I might be known for having the best hands in surgery, but when it comes to matters of the heart… I’m a dead shot.
We endured years of abuse at the hands of my father—until I snapped.
The moment I pulled the trigger, freeing my brothers and me from his wrath, my heart turned to stone.
Desperate to atone for the sins of my father, I became a doctor.
With my brother Drake’s help, and his company Angel’s Wings, we’ve helped hundreds of women escape abusive relationships.
It’s my way of saving them… since I couldn’t protect my own mother.
Over the years, I’ve seen my share of bad cases come through the ER, but one will have me risking my career.
And when danger rears its ugly head, threatening to take what’s mine, being a doctor isn’t the only thing I’ll put on the line.
I’ve sworn an oath to protect life… but with my heart at stake, I’ll take one if it means saving hers.
Slowing to a jog, I ease to a stop and bend over, pressing my palms against my knees. Charles Peters—the half-rate wannabe they gave the job to—likes to needle me about my father, the man who most still remember, as the ruthless businessman his kid killed. And that kid was me. But ruthless doesn’t even begin to cover it. They have no idea what kind of monster we lived with. Pulling out the t-shirt tucked in my waistband, I wipe the sweat off my face and lean my head to the sky. I’m caught momentarily in a memory when my body jolts forward suddenly.
I turn to castigate the responsible party. “What the fu—” but words escape me. Standing in front of me is the most beautiful woman I’ve seen in a while. Her chestnut brown hair is tugged back into a sleek ponytail, showing off the exquisite shape of her face. She looks away quickly, but not before I glimpse her beautiful emerald eyes.
“Dios, soy una chica estúpida.” God, I’m such a stupid girl. She presses her hands against her head and continues her tirade, not noticing that I’m staring at her. “Casi derribé a este hermoso hombre porque estaba ocupado mirando su cuerpo.” I nearly knocked this gorgeous man down because I was busy staring at his body. Her arms wave around as she paces in front of me. Stopping, she glances at me, not really making eye contact, and bites down on her lip. “Y joder qué cuerpo es.” And fuck, what a body it is. Her eyes follow my legs up as she appraises my body, her breath catching when she reaches my face and sees me smirking.
“You alright?” I smile, my own body threatening to expose just how much her beauty turns me on. She blinks, her eyes widening when she realizes I witnessed her entire tirade. “Yes… But I should be asking you that. Are you okay?”
I tilt my head back and let out a laugh. “Sweetheart, it’s going to take a lot more than a tiny thing like you to hurt me. Hell, it felt more like a butterfly ran into me, not—” I wave my hand over her body. —someone like you.”
“Someone like me?” She adjusts her stance, crossing her arms over her body.
Shaking my head. “You’re taking my words wrong. How about we start over? I’m Gage Winston… and you are?”
I don’t miss how she glances around before meeting my gaze again. Thrusting her hand forward, she says, “Poppy Jefferson.”
“Well, Poppy Jefferson. Do you make it a habit to run over people in the park?”
She snorts, her body relaxing a bit. “No. Actually, I rarely come here. But today I managed to—” She pauses, as if not wanting to say what she almost did. “I, uh, found this place. You come here often?”
“Every day.” I wipe my face again and smile. “I’m on my lunch break. I work over there.” I point toward the direction the hospital is and grin.
“Oh.” She blinks, following my finger’s direction. “Must be nice to be so close to this beautiful sanctuary.”
“It is… What about you, Poppy? What do you do?”
A weird expression crosses her face. “Nothing… My family is a bit—protective.”
My eyes narrow, understanding dawning on me. “Do they know you’re here?”
Poppy bites down on her lip, my eyes flicking towards the movement. “No. They think I’m having a spa day. Which I kind of am. Right?” She laughs. “My parents are dead, so my overprotective brother thinks he has to keep me under his thumb. To keep me from getting hurt.”
“Jesus. This isn’t the 1800s. How old are you, anyway?” I tug the shirt over my head, noticing how her eyes follow my movements and I hide my smirk under the fabric.
“Twenty-four.” The smile she gives me is like a bolt of lightning to my chest and I mask the sharp breath with a forced cough. “What about you?” She tilts her head, appraising my frame.
Fuck. “Thirty-seven… an old man compared to you.” This beautiful creature is beyond off limits at her young age.
“Puedo llamarte papi.” Can I call you Daddy? she mumbles in Spanish before smiling up at me. “You’re in pretty good shape for an old man.”
Palming the back of my head, I scrunch my face and laugh. “Definitely well over thirty—but not an old man yet.” Glancing down at my watch, I sigh. “As enlightening as this reminder of my slowly aging body has been, I need to get back to work. I still need to shower before the business of the day traps me.”
“Well Gage Winston, fit old man… it was nice running into you—literally.” She walks backwards, grinning. “Maybe I’ll see you around again.”
“I run every day—same time.” I give her a knowing grin. “Oh, and Poppy?” I call out to her as she gets further away.
“Yeah?” she calls out.
“You can call me Daddy anytime.”
I turn, but not before catching her stumble from my words. I couldn’t resist myself. Seeing as I’m fluent in three languages, her attempt to converse with herself about me didn’t go unnoticed. By the time I make it to my office, all I can think about is the woman. Despite our age difference, I’m drawn to her—which is crazy, since I swore off women for purposes other than sex. My father left a permanent scar on my soul, and I refuse to taint another human being with the darkness I still carry from him. Stripping off my shorts, I toss it into the basket I keep in my office and step into my private bathroom. Being
the attending of orthopedics has its perks—case and point as I kick on the water and strip off my shorts.
Climbing beneath the spray, I press my hands against the cool tile and blow out a breath. Poppy seems to be at the forefront of my brain as visions of her swirl through my mind. Her eyes were the most captivating color I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen plenty of eyes in my career as a doctor, but none the same shade of green as hers. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing green eyes quite this captivating. Her full, pouty lips held my attention as she spoke, and now, as I think back, I wonder if she found my staring creepy. After rinsing the soap from my skin, I cut the water off and climb out.
Dragging on a fresh pair of scrubs, I wander out of my office and head down to the ER. With six more hours left in my shift, I go in search of a cup of coffee, desperate to give myself a little kick-start. The vibration in my pocket has me nearly spilling the cup of joe I just snagged.
“Shit.” Coffee spills over the rim, dotting the blue cotton on my thigh with brown. Sliding the device from my pants, I sigh. “Drake,” I mumble into the phone at my brother. He’s five years younger than me but acts more like the older sibling. “This best be important enough to make me spill my coffee.”
“Maybe you just need a sippy cup lid, brother.” Drake chuckles at his own joke. “And anytime I call, it’s important.”
“Right… I take it court went well?” I roll my eyes as I set the cup down at the nurses’ station and prop myself on the desk.
“Yep. That motherfucker had no leg to stand on when we showed the judge the photos of him buried balls deep in his mistress. His days of playing mental warfare on his wife and kids are over. He’ll have supervised visitation for the next year.”
“You really are a dick.” I can’t help but laugh at him. Drake is good at his job. Being a dick is a compliment of the highest order.
“It pays the bills—being a dick, that is.”
“What’s up? You lucked out and caught me in between busy spells. But…” I listen as he shuffles something in the background. “I have to head up to talk with some parents.”
“Roland is in town in two days. We’re going to see him. Clear your schedule.”
“At least it’s a Saturday. I was supposed to be on call in the ER, but I’ll swap with Peterson.”
“Good. I’ll call you tonight with the details. Go break a leg.” Drake laughs into the phone.
“Fuck you, Drake.” One of the nurses stops in front of me. “Ugh, I have to go. Duty calls. But keep me posted—let’s do dinner in the next day and come up with a game plan.”
“Dr. Winston, I didn’t mean to interrupt, but we have a patient who was just brought in. She might have a cheek fracture and Dr. Harris asked me to come grab you for a consult.”
“Lead the way, Paula.” I wave her on, following close behind her as we head toward one of the patient rooms.
We stop outside the closed door and Paula hands over the iPad. I scan the screen, a gasp escaping when I see the patient’s name. Poppy Jefferson is in bold letters, mocking from behind the glass. Scanning the intake form, I see, she told the nurse she tripped and fell, hitting her face on the wooden banister at home. Taking a calming breath, I close the folder and grip the knob in hand. Pushing open the door, I step inside. Poppy’s eyes shoot up, shock that she quickly schools skitters across her swollen face. My blood fills with rage just seeing the damage to her beautiful skin, and I close my eyes and take a quick breath to get it under control. Opening my eyes, I turn my head to the burly man sitting in a chair beside her. He looks up from his phone and stands.
“Doctor.” He moves to her side, and I don’t miss the way her body tightens at his nearness. “I’m Carlos, a close friend of Ms. Jefferson.”
“I see.” I glance down at his hand and flick my eyes over to hers. “Mr. Perez, if you don’t mind stepping outside while I assess the patient, I’d appreciate it.”
He jerks back at my words. “I won’t be leaving her side.”
I step toward him and stop. “She has a right to patient confidentiality. And if you’re not her husband, you’ll need to wait outside. I can assure you, she’s safe with me.”
“Please.” Poppy looks at the man. “Just wait outside so I can get this over with.”
He seems to study her for a moment before giving her a slight nod. “I’ll be right outside in the hallway.”
As soon as the door shuts, Poppy takes a breath and tries to force a smile. “So, this is where you work, huh?”
Bad Union OrnamentRated 0 out of 5$10.50
By HappenstanceRated 0 out of 5$2.99
By Happenstance PaperbackRated 0 out of 5$20.00
End of the RoadRated 0 out of 5$2.99
Forget Me Not PaperbackRated 0 out of 5$20.00