The Baker of Brennan #22

Scott lay on the bed, still asleep. Rose stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame, watching his chest rise and fall under the blankets. The mug of citrus tea in her hand had stopped steaming a while ago. Her head buzzed with blank static, too tired to tumble in the same frantic spiral she’d suffered through earlier. He would heal, but that didn’t stop her from imagining all sorts of disastrous possibilities.

She didn’t see much of his three wounds as Moira cleaned and dressed them. Bandages covered his left shoulder and bicep, his left side, and his left thigh; she knew that much. Right now, men in the town rested in anticipation of talking to Scott in the morning to find out whatever they could about the thing they needed to hunt down for him. Rose ought to be resting, too.

The idea of leaving him there to wake up by himself in the dark bothered her too much. What if he had a nightmare about what happened, and thrashed about until he fell out of bed and ripped his wounds open? Something like that would set him back days in healing. She needed him up and able sooner than that. So he could reach things on high shelves. Open stuck jars. Lift heavy things. Stand and watch her work with that smug, smoldering grin that made her want to smack him and kiss him at the same time.

He shifted in his sleep and let out a sigh. Rose darted to his side, the cup forgotten and sloshing down the front of her dress. She grunted in annoyance and set the stupid mug aside before perching on the edge of the bed. Picking up his hand, she rubbed a thumb on the back and waited for him to do something else. It wouldn’t help anything if she deliberately woke him. Accidentally waking him, on the other hand, she wouldn’t feel guilty about. Not more than a little guilty, anyway.

A murmur slipped out of his mouth and his head turned towards her. She brushed some hair off his forehead, desperate to touch him as much as possible. The gesture made his eyes flicker in the moonlight, and he mumbled something she decided must be her name. But he didn’t wake up.

“Hey.”

Rose’s eyes snapped open and she sucked in a breath. Morning sunshine bathed Scott’s bedroom in soft yellow light, and she sat up, rubbing her face and eyes. “I fell asleep,” she croaked out.

“Yes, you did.” His voice didn’t sound much better than hers. Circles under his eyes, a droop to his lids, and a weak smile made it clear he still needed plenty of rest.

She covered her eyes and shook her head. “I missed the morning baking. Everyone will be-”

“Perfectly fine. They’ve survived worse than one day without bread and pastries.” His smile brightened and he closed his eyes. “I liked seeing you here with me first thing when I woke up.”

Pleased to her toes, she grinned and ducked her head. “I have to admit that’s kind of nice for me, too.”

“I want you, Rose. I want to wake up to you, I want to have you to come home to, I want to share my day with you, and hear about yours. ” His mouth ticked up into a grin. “I even want you to hit me with a rolling pin when I deserve it.”

She barked out a laugh. “At least you have your expectations straight.”

“I think I’m going to hurt myself if I make the effort to get up and kiss you properly. Give me a few days on that.”

She thought for a second about teasing him, about saying something bordering on mean. But then, he did just ask her to marry him, sort of. Leaning in, she gave him the kiss he couldn’t give her, and found that, while he might be exhausted, he could still handle wrapping his one good arm around her and pulling her close.

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