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Authors: Jill Shalvis

Then Came You (6 page)

BOOK: Then Came You
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Seven

O
ne week after Wyatt's and Emily's first real conversation in the staff room, he got up even earlier than usual and ran to the store for everything he needed. Then he dragged Darcy out of bed. Too tired to deal with her walker, he carried her down the hall to the kitchen.

“What the—” she started grumpily, stopping when she saw the balloons, flowers, and blueberry muffins he'd just gotten.

“Oh, good catch,” she said yawning. “It's Zoe's birthday.”

“Yeah, and you're going to help make a stupid big deal out of it.” Wyatt had long ago learned that the way to a woman's heart was through gestures he didn't always understand, so he knew enough not to question the power of celebrating a birthday in a huge way.

This, through some trial and error over the years, had come to mean decorations no matter how “Hallmark,” and something delicious that wasn't allowed on a normal day. Zoe had been claiming to be fighting five pounds all year, and had banned muffins from the house.

But he knew she'd want one today, because according to her, calories didn't exist on birthdays. Just like they didn't exist for any dessert that had fruit in it.

He shoved Darcy's walker at her and gathered up all the decorations. Then he got them both down the hall and to Zoe's room.

There, they flipped on her light and sang “Happy Birthday” to her while she fought her tangled sheets to sit up, swearing at them the whole time.

When that didn't stop them from singing as loudly and off-key as they could—a sibling tradition—she threw her pillows at them.

And then the book on her nightstand.

Wyatt ducked in time, but the book knocked a lamp over. Of course it broke, and then Darcy cut her finger on the glass. They yelled at each other over the lamp, the glass, Darcy's cut finger, and then Wyatt shoved Zoe's present beneath her nose.

A gift certificate to an entire day's pampering at the spa.

She went still, and then, oh Christ, her eyes filled. She chucked her last pillow at him. “How did you know I needed this more than my next breath?” she demanded.

Wyatt smiled and tossed her a box of tissues.

Darcy punched him on the arm. “Don't you dare take credit for knowing,” she said, and then turned to Zoe. “He knew because you left us a very specific list, as you damn well know. You e-mailed, texted, and put it on Facebook.”

Zoe laughed. “Oh, yeah.” She held out her arms.

Wyatt and Darcy both took a mistrustful step back. Well, Wyatt did. Darcy, gripping her walker, ducked reflexively.

“No, I mean it,” Zoe said, and waggled her fingers in a “come here” gesture. “I want a damn hug.”

“You need a Midol to go with it?” Darcy asked warily.

“No!”

Hoping to avoid yet another physical altercation, losing any more furniture—or his head—Wyatt shoved Darcy ahead of him. Naturally, the “hug” included some noogies and lots of bone crunching, but hey, there was no more bloodshed.

And then he heard the telltale sniff. Grimacing, he pulled back and gave Zoe a pained look.
“Again?”

She swiped a tear. “Dammit! I didn't expect to get all sappy. I don't know what's wrong with me.”

“It's because you're old now,” Darcy said.

Wyatt wrapped an arm around her neck, covering her mouth with his hand.

“Mmffl!” Darcy said.

“Zip it, I'm saving your life,” he said. He looked at Zoe. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” She sent them each a watery smile. “I know this is a birthday, but I gotta say, the crazy makes it feel a lot like how our first Thanksgiving together with just the three of us went, doesn't it?”

They'd never celebrated Thanksgiving growing up. They'd never been in the States in November. But they'd celebrated this year, and not surprisingly, had fought like cats and dogs. Being here together now, fighting like cats and dogs yet again, he agreed that this was exactly what Thanksgiving had been like—crazy as shit. And crazy wonderful.

*   *   *

The next few days at work with one adorably sexy Dr. Emily Stevens flew, and he was getting pretty good with the ignoring thing. Or at least he'd done a good job with the faking of the ignoring thing.

Because she, with her tough, smart ways, was pretty damn difficult to ignore.

Except she wasn't going to stick. She had one foot out the door. He didn't have to work at remembering that—he couldn't forget it. “So,” he said conversationally as they scrubbed up for their first patient. “How many days left?”

“Three hundred and forty-seven.”

He'd been just teasing her, but her ready answer was a sober reminder. Like his parents, like his ex-fiancée, like at least one of his sisters, she was yet another person in his life with one foot out the door. He needed to remember that.

The day was long and challenging as they saw twenty-two patients. They'd done their best for each of them, and each of them had appreciated it. It had been in every soft, warm lick, every tail wag, and in some cases, a rumbly purr.

It was the people who
owned
his patients who were the pains in his ass.

Mr. Thicket hadn't appreciated being kept waiting and had bellowed at Jade behind the receptionist desk.

Since Dell had flown north to a client's ranch to inoculate horses that morning, Wyatt was in charge. When he heard Mr. Thicket go off, he excused himself from a patient's room and strode out to the front, standing in front of Jade's desk, hands on hips to face Mr. Thicket. “Problem?”

“You have incompetent help.” He jabbed a finger at Jade.

Wyatt couldn't see Jade, but he could feel her narrow her eyes. Jade was a lot of things, and maybe impatient was one of them, but incompetent? Hell, no. In fact, she was just about the most competent woman he'd ever met.

“You need to fire her,” Mr. Thicket said.

Wyatt had a very long fuse, but that fuse didn't extend to a guy taking his frustration out on a woman, no matter that the woman in question had a baseball bat behind her desk and knew self-defense moves that could take down a man twice her size. “You have two choices,” he told Mr. Thicket. “Wait outside while I treat your dog, or go somewhere else to be treated.”

Mr. Thicket glared at him, weighing his options. There weren't many. Everyone and their brother knew that there was no comparable animal center to Belle Haven for two hundred miles.

“It's cold out there,” Mr. Thicket said. “Effing fall arrived.”

“Two choices,” Wyatt repeated, unmoved.

In the end, Mr. Thicket huffed and puffed, but went outside, where he proceeded to bitch to every person who walked in or out the front door until Wyatt finished seeing his dog.

The day didn't improve when he was assisting Emily in treating a ferret named Franko and Franko's owner—a teenage girl—grabbed the animal incorrectly. Franko lashed out, going right for Emily's face. Wyatt caught him in mid-air, and got his finger bit nearly to the bone for his efforts.

Emily treated him in the staff room. He could tell she was shaken—not at the blood, she had nerves of steel—but that it was
his
finger and not hers. “You shouldn't have done that for me,” she said.

In all truth, it had been instinct. He'd have done it for anyone.

“Does it hurt?” she asked softly when she was done with him.

“If I say yes, you going to kiss it better?”

She rolled her eyes and cleaned up.

Wyatt had no idea why he baited her.

Okay, he knew. After being near her for the past couple of weeks, and then remembering how good their long-ago night had been, seeing that they still had chemistry and knowing it would be that good again now, he wanted her. He wanted her naked beneath him, her tongue in his mouth, her legs wrapped around his back, her hips rocking up to meet his until they both came so hard they saw stars.

And she could take or leave him. The fucking story of his life.

A few hours later, Franko's owner was back. The teenager had bought Wyatt a present—a tie with puppies and kittens on it. Jade made him wear the tie for the rest of the afternoon.

Much later, he stood at the front desk after their last patient, getting his messages from Jade and giving Gertie some love. His day was topped off when Cassandra Hastings came in carrying a casserole dish.

Cassandra was in her forties, unhappily single, and a regular at Belle Haven. She always paid on time and was polite. And warm and friendly.

Very
warm and friendly.

“Here she comes,” Jade warned him beneath her breath. “The cougar, at six o'clock.”

“Cougar!” Peanut the parrot yelled, and ducked dramatically.

Wyatt turned his body away. Cassandra had a problem with roaming hands. And sure enough, she set the casserole dish down on the counter to give him a hug.

He pretended he'd dropped something, and evaded, a maneuver he'd gotten good at.

“Brought you lobster ravioli,” she said. “Your sister said it was your favorite.”

Wyatt was going to kill Zoe. Or maybe Darcy. Hell, he'd just kill them both and be done with it.

Jade, behind her counter, gave him the laughing eyes. She knew damn well that the last time he hadn't turned away fast enough, Cassandra had copped a feel. Not something he cared to repeat.

Cassandra patted the casserole dish. “I've been told I make the best lobster ravioli this side of the Mississippi. Why don't I come out to your place tonight to gather the dish?”

“Your place,” Peanut said.

Wyatt glared at the parrot. Jade was no help, she'd ducked behind her computer screen, shoulders shaking with silent laughter, the ingrate.

Taking his silence as consent, Cassandra shifted closer. “Poor baby, I bet you're exhausted, what with how hard you work and all.”

“I'm not tired,” he said. He'd passed tired about three hours ago. “But I am busy later.”

“No problem.” She smiled and winked. “I'll come early.”

He heard what he'd have sworn was a gagging noise behind him, and when he craned his head, he met Emily's gaze.

She nudged Wyatt out of the way and offered her hand to Cassandra. “Dr. Emily Stevens,” she said. “The new intern. Why don't I go in the back and transfer the dish to another container for you right now so you don't have to bother Dr. Stone tonight?” It was worded as a question but everyone knew she wasn't asking, including Cassandra.

She stared at Emily for a long heartbeat before pulling her hand back. “Not necessary,” she finally said. “I'll get the dish back from him another time.”

“Boner!” Parrot yelled merrily as Cassandra left.

Jade put out her finger and Peanut high-fived her with one of his parrot feet. Then Jade grinned at Emily. “You're good.” She turned away to answer the phone and then said, “Hold on a sec, they're both right here.” She hit Speaker. “Go ahead, babe.”

Dell's voice filled the room. “I can't get back in time for dinner,” he said. “You two go on without me.”

Their welcome to Belle Haven dinner for Emily. Wyatt had forgotten that was tonight.

Emily stared at him and gave him a wide-eyed head shake that he got loud and clear. She wanted him to get them out of this. It made perfect sense.

But he said nothing.

Emily narrowed her eyes at him, and he found himself smiling.

“Problem?” Dell asked into the silence.

“No,” Emily said. “Of course not.”

“Use the company card, Wyatt, this one's on me.”

“Got it,” Wyatt said, watching Emily bite her lower lip. The same lower lip he'd once sucked on until she'd moaned his name.

“You should come with us,” Emily said to Jade when Dell had disconnected.

“Oh, that's sweet, but I can't. It's book club night and it's at our house. You'll have to join us next time, Emily. Sorry, Wyatt, chicks only.” She stood up and began her closing up routine. “Shoo,” she said to both of them. “Go have dinner. After the day we had, you both deserve it.”

Which is how Wyatt ended up in his truck driving Emily to dinner.

“This is silly,” she said. “You should've let me take my car. We could've left at the same time, and each gone our own way. No one would've ever known that we didn't do dinner.”

“We're doing dinner,” he said.

“Why?”

Yeah, genius. Why? “We're going to be working closely together,” he said. “Ignoring each other isn't going to work for a whole year.”

“Three hundred and forty-seven days.”

“Or that,” he said. “We might as well settle in and get to know each other.”

She slid him a look. “We already know each other. Far more than we should.”

He laughed. This was true, to an extent. He did know certain things, such as she had a warm, perfectly curvy bod that fit his perfectly. He knew what she tasted like—heaven. And he knew the soft, erotic little sounds she made when she was desperate to come. And
those
thoughts weren't helping one little bit. He shifted in his seat. Yeah, definitely, he shouldn't be remembering any of those things. “We could get to know each other on a
conversational
level,” he said.

BOOK: Then Came You
3.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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