The Sweetest Thing Read online

Page 45

  Author: Jill Shalvis


  When Ford opened his eyes, he was flat on his back staring up at the sky.

  “Jesus H. Christ,” came a horrified, disembodied voice from the next tree over. “What, you can’t hold on to a branch?”

  “You beaned me in the forehead,” Ford said. “With an apple. ”

  “And you call yourself an athlete. ” Logan was hauling ass out of his tree as fast as he could with one arm in a brace, swearing colorfully as he went.

  Ford prayed he’d fall, too, but it didn’t happen. Fucking karma.

  “I didn’t even hit you that hard,” Logan was muttering. “You weren’t supposed to fall like a fucking pussy!”

  “Nice,” Ford said, very carefully not moving. “Calling me names when I’m down. ”

  “Hey, you’re the one who’s always going on and on about me not being an athlete. ”

  That was true. He had no excuse.

  Okay, he did.

  Jealousy. “All I’m saying is that a race car driver isn’t necessarily as fit as say, a sailor—”

  “Jesus, would you give it up already? And why are you just lying there? Tell me you’re not hurt. You’re going to fucking milk this, aren’t you? You’re going to get laid out of this deal, I just know it. How bad are you hurt?”

  Ford let out a breath. “I’m putting all my energy into not figuring that out. ”

  Logan swore again and hit the ground.

  “I’m surprised to see you move so fast,” Ford said. “For someone who sits on his ass for a living. ”

  “I don’t—Goddammit, shut up. ” Logan dropped to Ford’s side to look him over, his eyes widening on Ford’s legs. “Fuck. ”

  “No. Don’t tell me. ” He already knew. He could feel the fire from his toes to his groin. And not a little baby-ass fire either, but a to-the-bone burning that made him want to scream. But because he wasn’t a pussy, as Logan had accused, he refused to make a sound. Sweating, however, was allowed. He was doing a lot of sweating. And possibly going to throw up, too.

  Then came a buzzing that told him this was it. His life was fading before his very eyes—

  “Bees!” Logan jumped up and started leaping around, running in circles, flapping his arms.

  “It’s just the gunk from the bruised apples,” Ford told him. “Ignore them and, gee, I don’t know, help the guy you knocked out of the tree. ”

  But Logan kept doing the bee dance, and it was actually kind of fun to watch. “Man, if you’d just stand still—”

  “I’m allergic!” Logan yelled.

  “You’re kidding me, right?”

  “Fuck! Ow!” Logan slapped at his collarbone. “I’m hit, I’m hit!”

  Ford wanted to ask Logan who was the pussy now, but that seemed kind of asshole-ish. And then there was the fact that Ford was suddenly feeling weird, sort of woozy…

  There were running footsteps, feet pounding the ground toward him. Ford closed his eyes as the pain began to burn a path to his brain. Yeah, he was definitely going to throw up.

  “Ford,” Tara breathed. “Oh my God. Your leg. ”

  He felt her drop to her knees and had the vague thought that he wished she was going into that position for a different reason altogether.

  “Is he dead?”

  This from Chloe, and Ford huffed out a laugh. “Not yet,” he assured her.

  Tara whipped out her cell phone, punched in 9-1-1, and glared at Chloe.

  “What?” Chloe asked innocently. “Look, some sisters help you move, but a real sister helps you move bodies. ” She patted Ford’s shoulder. “Glad it’s not necessary, Big Guy. ”

  “Me too,” he muttered.

  “Help,” came a whisper.

  Everyone looked over at Logan. He was sitting on the ground, hands clasped around his throat. His face was sweaty and beet red.

  “Logan, not now,” Tara said. “Ford’s hurt. ”

  “I was… stung by a bee,” he rasped out and fell over.

  Tara gasped and abandoned Ford, crawling over to Logan. “He’s allergic!”

  Great, Ford thought. Fucking great. Even while passed out, Logan could upstage him.

  The ambulance came. Tara burned breakfast again. And within thirty minutes someone had already updated Facebook with:

  Tara nearly kills both of her men!

  Mia saved the day, coming up with pancakes that she’d learned to make in Home Ec class. She served the guests with Maddie’s help while Tara rode in the ambulance with both Ford and Logan.

  An hour and a half later, Tara was sitting in the hospital waiting room with Mia on one side, Chloe on the other. Maddie had taken over inn detail.

  They hadn’t had any news on either Logan or Ford, and Tara felt herself losing it. “What’s taking so long?” she asked for the tenth time.

  Chloe sat calmly reading Cosmo. She turned the page, eyed the very good-looking, half-naked guy there, and hummed her approval. “Maybe they’re surgically removing their In Love with Tara gene. ”

  Tara narrowed her eyes. “What does that mean?”

  “It means I still don’t get it. How is it that you have those two guys falling for you? You’re grumpy and bossy and demanding and anal—not to mention slightly obsessive compulsive. ” She paused. “No offense. ”

  Tara looked over at a quiet Mia. “Still glad you found your parents?”

  A smile curved her lips. “I have my moments. ”

  Chloe laughed. “I really, really like you. ”

  Tara elbowed her, then turned to Mia again. “Thanks for your help in the kitchen during the fiasco. ”

  “No problem. I’ve been wondering something. ”

  Oh God. Another question, Tara thought.

  “Amy, the waitress at the diner, told me you never burned anything over there. Ever. ”

  “That’s true,” Tara said over Chloe’s snort.

  “Why is that?” Mia asked.

  “I have no idea. ”

  Finally, a doctor came out to talk to them. Logan had been treated for his severe allergic reaction to the bee sting and was going to be fine. Ford had a broken leg and had been drugged up to have it set. He was loopy, but would also be fine—in six to eight weeks.

  Mia went in to see Ford first. While she did, Tara called the B&B and checked in. According to Maddie, their guests were fine and out for the day. Two more people had checked in but all was well.

  Taking a deep breath, Tara walked down the hall, stopping to buy two balloons. Both the men in her life had acted like children today; so she figured what the hell.

  Logan’s room came first. He was sitting up in his bed, flirting with a pretty nurse who was hovering over him taking his pulse. “I’ve always wanted to meet a real-life NASCAR driver,” she was saying.

  Tara rolled her eyes and knocked on the jamb. “Am I interrupting?”

  The look on the nurse’s face said yes, she was absolutely interrupting, but she was professional enough to shake her head. “I just have to get the doctor to sign his forms and then he can be released. ” With one last little longing glance in Logan’s direction, the woman was gone.

  Logan smiled at the balloons. “For me?”

  “One of them. ” Tara handed it over and kissed his cheek. “You’re an idiot. ”

  “Gee, thanks. ”

  “But I love you anyway. ”

  “Yeah. ” His smiled faded. “But you’re not in love with me. ”

  Tara sat at his hip and looked him in the eyes. “And you are, Logan? In love with me? Truth,” she said when he opened his mouth. “Are you in love with me, the me I am right now?”

  “Well not right now,” he said, brooding. “Right now you’re kinda mean. ”

  “How about the me who has a life now separate from yours? The me who’s now involved in her sisters’ lives, the me who can no longer drop everything and