Taber Delane is lucky be alive, but his career as a firefighter ended the day a beam snapped resulting in a crushing spinal injury. Most of his friends are willing to give him space, everyone except paramedic, Deacon Hall.
Deacon hasn't met a challenge he couldn't tackle and he knows Taber needs someone in his corner who isn't afraid to stand up to the big bad fireman. The longer he’s around Taber, the more the sexy vulnerability of the man comes through. Deacon finds he doesn’t just want to be Taber’s live in caregiver, he wants a chance at the passionate man beneath the stubborn shell.
A shell that is cracking, no matter what Taber tries to hold it together. Without knowing how, Deacon being in his home starts to open his eyes to the man Deacon hides from the rest of the world and Taber craves to know more. A lot more.
Now if only Deacon can get Taber to see that it isn't so bad having him there to assist. Even if sometimes Taber is naked, dripping wet, and angry as hell.
“You’re not giving me a sponge bath,” Taber snapped and glowered at Deacon as he wheeled himself into the locker bay. The sweat ran down his temples, his shirt soaked through with it. He took in his motionless legs and grimaced before shooting Deacon another irritated look.
Deacon sat with his feet on one of the peeling dark blue benches, his back reclined against a bank of gray lockers along the far wall in the physical therapy building. A book was balanced on his knees, and black-rimmed glasses perched on his nose. His shaggy auburn hair fell to curl around his ears in disarray.
Deacon peered at him with pale green eyes. “There go my dreams of rubbing you down and tweeting the pics.” He gave him a wry grin, closed his book, and shoved it into a bag on the floor before Taber could get a good look at what the title was.
“Why are you here?” Taber retrieved some clothes from his locker. He breathed in the stale scent of perspiration and musk. It’d become a familiar smell to him since his physical therapy had begun four months prior. The dingy concrete floors and grunts of exertion from the workout room were an ordinary part of life.
“Stephen called me,” Deacon replied and stood. He was tall, a bit on the lanky side, a quality emphasized by the overly baggy khaki pants paired with a hideous T-shirt of some random band Taber had never heard of.
“Why?” Taber tugged his shirt off, grabbed the clean one, and jerked it over his head.
The shower would have to wait until he got home. He had no desire to shower with Deacon nearby. The guy lived to pull pranks, and the laughter that resulted kept him from any negative ramifications from the outrageous stunts. Taber had been certain Mica, a fellow fireman, would kill Deacon when he had switched Mica’s bodywash with bronzer, turning the man into an orange giant for the week. Yet the guys just laughed it off. And when Deacon had shaved the Superman symbol on Dale’s chest after a drunken night at a bar, Dale had just adopted a new hero nickname. All the mischief had occurred during the time Taber had been in the hospital, and Deacon had made a point of relaying every detail. Taber was not going to give the mischief maker a chance to put him in the hot seat.
“It seems you have scared away your caregiver,” Deacon responded with one raised mocking brow.
Taber exhaled loudly. “Of course I did. She kept trying to see if my equipment worked.” The experience wasn’t something he wanted to relive. He cringed. The likelihood of his bits and pieces standing and taking notice of a woman were slim to none.
“Does it?” Deacon asked, his gaze zeroing in on Taber’s lap.
Taber snagged his gym bag, blocking Deacon’s view. “If you’re asking about how much sensation I have below the waist, that’s none of your damn business.”
“What you’re saying is it works, then?” Deacon hauled on his backpack.
“Are you done avoiding my original question?” Taber persisted.
“I’m here because you’ve gone through all the caregivers in the area willing to deal with your shit, so being the amazing friend I am, I’ll be moving in,” Deacon announced with a flourish.
“Hell no, you won’t,” Taber exclaimed, shock and horror rushing through him.
“It’s me or Handsy Sally.” Deacon wiggled his fingers. “Your call. Just know this: my job obligations will not involve checking if the pump down south still functions, so don’t try anything.”
Draven St. James
Draven St. James