“Josh, is it now?”
“Yes, that’s his name.”
“Actually, honey,” Lucille said, “we all call him Dr. Scott. Well, unless he’s not within hearing distance, and then we call him Dr. McHottie. And none of us get to live with him.”
“I’m just the babysitter,” Grace said. “I stay there because of the crazy hours he keeps. It makes things easier on him. And I’m in the guesthouse, not the main house, and only until we find him a replacement. There’s no dating going on.”
Everyone’s ears perked up at this.
“I could take on one more kid,” Jenna Burnett said. “For Dr. McHottie, I’d take on quadruplets.”
Jenna was a single mom in her midforties, running a day care out of her home. Her three children were teenagers and helped when they got home from school. Jenna was sweet and kind, and probably a viable option for Toby.
“Ask him,” Jenna said, seeing that Grace was actually thinking about it. “Tell him I’ll give him a great deal.” She smiled warmly, but damn, there was definitely something just a little bit hungry behind it.
“Hey, I want to throw my name into the hat too.” This from Sierra Hennessy. Sierra owned an upscale clothing shop in Seattle that she paid someone else to manage. The designs were Sierra’s own, and because she had four ex-husbands, each more wealthy than the last, she didn’t care that she sold only a few dresses a season. She also didn’t care that she was considered a man shark. “What’s Dr. Scott’s stance on marriage?”
Grace managed a smile. “I’ll let him know about both your offers. We’ll be in touch about interviews.” Then she hightailed it out of there. She got to Anna’s PT office just in time to see the girl roar off in Devon’s truck, flashing a peace sign at Grace.
Grace gritted her teeth and drove to the house, where she waited for the bus. When Toby hopped off it, he was bouncing up and down with excitement. It was Back-to-School night, and later Josh would get to see Toby receive the Student of the Week award. Afterward, Josh had promised him an ice-cream sundae, and then Toby was having his first sleepover at a friend’s.
He was so excited he could hardly contain himself. He and Grace walked the half block home, where from hard-earned knowledge, Grace let Tank and Toby run wild laps around the yard until they expelled enough energy in tandem that Toby could sit and do his homework. While he did that, Grace worked on Tank’s so-called obedience. This was more an exercise in patience for Grace than anything else, but she was determined.
They had mac and cheese and turkey hot dogs for an early dinner—no deviating from the planned menu—and then waited for Josh to show up to take Toby to Back to School night.
Except he didn’t show.
Grace called Josh but got no answer. She called Anna. No answer there either. Finally, she drove Toby to his elementary school herself, pretty much steamed at everyone with the last name of Scott except for Toby.
Toby’s teacher was thrilled to see him. “Sadie had her kittens, Toby. Want to go look?”
When Toby whooped and raced off, Grace looked at the teacher. “How much time before the awards?”
“At least half an hour.”
“Can I leave him here while I go get his father?” Grace asked.
“Yes. I’m sure he just got hung up at the office…”
One of the moms sidled close. A tall, perfectly-put-together, gorgeous brunette. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help overhearing. Angela Barrison,” she said, introducing herself. “I’ll be happy to keep an eye on Toby while you go get Dr. Scott.” She smiled a sort of tiger smile. “And if you could let him know that I’m the one watching Toby for you, that’d be great. I’d like to apply for the position.”
“The nanny position?” Grace asked.
Grace shook her head all the way to her car.
Josh’s office was in the building directly adjacent to the hospital. She tore into the lot, stomped up to his suite, and yanked open the door. Righteous anger was blooming within her, propelling her forward, ready to tear him a new one for missing something so important to Toby.
And something else was blooming too.
This was unlike him, very much so. He never blew off anything that anyone needed, but especially Toby. His son came first with him. Family always came first. So this bothered her.
She hadn’t expected to feel worry for the man who appeared to have it all. Hell, she hadn’t meant to feel anything for him at all, but she did.
Far too much.
The waiting room was empty, the front office lit but also empty. And her worry amped up a notch. “Josh?” she called, walking down the hallway.
She came to a large office decorated in masculine dark wood, the huge mahogany desk loaded with paperwork and files. The lamp was lit. There was a mug of something on the corner and an open laptop in the middle.
Behind the desk was a large executive chair. In it was one Dr. Josh Scott, leaning back, feet up.
Forget roses, send chocolate.
Josh hated falling asleep in his office chair. It never failed to give him a kink in his neck and make him grumpy as hell. So when he leaned back and let his eyes drift shut, he told himself he was merely resting his eyelids.
Her voice, Grace’s voice, came to him on a breath of air, and he relaxed into the leather chair.
“I have a case for you, Dr. Scott.” Grace stood in his office doorway in a nurse’s uniform, but not any uniform that Dee might wear. Nope, this one had come right out of the Victoria Secret catalog, complete with stilettos.
Looking holy-shit-hot, she sauntered into his office and slid between his legs, leaning over him in the chair, blocking him in with her body. His hands went to her hips to pull her in even closer, needing her so badly he was shaking but he refused to rush. If this was all they were going to have, this erotic dream, then he wanted it to last. He kissed her neck, then traced his tongue over the spot, eliciting the sweetest, most sensuous sigh he’d ever heard. This fueled a bone-deep desire to mark her as his, and he sucked the patch of skin into his mouth.
No. No talking, or he’d wake up. He kissed the spot, slipping his hands beneath the short hem of her uniform, and groaned. No panties. God, he was a goner…
He grabbed her wrist and tugged so that she fell into his lap with a gasp that had him opening his eyes.
No nurse’s uniform. Damn. It really was just a dream…
“Sorry,” Grace said, wriggling, trying to free herself. “I didn’t mean to startle you awake. You were really out.”
Med school and residency had taught Josh how to sleep light and come awake fast, but apparently he’d forgotten the art of both. Then again, certain parts of him were very awake, getting more so by the second thanks to the squirming Grace was doing.
She wore another of her sundresses, this one sky blue, the color of her eyes. It’d risen high on her thighs, and he decided to help it along, sliding a hand up her leg, pushing the material as he went.
“What are you doing?” she asked, nice and breathless.
“Seeing if I should salute the flag on your panties,” he said. “I’m patriotic, Grace.”
“These don’t have a flag on them.”
Aw, now see, that was just a challenge, and he’d never been able to resist a challenge. His fingers tangled with hers, trying to work the hem while she rocked around some more.
That had enough of a noticeable effect on him that her eyes widened at the feel of him hard beneath him. “Um…”
He met her gaze.
“Yeah,” he said thickly. “I’ve been like this all week.”
Okay, so not really. It was hard to maintain a boner while treating the flu or putting in stitches, but he’d given it the old college try.
And it had been a hell of a week. “I was dreaming about you. You were modeling for me.”
“In the bikini T-shirt?” she asked.
She met his gaze and blushed gorgeously at whatever she saw on his face. “I…”
“Go ahead, guess,” he said. “It’s from your sexual fantasy list.”
The air crackled around them.
“And not that I’m not completely enjoying this lap dance of yours,” he said, “but what are you doing here and where’s Toby?”
She looked at him as if maybe he wasn’t as awake as he’d thought. “You’re late for Back to School night. You weren’t answering your cell. I came to check on you.”
“Ah, shit.” He stood up and let her slide down his body, but not before he caught a quick flash of peach silk. He loved peach silk.
But Toby was waiting, and Josh had indeed known about tonight. Damn, he couldn’t believe he’d fallen asleep like that. Or maybe after eighty hours at the job this week so far, he could believe it. He shut his laptop, grabbed his keys and his phone, and keeping his fingers wrapped around Grace’s wrist, began to tug her to the door. But then he stopped and looked down into her concerned face. She’d come to get him because she cared about Toby.
And because she cared about him too?
He thought maybe she was getting there. More than she planned to, and that did something to him.
People had cared about him before, of course. Toby loved him, unconditionally. His patients liked him. Ty, Matt…his staff. Hell, even his sister, though he wouldn’t bet against the house on that one. But how often could he say that any of those people had put him first?
“Josh?” Grace murmured. “You okay?”
“I will be.” Letting go of her, he moved back to his desk, opening his laptop again. He didn’t have to bring up the hospital’s contract offer; it’d been up for weeks. Months. His dad no longer needed him, but Toby did. Anna did. And Josh needed to do what was right for him too. He’d loved his dad, loved the memory of his dad right here in this office, helping people.