When set medic Koa Sanders meets actor/stuntman Loren McCall, sparks fly. Loren himself just went flying -- and got knocked out -- in a dangerous collision stunt, setting off all Koa’s protective instincts. At the end of the day, when Loren suggests he wouldn’t mind having someone at home for post-head-injury monitoring, Koa tells himself it’s only to make sure the actor is okay. By the time he leaves the next morning, they’ve tested the question very thoroughly ... and they want to see each other again.
Loren is already thinking about drawing the line under stunt work. When his agent sends word of a potentially career-changing audition, he decides this is the time to take the leap. He’s facing a huge loss in the coming months. Getting a big part will complicate matters in a big way. But Koa’s right there, telling Loren he’ll help.
Neither man was looking for a boyfriend; neither is willing to dismiss their instant connection. Loren isn’t used to needing help; Koa isn’t used to someone wanting it. And if they get through the year’s challenges together, their lives will change forever.
When the first alarm went off, I was well into Loren’s fourth year in LA. I set the stack of paper aside and went to check on him. He was bitchy as hell about it. Once I finished running down my checklist, I apologized.
The softness of my name in his mouth just about killed me. “Mmm?”
“Don’t apologize. I should apologize.”
“Hey, you warned me.”
He huffed out a laugh. “Yeah, but. I do honestly appreciate this.”
“Let’s see what you say in two hours.” He turned over, burying his grinning face in his pillow. I managed not to pat his shoulder or anything else, managed not to wish I’d taken a good look at his back on set, almost managed not to wish I could stretch out beside him. Detoured to the bathroom to brush my teeth, then went back to the couch. Thought about what it takes to run away from what amounts to a prison, in the middle of nowhere, when you’re only sixteen, with no one to run to. ‘Tough’ was an inadequate word. I picked up the typescript again and kept reading.
After the second alarm I finally fell asleep for a while. I’d finished the book, which seemed to bring the story right up to the present day. Now I felt like I knew maybe too much about Loren, or maybe I just wanted him to know more about me. Which was why, after the third alarm, when he closed his eyes and mumbled “Don’t go,” I let myself stretch out beside him. He wriggled up against me, his back to my side, and made a pleased sound. Probably because it’d gotten a little chilly and I tend to run hot.
You would think being in bed with someone who flat-out fascinated me would’ve kept me awake. Since I’d been reading instead of sleeping, it didn’t, and I hadn’t set a new alarm. Loren showed no signs of a brain injury, there was no chance we’d oversleep, and I was comfortable.
Right up until I opened my eyes and realized I’d plastered myself to his back. One arm folded under my head, the other wrapped around him, and a serious case of morning wood. I made some kind of sound; couldn’t help a small, startled movement. Was he awake? Could I possibly get out of this without embarrassing both of us?
“No,” he said, reading my mind again. Or maybe he meant something else. He ran his hand down my arm, the one pinning him against me, and wrapped his fingers around my wrist. “You’re a cuddler.”
I cleared my throat. “Uh. Yeah. Sorry.” I could’ve pulled free, but I didn’t want to. And that grip on my wrist told me he didn’t want me to. “I read your whole book.”
“What’d you think? Too repetitive?”
“No.” That was all I could manage, because half of my brain wanted to burst into hysterical laughter and the other half wanted to pull him on top of me like a blanket, get my hands in his hair, and find out how his mouth tasted.
“If I get up to go pee, and come back to bed, will you still be in it?”
I swallowed, the urge to laugh completely gone. “Yes. I mean, if you want --"
“For fuck’s sake, Koa.”
Okay, the urge to laugh was back. He patted my wrist. I lifted my arm; he slid away, sat up, twisted around to look at me. “Never picked up a first responder before.”
Aaaand there I went, laughing. “You can put it in your book.”
“We’ll see.” He gave me this dubious expression, like there was a good chance this wouldn’t be worth writing about, except I could see two things in his eyes. First: he was about to laugh too. Second: he really, seriously wanted to kiss me.