hollis-partygirlFD-IN-EP

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than back over at him. It was a pretty swoony admission to make, and I’m sure I’m as red as a tomato.
    His fingers touch my chin and turn me to look up at him. Blue eyes scan my face like he’s trying to figure something out. His thumb slides up to rub at the blush that’s staining my cheeks.
    “You are the sweetest—” His words are cut off by his lips on mine.
    I push up on my tiptoes to kiss him back, and the hospital gown slides from the death grip I have on it. It comes loose for a few seconds before I grab it closed again. I look down at the hideous thing in dismay.
    “Can I just—”
    “Absolutely.” He smiles. “Are you OK with making your way downstairs alone? It’ll take me a minute to get the car, but I can meet you out front so you don’t have to walk.”
    When I nod, he kisses me sweetly on the forehead before turning and leaving the room.
    As soon as the door closes behind him, I have to sit down on the bed for a minute to steady my nerves. Lord, that man makes me flustered.
    —
    I walk out to the front of the hospital with my arms full of the contraband I nabbed from the vending machine on the way down. Brody is already walking around the front of the car, and he finally ditched the burned Armani. Now he’s clad in his white undershirt and his slacks. Gonna be honest, a tight white T-shirt against his muscles is almost better than the fancy dress shirt. He hurries over to me.
    “I found this in the backseat.” He holds the material out to me. “Are you cold?”
    The summer night is cool, but even if it had been a hundred degrees, I wouldn’t have missed the chance to wear his faded red hoodie. He helps me put it on. When he comes around in front of me and starts to slowly roll up each sleeve, I stop breathing for a second. Maybe other people would hate this mother-hen thing he’s got going on, but I’m not one of them. The way his big hands gently fold the material end over end strikes me as shockingly sexy. I use the time it takes to walk over to the car and let him help me inside to catch my breath.
    By the time he gets into the car, my heart has mostly returned to a normal tempo. With a dramatic flourish, I hand him one of the items from my stash. He stares down at the granola bar in confusion.
    “What is this?”
    “Chewy chocolate chunk.”
    That earns me a sardonic look from the driver’s seat. “Yes, but what’s it for?”
    I tear open a package of peanut butter crackers before answering.
    “I have one more quick stop before our dinner, and this is a snack to hold us over.”
    Brody looks from me to the monitor on the dash, either to confirm or emphasize the fact that it’s after midnight, but he wisely says nothing to rebuff my idea. Look at that! It took all night and possible third-degree burns to his left arm, but he’s finally going with the flow.
    I grin and point the way out of the parking lot.
    —
    “I don’t understand,” Brody says, surveying the empty street around us.
    I hook my arm through his and drag him towards the nearest window display, which is lit up like the top of the Empire State Building.
    “It’s one of my favorite things to do in LA.” I peer closer at a diamond in the window that’s roughly the size of a table grape.
    “Walking around Rodeo Drive,” he asks slowly, “in the middle of the night?”
    I nod and smile up at him.
    As I walk to the next window, I push the sleeves of his way-too-big-for-me sweatshirt up higher. He dutifully follows along.
    The diamond necklace in this display is a filigree of metalwork that looks like something a fairy queen might wear. Miko would love it. I’ll have to bring her back here before they change the design.
    I turn back to spy on Brody lit up against the backdrop of Beverly Hills in all its glory. You wouldn’t know it unless you happened upon it late at night, but they keep Rodeo Drive lit up like a Christmas tree twenty-four hours a day. Maybe it’s because the street is such an icon or maybe

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