Author: Jill Shalvis


But of course she kept moving. His fingers dug into her hips, but there was no hope of reining her in. He didn’t even know why he’d tried. She drew him deeper into her body, and, he suspected, into her heart and soul.


There was no holding back, not then, and not when she cupped his face and looked up at him, letting him see everything as she burst again. Her eyes went opaque, his name torn from her lips as her muscles contracted, clenching him so tightly it was his undoing. He came right along with her, thrusting hard into her body before finally falling over her in a boneless heap. He tried to pull back but she wouldn’t let him, keeping her arms and legs wrapped tight around him. Finally she allowed him to shift his hands from her ass to the lounge, to support his own weight again.


They remained like that for a few long moments, his head resting beside hers on the cushion, breathing the same air, their damp limbs entangled.


It was the most perfect moment he could remember, and he planned to rewind and repeat the entire experience. Just as soon as he could move.


Grace lay there wrapped up in a big, warm, sated Josh, thinking she’d never felt so amazing when she heard the slider open.


“Hey, Josh?”


Anna.


Grace’s head shot up and bashed Josh in the chin hard enough to cause stars to dance in her vision.


“Josh,” Anna yelled. “I’ve been calling you for ten damn minutes!” Oblivious, she rolled outside, staring down at the cell phone in her hand, grabbing up Josh’s cell as she passed the patio table where it lay discarded.


“Oh my God,” Grace whispered, staring up at Josh in horror, shoving at him, trying to get the big lug off of her.


Josh, of course, didn’t budge. There was no budging him unless he wanted to be budged. With his still sleepy, heavy-lidded gaze locked on hers, he spoke over his shoulder to his sister. “Give us a minute.”


Anna finally looked up. She had no way of seeing much. The night was dark, only a sliver of a moon. They were in the shadows, and Josh still had his shorts on, preserving most of his modesty. He was completely covering Grace, not that that helped any.


Anna narrowed her eyes as if trying to see through the dark, then slapped a hand over her eyes. “Eww! Are you kidding me?”


“A minute,” Josh repeated in his no-nonsense, calm but steely voice.


“Fine. But call your son, who’s been demon-dialing you for half an hour.” With that, Anna whirled, then wheeled back to the house, dropping Josh’s phone onto the table without further word.


Josh dived into the pool’s depths to find Grace’s bikini top. Once he’d retrieved it, he tied the straps at her back and neck while she adjusted her bottoms. He helped her make sure everything was back in place because she was pretty much a bowl of jelly. Then he strode directly to his phone and called Toby.


“Well?” Grace asked worriedly when he’d hung up.


“He’s fine. He just wants to come home.” His gaze met hers. “Grace—”


“If you’re going to say you’re sorry, please don’t. Or if you regret it, or if it was just plain awful and—”


He shut her up with a kiss. A really great kiss, with lots of heat and tongue. When they ran out of air, he pressed his forehead to hers. “I was going to thank you. I needed you tonight. You were there for me.”


It took her a moment to understand he didn’t mean the sex on the lounge, but when she’d come to his office. What didn’t take a moment was the realization that he’d said he needed her. Not someone. Or anyone.


Her.


That this big, strong, proud man who never needed anyone had said such a thing moved her far more than she’d expected. Reaching up, she cupped his jaw. “You were having a bad day?”


“A bad year.” He hesitated, then covered her hand with his. “I sold my practice to the hospital tonight.”


She controlled her instinctive gasp. “You did?”


“Yeah.”


She was blown away. “Are you okay?”


He brought her hand to his mouth and kissed her palm. “At the moment, I don’t have much blood in my brain to be anything but very okay.”


She smiled.


He smiled back, then kissed her. “’Night, Grace.”


“’Night.”


Chapter 17


Chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays.


Josh went through several straight days of craziness at work. He never second-guessed his decision to sell, but there was no immediate magic opening of his schedule. After the smoke cleared, there were a hell of a lot of people who wanted to talk to him. His staff was safe; that had been a nonnegotiable condition of the contract. Everyone still had jobs, status quo.


But even though he’d discussed it ahead of time with everyone in his office, now that it had been done, they all needed reassurance. Josh understood that, but it didn’t help with the insanity, which also included more hospital board meetings. The board had been ecstatic about his decision, and as planned, they brought in another doctor to lighten the load.


Dr. Tessa McGinley. Josh knew her. They’d gone through residency together. Though they were the same age, Tessa had a warm, almost grandmotherly appeal to her that made her seem twice his age. She wasn’t made for ER work, but that was a benefit as far as Josh was concerned, since he coveted the ER. The bottom line was that Tessa had been tailor-made for a practice like his, where patient care was the number-one priority.


Best yet, starting tomorrow, she’d be splitting Josh’s days at the office, giving him room to add more ER shifts. More time for Toby.


A life.


He thought about that as he dealt with four flu sufferers, three routine physicals, two cases of strep, and a partridge in a pear tree. He thought about a lot of things, such as Grace. He hadn’t seen her since the night they’d christened his lounge chair. He had no idea what her plans were, but his were leaning toward Operation: Get Her Alone in the Pool Again.


But he was gritty-eyed with exhaustion. He thought maybe he could lie down on his bed and sleep for the rest of his life.


Going to get better now, Josh told himself. Starting tomorrow. Tomorrow he wouldn’t be too tired to give something more to the people in his life.


For now, he left work and headed to the pier. It was the night of the Summer Festival, an annual event featuring music, food, and booths from the local merchants. He’d promised Mallory that he’d put in an hour at the Health Services Center booth, making nice and taking blood pressure readings for the passersby.


In exchange, and since Grace had gone for another interview in Portland—something he didn’t want to think about too much—Mallory had arranged for a babysitter for Toby. Thanks to the teen center that she ran as a part of the HSC, she had lots of money-hungry teenagers at her disposal, and tonight she’d lined him up with Riley. Riley wasn’t a local girl but a teen Amy had rescued from the streets not too long ago.


Toby loved her.


So with Toby taken care of, Josh arrived at the pier. The hot, muggy day had turned into a hot, sultry night, and he rolled up his sleeves as he walked through the salty ocean air. He spent an hour in the booth, taking the blood pressure of every senior citizen in Lucky Harbor. When it was Lucille’s turn, she merely winked at him when he suggested her blood pressure was a little too high and that she needed to slow down some.


“I’ll slow down when I’m dead,” she said, and waved in her entire blue-haired posse for their turn. Mrs. Tyler asked how Josh felt about cougars, and he really hoped she meant the kind in the wild.


Mrs. Munson grabbed his ass.


Mrs. Dawson asked him for a breast exam.


Josh was thinking about moving to the South Pacific and living on a deserted island beach when Dr. Tessa McGinley showed up to relieve him.


“Careful,” he warned her. “They bite.”


She was just over five feet, adorably round, and had one of those contagious smiles. “Want me to defend your honor?” she asked, laughing at him.


“You think I’m joking. I’m telling you, stay on your toes.”


She didn’t look perturbed in the slightest. “I think I can handle anything that comes up.”


Josh was thinking good luck when Matt and Ty rescued him. The sun was sinking on the water, and the festival was kicking into high gear as the three of them sat on the pier near the dance floor.


“Hey,” Ty said, toasting Josh with his beer. “Heard you got lucky.”


Josh scowled. “How the fuck did you hear that?”


Ty went still for a beat and then laughed. “I meant regarding getting Dr. McGinley as a partner. But let’s talk about what you thought I meant.”


Josh slouched in his chair. “Let’s not.”


Ty and Matt were grinning at him, the assholes. “Shut up,” he said without any real heat, and watched the dancers. Amy and Grace were dancing together in the center of the rambunctious crowd.


Matt was watching Amy. “Amy’s worried that Grace’ll take the first decent job to come along simply because it’s what she’s been told she should do,” he said. “Rather than follow what makes her happy.”


Josh had worried about the same thing. But it wasn’t his deal to decide for Grace what made her happy. “And?”


“And so, if something or someone is making her happier than a fancy job but is being a pussy about saying so, he should step up.”


Josh shook his head. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”


Matt laughed. “I’m currently ‘getting lucky’ every single day because I stepped up. I think I know what I’m talking about.”


“I’m not you,” Josh said. “And Grace isn’t looking for that kind of relationship. Being here is a diversion for her, nothing more.”


“Bullshit,” Matt said. “Women don’t work that way.”


“Okay,” Josh said. “So maybe I’m not looking for that kind of relationship either.”


“More bullshit,” Matt said, shaking his head at Ty like, Can you believe this idiot?

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