Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Twenty Seven

Chapter Twenty Seven

There was an angry, tiny woman in his space.

Adam had no idea how he’d landed himself in this situation.

He was stark naked – still – and besides blushing red enough that Adam wondered how her body had enough blood left to circulate through the rest of it, Iman hadn’t seemed fazed by it.

The rest of him hadn’t given her pause either. Scars, muscle and what he knew from the mirror to be a fairly impressive scowl hadn’t stopped her from leaning into his space and clucking over the wounds he still hadn’t tended.

Adam couldn’t understand why she was bothering to try and fix him. He could take care of himself. And he would, eventually.

He’d said as much to the tiny blonde and she’d had the audacity to roll her eyes at him and enquire in a voice sweet as sugar whether he truly was as dumb as a bag of rocks or whether he just enjoyed pretending.

The laugh that had bubbled in his throat had shocked them both and a small, satisfied smile had curved around her pretty mouth.

Adam glanced down at her now, bent over at the waist and peering at his right hip as she cleaned a long gash, utterly intent on her work. It was a minor enough cut that he wouldn’t have bothered with it but she seemed adamant on going over every inch of him.

The blood in her cheeks was much prettier than the blood he so routinely spilled. In her cheeks, it was pink and covered in smooth, satiny skin. Was it as soft to touch as it looked? His fingers itched to find out.

For all that they’d shared a bed, he’d never actually touched her. He’d woken with her cheek pressed against his chest, felt her feet tangle in the blankets above him, but he’d never actually reached out and touched.

The same part of him that revolted whenever he picked up a gun or knife hissed that he wasn’t worthy. Touching her would taint her.

He’d get his filth on her and she’d tarnish.

Adam tucked his hands behind him to master the urge.

Iman fixed a final piece of tape to her liking and then stepped back. “There, all done.” she announced happily, eyeing him with satisfaction.

Her gaze stopped at his waist and she gasped. “I’ll -. You should put some clothes on. Yes, that’s a good idea. You must be cold, all… naked like that.” she said in a rush, staring fixedly at a spot over his head.

There was the embarrassment he’d been expecting. Adam waited but Iman didn’t move. “Iman,” he prompted. “I need to get my clothes.”

What?” she said in a dazed tone.

My clothes are in the bedroom. I need to go out there. Past you. You should probably go if you don’t want a show.”

Iman squeaked and darted out of the bathroom without a backwards glance.

She’d been blushing so hard it was a wonder her skin hadn’t peeled off.

Iman leaned over the balcony railing and let the breeze leech the heat from her skin. She’d flushed from head to toe the moment the steam from Adam’s excessively long shower had cleared and shown her exactly how much he wasn’t wearing.

He’d let her patch him up without too much of a fight, thankfully. She couldn’t believe that he’d gone so long without properly taking care of the cuts and burns she’d seen on him and she couldn’t help wondering what he would have done had she not been there.

Would he even have bothered taking care of himself? He’d left it so long already by the time she’d gotten to him. It was likely, she knew, that he’d scar worse and take longer to heal than if he’d just bothered to take a little bit of care with himself from the start.

Iman felt a familiar frustration. She’d had this exact same argument with nearly a dozen men and women before and it had always ended in them patting her on the head and assuring her that she was being overprotective. That they were big, scary assassins and they could take care of themselves.

Iman buried her face in her hands, feeling an old grief rise up and choke her. So many of them hadn’t been able to take care of themselves. They’d been arrogant or foolish or just plain careless and they’d paid for it with their lives. She’d attended so many preventable funerals. After the last, she’d sworn to herself that she wouldn’t let it happen again. Not ever.

And then she’d been pushed out. She’d been exiled to the other side of the city and not one of the people she’d loved with all her heart had bothered to answer her when she’d called for them.

She knew now, had known even then when she was stubbornly refusing to accept it, that her grandfather had been the one to order the lack of contact.

It had still hurt. It hurt even now that she knew the reasoning behind it and understood that they’d stayed away for her protection, because they couldn’t bear to put her in danger.

Adam wasn’t the reason that she’d devoured all the information about first aid she could and seriously considered training as a nurse. He wasn’t one of the ones she’d wanted to save.

But unlike them, he was here. She could help him.

It wasn’t what she’d wanted. She’d wanted to save them. It wasn’t even close to what she’d intended.

But it was something.

Maybe it would help ease the grief that she carried.

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