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Even as she hides behind her profession as a humor columnist, JayCee's personal life is a mess. She's allowed the wrong people to have the wrong kind of control over her for too long. Though highly praised in her job, she lacks the confidence and the courage to give Andrew access to the woman she is inside.
Andrew MacFarlin couldn't have been happier to find his new neighbor on his doorstep needing assistance. The little cutie sparks something in him the moment they meet. Her stand-offish manner isn't going to deter him. He doesn't see a woman in need of rescue - he sees a very intelligent, witty, caring woman who's hiding behind a wall she's built around her.
Andrew is more than willing to help JayCee settle into a new way of life, and just as willing to give her pert little bottom a sound spanking when she purposely does self-destructive things.
Though JayCee continues to throw up obstacles, finding herself unable to trust that Andrew won't just walk away, he is not only a man of honor, he is a man on a mission. Thanks to his unfaltering manner and firm hand, they will be able to find what they both need: love.
"You okay?" The deep tenor rumbled over JayCee. All she could do was shake her head. "Should I call someone or an ambulance?"
"No, please, I just need a minute." JayCee shifted to the right to allow the man to pass by on the narrow stairwell. The small movement sent her head spinning and a fresh layer of sweat broke out on her skin.
"You look like you need more than just a minute, miss," the man insisted. She didn't look up but she knew he'd come down on his haunches to try and get a better look.
"Do you happen to have some sugar on you? A piece of candy maybe?"
"Candy?" The voice was beyond sexy and JayCee so much wanted to look up and see if the body matched. Ever since moving to this little Colorado town, it seemed like all she'd seen was sexy men. Must be all the fresh air. They sure didn't grow them like that in Chicago.
The alarm sounded again. "Damn it," JayCee swore and shifted so she could reach the device now vibrating in her left pant pocket. She should shut it off so it wouldn't continue to sound. Before she could, her phone rang out with its merry tune from her right pocket.
"Um, look, I live one more flight up. Could you help me stand? I can get to my place and fix this." Well, she could if this guy wasn't a creeper who once she unlocked the door didn't push her inside and after several days kill her in some graphic manner that would make all the front pages for weeks.
"What exactly needs to be fixed?" the man asked as he moved one step up from her. "I'm going to put my hands on you now. All right?" JayCee nodded and felt his large hands slip under her arms up into her pits. It was probably not the time to be mortified by what he'd discover, but she was. The last thing she wanted as a first impression was the fact that when her blood sugar got too low, her entire body became soaked by extreme sweats.
He lifted her to her feet with ease and managed to get her turned in the correct direction with no trouble. Her legs, however, seemed to not want to cooperate and shook so much she could almost not lift her foot to the next step.
"Miss, are you sure an ambulance�"
"No, please. I'm just low. I need some food and everything will be fine." She struggled to pick her foot up and place it on the next step.
JayCee might have explained but at the moment she couldn't quite manage to even remember her apartment number. The alarm sounded again and the other devices all followed with their parts. "All right that doesn't sound good. So I'm going to�" Suddenly one of his arms was behind her shoulders and one was behind her knees and even as he was climbing the steps he was pulling her more fully against his broad chest. Her head spun a little as he turned on the landing and made his way up the next set of steps. "You're the new girl in 302? You have what you need in your apartment to 'fix this'?" he asked carrying her up the steps and over to the door with the correct brass numbers on it. He let go of her knees standing her up but not letting go of his hold on her he tried the knob. "It's locked."
JayCee slipped her fingers into the small front pocket of her jeans and removed the key she'd not yet placed on her key ring. Her hand shook as she tried to get the key in the lock. She was going to die right here in the bright stairwell. The sweat was starting to make her shirt transparent. At least she had on her pretty bra today. If she was going to give some strange man with a sexy voice, broad chest and strong arms a peep show, at least she did it in real girly things. The giggle slipped out followed by a groan. This was going downhill faster than she might have anticipated.
"All right," he said and JayCee felt herself being set down in the one and only piece of furniture she had. "What will it take to fix this?"
"I can get�" JayCee struggled to pull herself out of the deep round folding chair he'd placed her in. Was it strange she didn't remember the door opening or being carried to the chair?
"I asked you, what do you need?" His tone grated. Clearly he thought her a pain in the ass and quite possibly was wishing he hadn't bothered to stop to offer his help.
"I will get it from here. Thank you for your trouble." The room spun a bit more.
"Miss, you couldn't find white in a snow storm right now." He knelt down next to the chair and, with one hand, managed to undo all the progress she had made trying to prove she could care for herself.
With a sigh JayCee gave up and sat back. "There should be at least one juice box in the fridge." That should be enough to get her functioning again so this guy could go. She heard the fridge open.
"No, no. Don't close your eyes. Sit up and sip this." The miniature straw was pressed past her lips and she sucked in a swallow. "That's right."
The sweet liquid was almost sickening but she took another sip and prayed it would hit her faster than normal. The crackling of a radio startled her. She sensed more than saw the man shift about next to her.
"Mac, what's your location?" a broken female voice squawked out rather loud in JayCee's ear.
"I'm still at lunch at home. What do you need?" Mac answered and the distinct sound of a mic being keyed rang out. "Take another sip."
JayCee did as told and the addition of sugar into her system began to take effect.
"Thompson called in. His bull is out again and no one knows where Dean is," the woman on the radio said.
"Call Rick and tell Ted if I have to come out he is getting ticketed," Mac snapped.
So her hero was a cop? Well it was looking good she wasn't going to be murdered. Most creepers weren't cops.
"Cecilia, what's Joe's location?" Mac asked and again the keyed mic squealed. The sound mixed with JayCee's alarm.
"He's on his way to the station. You need me to connect you?"
"No, I need you to send him here to my place." Mac placed the little box in her hand and stood. "Tell him to come equipped."
JayCee took another sip of the juice that was mostly water, food color and sugar. Mac's words sounded kind of ominous. It'd be just her luck to not only get the one creeper cop but the one who had a sadistic partner.
"I will send him over right away." The radio went quiet.
"Drink your juice, help is coming," Mac said, his large hand settling on her forehead to gently brush back her hair.
"I don't need anything. I'm fine." JayCee sucked the last of the juice from the box causing it to collapse a bit.
"You passed out twice. One little box of juice isn't going to convince me you're fine, miss. That will take Joe at the very least." He again attempted to brush the thick strands from her face.
"No, I'm sure I'm okay," she said, reaching into her back pocket to pull out the pump with the monitor attached to the sensor. She pushed the arrow key and focused her eyes on the now backlit screen. She couldn't quite suppress the moan.
"What does it mean forty-one?"
"Mac?" A new voice called out.
"Up here. 302," Mac called back over his shoulder. There was some pounding on the stairs and then a second man, dressed like a medic and carrying a huge canvas bag, appeared in her door. And yep, he was sexy as hell.
JayCee realized she'd not really looked at the cop. She did now and while medic man was fine, cop was way finer. She felt the heat rise in her face. What the hell was she thinking? Hot men didn't want girl next door types like her. Especially seeing as she wasn't totally perfect. With all the devices buzzing on her now, she felt more like a robotic mess than a woman.
"Found her in the hall. She said she is 'low'. She drank some Kool-Aid," Mac said as the other man, Joe, set his bag down and knelt in front of her. He took the monitor from her hand and looked at the display.
"Crap, lady, how are you not in a coma?" Joe asked pushing through the different controls and reading her glucose history.
"Tolerance?" She shrugged not really knowing. No one had explained why she could still function at such extreme lows. And while a reading of forty was low, that was the reading after she drank the juice, so it was lower. How low the hot medic man was still assessing.
"Was there another juice?" Joe asked handing her back the monitor and getting a blood pressure cup along with a prepackaged dose of liquid glucose from the bag. He opened the tube and handed it to her.
"This stuff is gross," JayCee complained. At his look, she put it to her lips and squeezed it into her mouth.
Pushing up her loose sleeve, Joe found the medical alert bracelet and read it. "Type one, huh?" He put the cuff in place and began squeezing the bulb to inflate it. "You should know better. What's your range?"
"Eighty to one twenty," JayCee answered. The questions were the normal ones. Next would come the type of insulin, last time she ate, last time she dosed and on and on and on� Damn she could really wish for some old questions like could you be pregnant or when was your last period. The kind of questions she used to detest.
There's no more juice boxes," Mac called from the kitchen. "I have OJ at my place."
"That will spike me." JayCee just wanted everyone to go. The huge amount of sugar in the box drink was doing its thing. "Really, I'm fine. I just didn't get to it fast enough."
"Get the juice," Joe said ignoring her completely and Mac turned and walked out before she could protest again. Joe listened to her heart before shining a penlight in her eye. "You're going to burn up your carbs faster at this altitude so make the adjustment to the ratios you use," he said putting his equipment away.
JayCee nodded wondering at the shit eating grin the man wore.
* * * * *
Andrew MacFarlin pulled the door closed behind him and took the stairs two at a time back up to the apartment right above his. The quart of orange juice was new. He'd only taken a couple swigs out of it this morning. He also grabbed a cup. All the boxes said she hadn't unpacked yet and she didn't seem the type to drink from the carton.
When he came across her sitting on the steps between floors, he instantly hoped she was the new neighbor. He'd been doing a training course in the next county so he missed her viewing the apartments and missed her moving in boxes.
His first glimpse of the little pixie with long dark brown hair and big light blue eyes was today. Shamefully, he'd thought perhaps she was intoxicated or high being it was Saturday. But then she asked for candy and her words were steady without the slur of intoxication. The beeping sounds coming from her middle and her little curse told him it wasn't something as simple as one too many drinks at the town social.
"Here's the OJ," Andrew said coming through the door. His eyes instantly went to the woman in the neon green papasan chair. She was already more animated than when he left.
"Really, I don't need it. It will spike me and I still have to eat," she said as he poured some in the cup and handed it over.
"You can easier correct a spike than a low. A low will kill you softly a high will hurt, so�" Joe said as Mac forced the cup into her hand. "You're lucky Mac's lunch came when it did, young lady."
"Easier? You didn't use that word correctly. The sentence should have been 'you can more easily correct�" the woman scolded, clearly trying to ignore what Joe was telling her.
"That bad?" Andrew asked squatting down next to the woman.
"She should've been in a coma when you found her. She needs some carbohydrates to bring that number up someplace she can actually take care of herself and not be a medical emergency."
"I'm functioning," she snapped. "I don't need any more help. Thank you."
"Drink the juice," Mac told her using his command voice. The one he often used when dealing with some miscreant in town. The one he used on his little sister with much less effect than it had on the miscreants and clearly with even less effect on this little beauty. Maybe because unlike his sister, he couldn't just give that stubborn little butt a good smack or six for refusing to do as she was told. She gave him a hard look but she did drink the juice.
"Look," she said handing him the cup and struggling to sit up in the chair. "I'm fine, I don't need anything else. You have all been more than helpful and kind. My insurance card is in my purse or I can write a check from my health account. You can all be on your way."
"Ouch," Joe said putting a hand over his heart. Standing with a laugh he bent and picked up his bag. "This one's on the house. Next one I'm sure will be all on something else." Joe held out his hand and Andrew took it in a firm shake. "Unless I am wrong?"
"Nope, not in the least." Andrew wasn't surprised Joe picked up on the chemistry he was already feeling with this female. He'd a good sense about those things. And if Andrew did start a pursuit of this woman, then for sure the next time she needed to 'fix a low' as bad as this, he'd be fixing that sweet bottom.
"Going to be at the bar-b-q?" Joe asked making his way out.
"Yep," Andrew followed him out.
"On duty or off?"
"On," Andrew said. He'd need to get back to the town fair soon. He only stopped by to change his shirt. The long sleeves were fine for the early morning but the day had grown hot and now short would be more comfortable.
"Yeah, I'm on for the next forty-eight." Joe shrugged. "If she drops out again call me. She probably has an emergency kit somewhere. It will look like this one." He held up a small red case. "Just follow the instructions and deliver the meds. She's awful cute, Mac. Good luck." He shoved the case back in his medic bag and headed down the stairs.
Andrew turned and went back into apartment 302. The woman was out of the chair and headed towards the kitchen on wobbling legs. "Are you okay now?" he asked, collecting his orange juice container from the floor.
"Yes, yes. Thank you again. I guess I ruined your lunch break? I'm sorry." She leaned forward, resting her arms on the counter which caused her backside to stick out.
"Nah, I was only coming back to change shirts. I'm Andrew MacFarlin by the way." He stepped up wishing like hell he could step behind her and press against that round ass. Damn she was pretty. Her dark hair was long, really long. Bent as she was, the thick mass cascaded down her back, draping her slim body like a curtain. She was a little thin but it could be she was fit and not some eating disorder babe. She did take a third floor apartment. Those steps would keep someone in shape.
"JayCee Kray." She straightened and held out her hand with a smile. "Thank you again for the help."
"Ah, it's what I do," Andrew said tapping the badge on his left pocket. "What do the initials stand for?"
"J.C.?" He could think of about hundred names that might fit.
"Oh," she laughed and the sound went right to his prick. Damn! Sure, he'd not been with a woman in more than a year, but if he was another man he'd be putting himself in jail as a sex offender. "Not initials. J A Y C E E." She spelt out her name again with a laugh that fired his blood.
"Well then, JayCee," he said with a smile, noticing her blush, "if you really are okay." He pulled a card from his pocket, setting it on the counter before pulling out a pen to write his private cell phone number on the bottom. Just in case. "I have to work the fair until nine tonight. It's faster around here to call the department direct than to route through 911. And I'm right below you so if you need something, let me know."
"I'll be fine. Going to get some things unpacked. I won't bother you again." Her smile was a little sad.
"No bother, I promise." He stepped into the hall and started to pull the door closed. "Glad you're here, JayCee. Hope you feel at home." He closed the door firmly with the vision of her fresh blush on his mind.