“Only if they’re sitting on my exam table.”
She looked into his eyes for a sign that he was being falsely modest, but he wasn’t. There was nothing but a mild impatience in his gaze.
And a lingering heat that stoked hers back into flames. “You gotta go.”
“Yeah.” He leaned in and brushed his mouth over hers, then kissed her with some serious intent before pulling back. “Shit.”
She wobbled unsteadily and had to laugh at the both of them, shaken by a kiss. “It’s still there.”
“Yeah. It’s still there.”
There’s no Chocolate’s Anonymous because no one wants to quit.
Josh went back to the office, and as he worked through his patients, all he had to do was look at a door and he’d think about the full-body press he’d given Grace.
He wanted her, which was just about as crazy as it got, since she was a woman with nothing more than fun on her mind. But he’d been there, done that, and had had his life changed forever. It was how he’d gotten Toby, which he wouldn’t change for the world.
But he wasn’t about to do it again.
So it made no sense to him, his crazy attraction to Grace. She wasn’t his type. Okay, so he didn’t have a type. His requirements were warm and sweet—except in bed, where he preferred decidedly not warm and sweet.
But Grace wasn’t going to end up in his bed. They’d both said so. They’d agreed to be on the same page in this matter—the no-relationship page. Very grown up.
Christ, he hated being grown up.
“Room one,” Dee said as they passed each other in the hallway.
Mrs. Carson was waiting on him. She’d accidentally mixed up her blood pressure meds with her husband’s Viagra. Unfortunate that she was also hard of hearing. “Mrs. Carson, you need to get the pill dispenser that we talked about to prevent this from happening.”
“What is that, dear?” she yelled, an arthritic hand curled around her ear. “I’m going to grow taller and harder?” She grinned at her own joke, slapping her knee, completely unconcerned that everyone in the building could also hear her. “Not that I wouldn’t mind being able to take care of myself in that manner, mind you,” she went on. “Paul’s a good man, but he’s not built for much downstairs, if you know what I’m saying.”
Josh did. He just wished he didn’t.
“Aw. Your father would have laughed. You’re not much fun.”
Gee, where had he heard that before?
Josh’s next patient was Kenny Liotta, a truck driver who came in every six weeks without fail with a new STD. “You ever think about getting smart?” Josh asked.
Kenny grinned. “Your dad used to ask me the same thing. Problem is, my dick’s in charge. And my dick’s not the one with the IQ.”
Josh shook his head and wrote a script. “Your dick needs to read Dicks for Dummies, or it’s going to fall off before your next birthday.”
Kenny laughed. “But what a way to go, right?”
“No,” Josh said. “It’s not a good way to go. Go with a hot tub full of blondes in some seedy hotel, from a heart attack of pleasure. Not from an STD.”
Kenny nodded. “Yeah, I see your point. You’re a good man, Doc. You’re not going to sell the practice, are you? Like all the others around here have?”
It was common knowledge that the hospital had been slowly but surely procuring other county medical facilities, from labs to pediatricians to specialists of all kinds. By absorbing them all under one umbrella, it gave the medical center a huge boost in popularity and reputation. This translated to big bucks, of course. Just about every doctor Josh worked with in the area was a part of the hospital in some way.
He was one of the lone holdouts. “I’m thinking about it.”
“It’s like some socialist takeover. What did they threaten you with, broken kneecaps?”
This made Josh laugh. “You’re watching too much TV. If I sell, the world will go on spinning the same way. The level of care here will remain the same as well.”
“You sure about that?”
“Yes,” Josh said firmly. But if he truly believed it, why hadn’t he signed already?
The board didn’t understand either. Neither did Matt when he called to see if Josh was ever going to go rock climbing with him again.
“I can’t get away,” Josh said.
“Jesus. Sign already.”
“I’m still thinking.”
“Are you still going to be thinking when you’re too old to hang off a cliff without worrying that you’ll drop your dentures?”
Josh sighed. “Call Ty. He’ll rock climb.”
“He’ll rock climb never. The guy who jumps out of helicopters to rescue people for a living doesn’t like heights.”
This was true. “Take Amy.”
“No go,” Matt said. “She told me if I tried to wake her up before dawn again, she’d kill me with my own gun.”
This was undoubtedly also true. Amy Michaels was beautiful, sharp, and tough as hell.
“You need some more hours in your day,” Matt said. “You’re not any fun. Anyone ever tell you that?”
Okay, now this was starting to piss him off. “I’m plenty of fun,” Josh said.
When his tongue had been in Grace’s mouth. That had been pretty fucking fun.
“Sell,” Matt said, and disconnected.
“I’m fun,” Josh repeated to no one. He slid his phone away and thought about Grace some more. That was fun all in itself, actually. Too much fun. She was a complete time sink, not to mention a threat to his peace of mind. She made him want things. She made him want to step outside of the box of his life, something he absolutely couldn’t do.
No matter how tempting.
He got home at eight-thirty, half an hour late. Toby was bathed and ready for bed, a Zhu Zhu warrior hamster in one fist, his Jedi lightsaber in the other, Tank compliant at his feet. Two perfect angels.
When Grace had arrived at his house earlier, she’d looked soft and willowy in a sundress, cropped sweater, and sandals, her wavy blond hair falling silkily to her shoulders, facial expression dialed to easy, curious intelligence. During their moment against his back door, her hair had gotten mussed—his doing—and her expression hadn’t been nearly so calm. Her eyes had been dilated, her mouth wet from his, her nipples hard.
He’d liked that look, a lot.
Now her hair had been put up in some sort of knot, held there by a LEGO piece, with long silky strands escaping wildly, making her look a little bit like a mad scientist. Her sweater was gone, she had something streaked and stained down the front of her sundress, and her expression wasn’t serene or aroused.
She was laughing. She and Toby were in the kitchen, counting the cupcakes on the tray at the table, cracking up. Just looking at them had the tension draining from his shoulders. “Sorry I’m late,” he said.
“You have an emergency?” she asked, turning a concerned face his way.
“A sixteen-year-old girl pierced her own tongue, and it abscessed. She didn’t tell her parents for three days, not until it swelled, blocking her breathing passage.”
“Oh my God.”
“She’s okay. Grounded for life, but okay.”
She just stared at him. “Wow. That makes my day seem like a piece of cake. Or as it turns out, a cupcake.” She gestured to the tray. “We had to make two batches. We don’t want to talk about batch number one.”
Toby giggled and shook his head.
“You made them?” Josh asked, impressed.
“Yeah. At the expense of your kitchen.”
The kitchen was a complete disaster, like a bomb had gone off. Dishes piled high in the sink, chocolate everywhere. “Hey, at least everyone’s still alive,” he said.
“Well, if that’s your only requirement.”
He smiled. “You smell like a chocolate cupcake.”
Anna wheeled into the kitchen, her attention riveted to the open book in her lap. “Found it, Josh’s freshman pic,” she said. “He’s the one with the thick glasses, braces, and black eye. The black eye happened when he let himself get stuffed into his own locker. He was a lot smaller back then. He was a total loser.”
Josh eyed the book. “Is that my yearbook?”
“Relax,” Anna said. “It’s not like I showed her a pic of your tattoo.”
Josh rubbed his forehead. “Has she been dishing out my dirty little secrets all day?” he asked Grace.
“And tattoo?” Grace asked, her gaze running over his body. “Where?”
“His ass,” Anna said helpfully.
Josh covered Toby’s ears. “Hey.”
“Sorry,” Anna said. “His butt.”
Grace raised a brow at Josh, clearly trying not to laugh, though whether it was in horror or genuine amusement, he had no idea.
“What is it?” Grace asked.
“I lost a bet,” Josh said in his own defense. “And I’m not telling.”
Now she did laugh. “I thought you were a late-bloomer nerd, not a reformed bad boy.”
Anna snorted. “Yes to the nerd. No to the bad boy.”
“I lost a bet,” he repeated in his defense. Jesus. “It’s all Matt’s fault.”
“You could get it removed,” Grace said, “if you’re embarrassed.”
“I’m not embarrassed.” Much. “And besides, nobody ever sees it because nobody’s ever behind me when I’m…” He tightened his grip on Toby’s ears. “Bare-assed.”
At this, Grace burst out laughing, and the sound made him smile in spite of himself. She moved to the sink and began washing dishes. Anna, apparently allergic to cleaning up anything, ever, suddenly remembered she had to get online for something. Toby climbed onto a chair to help Grace. Josh shook his head. “You know the rule about standing on chairs, Tobes.” Which had been put into place six months ago after an incident involving three stitches above Toby’s eyebrow.