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Brady smiled. “That’s what all the women say.”

Adam gestured to her leg. “What’s wrong?”

He’d seen her limping. “Nothing,” she said quickly. Too quickly because Wyatt’s gaze narrowed in on her. “I’m fine,” she told them both. Sure, her butt hurt from the fall, but she’d probably just hit a rock or something. “I slipped in the mud—”

“You didn’t slip,” Wyatt said. “I pushed you.”

“Yes, well, I was trying to be polite.”

“You pushed her into the mud?” Adam asked him, voice low but a whisper of disbelief in the tone.

“To keep me from getting bit,” Emily said. “That, or for the whole mud effect.”

“I did it for the save-Emily’s-arm effect,” Wyatt said. “But checking out your bruise later might make it worthwhile.”

She choked on the bite she’d just taken. He was checking out her bruise never.

The light of intent in his gaze said otherwise, and her inner slut sighed in pleasure.

She shut it up with the rest of her sandwich.


They made it back to Sunshine in one piece. Emily exited the helicopter and walked across the street toward Belle Haven ahead of Wyatt and Adam, who’d stayed behind to talk to Brady for a moment.

She was glad. She’d joked about the mud incident, but sitting in the chopper had made her muscles tighten up. The back of her leg, between her butt cheek and upper thigh¸ hurt like hell.

Intending to go straight to the bathroom to take a peek, she started to walk into the front door of Belle Haven, but a hand clamped on her wrist.


Without a word, he pulled her around the side of the building, through the back, and then nudged her into his office.

“Um,” she said, when he shut and locked the door behind him.

Leaning against it, his crossed his arms. “Strip.”

She choked out a laugh. “Excuse me?”

“I want to see your leg,” he said.

“What leg?”

“The one you’re rubbing.”

Dammit. She dropped her hand from the back of her thigh, which she’d indeed been unconsciously rubbing. “I’m fine.”

“No doubt of that,” he said and reached for the button on her pants.

She squeaked and danced back, right into his desk. She winced at the contact.

“Okay, that’s it.” His big hands settled at her h*ps and her belly quivered.

The good kind of quiver.

Before she could give that any thought, he turned her away from him, sandwiching her, her back to his front, between his body and the desk. Again, he reached around her for the button on her pants.

She sputtered. “You can’t just—”

He could, and did. Before she could finish her statement, he had her pants down to her thighs.

She tried to turn, but he put a hand between her shoulder blades and pushed her flat to his desk.

“Hold still,” he said.

She opened her mouth to tell him she’d hold still when he was good and dead, which would be as soon as she managed to get her hands around his neck, but then he stroked his fingers very gently, very lightly high up on the back of her thigh.


“Shh,” he said, and then his fingers spread a little, and she was thinking she couldn’t be as hurt as she thought because those fingers felt shockingly good.

His thumb slid beneath her panties and scooped the material aside, giving her a first-class wedgie. Once again she started to squirm but then he set his whole palm on her butt.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice low and gruff.

“For bending me over your desk?” She tried to inject a pissed-off tone into the words, and a sense that his life was on borrowed time, but she sounded annoyingly breathless.

“You’re bruised,” he said. He pressed between her shoulder blades again. “Stay right there.”

“Like hell—”


Wyatt grabbed an ice pack from the staff kitchen freezer, and then headed straight back to his office. In the thirty seconds he’d been gone, Emily had straightened up from his desk. Her pants were still at her thighs, and her hot pink panties covered all the essentials—barely.

The view was heart-stopping.

She stood there, craning around, trying to see her own ass. And if he hadn’t caused the huge blooming bruise from her sweet ass cheek to the top of her thigh, he’d really be enjoying the sight.

He moved to her and placed the ice pack against her leg.

She squeaked and jerked.

“Shh,” he said.

“I am not a dog or a cat or a damn horse,” she said through gritted teeth. “You can’t animal-whisper me into a blissful, do-whatever-you-want-to-me coma simply because of your sexy voice!”

He adjusted the ice pack, smiling when she sucked in a breath. “Do-whatever-you-want-to-me coma?” he repeated.

“Yes,” she said. “That’s what happens when you talk to your patients. They melt.”

“And you?”

She turned away to face his desk, profile stony.

He smiled at the back of her head. “You want me again.”

“You’re a pain in my ass,” she said. “Literally.”

He stroked a finger over the pink silk. “I like these.”

“If you were a gentleman, you wouldn’t notice.”

“Emily, I’ve seen it all before.”

“Not bent over your desk, you haven’t!” she said

“True,” he said. “You were bent over the bathroom counter last time.”

She whipped around, still holding the ice pack to herself. “You’re enjoying this!”

He scrubbed a hand over his jaw to hide his smile, but nothing could stop it from creeping into his voice. “Yeah,” he admitted. “You’re the prettiest patient I’ll see today.”

She stared at him, and then rolled her eyes. “You can’t sweet talk me like you can an animal, Wyatt.”

Yes, he could. He’d done it. But he wasn’t stupid, so he didn’t point it out or respond. “Keep the ice on it for a few minutes. I’m going to start seeing our patients.”

“I’m supposed to shadow you.”

“Keep the ice for a few,” he repeated, and then in spite of wanting to strip her out of the rest of her clothes and bend her back over his desk, he left his office.

It was the usual afternoon insanity. For the last few hours, Wyatt had completely forgotten that, with Jade gone and her replacement a no-show, Dell had been left to face the chaos on his own.

He expected Mike to be behind the front desk. Or anyone other than who was sitting there.


The phones were ringing wildly, and she was using her walker to stand and face off with Colonel McVey.

Colonel was an old-timer. He’d been army way back, Special Forces, and he’d lost none of his fierce intensity or the ability to slay anyone in eye-contact range. He lived alone on his ranch with his cattle and his twenty-year-old cat, Betty.

Betty was blind but other than that, she was still spry and kicking. In fact, she was in better shape than Colonel.

“She hasn’t had a BM in two days,” Colonel was saying to Darcy.

“A BM?” Darcy asked.

“Bowel movement.”

“Oh.” Darcy laughed. “She’s plugged. Hey, it happens to the best of us.”

“Plugged,” Peanut yelled from his perch on the printer. “Plugged.”

Darcy grinned at the parrot. “What else do you know?”

“Boner,” Peanut said proudly.

Colonel wasn’t amused. “I want to see Dell,” he said, not cracking a smile. “And I want to see him now, young lady.”

Darcy’s eyes narrowed and she lost her smile. “Dell’s with a patient right now. How about you just sit down and take a load off, and I’ll do my best to work you into the schedule—”

“I’m not going to ‘sit down and take a load off’!” Colonel boomed. “There are dogs in the waiting room.” The tough, badass kissed the top of Betty’s bony head. “Betty doesn’t like dogs.”

“Well I don’t like people who yell at me,” Darcy said. “But we’re all stuck with each other, so sit down, zip it, and I’ll be right with you.”

Colonel glared at her, and Wyatt moved in to save his annoying sister’s ass, but Colonel spoke, his tone softer now.

“You got gumption, girl,” he said. “I like that.”

“Great,” Darcy said. “What’s gumption?”

Unbelievably, Colonel grinned. “You’re ex-military, right? Where did you get injured?”

“I’m not military, ex or otherwise,” Darcy said. “I’m not good with following orders. I got hurt by my own stupidity.”

This shocked Wyatt, since as far as he knew, she’d never once spoken about her accident.

Colonel took a seat and Darcy met Wyatt’s gaze as he came in close. “Betty here is a walk-in,” she said. “I’m putting her on your schedule. And before you blow a gasket, Dell asked me to come and answer phones.”

“Did he happen to mention that these people are his livelihood, and mine as well, and that you should be nice, even when they piss you off—which, trust me, they will?”

“I’m perfectly nice,” she said.

When Wyatt just stared at her, she shrugged. “If they’re nice to me.”

“It’s hard to be nice to someone who has a perpetual frown on her face,” Wyatt corrected. “Maybe you could try smiling.”

She flashed him a smile, only called such because she bared her teeth. “How’s this?” she asked.

“I said smile, not scare people away.”

“You know,” she said, “I don’t like your attitude. I’m going to double book you if you’re not careful. Maybe with Cassandra. And I have the power, too, you’re at my mercy, big bro.”

Wyatt considered strangling her but there were witnesses. That’s when Emily came out from the back. The mud on her pants had dried but she looked like she’d been wrangling wild horses. “Who’s in what exam room and where do you want me?” she asked Darcy.

“See?” Darcy said to Wyatt. “A little bit of professionalism and kindness goes a long way. Oughta try it sometime.” She looked at Emily again. “Dell’s in exam one. We’re full up, so if you want to hop into exam two, it’d be greatly appreciated.”

Emily smiled at her. “Will do.”

Darcy smiled back, and Wyatt wondered if the muscles around her mouth hurt from the fact that she hadn’t used those muscles in a damn long time.

Emily turned to get to work but froze when the front door opened and a twentysomething woman walked in. The first thing Wyatt noticed was that she didn’t have an animal with her.

The second thing was that she waved at Emily, who was standing there looking surprised. “Sara,” Emily said. “Everything okay?”

The sisters didn’t look very much alike, but that might’ve been because Sara had platinum blond hair, cut in short spikes, and more piercings and tats than clothes.

“Yes, everything’s okay,” Sara told Emily. “I just thought I’d stop by on my way home from work and meet your people.”

Emily’s eyes narrowed slightly as she gave her sister one of those sibling looks that Wyatt recognized all too well. Sara was up to something and Emily appeared to know it. She came back to the center of the room to make the introductions. “This is Darcy,” Emily told Sara. “Our lovely temp receptionist.”

Darcy and Sara bumped fists.

“And this is Dr. Stone,” Emily went on, gesturing to him next.

“Wyatt,” he said, offering his hand.

Sara was slow to take it. “So you’re him,” she said.

“Sara.” This from Emily, and there was no mistaking the knock it off in her voice.

“What?” Sara said. “He is, right? Dr. Stone, aka Dr. Sexy?”

Emily’s face turned a lovely shade of pink.

Darcy grinned.

Wyatt had no idea what the hell was going on, but no one knew better than him exactly how a family dynamic could work against you, not to mention how insane a sister could be. Or two.

“Dr. Sexy,” Darcy repeated. “That’s a new one. Personally, I think of him as Dr. Pain In My Ass, but hey, whatever works.” She took a second look at Emily. “So you and my brother have been taking office politics to a whole new level, I’m guessing.”

Emily made a strangled sound and shot Sara a look that Wyatt recognized well. It was an I-plan-to kill-you-later-and-slowly gaze that he could really appreciate right about now.

“I’m busy,” she told Sara, possibly through her teeth. “Go home.”

“Sure.” Sara smiled and held out a brown bag. “But first I brought some brownies. I’ve got extra for everyone.”

“Nice touch,” Darcy said. “I should try that sometime.”

Wyatt snorted. “You’ve never brought me food. And if you did, I’d probably need a taste tester.”

Darcy rolled her eyes and looked at Sara. “Out of curiosity, what did Wyatt do to piss you off?”

“Nothing,” Emily said, answering for her sister.

“He took a piece of her,” Sara told Darcy.

“Sara,” Emily said.

“I’m sorry,” Sara said to Wyatt. “I realize it’s unprofessional of me to come here during your workday, but Emily’s never going to tell you this shit. She’s not going to let you see that your . . . relationship with her is only further messing her up.”