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       Jacked, p.11

           Tina Reber
 

  I stood there, sort of dumbfounded.

  Megan was wide-eyed, waiting for me to intervene.

  “It’s okay, Megan. I’ll take care of this. Perhaps you can ask Doctor Mason if he needs assistance.”

  That apparently was not what she wanted to hear. She ripped her latex gloves off and tossed them in the trash.

  “Now then,” Adam said, sliding back on the cot, “where were we?”

  His authoritative demeanor subsided quickly.

  I sat back down on the stool and rolled in closer. “I think you scared her.”

  Adam put his other hand behind his head, cupping the pillow. “Good. I want this done right.” He gave me his cut hand.

  He was assuming a lot. Still, I found it amusing. I covered his hand with the medical drape, exposing just his wound. “What makes you so sure I’ll do any better?”

  He tilted his head. “I trust you. Well, at least until you give me a reason not to.”

  God, he had a great laugh. I pulled the first suture through and stopped. “We good?”

  He smiled and rested his head back. “Keep stitching, Doc.”

  Damn, if he didn’t own one of the sexiest smiles I’d ever seen. While I was throwing my first knot, I was fantasizing about taking him home and locking him in my bedroom. I needed something else to think about beyond stripping him bare. “So, may I ask what the ATTF letters stand for?”

  He pressed his chin to his chest, reading his own T-shirt. “Acronym for auto theft task force. It’s a special division within the police department.”

  “Ah, that’s right. I remember now. That’s why you pulled me over.”

  He looked so damn remorseful. “I pulled my gun on you.” His eyes searched around the ceiling before landing back on my face. “I know you’re worried. You have nothing to worry about, okay? That stuff we got will never be seen on TV. I don’t want you to worry about your job or anything.”

  I pulled another suture through. “I appreciate that. I’ve been feeling quite paranoid all day, worrying that I’d wind up on the six o’clock news. It was quite a traumatic experience. I’m surprised I’m not still shaking.”

  “Erin, look at me.”

  His authoritative yet gentle voice made goose bumps rise on my arms. I met his gaze.

  “It will never happen. Trust me.”

  There was so much sincerity in his eyes, I found myself wanting to believe in him so damn bad. “You swear?”

  “You have my word. I’d never let anything bad happen to you.”

  I swallowed hard, finding myself in uncharted territory. I’d never had a guy seem to care as much about me as this man I barely knew appeared to do. But then again, I was never one to allow myself to be vulnerable. The desire to give him a hug was quite powerful. “Okay, thank you. This career means everything to me.”

  “I know. A blind man could see that.”

  His insightfulness took me by surprise. “So, is that what you do then? Deal with carjackings?”

  He nodded. “That and other things. We mainly chase down stolen vehicles. Most felonies involve a stolen car. You know, like robberies, homicides.” He scratched his brow. “The bad guys usually don’t want to use their own cars. Go figure.”

  Again, he got me to laugh, but considering some perpetrator caused him to get injured tonight, his job didn’t sound like a pleasure cruise. “Sounds like dangerous work.”

  He was silent for so long I had to look at him.

  “It can be,” he said, almost regretfully. “But I guess the good part is there are people like you to piece us back together.”

  I shrugged, feeling his words like a comforting affirmation, especially since I had just accused him a day ago of ruining my career when he was just doing his job. Things could have been worse; I could have wound up back in jail. “Well, fortunately for me, you didn’t require a lot of piecing together tonight. I get it, though. I’ve often said that cops don’t get paid enough to do what you do.”

  Adam drew in a tight breath. “Did you become a doctor for the money?”

  I could tell by the way he asked, he wasn’t being purposely hurtful or looking to be judgmental. He was trying to make a point. I tied another stitch off before answering. “No. I didn’t. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to heal the sick. I was forever putting bandages on my dolls and stuffed animals.” It wasn’t a lie, but it was also my standard canned answer whenever anyone asked that question. It always generated a smile and it was much simpler than the full truth.

  “Ah, the caretaker gene. Very noble. My brother Jason was born that gene, too.”

  I pulled another stitch through his palm. “Is he a doctor?”

  Adam scratched his chest with his free hand, appearing a wee bit proud. “Not quite. He’s a flight medic in the Army. He’s in Bosnia right now, actually. Wish he wasn’t but… there’s nothing I can do to change it.”

  I felt a twinge of sickness. “Another group that put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

  His face softened in agreement.

  “What about you? Always known you wanted to be a police officer?”

  His lips twisted up. “Yeah, for as long as I can remember. Although that pipe dream of wanting to be a cowboy doesn’t seem so bad right now.”

  “Never too late to switch,” I teased. “But most of the cowboys I remember seeing in the movies always chased bank robbers. Not sure a horse would appreciate the wind chill outside.”

  The smile washed from his face. “You watch a lot of TV, Doc?”

  “Um, no. Not really.”

  “Why is that?”

  Because my nose is usually in a medical textbook until I pass out? “I don’t know.”

  “So you don’t watch TV at all?”

  I couldn’t figure out why he was asking. It was perplexing. “Well, I watch a little, but I’m not a big fan of court TV or paternity tests so I usually don’t bother. I watch movies sometimes and stuff on Amazon. Does that count?”

  His eyes looked tired and solemn and somewhat relieved, as if he was just about done for the evening. He nodded and a faint smile lifted his lips. “Yeah, it does.”

  “What about you? You a TV junkie?” The extreme physical shape of his body was enough to confirm he didn’t spend too much time on the couch with a remote in his hand. Still… “I’m guessing you’re a Flyers or Eagles fan.”

  “Yeah, something like that.” He glanced out toward the hall and then leaned toward me. “Actually, can you keep a secret?”

  I nodded, wishing he’d tell me all of his secrets. Desire to know what his throaty moans sounded like was one of them.

  “I can’t stand the Eagles. I’m a Steelers fan. Don’t tell anybody that, okay?”

  I stopped suturing and crossed my heart with my forceps, snickering at his admission. “I swear your secret is safe with me. Hate to see you get tossed out of Philly for your insolence.”

  It felt good to have a hearty laugh. Life had been so serious for so long, feeling a shred of genuine attraction toward someone helped leach some of the loneliness from my bones.

  I studied his fingers while I sewed up his left hand. Long, thick fingers. Ideal for touching, pleasuring. No ring indentions whatsoever. “Are you right-handed, Detective?”

  “Adam.”

  I sighed. “Are you right-handed, Adam?”

  He smirked. “Yep. With everything.”

  My imagination went wild with the innuendo that wrapped around his words. “Well, then you won’t be too inconvenienced. You’ll probably be tender and swollen for a day or two. Keep it bandaged to minimize infection. Ice it if it hurts. All right. You’re just about done. Let me get you wrapped up and I think we can get you discharged out of here. Now, no running after bad guys for a few days. And you want to keep this clean and dry. I’ll give you some antibiotic cream to put on it.”

  While I was talking, my gloved fingers absentmindedly drifted around his sutured palm, cleaning away blood that was no longer there with a
wad of gauze. His fingers were a half-stroke away from touching my breast. I wanted to comfort him somehow and read his fortune all at the same time, hoping I could see myself getting caressed by this hand in the future. The feelings were overwhelming.

  He sucked in another breath through his nose, jarring me from what I was doing.

  “If you notice any redness or swelling, um, or if you should, if you should see any, any discharge around these sutures…”

  His right hand caught my wrist, holding me gentle but firm. “You’ve got great eyes.”

  His own eyes were smoldering, capturing me in some tantric haze as ancient as the sun. Those full lips—so pink, so plump—made by divine intervention and created for very wicked things.

  He sat up and dropped his feet off the edge of the bed, shifting me until I was standing between his open legs. I knew I should back up, put some distance between us, but my body refused to move and he didn’t relent his grip on me.

  “You should, um, see your family doctor if you have any problems,” I managed to breathe out finally, a few mere inches separating us. He was so tall, the kind of which I might need to use my tippy-toes to reach that sexy mouth if I wasn’t wearing heels, but sitting, he was darn near perfect height.

  “Why don’t I come back here, see you if I have any problems?”

  My heart did a complete somersault in my chest. I took a half step back. “Why would you want to do that?ˮ

  Adam let go of my wrist, drifted his fingers over mine, and then snagged my open lab coat, hindering my full retreat. “Is there a reason I shouldn’t?”

  I swallowed hard, recalling an entire college course on medical ethics. I opted for light-hearted instead. “Well, yeah. For one, I charge more.” I smiled shamelessly. Am I flirting with him?

  “So, no discounts for repeat customers?” He sounded sort of hopeful. Oh God, he’s flirting right back with me.

  Unfortunately, his comment was heavily laden with repercussions. I looked up into his eyes. “I don’t want you to be a repeat customer, Detective Trent.”

  “Adam,” he corrected, licking some mysterious flavor off his bottom lip. Surely it was something decadent and sinful.

  “Adam.”

  He smirked. “Can I ask why?”

  I swallowed again, hoping not to say something stupid. “Because that would mean you were seriously hurt if you came back here again and I, ah… I don’t want to think about you getting seriously hurt while you’re—while you’re protecting the streets where I live. That’s why.”

  His lingering gaze seemed to search for something, a different answer perhaps, until his eyes leveled on mine. “I see your point.”

  I cleared my throat. “Your regular doctor will have to remove the stitches in about ten to fourteen days. By then… by then you should be all healed up.”

  “Nah,” he said, dropping his hand to his lap. “I’ll take them out myself.”

  I couldn’t help but find the humor in his macho declaration. Of course he was the type of guy to pull his own stitches. He probably would have hand-stitched his wound with a needle and thread had they not brought him in by ambulance.

  “What’s so funny?”

  I noted a few things in his file and signed his discharge papers. “You. For some reason I knew you were going to say that.”

  He shrugged his impressive shoulders. “Wouldn’t be the first time I took my own stitches out. Probably won’t be the last, either.”

  “No, I think this is the last time.” Without thinking, I blurted, “I can take them out for you.”

  If I could have smacked my own forehead without looking ridiculous, I would have. Oh God. I’ve completely lost my mind.

  That garnered another killer smile, showing perfectly aligned white teeth—perfect for eating me. “You willing to make house calls, Doc?”

  “Erin,” I corrected.

  “I like calling you Doc,” he said smoothly.

  I gave up. “I don’t normally make house calls, but I think I can make an exception.”

  Some emotion crossed over him; perplexity perhaps? Maybe regret? “It would have to be early in the morning or later in the evening. I’m on night shift five nights a week, sometimes six.”

  My schedule was tight, too. I shook my head, tossing some of the fog off my brain, trying to backpedal out of my asinine offer. “No, I mean yeah. That’s fine.”

  The edge of his mouth quirked up. “That’s not going to be a problem for you, is it?”

  While I was hearing his words, the other half of my brain was trying to decipher their meaning. It was almost as if he was seeing if I was available, but damn, I didn’t want to get my hopes up for nothing. It had been so long since I’d entertained the thought of a real date since ending it with Randy, I feared my exhaustion was misconstruing his questions. “You mean mornings?”

  “Yeah.”

  “I’m a night owl. I’m here most nights anyway. No one ever wants the overnight shifts but I don’t mind,” I mumbled, smacking myself mentally for admitting that.

  Adam wiped his thumb over my ID badge again. There was no doubt he was one hell of an intimidating cop. I wasn’t even in trouble and my knees were knocking. I swear I could feel the roll of his thumb in other places.

  “Me, too.” He seemed pleased with that commonality.

  I smiled. “Are you a night owl, too?”

  His smirk told me yes. “You got a man at home?”

  Damn, his bluntness surprised me again. I thought about the last guy I dated, which was months ago—that idiot Lab tech, Jeff, who thought a date meant watching him and his friends drink beer.

  The truth spilled out of me in a heartbeat. “No. No man.”

  He raised an eyebrow. “Woman?”

  I laughed uncomfortably. “Not my style.”

  He nodded once. His sweet smile was magnificent. “If I ask you to dinner sometime so I can thank you properly for stitching me up, you gonna say yes or you gonna shoot me down?”

  All the saliva that was once in my mouth now clogged my throat. I swallowed hard, finding it almost incomprehensible that he was standing so close to me.

  I felt frozen. “Depends,” I managed to say, climbing my eyes from the noticeable dip between his pecs up to those smoldering long lashes of his.

  “On?”

  “If you ever ask,” I breathed out.

  His gaze seemed to center on my mouth. “Consider this me asking,” he declared, his voice deep and husky. “Unless you’re planning on turning into a jack on me.”

  My body was humming, abuzz from just the possibility of one day kissing this gorgeous man, but that would probably never happen. “I don’t know what that means,” I said with the last of the air in my lungs.

  He tugged on my lab coat, causing me to rock forward onto the balls of my feet.

  “What that means, Doc—”

  “Erin. My name is Erin.”

  He scraped his teeth over his bottom lip. “What that means, Erin, is if I pursue you, are you going to run and make me chase you, or are you going to surrender willingly? I’ve got no time or patience for games.”

  My nerves went numb. Is he really attracted to me? Oh my God. No way. “You’re going to chase me?”

  “I was thinking about it. But we can start with a nice meal first. You okay with that?”

  My brain seized, though my head managed to nod. My thoughts scattered to the gutter. “Are you going to cuff me again if I put up a fight?”

  His finger traced the edge of my jacket. A sinister and yet very playful smirk turned up those luscious lips. “As much as I’d like to explore that idea in great length, I think we can discuss that some other time.”

  Again with the instant honestly for Officer Hottie. “Okay.”

  “What time you do get out of work?”

  I looked at the clock on the wall and frowned. Time seemed to grind to a halt. “Not for another five hours.”

  He looked at his watch. It was silver and leather and manly.
You have someone to escort you to your car when you leave?”

  I couldn’t find my pen anywhere. I had just had it in my hand a few minutes ago. “My friend, Sarah, drove. The nurse.”

  When I met his gaze again, the deep frown was back. “The pregnant one?” He raised his bandaged hand near my head. I felt my ponytail tug, a few hairs pinch, and then I was looking at my missing blue pen. “This what you’re looking for?”

  He was a mind reader. Scary how he knew. I berated myself for violating my patient/doctor ethics so effortlessly. “Yes.”

  He bristled, instantly displeased. “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. I’ll speak with Security before I leave. You won’t be walking out unescorted.”

  Since when did it matter to him? I certainly didn’t need him making issues for me on top of things. I started filling out the last bit of required information on his discharge paperwork, tersely replying to his meddling. “That’s not necessary, Detective. I’m quite capable of looking out for myself.”

  He took a step closer, invading my personal space. “Yeah. I get that. Still isn’t going to change my mind.”

  I held up his copy of his discharge information, shaking it to make some sort of point. “Yes, well. You are free to go. Do you have any other questions for me?”

  “Dinner. Tomorrow.”

  “That’s not a question.”

  He was smiling. What he found so amusing was beyond me, but I could stare at his smile all damn day. It sure beat the intimidating cop stoic glare he usually wore. “You work tomorrow night, Doc? Yes or no.”

  I nodded, reminding myself I had no life beyond sleeping and the ER at University Hospital. “Yes, Detective. At seven.”

  His lips twisted into a smirk. “Okay. Then we only have one option. Have breakfast with me.”

  THE STITCHES IN my hand pinched as I slid into my usual booth at the Parkway Diner, making me wince from the annoying pain. The anesthesia had completely worn off, bringing back the throbbing ache and irritating reminder that I should have been wearing gloves last night. But my favorite leather gloves were in the trash back at the station, soaked with some other kid’s blood from the night before.

 
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