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Gabe checked the clock again and frowned. He'd expected Olivia Watterson nearly an hour ago and he was starting to get concerned. What the hell had he been thinking, agreeing to allow a woman a week and a half out of the hospital to stay with him here, at his currently under-renovation bed and breakfast?
The security system beeped and he glanced over at the monitor. A small SUV was just coming up the driveway. He headed outside, wanting to be there to meet his new...what? Guest? Housemate?
He leaned against the porch railing and waited, taking a few seconds to put on his genial host face. Not that it was an act, because he genuinely enjoyed meeting new people and hosting them at his inn, but this was different. Olivia's story had made the news, and he'd been shaken by it. As a former firefighter, he still had a lot of friends on the line, and the accident that had injured her could've happened to any of them. He'd agreed to this as a favor for a mutual friend, and in spite of some reservations he still had, he wanted her to feel welcome here.
She turned off her car. He didn't think she'd seen him, because she sat for a minute, her head tipped back against the seat, her eyes closed as if she were praying. When a minute turned into two and then into three he grew worried, but as he pushed himself away from the railing, she got out of her car, looking around with interested eyes.
He came down the steps and offered his hand with a practiced smile. "Olivia?"
She smiled back tentatively and placed her smaller hand in his. "You must be Gabe."
Her smoky voice was hotter than hell, especially with the faintest hint of a British accent to it, and the jolt he got from her simple handshake was nearly enough to fry his synapses. Now he remembered what he'd been thinking about when he'd agreed to let her stay herehis visceral reaction to the photograph of the confident, gorgeous woman that had been shown on television and in the newspapers. But the picture hadn't done her justice, at all.
He released her hand and she broke their visual contact, her eyes dropping down and away. As a Dom, he found her innocently submissive gesture tempting. Arousal pooled low in his gut and anticipation sizzled inside him, but he tamped both reactions down. Just out of the hospital, he reminded himself. Not a potential playmate.
"Welcome to Bondage and Breakfast," he said. Her cheeks pinkened slightly, giving her far-too-pale skin a much-needed bit of color. He reached out a hand. "Here, let me get your bags."
"No, I'm fine, thanks." She tilted her head stubbornly, a firmness to her jaw he'd seen in many a headstrong sub. "I've got them."
He nodded once and stepped back, watching her carefully. She looked as if a soft breeze could blow her over, but he figured that had more to do with her recent hospitalization than her normal fitness. She was fairly tall, about five-eight to his six-one, and as a firefighter, she'd need to be in great shape. She had more strength in her than he'd figured, because even just out of the hospital, she managed her bags without any issues.
He circled around her on the porch and held the door open. She murmured her thanks and stepped inside, setting the bags on the floor as she looked around the foyer. She seemed fine with stairs, which was good, because all the bedrooms were on the second floor.