17 ~ Ryan

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Ryan paced outside the bathroom door. How many times was he going to act like a moron? He could have waited until Felix digested her dinner before he jammed the flash drive in her face. He knew the chances of finding links to her boyfriend on the drive were high. Any rational human would have handled it better than he did. He had no damn filter. When they were handing out filters, he must have been playing Halo.

It had been ten minutes since Felix stopped puking, and the last five she spent brushing her teeth. He wasn't surprised when he heard the shower turn on. He would have done the same thing. He drank from his water bottle as he continued pacing, imagining Felix shucking off her clothes. After seeing her in that bikini, he couldn't stop picturing her without it. Of course, it wasn't just her body that attracted him. She had the whole package, humor, wit, and just enough badassery to keep it real. Was he an idiot for considering a relationship with an accomplice to a crime? Would she even be interested in him after this bonehead move?

A rattling clang echoed inside the bathroom and Felix screamed. Ryan didn't bother asking if she was okay. He burst through the door just as Felix was stumbling out of the shower, pulling the curtain half off its rings.

"What happened, Felix?"

"The fucking nozzle broke and the hot water burned the shit out of me!" She touched her arm where a fiery red mark was blossoming under a shell-shaped tattoo.

As steam billowed out of the shower, Ryan stared at Felix's arm. Well, not just her arm, her perfect breasts, her curvy waist, the pale mound between her thighs, all enhanced by the sensual lines of her tattoos. They weaved a trail up and over her right shoulder, around her hip, and into the hollow of her pelvis where a skeletal jester grinned maniacally at him. Previously, he had only seen the blue and green hat above her bikini.

"Do you mind handing me a towel? They're on the shelf behind you."

Felix pointed past his head, and Ryan quickly turned around to grab a towel, covering his guilt. He had been totally checking her out. Could she see how hard he was? "I'm really sorry about your arm. I'll get you some ice as soon as I turn off the shower."

He imagined his dick in a bucket of ice as he reached into the shower, redirecting the water to the spigot and carefully retrieving the broken nozzle. Ryan managed to turn the damn thing off, but not before discovering the bolt was stripped. Felix had not been the shower's first victim. The unlucky SOB at the front desk was going to get an earful.

"A motel should not have their water heater set that high," Felix said. "I could sue their asses off."

The towel she had wrapped around her body hung precariously over her breasts as she inspected her arm in the mirror.

"I'm going to have a word with management, right after I get you some ice." Ryan left the bathroom and Felix followed him out.

"I'm going with you. I want them to see the damage it did to me."

"Good idea."

Ryan searched for the room key while Felix dug through her duffel. He tried his damnedest not to stare as she dropped her towel and started dressing. She smiled at him just as he felt himself getting hard.

"I hope I'm not embarrassing you. I figured things were cool since you've already been introduced to everyone. It's not like you haven't see a naked woman before, right?"

He nodded as he subtly adjusted himself. "Right, but I wasn't expecting..."

"I'm sorry, Ryan. That was completely unfair of me. I've kind of lost my modesty over the past couple of years. Andy never minded when I walked around the house in the nude."

"I'm sure he didn't. You've got a beautiful body. It's a work of art."

"Thanks. I'm pretty proud of my tats."

"It's not just the tats." Ryan found the room key and headed for the door, checking his crotch in the mirror on his way out. He helped Felix fill the ice bucket, imagining his nuts resting in it, and by the time they entered the office, Ryan was wearing his cop face, rattling off every safety code the motel had violated. The sweaty manager apologized profusely while spraying both Ryan and Felix with spit. He comped their stay and gave them two free passes to the watermelon festival. Unfortunately, the maintenance man was attending the festival and wouldn't be able to fix the shower until the following day, but Felix was given a tube of burn cream from the office's first aid kit and baggies for ice.

When they returned to the room, Ryan handled the first aid, filling a bag with ice and holding it on Felix's arm while he offered the apology he'd been practicing.

"I'm sorry, Felix. If I hadn't been so anxious to get your help with the flash drive, you wouldn't have puked and needed a shower. This is my fault."

"Don't blame yourself for that. One of us would have showered at some point, and you didn't know I was going to get upset and puke." Felix nailed him with those heavenly blue eyes, making him feel like he was being pulled under by a wave.

"I still should have known better. I suspected the information would be familiar to you. I can't seem to get my head out of my ass when I'm around you."

"I'm sorry you feel that way. As far as I'm concerned, you're a modern day knight in shining armor. I haven't felt this comfortable around anyone in a long time, not even Andy. He hasn't contacted me since..." Felix picked up her phone and scrolled through her call log. "Yesterday at four-seventeen, that's twenty-four hours ago."

"Do you think he stopped contacting you to protect you?"

"That's my hope, but the guilty part of my brain is telling me he's suffering the consequences of my actions."

Ryan didn't need to be told when someone required a hug, and he pulled Felix into his chest, careful to avoid her burn. She didn't cry, but she let him hold her a while, snaking her arm around his waist. After a few seconds, he realized she was caressing his back, and he lifted his hand to touch her hair, brushing a few strands off her forehead. The brown roots were showing where her hair had grown out, and he noticed how her natural color complimented her blue eyes. Of course, he would never tell her to ditch the black hair dye. Women tended to take those kinds of suggestions the wrong way.

"Ryan?" she said, her voice barely above a whisper. "I don't want to sleep alone in that big bed tonight. Would you keep me company?"

Ryan swallowed. Was his galloping heart giving him away? He was still trying to prove he wasn't a moron. "Of course. What is a knight in shining armor for if he can't comfort the damsel?"

"I'm not sure I qualify as a damsel. I am packing a weapon in my duffel, and I don't think a damsel would be imagining her knight without his shining armor on."

She lifted her head to smile at him and there was a definite twinkle in her eyes. If he didn't know better, he'd think she was seducing him. Her lips were very close, and he wanted so badly to kiss them, but he didn't want to move too fast. They both might regret...

Ryan hadn't finished talking to himself when Felix reached behind his head and brought their mouths together. She kissed him with gusto, dragging her fingers through his hair and teasing his lips with her tongue. Had she been thinking about the kiss as long as he had? Excalibur quickly got involved, responding to Felix climbing onto his lap, which was perfectly fine with Ryan, but he worried she was letting her emotions derail her better judgment. She was nursing a damaged heart. Of course, he couldn't reject her. That would only cause more damage. What else could he do but respond in kind.


PLAYLIST SONG: The Gates of Rock and Roll by Vast


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