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“You’re an idiot, Axel. Izzy is with the wedding something or other. Nate has been running a fever, so I just left the doctor. She didn’t want to worry you, but serious as shit, right now there is no way I am taking him home and explaining all this to her when she is already freaking her shit.”

“Yeah, she said something about him not feeling well last night, but he was happy when I left for work this morning. Is he okay? Dammit, why didn’t she call me? You shouldn’t have had to take my boy.” He pulls Nate to his body and snuggles close. That ache in my heart stings a little deeper at the sight.

“I don’t know, maybe because you’ve been acting just as bad as she has for the last two weeks. He’s fine anyways. Ear infection, both ears. But I explained to the doc what the deal is with this weekend, so he gave him an antibiotic shot to speed shit up.”

I toss Nate’s prescriptions on the desk, kiss the little dude’s head, and slap Ax on the back. “Buck up and calm the fuck down. Nothing is going to happen. But, if you can tell me the name of nurse sin, I’ll give you a hundred bucks. Shit man.”

Axel’s laughter booms through the room, making Nate smile his toothy grin up at his father. “I know exactly who you are talking about, and if you tell Izzy I said this, I’ll cut your balls off, but damn… that woman. You see the size of her tits?”

“Hell, how could I miss them?”

We shoot the shit for a while before the smell of myself makes me want to add to the mess. Axel almost loses his shit again when I tell him what Izzy’s phone call this morning interrupted. Axel has never been a fan of Mandy. He thinks she is a ‘gold digging whore’, and at this point, I can’t say I disagree with him too much. Leaving the office, and having Emmy make sure the path from the door to my truck is Sway clear, I take off in hopes to clean off and relax for a few hours before something else is thrown in my lap.

Chapter 3

Another long day I think will never end. Patients run over again, and Dr. Shannon refuses to close the doors until almost 8:30. I hate breaking plans with Cohen, but there is no way he will be able to go to dinner with me now. I fight the urge to punch a hole in the wall and continue my path to the bathroom, stripping the day’s scrubs off on the way.

My mind wanders to the man who came in with Izzy’s little boy today. He seemed like such a natural with Nate that it is obvious he has been around kids before, but Iz has never mentioned him. I had been lucky to strike up a friendship with Izzy West over the last ten months. When I first met her, I was on the other side of Dr. Shannon’s door and coming in with Cohen instead of working. We struck up a friendship, and at the time, it was what I needed.

I remind myself to not to think about the events that led up to me becoming friends with Izzy. My sister would kick my ass if I shed one tear over her. No way. I’ve had my big girl panties on for over a year now and there is no damn way I would let memories pull me down.

Shaking off the pain that only comes when I look at Cohen’s face, or think about my sister is the only reality I know right now. But I am damn good at it. I’ve dealt with losing my sister, but it doesn’t make the pain vanish.

After my shower and nightly routine, I settle down on my worn couch and pick up the phone. It’s time to check in with mom and face the music of missing out on another date with Cohen.

“Meli-Kate! You are in trouble my love. I had to explain, again, to Cohen that we cannot use the kitchen table as a launching pad for his assault against the imaginary ninjas in the house! Do you know how long it takes to calm him down when there are imaginary ninjas attacking his Nana’s house?”

I can’t help the uncontrollable laughter that bubbles up at the thought of Cohen in attack mode. I know this will make for a lecture from my mother but damn, she is asking for it.

“Seriously mom! You make him sound like a terror! He isn’t that bad!” I laugh at her. In reality, he really is that bad. We take care of Cohen, and have since my sister passed away almost two years ago. I miss her, but having him in our lives takes some of the sting away. It doesn’t hurt that he keeps us on our toes so much that we don’t have time to miss her as much.

“Meli,” she sighs. “Please tell me there is a reason you missed your dinner with him again? You know how much he waits for these days.” She sounds so broken, and I hate that I can’t be there more for her and him.

“I know. Trust me, I do. Dr. Shannon did it again. They just kept coming, and there wasn’t one damn thing I could do about it.”

“Tomorrow. You’re off, aren’t you? Come over and get him tomorrow.” She would have been able to play off the slight wobble in her voice if she hadn’t cracked at the end, making my heart break. I know Cohen doesn’t make things easy, but with me being the only one with a job, it is the only way we can make things work right now. Maybe one day I will have full custody of him, but with my sister’s motherin-law raising a stink about him, and fighting my sister’s will, this was the way to play things right now.

“I can come early in the morning. I won’t be able to keep him long though; I have the bachelorette party for one of my girlfriends tomorrow night. Remember? I told you I couldn’t keep him this weekend?”

“Oh, that’s right dear. It’s okay, really. Janie down the street can always come and take him over to the park, and maybe fire some of that little boy energy right out of his ass.” She snickers like always when a ‘dirty word’ leaves her mouth. My mother is the perfect example of a Southern Baptist woman. Growing up, all my friends said I was lucky as hell to have Paula Deen as my mom. It really is freaky how much she looks and sounds like that woman.

“I’ll call you in the morning, okay? Just in case you change your mind. Love you mama.”

“Love you too sweet child”

I hang up and the only thing I can think of is how lovely my twin bed will feel when I crash into it.

The next morning, the first thing I do is call my mom to see if she needs me to come take Cohen for a few hours. When I call though, Janie answers and says they are busy building forts in the living room and having popcorn wars. Sounds like the perfect day for me to be absent.

Since I’m not meeting up with Izzy and her friends until dinnertime, I spend the rest of the day cleaning my small one room apartment. Lucky for me, my apartment is so small it only takes me a few hours to have it perfectly spotless. Now, it’s time to call Izzy.

“Hello?” The deep voice answering her phone throws me off for a second. I move the phone away from my ear to make sure I have the right number.

“Um, is Izzy available?”

“She sure is, but no way in hell is she able to talk right now.” I hear Izzy protesting before she snatches the phone out of the man’s hands and breathlessly speaks, “Hello?”

“Oh my God, Izzy! Please tell me I did not just interrupt you!”

“Seems to be the week for that.” She giggles.

“Jesus Christ! I am so sorry! Just want to see what time I should meet you tonight?” Fuck me, perfect timing Melissa! At least someone is getting some these days! I will probably need to bust out the Swiffer to clean the cobwebs because it’s been so long since my legs were spread.

“It’s fine. Axel is just being a big baby, that insatiable man. Why don’t you come over to the house and ride with me, Dee and Emmy?”

“Sounds perfect. See you then!” I hang up the phone and quickly go about getting ready for the night. I try my hardest to block out the tugs of arousal that pull at my skin. Lucky little bitch, damn I need to get laid.

My mind immediately comes back to ‘Uncle Greg’; I know he is likely to show up at some point tonight. He wouldn’t be at the doctor in Izzy’s place if he weren’t that close to them. So, the question is do I want to do anything with the attraction that simmers at a low boil just from a few seconds in the same room with him? No. Well, to be totally honest, I do, but I am smart enough not to get mixed up with someone so manly. After watching how well that turned out for my sister, there is no way I am getting involved with Mr. Sex on Legs. I need to find a short, skinny, balding man. Someone safe.

I might be many things, but I am also smart enough to learn from the past. Smart enough to know that no man who oozes so much alpha male will be happy with a woman who isn’t weak. Or, he won’t settle until he makes me weak, and I will never be that bitch.

Whichever way I slice it, I still can’t ignore the way that just thinking about his devilishly sexy good looks and those eyes, fuck those eyes, turn me on like flipping the switch.

Getting out of the shower, and continuing the process of getting ready still has me pondering what I want to do with all this pent up attraction. I stand in the middle of my ‘closet’, actually a corner of my bedroom crammed with my clothing obsession, and debate between casual or sexy. Hey, I might have decided to stay away, but you never know what could happen. It’s better to be prepared for anything.

I finally settle on one of my new dresses. Not the sexiest thing I own, but it shows off enough skin that it will be perfect. The deep green, halter style dress fits tight across my chest, and the V is deep enough that my girls will be on display. Let’s face it; I know they are one of my best features, so why not show them off? The dress hangs loose, with one of those funky hemlines that stop dangerously high in the front and back, but drapes a little lower on the sides. My mother always likes to say that the hemline looks like a damn mullet. Party in the front and business in the back, or in this case the sides.

To finish out the look, I grab some of my chunky gold bangles and a strappy pair of gold heels. My hair hangs loose and in messy waves, giving it an ‘I don’t care; I’m fucking fabulous’ style. I decide to keep my make-up natural and accent my blue eyes with some gold coloring.

I have to admit I look hot. If I were a dude, I would be all over this. Smiling to myself, I grab one of my smaller clutch bags and head off to Izzy’s, still thinking about what will happen if Greg Cage steps into my path again.

We leave Izzy’s late because all the girls are too busy loving on Nate. I might not have the tugging urge to become a mother, but even I can admit how perfect Izzy’s little family seems.

Axel has hired a limo to drive us around tonight, and I am thankful not to have to drive my old ’96 Honda tonight. It really is only a matter of days before the damn thing blows up.

I’ve met Dee and Emmy a few times before now, I don’t know Emmy as well as I know Dee and Izzy, but when that girl gets some alcohol in her, she is hilarious. We end up grabbing a quick dinner before heading off to Club Carnal where we will be spending the majority of our evening.

“Whatever you do, do not get her started on the crazy drinks.” Dee warns me for the millionth time. Izzy gives her another eye roll before signaling the bartender for another round.

“What will it be ladies?” He says with a wink. He eyes Izzy’s rock before moving his eyes on to the rest of us. Looks like someone is on the prowl, which is perfect for this horny little bitch.

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