Made for You Page 25

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He swallows, and I feel his throat muscles move under my fingertips. “What are you doing?”

“Touching skin that isn’t covered with scars.”

Although he doesn’t pull away, he doesn’t move toward me either.

After a few moments, I lower my hand. “Sorry.”

“I’m fine with it,” he says, but he still shifts a little farther away. “Baucom might not be though.”

“No,” I admit. “Robert wouldn’t like it.”

“Right.” Nate moves so there is a gap between us.

I hate this. I don’t want to talk about Robert or deaths or scars. I want to be normal for a minute. I want to be okay. I move closer to the boy who was my best friend for years, the boy I’ve missed, and whisper, “Don’t move.”

“Robert—”

“I’ll warn you before I tell Robert I’m sleeping with the Jessup man-slut.”

“You’re what? Eva, that’s not—”

“Hush.” Offering him my most innocent look, I say, “I’m going to sleep. You’re here. Ergo, sleeping with the man-slut.”

“Jesus, Eva. You can’t say things like that.”

I put my hand over his mouth. “Shh. Sleeping now. I’ll let you know if you live up to your reputation, although so far, I’m not seeing what all the fuss was about.” I close my eyes. There’s a lot wrong right now, far more than ever in my life, but I feel safer and happier because Nate’s with me.

DAY 9: “THE SLEEPOVER”

Eva

“MISS TILLING?” MY NIGHT nurse, Linda, is standing beside the bed.

I’m used to the nurses waking me in the night for vitals, so finding a nurse beside me isn’t odd. What is odd is the body I’m curled against. Nate is still here, one arm wrapped around me holding me to his side. Worse yet, my hand is splayed out on his chest under his shirt. He hadn’t put his hoodie back on, and his T-shirt rode up at some point, and I can see his bare stomach. If Linda wasn’t watching me so studiously, I might take a minute to appreciate the sight, but she is watching.

I remove my hand from where it rests against his skin and hold it up to motion the nurse to wait. Then, carefully so I don’t wake him yet, I move my leg off Nate too. I’d rather he not know how I sprawled on top of him in our sleep.

He makes a grumbling noise when I remove my hand and my leg from his body, but he doesn’t wake.

Silently, I extend my arm to her so she can check my blood pressure and pulse. Her lips purse, and I realize that she’s about to go on my very short list of nurses I don’t like. So far, almost every nurse here at Mercy has been amazing. Maybe it’s because they work in pediatrics; it takes a bit of extra awesomeness to work with sick kids.

After she finishes the rest of her check, she says, “Nate can’t stay here.”

It startles me a little that she knows his name, but he did say that his brother had been here a few times. It sucks that any kid has been sick often enough that the nurses know his family members. It also improves my opinion of Linda that she takes the time to learn that information.

“Boyfriends aren’t—”

“Friends,” I interrupt, a little too loudly. “He’s my friend.”

Nate rolls me back into his arms and trails his hand up my spine before he opens his eyes and blinks at me. He clears his throat before asking, “What time is it?”

Linda takes her gloves off and drops them into the wastebasket. “Almost midnight.”

“Shit, Aaron—”

“Is fine.” She softens a little more. “He’s asleep. Andy played checkers with him and read a little. He knows you’re here if he needs you. He’s fine.”

“Andy’s his nurse tonight?” Nate asks.

He’s still holding me, and it feels a lot less comfortable now that we’re both awake and talking to my nurse. She’s watching us with blatant curiosity, and it makes me decide to pull away from Nate. We might not be in Jessup right now, but nurses are as likely to gossip as anyone else—or, worse yet, tell my parents. The last thing Nate needs is a “talking to” from my father.

“A friend of ours died today,” I say, drawing both of their gazes to me. “Nate and I were just sad and . . . we fell asleep. She was in an accident, and now . . .”

“Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry.” She reaches out to touch me, and I flinch away before she can.

“Gloves!” I blurt. “The doctor said gloves so no one risks getting sick or . . . I mean, I’m not sick, but what if one of my cuts bled or . . . what if you had a cold you didn’t know about . . . or something.”

Neither Nate nor Linda point out that I’m babbling. Linda nods and repeats, “I’m sorry.” I’m not sure if she’s apologizing for reaching out without gloves or for what I said about Micki’s death.

For a moment, no one speaks, but then Linda gently says, “Nate still can’t stay in here.” She looks at him and adds, “Stop by the desk so I know you’ve left Miss Tilling’s room. Boyfriend or not, you can’t sleep in her bed.”

And then she turns and leaves the room. She doesn’t latch the door behind her or even close it the whole way. I wonder if he feels as awkward as I do.

“I guess your reputation made it all the way to Durham,” I tease to hide my discomfort.

“Or they know that you’re the daughter of Elizabeth Cooper-Tilling,” he says in a less-joking tone. “I can’t imagine Reverend Tilling or your father would approve of me sleeping with you . . . even if it was only sleep.”

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