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Rehab for the Heart

The Wild Rose Press

Heat Rating: SIZZLING
Word Count: 74,725
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A critical injury. A captivating caregiver. A combination guaranteed to test Nick Collins’ number two rule – never trust a beautiful woman. Nick can’t deny Gwen’s beauty, or that she’s brought him safely through surgery, but when she tries to teach him how to administer his own morphine, all bets are off. Narcotics killed his fiancée, so he’ll find another way to deal with the pain. Like fantasizing about the pretty anesthetist with the copper-flecked brown eyes and hair the color of cinnamon.

Nick Collins - male, undoubtedly. Handsome, indisputably. Charming, absolutely. Three excellent reasons for Gwen to keep her distance. But when the mouthwatering hunk becomes her patient, things get a bit more complicated. Fooled twice before, the petite nurse anesthetist has armored her heart against all men and will resist the pull of attraction to Nick Collins with every tool at her disposal.

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Duchess trotted over with her Frisbee in a half-hearted attempt to entice Gwen to throw it. Surprising the big dog, she snatched it and sailed it toward the far corner of the yard. Duchess was off after it like a shot, and leaping high, she caught the disc before it hit the ground. She loped back to Gwen, then veered past her at the last second, dropped the Frisbee, and began to bark.

Gwen swiveled around and sat back on her heels to see what had sparked the dog’s protective instincts. She shaded her eyes with one hand and stared in disbelief as she made out the silhouette of a tall man on crutches. If Duchess hadn’t continued barking, Gwen would have believed herself sun-struck, and the vision a mirage. The man she had dreamt about nightly for weeks stood at the edge of her pool and looked much too solid to be an illusion.

His long legs sported light-weight khakis, and a white, sleeveless T-shirt stretched tautly around his broad chest. Angling across it was a bandolier-like strap, to which was attached a long cylindrical case, reminding her of a samurai warrior complete with sword. The aluminum crutch under each arm identified him unmistakably even though mirrored sunglasses hid his midnight blue eyes. The urge to throw herself into his arms lasted only a second. Then fury brought her to her feet like a rocket launched from the Space Center. She stalked toward him.

“Could you call off your dog?” he asked.

“Duchess, don’t kill!” she ordered. As if Duchess actually understood her command, which she certainly did not, she stopped barking and sat, her attention still locked on Nick Collins. Her head swiveled back and forth between Gwen and the man, waiting to see if he were friend or foe.

“Don’t kill? Are you serious?” He laughed at Gwen and stuck his hand out toward the German shepherd. “Come say hello, girl,” he prompted, “you’re a beauty.”

And, traitor that she was, Duchess sniffed his outstretched hand and allowed a scratch behind her ears.

“Turncoat,” Gwen rebuked the dog, who ducked from under Nick’s hand at her tone. “What do you want?” she demanded, hands on hips and hostility oozing from every pore.

“Gwen…darling,” he began.

She thrust her hand out. “Don’t even try to go there.”

“I brought you something I thought you wanted,” he explained as he unslung the long case from his back. “Or was it some other woman who sent me a note requesting some landscaping plans?”