Coffee. She needed coffee. Shaking Dylan, who jumped up and shouted, “What? Push?”, she realized how dog-tired they all were.
Josie leaned down. "I'm getting coffee. Want some?”
He just shook his head and closed his eyes, curling himself into a barefooted ball on the wooden legs of the visitor's chair, head shoved against a pillow. The chair folded out into a little bed but he'd rejected it for reasons known only to him. She wasn't about to pry.
The elevator ride down was eerie, the sounds of groaning women in labor and beeping machines cut short as soon as the elevator doors shut. Downstairs, she found a 24/7 coffee shop and grabbed a horrible cup of java that would at least buy her a little alert time. On impulse she bought two, wondering if she could find Alex and offer him a peace offering.
Anyone who came face to face with Dylan's naked ass – no matter how strong and hot it was – needed a little something else strong and hot as a consolation prize.
Finding Alex proved remarkably simple, for as she waited for the elevator doors she heard that steady baritone behind her. “Josie?”
She turned to find him standing there, holding two cups of coffee. Uncertainty clouded his features, and then his eyes twinkled with mirth. “You just got coffee,” he said, pretending to toast her with the cup in his right hand. “I was coming up with this to give you.”
Could he be even more perfect? Apparently. “And,” she answered, gently knocking her own cup against his, “this is for you.” Eyes locked, they smiled at each other, the coffee burning her hand as they just stared. Maybe that burning sensation wasn't only from the hot liquid in the cup in her hand. Hot fluids were pooling in other places, too.
“Great minds think alike and all that,” he said, not breaking the look. She knew he had about five hours left of his twenty-four hour shift, and he looked tired, but there was an energy in him that she admired. Competence and decency emanated from him, even in the blue scrubs. His name tag was askew, hanging from his shirt pocket like an afterthought, and his messy hair made her want to see it in bed, sunlight streaming behind him, naked and sleepy, with her next to him, covered in their scent.
If he could read minds she was in trouble.
She had a feeling she was in trouble no matter what, though, because as their look deepened she felt herself falling, unsure where or how far, but definitely falling into a state she'd never been in before, her body and mind ready to leap right into something that should be carefully thought out.
And the last thing she needed to do right now was tear any of her attention away from her best friend, who was asleep, dilating, and about to experience the worst pain of her entire life. In the middle of all that, what was Josie doing?
Bad friend. Bad, bad friend.
“We have a coffee surplus. Want to go sit down and get wired and jittery together?”
“Get some Mountain Dew and No-doz and we could cure cancer in two days.”
“We could do great things with uninterrupted two days together,” he said, nodding solemnly.
The elevator dinged and the doors opened. Alex gestured for her to get on first, and she fumbled to push the button for the fourth floor, hands full of coffee cups, but she made it.
“You can tell you're a nurse.”
She snickered. “A real nurse would make out with you between floors.” Did she just say that? Her mouth wasn't supposed to blurt that out. It was a thought! A thought! The line between thinking and speaking eroded after 1 am.
“Is that an offer?”
“Do you want it to be?' Stall. Buy time, Stop inhaling his scent. Stop watching his arms flex with those coffees.
What was he doing? Alex bent down and set the coffees on the floor, then approached her, two steps all he needed to be in her personal space, making her breath so hard to manage she worried she'd faint from lack of oxygen. Autonomous body functions continued, to her surprise, including a decidedly distressing flood of blood to her nether regions, which engorged and flowed, making her wet for him and wondering how to get out of this with her dignity intact, without throwing herself all over him.
“I don't play games, Josie.” His eyes bored into her and she gasped, confirming that her respiratory system really was functioning right now, thank goodness. His hands came out to touch her shoulders as the elevator crept up, slowly, the seconds feeling like minutes. “Games are for people who don't know what they want.”
Alex showed her exactly what he wanted next, arms wrapping around her shoulders, one hand sliding against the throbbing skin of her neck, his soft palm caressing her pulse at the jawline, mouth bending to her, upper body curling down to take her with impossibly lush lips that met hers with a sense of welcoming that was almost unbearable in its simplicity and grace.
He didn't push. This wasn't a kiss of overriding passion, which she expected, but instead one of invitation, of orientation, even. It said, “Hello,” not “Take your pants off.” The former confused her. The latter she knew all too well. And then it shifted, moving decidedly into pants territory. As his lips explored her, her hands splayed against his shoulders, feet standing on tip-toe to embrace him better, the distant ding! of the elevator's ascent registered and interrupted their embrace as the doors began to open.
Feeling like an errant schoolgirl, Josie pressed her fingers to her lips as he pulled back, a smile creasing his face and making those damn eyes even more appealing, the look he gave her piercing her heart, as if he really cared for her and this wasn't just some strange attraction that came at the worst possible time – ever – in her life.
No one entered the elevator, thank God, and she nearly kicked over two of the coffees in her haste to pull away and make sure no one caught them. Why she felt the need to hide this, to be discreet, was beyond her. Habit? Fear? Embarrassment? Nothing computed as she watched him bend down effortlessly, dipped to the floor like a man about to propose, except his hand held java instead of a diamond ring.
Likewise, she bent down to retrieve her coffees and looked to him for reassurance, for direction, to know what to do next. His fixed stare made her smile, the grin a reflex that came from a deeper look at the relaxed calm, the knowing joy in him that he somehow transmitted to her.
That look she knew, but not personally. A touch of it was in the way Mike smiled when he talked about Laura.