Double Play

Holly flew backward and hit the ground hard enough to rattle every thought right out of her head. “Fother mucker,” she muttered, lying still on the prickly crabgrass, listening to the creek beat up the rocks as she took mental stock. Arms? Still in place.

Legs? Also still in place.

Her head? Not quite sure–

“Did we kill her?” came a horrified whisper.

“Back up, guys.” This was Pace’s low, calm voice. “Give her some room to breathe.”

“Are you sure she’s breathing? Pace, give her CPR!” Chipper said urgently. “Hurry!”

Holly had the strongest urge to keep still just to see if he’d really do it, but her body wouldn’t play along, because what if there were ants on the grass? Plus she could feel her hair was a complete mess again, and worse, it was entirely possible that her skirt had flown up. She opened her eyes and locked gazes with Pace, his dark with all sorts of things, with concern leading the pack. His hair was windblown and tousled, and he was frowning, and . . . and she had to admit, he sure was something to look at, even with all that bad attitude.

“Anyone have a sweatshirt?” he asked over his shoulder.

When everyone just shook their heads, he unbuttoned his shirt, and oh good Lord, shrugged out of it, bunching it up to slip beneath her head like a pillow.

Don’t look at him, she told herself. Don’t look—

She looked.

Sweet Jesus.

Smooth tanned skin. Hard sinew. And those shoulders were broad enough to block the sun from piercing her eyes. And then there were those six-pack abs . . .

“CPR?” he asked politely with a hint of irony, the lean, carved lines of his face making him look incredibly tough, and incredibly handsome.

Yes, please, she thought. “Don’t even think about it.”

“You about done napping then?”

“Ha.” What was it about his voice? And those eyes . . . Now that she was lying still and he was staring at her, she could see they weren’t filled with just that sharp edge and a good amount of trouble, but something else, too. Something dark and soulful, something that she couldn’t quite put her finger on, but whatever it was, it mesmerized.

“You have a good goose egg going,” he murmured. “Your head hurt?”

Yeah, now that he mentioned it. As she sat up, he slipped his arms around her to help. Arms that were warm and hard as they tightened on her to hold her still.

Against him.

Oh boy. His chest was smooth and warm and hard as stone, and she wanted to both touch and nibble.

And lick. Could she pretty please lick?

“Holly?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you all right?”

She could hear genuine worry in his voice. Interesting. As was her body’s reaction, which was an urge to curl in and cuddle.

Cuddle.

She never cuddled.

She was too busy to cuddle. “Yes. I’m fine.” She struggled to get up, but again he held her still.

“Give yourself a minute.” He was also irritated, which was really unfair, because she’d almost had that ball.

Okay, she hadn’t almost had that ball.