigated the hallways, with her Tin Man in hot pursuit. Glitch watched them disappear around a corner, and did not see either of them again for several hours. He had a suspicion that Wyatt Cain’s departure would be delayed for quite some time.