Donovan sent her a grateful look. What Maren had said scored points with Eve. Recognition had settled in Eve’s eyes as Maren had bluntly given her opinion. Recognition that Maren—and Donovan—were right.
Eve’s shoulders sagged and she briefly closed her eyes. When they reopened, they were wet with a sheen of tears. Donovan’s chest tightened. He hated to see any woman in distress, but Eve wasn’t any woman. Not to him. He couldn’t fully explain his reaction to her, but it went a hell of a lot further than her being a woman in need. He’d come across many of them through his years running KGI and he’d never allowed himself this kind of . . . attraction. Emotional and physical. It wasn’t even that he hadn’t allowed it. It simply hadn’t been there. None of the other women had made him feel what he felt for Eve.
He already considered Eve—and her siblings—his. His . . . family.
He could already picture what it would be like to have this precious group of people as his own. He felt a fierce protectiveness for Cammie and Travis that went above his usual reaction to children in trouble. Every mission was personal for him, but this one? This was something else entirely and he refused to let his family walk away into the unknown. Where they could be hurt or killed or God only knew what else. It wasn’t an option.
He’d tie Eve to his bed and sit on her before allowing her to walk away.
And if that wasn’t a hell of a note he didn’t know what was.
He’d ragged on his brothers and his team leaders for their overprotectiveness and fierceness when it came to their women, but here he was, in the same position, feeling exactly as they had felt when it came to the women they loved.
Hell, he wasn’t in love with Eve. It was as she said. Donovan knew nothing about her. But he knew enough to realize that she was going to come to mean a hell of a lot to him. She and her siblings already did. But in order for that to happen, she had to remain here. Under his protection so he could see exactly where things would take them.
That wasn’t going away. Not tomorrow or next year. Now he just had to convince them of his position in their lives going forward. And that was going to be no easy task. But he wouldn’t be deterred by her resistance. He was every bit as stubborn as his brothers when it came to something he wanted. Eve would learn that soon enough.
“I need to get you home,” Donovan said gently. “All of you. Travis needs rest. Cammie needs rest and medication. And so do you.”
He turned to Maren, not waiting for Eve’s agreement. Whether she gave it or not, things were going to be done his way from now own. That likely made him a huge asshole, to press this woman when she was infinitely fragile and on the verge of breaking. But he’d use that to his advantage and not suffer one iota of remorse for making certain they were safe and taken care of. No matter what it took. He’d spare no available resource in his quest to ensure their well-being. And that they stayed right where they belonged. With him.
“Write her a prescription for pain medication. She probably needs an injection but I’d rather wait until I get her settled at the house. I’ll have my hands full getting Travis and Cammie to bed as it is.”
Maren nodded and pulled out her prescription pad and scribbled several lines on it. Then she handed it to Donovan.
“I wrote them out to you so there’s no record of their names at the pharmacy,” she said. “There are meds for Travis and Cammie as well. I’ll go start her IV now and get the bags of saline and antibiotics for you to take home. If you have any problem at all, don’t hesitate to call me. I’ll check in on them every afternoon if that’s okay with you, but I’ll call before I come so you’re expecting me.”
Donovan pulled Maren into a hug. “Thanks, sweetheart. I really appreciate all you do for us. Don’t know if we say it often enough, but I don’t know what we’d do without you.”
Maren smiled as she pulled away. “You’ve done far more for me than I can ever repay. I owe my and Olivia’s life to KGI. Steele’s too. I’ll never forget that. You know I’ll be happy to help any way I can. All you have to do is call, okay?”
Donovan gave her another affectionate squeeze and then went back to Eve while Maren stepped into the hall to call for Swanny to return with Cammie.
Knowing Eve would want to be right by Cammie’s side when Maren inserted the IV, he positioned her at the head of the exam table and then stood next to her, his arm wrapped securely around her slight waist.
He could feel her thinness. She felt precious and breakable in his arms and he tightened his hold on her, more for his own peace of mind than her own, though he wanted her to have no doubts of the support network that was closing ranks around her.
Swanny carried Cammie into the room and her eyes brightened when she saw Donovan and Eve. Relief shadowed the little girl’s haunted eyes and she reached eagerly for Donovan. Donovan loosened his hold on Eve long enough to take Cammie from Swanny and lay her on the table so she’d be close to him and Eve.
Eve brushed her palm across Cammie’s fevered brow and then leaned down to kiss her forehead.
“It’s going to be all right, darling,” Eve said in a soothing tone. “Maren is going to insert an IV in your arm. Just a little prick. I’ll be here the entire time.”
“And Donovan?” Cammie mumbled around her thumb.
Donovan smiled and added his own hand to her arm, squeezing reassuringly. “Me too, sweetheart. Eve and I aren’t going anywhere. And after, you’re going back to my house so you can get lots of rest and all the grilled cheese sandwiches you can eat.”
Cammie smiled and Eve’s breath caught and hiccupped. Donovan withdrew from Cammie and slid his arm back around Eve’s waist, presenting a united front for Cammie. So she’d know they weren’t leaving her alone.
Maren prepared the catheter and the bag of saline and the piggyback of the IV antibiotic. After swabbing Cammie’s arm and securing a rubber elastic above the area she planned to stick, she spoke to Cammie in soft, reassuring tones.
“Just a little stick, but I need you to be brave and hold very still, okay, Cammie?”
Cammie nodded solemnly but tensed as Maren set the needle against her flesh. Her eyes widened in fear and panic flooded her face.
“It will be over in just a moment,” Eve murmured. “Be a brave little girl. Maren will be easy.”
Maren deftly inserted the needle, probing for the vein. Cammie let out a surprised cry, but to her credit she didn’t jerk away. Thankfully she got the vein in one stick, and Cammie’s expression eased.
Swanny stood on the other side of Cammie, right above where Maren worked, his hand cupping over Cammie’s forehead as he stroked her hair.
“You’re doing great,” Swanny said.
Maren quickly attached the IV line, taped the IV lock so it was secure and then adjusted the flow of fluid. Then she hooked the piggyback so that the medication flowed into the line along with the saline.
“All done,” she announced with a smile at Cammie. “You’re a champ at this, Cammie.”
Cammie beamed at Maren’s praise. “It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.”
“That’s because Maren is quite good at what she does,” Donovan said. “Now you’re all done and we can go back home and get you to bed.”
Cammie looked delighted at that declaration. Then she looked shyly up at Donovan, clearly wanting to say something, but she was unsure. Her thumb angled further into her mouth.
“What is it, sweetheart?” Donovan asked in a gentle tone. “You can ask me anything at all. I don’t mind.”
“Could I have a feather pillow?”
Eve looked pained at Cammie’s simple request, her eyes closing briefly to mask her upset.
“They’re my favorite,” Cammie said around her thumb. “Evie said she’d get me one when we had the money.”
Donovan’s heart tightened. “I don’t have any in the guest rooms, but I just happen to love feather pillows myself and I have four on my bed, so I’m pretty sure I can spare one for you. That will tide you over until I get another for you. How’s that?”
Cammie nodded, her eyes lighting up with delight.
“Make sure you hold the bags above her head while you ride over and then get her settled into bed. Do you have an IV pole at your house or do I need to send one with Joe and Swanny?” Maren asked, breaking into their conversation.
“I’ll grab one,” Swanny volunteered. “Joe and Steele will need to help Travis into the truck.”
Donovan let go of Eve and bent to scoop Cammie into his arms. He sent Swanny a look that told him to help Eve out while Donovan carried Cammie and the IV bags.
Once they were all out in the vehicles again, Donovan drove quickly to the house. Steele and Joe got Travis into bed in the bedroom Donovan had allocated for his use and then Donovan put Cammie into bed in the room she would share with Eve. Swanny brought in the IV pole for Donovan to hang the bags on and then Donovan thrust the prescriptions at Swanny.
“Go have these filled and wait on them. Tell them we need them to put a rush on it. Jimmy knows me so he’ll fill them quickly. But he’s also nosy and he’ll want to know what’s wrong with me since they’re all made out in my name. Don’t volunteer anything.”
Swanny nodded. “Will do. You want me to throw together dinner tonight? I don’t mind and getting the meds won’t take long. Let me do a quick check of what you have on hand and if I need to pick up anything while I’m out, I’ll do it.”
“Would appreciate that,” Donovan said gratefully.
After Swanny walked away, Donovan turned to Eve.
“My sisters-in-law are getting together clothing for you as well as some for Cammie. Joe will run out and get what Travis needs, but for now, what you all need most is rest. Travis is already sleeping, thanks to the injection Maren gave him for pain, so he’s comfortable and you don’t need to worry about him. It will take an hour or so for Swanny to get back with the meds Maren prescribed and whatever else he needs to pick up, so I’m going to give you an injection as soon as you’ve gotten into bed with Cammie and then I don’t want to see or hear a word from you until dinnertime.”
Eve opened her mouth to protest, but Donovan silenced her.
“Don’t argue, Eve. You’re all exhausted and hurt. Cammie is already halfway asleep, but she’s anxious because she’s worried about you. The best thing you can do for the both of you is crawl into bed with her and for you both to get some sleep.”
Eve sighed but nodded her agreement.
“I’ll give you one of my T-shirts. You can change once I leave and then get into bed. I won’t see a thing. No sense wearing sweats. I’ll give you five minutes and then I’ll be back to give you that injection for pain. It’ll help you relax and sleep.”
Not waiting to hear if she agreed or not, he strode into his bedroom and pulled out a T-shirt that would likely hit her at the knees. While he wasn’t as tall as his brothers, he was broad chested and the shirt would hang loosely on Eve and cover her modestly.
The idea of her in his shirt gave him a ridiculous sense of satisfaction.
He returned and thrust the shirt into Eve’s hands. Cammie was struggling to remain awake, and Donovan knew that as soon as Eve crawled in beside her, the little girl would be out like a light.
“Five minutes, Eve. And then I’m coming in to give you an injection.”
Not waiting for a response, he strode out of the room to where the others were gathered in the living room.
“Can we do anything?” Joe asked.
Donovan nodded. “After you go out and get clothing for Travis, I need you to stop by Sam’s and pick up clothing that Sophie and Shea are getting together for Cammie and Eve. Shea is closest to Eve’s size, so she’s running some stuff over to Sam’s, and Sophie is getting some of Charlotte’s clothes for Cammie. I have no idea what their shoe sizes are, but we’ll tackle that at a later time. They won’t need them anytime soon anyway because they’re not leaving the house.”
“No problem, man,” Joe said. “I’m on it.”
Donovan looked toward Steele and Maren and baby Olivia in Steele’s arms. “Thank you for coming so quickly, Maren. I really appreciate it.”
“Is there anything else I can do?” Steele asked pointedly. And Donovan knew he wasn’t referring to medical help.
Donovan shook his head. “After they’re all asleep, I’m going to have everyone over so we can discuss a game plan. I’m going to get Sean involved as well. If you want to hang out so you don’t have to drive back out to your place and then turn right around again, make yourself at home. Swanny is preparing dinner for everyone when he gets back.”
Steele nodded. “Do I need to call up my team for this?”