Neva woke to the sun coming through the window. She blinked as she knew she didn’t have an easterly facing bedroom. Then it dawned on her that this wasn’t her room. She sat up a bit too fast and her head spun. “Oh shit,” she said softly. Then she remembered the day before. Reaching up to her head, she could feel the bump. It was tender. Looking around, she saw the bathroom and knew she had to get there before she had a childish accident. She got her feet on the floor and was almost ready to stand up when she heard movement by the door.
“And where do you think you’re going?”
“To the bathroom,” she said.
“Let me give you a hand,” Jesse said.
“Um… I’m in my underwear,” she tried to protest.
“Neva, I have two sisters and a mom. I’ve seen underwear before.”
The urge to pee overtook modesty and she let Jesse help her to the bathroom. She shut the door on him and took care of business. When she opened the door a few minutes later, he was still there. He helped her back to bed.
“Now, how do you feel?” he asked.
“Rough. My head still hurts and I’m sort of hungry,” Neva admitted.
Jesse looked at her eyes and then the cut and bump on the back of her head. “You’ll be okay, but you aren’t going to work today. I’ll bring your phone to you.”
“Just get me some coffee and I should be okay,” she tried.
“I’ve heard better lies from my nephews. Call in sick. If you aren’t better by noon, I’ll take you into the doctor’s.”
Neva waited until he brought the phone and called into work. “Yes, I’ll be okay. Just cracked my head. No, I’m going to the doctor later this afternoon. Yes, I’ll let you know when I’ll be back. Bye.” She handed Jesse the phone. “You’d think they couldn’t run the B & B office without me.”
“Well if you’re good at your job, they may not be able to do so,” said Jesse as he put her phone back in her bag. “I’ll get you some coffee.”
Neva was trying to decide if she was really hearing voices or if her concussion was getting worse. Then Jesse and an older woman she didn’t know walked into the bedroom.
“Hi, I’m Annie, also known as Dr. Kelly. I stopped by to get some eggs from Jesse and he told me about your accident yesterday. Let’s take a look at you.” Annie sat down next to Neva and pulled a stethoscope out of a bag.
“Dr. Kelly?” asked Neva trying to place the woman.
“Yes. I have a practice in Red Cliff, but I live just a few miles west of Jesse. I partner with Kloon, Emerson and Jones.”
“Okay. I know Emerson. He’s a regular at the Fitzgerald,” said Neva.
Annie nodded and then listened to Neva’s heart and checked her eyes. “Yes, a little concussion, and a nasty slice on the back of the head. Jesse put some steri-strips on it, so you won’t need stitches. However, you can call in to work and let them know you won’t be in for at least two more days.”
“Are you sure?” Neva asked.
“Yes. Do you need a doctor’s note?” Annie asked. “I can email one.”
Neva thought for a moment. “Yes, if you say I have to stay off my feet for two days.”
“I do. I’ll send you the bill too, just in case you think that a dozen eggs will pay for this,” Annie said with a smile.
“Annie, that wasn’t our deal,” said Jesse from the door.
“Jesse, then you two figure things out. I’m happy to have helped out, but you know that things are tight everywhere.”
“Yes, and we’ll settle later,” said Jesse.
Annie stood up. “Nice to meet you, and get feeling better.”
“I’ll work on it,” said Neva.
Jesse came back a few minutes later with a light breakfast. “Sorry about that. I’ll take care of the bill.”
“No, it’s okay. I’m just glad I didn’t have to get dressed and into a car. I think I would have passed out,” said Neva.
“We’ll talk about it later. See if you can eat and then I want you to relax. Nap or I’ll find you a book,” he said.
Neva ate slowly. When she finished, she curled up and went back to sleep.
Neva woke up again, needing the bathroom. She was stiff and sore, but made it to the bathroom under her own power. She opened the door to find Jesse standing there. “Geeze you startled me!”
“Sorry. I came in to check on you and you were gone. Since the door was shut, I hoped you were in there, so I waited. How do you feel?” he asked.
Neva walked back to bed and crawled under the covers. “Sore, my head hurts and I think I’m hungry.”
“Think or are?”
“I am. Almost more thirsty than hungry.”
“I’ll be right back.” He turned and headed for the kitchen.
Neva listened to his foot steps and thought about the fact that his ass was rather nice in those jeans. He was back in a few minutes with a glass of iced tea and a plate of cookies.
“Oh that looks good.” She took one and sipped the iced tea. Jesse sat on the chair next to the bed. Neva looked at him. “Why is such a nice guy unmarried? Or, are you just weird?” she said. “Shit. Shouldn’t have said that.”
Jesse laughed. “It’s okay. I’ve been married, divorced, called a cold heated bastard and a few other things as well.”
“And if you don’t mind me asking, why did you divorce?”
“Well. Betsy wasn’t a farm or country type of woman. I got too dirty, too sunburned and smelled like horses, manure or cows.”
“Didn’t she know that you were a rancher when you married?” asked Neva.
“No, because what she married was a Marine. Married for five years when I got a chunk of shrapnel across the thigh and sent home. After twelve years of service, I was medically discharged. Then she discovered that I was a rancher.”
“So, that’s why you limp when you’re tired,” said Neva.
“And that explains why you said what you did the other day about service in Alaska. I didn’t know Marines did training in Alaska.”
“Some do. The kind that go places others fear to tread,” said Jesse quietly.
Neva just nodded as she saw shadows drift behind the blue eyes. “So, what’s on the agenda today?”
“You get to stay in bed, or on the couch. You can watch movies or read a book if you can focus your eyes. Me, I have stock to feed, chickens to pat down for eggs, water my garden and then come cook for this invalid in my bed,” he said with a smile that didn’t totally reach his eyes.
“Okay.” She looked at Jesse for a moment. “Did I do or say something wrong?”
“No,” he said rather quickly.
“Um… my bullshit alarm is going off. What’s wrong?”
“Yes. Honestly Jesse.”
“Well, I’m upset that you got hurt. I’m sort of pissed at Annie for going back on the deal we made and…” he hesitated.
“And…” she prompted.
“I like you, and while there have been a fantasy or two about getting you in my bed, it didn’t involve you being injured,” he admitted.
Neva blinked at this. While she sort of suspected it, it was a whole other thing to actual hear it. Plus, she’d been having her own fantasies.
“My turn, did I say something wrong?” asked Jesse.
“No, um… I was just thinking that I’d sort of been having the same thoughts.”
“Like?” he asked.
“Like how nice you looked without a shirt, or how nice your ass looked in jeans. Oh, and the whole dancing, getting rid of the drunk and following home thing was just ‘knight in shining armor’ stuff,” she admitted.
Jesse looked at her a minute and a smile lit up his face. “So, tonight after supper, would you mind if we shared the bed? That couch is damn short.”
Neva smiled and nodded.