Saved By The Lumberjack

Page 6

He stretches out his long legs, gaze fixed on the dancing flames. “Did you ever hear about the woman from Ashwood Grove who was half beaten to death by her husband a few years ago?”
“I think so,” I say. “But I don’t really remember any details.”
He takes a large gulp of beer. “That woman’s name is Marianne, and she’s a friend of mine. I tried to get her to leave her piece of shit husband for years, but she couldn’t. She loved him, or so she thought. When I hadn’t heard from her in a few days, I went by their place. I found her covered in her own blood, barely breathing. Had I been a few hours later, she wouldn’t have made it.”
He swallows, blinking rapidly. I don’t know what to say. I wonder if that could’ve been me, had I stayed.
“What happened to him?” I ask quietly.
“The asshole’s rotting in jail, where he fucking belongs.” He grinds his teeth. “Marianne’s happy now. Married, two kids. But she’ll never forget what the bastard did to her. She’s reminded of it every fucking time she looks in the mirror.”
“Why?” I ask, not sure if I want to hear the answer.
“Because he cut her face with a broken bottle.” His fists are shaking and I reach out to put my hand gently on top of his.
“It’s not your fault.”
“Why would it be my fault?” he snaps, and I can feel the muscles of his hand tense. I flinch and pull back my hand, and the anger vanishes from his face in an instant. “I’m sorry, Daisy.”
He holds out his hand, palm facing up, and after a moment’s hesitation, I place my hand carefully on top of his.
His fingers close around mine and he places our entwined hands on his knee, absentmindedly drawing circles over my knuckles. “It’s just… you’re right. I feel guilty. I should’ve tried harder to get her out. Maybe if I had, Marianne wouldn’t have a scar on her face that reminds her every day of the worst time of her life.”
I squeeze his fingers. “You did what you could, Burke. And in the end, you saved her life. You said it yourself. Had she lain there for a few more hours, she would’ve died. So that makes me the second person whose life you’ve saved. I’d say that makes you a hero.”
He blushes, and it’s the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. He might try to hide it, but this big, burly man has a soft heart.
“I’m not a hero,” he says, a sweet, embarrassed smile on his lips.
“You are to me,” I tell him, and that small smiles blooms until it stretches over his entire face, making the skin around his eyes crinkle. It makes him look so handsome it takes my breath away.
On instinct, I lean forward and brush a kiss to his cheek, his stubble tickling my skin. I hear his sharp intake of breath, and then I pull back, my heartbeat uneven. What was I thinking?
“I should go to bed,” I mumble, before he can say anything, feeling flustered. Why did I do that? “Where am I going to sleep?”
His pupils are dilated, but his expression is unreadable. “First door on the right.” He points toward the hallway. I nod. “See you in the morning.”
As I walk down the hallway, I swear I can feel his eyes on me, but when I turn to look over my shoulder, his gaze is fixed on the fireplace. The shadow of a smile plays around his lips, and for some reason, I wonder what it would feel like to kiss him.
I give my head a little shake and open the door to my bedroom. I shouldn’t think about him like that.
When I lie down, I can’t sleep. I tell myself it’s because of my nap earlier, not because of Burke being only a room away from me.
After a while, I hear his heavy footfalls, and when they pause outside of my room, my heart thunders in my chest. A few seconds of silence, and then he continues on to his bedroom. When I hear the door close, I’m not sure if I feel disappointed or relieved. One thing I am sure of, however: Something draws me to Burke, whether I want to admit it or not.