“Hold it under there for a few minutes. I’m going to grab some lotion, but I’ll be right back.”
Burke returns a minute later carrying aloe vera lotion and gauze, his brow still furrowed with worry. “Sit down at the table so I can bandage your hand.”
I turn off the water and tear off some kitchen paper, but before I can dry my hand, Burke takes it from me. “Sit,” he says again, pointing at the table.
I follow his command. He pulls out a chair next to mine and sits before gently taking my injured hand in his. It’s bright red, and blisters are already forming. The line between his eyebrows deepens as he takes in the damage.
“I must have done something horrible in a previous life,” I say, trying to lighten the mood. “First I almost freeze to death, and a few days later I burn myself.”
“It’s not funny,” Burke grumbles, carefully dabbing at my hand with the kitchen paper until it’s dry.
I raise an eyebrow at his tone, and he sighs. “Sorry. I just hate seeing you in pain.”
His simple statement tugs at something inside of me, making me feel light and happy, despite my burning hand. “It’s okay, Burke.”
The corners of his mouth twitch upward when I say his name.
“I’m glad you’re home,” I tell him, as he rubs lotion into my skin with gentle fingers. “Why did you come home so early?”
His fingers pause, and his jaw twitches. “No reason,” he says, resuming his movements.
“Has anyone ever told you you’re a terrible liar?”
He jerks his head up to look at me, and then, to my surprise, lets out a snort of laughter. “No. Most people are too polite to say something like that, you know.”
“My second foster mom always said if she didn’t know better, she’d think I’d been raised by wolves.”
“How many foster families did you go through?” he asks, and I hate the pity on his face.
I shake my head. “No. No way. We’re not talking about me. We’re talking about you, and why you’ve been coming home from work earlier every day.”
Burke rolls his eyes and reaches for the gauze, letting out a long-suffering sigh. Wordlessly, he wraps up my hand.
He shakes his head, a faint blush spreading over his face.
He finishes up the bandage and looks up at me. “Why is it so important to you?”
Now it’s my turn to blush. “I—well, I thought maybe you were coming home early because… well, because of me.”
He blinks at me and then a soft smile tugs at his lips. “Maybe you’re right.”
I lick my lips, and Burke’s eyes zero in on my mouth. “Let’s just assume I am right,” I say, my voice unusually breathy. “Why would you come home early because of me? Hypothetically?”
He swallows, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Hypothetically? Hypothetically, I would do such a thing because I miss you when I’m not around you.”
My heart thunders in my chest. “Uh-uh. And why are you staring at my lips? Hypothetically?”
He grins, looking straight into my eyes. “Because I’m thinking about kissing you. Nothing hypothetical about it.”
Burke sucks in a sharp breath when I lick my lips again. “Then why don’t you?”
He shrugs. “No idea.”
He cuts off my surprised laugh by firmly pressing his lips against mine. As soon as our mouths touch, it’s like someone flipped a switch in my brain. All conscious thought leaves me, and the only thing that matters is Burke and his warm, soft lips. This feels so right, so natural. It feels like it was supposed to happen.