Short Story: Dr. Manning in The Vacation

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I wrote a short story about Dr. Manning for the Free Romance Collection last summer. It’s summer again, so why not share it here?

I hope you enjoy this little morsel of yumminess. If you’d like to read more, he shows up in The Exception Series (which is available as a box set)

The Vacation

Copyright 2018, Adriana Locke

 

Chapter One

The salty breeze glides through the small seaside cantina. Chimes dangling from the exposed beams overhead jingle faintly and, if I were so inclined, I could close my eyes and drift off to sleep. I am not, however, ready for a nap. I’m way too hungry. Reading will do that to you.

How reading has never been classified as a sport has always boggled my mind. A good book leaves you tense and breathless. And, if you’re reading the right kind of story, there’s sweat. Exhaustion. And balls. Sometimes more than one, depending on the genre.

My grilled chicken entrée is placed before me, along with a fresh margarita. Every hesitation I had about coming to San Diego alone for the weekend melts away with every sip of the tequila-infused drink. Who knew I even liked tequila?  Not me. Or maybe that was just my second ex-husband’s concoction that was more like jet fuel than a mixed drink. This one is perfection.

This is perfection.

No kids. No ex-husbands. No ex-husbands’ new wives. No library patrons that claim to never have checked out a certain book that’s been overdue for six months or a boss that says “Yes” to every suggestion by the public and follows it with, “Here, Collins. Can you handle this?”

Collins is tired of handling his shit. And Joe’s shit. And Kyle’s shit. Let their wives and their fake smiles handle their shit. I. Am. Done.

And a little tipsy, quite possibly.

Grabbing a lime from the little basket on the center of the table, I roll it around with the palm of my hand. I saw a chef on television do this with her perfectly manicured fingers as she explained this action helps release the fruit juices. Now seems a like a good time to try this.

It doesn’t look any different—no more round or soft than it was before. I grab a knife and begin to slide it through the skin when it hits another type of skin. Mine.

“Ouch!” I hiss. The knife clamors against the side of my plate and hits the table.

Without looking, I pull paper napkins out of the holder next to the salt and pepper and wrap them around my finger. It pulses as if it might explode right off my body.

My lips go dry. My mouth waters like it does right before you vomit. It’s not a good look or a good feeling and all I can do is squeeze my eyes shut so I don’t pass out.

The napkins don’t feel tacky. Maybe there’s no blood.

My stomach knots so hard I cringe.

I don’t do blood. I can’t even think about it. That was ruined for me in one particular nursing school class the day before I switched my career path to something less barbaric. What could be safer than a library?

You’re too safe, Collins. You’re the least spontaneous person I know. You can’t walk around in bubble wrap your entire life.

Fuck you and your words that still sting, Kyle.

That’s the last coherent through I have before focusing my attention on the tinkling of the chimes. Maybe when I open my eyes, I’ll—

“Excuse me. Are you okay?”

My eyes shoot open at the deep, smooth timbre of a voice I’m one thousand percent sure I don’t know. As my gaze latches onto irises the color of the ocean in the morning, I drop the napkins.

“Shit,” I mutter, scrambling to pick them up without looking at my finger. When I notice they’re all still clean—i.e.: not red—I blow out a deep, thankful breath.

“I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“Oh!” I divert my attention back to the man in front of me. Flush spreads across my cheeks. “I’m fine …”

My voice trails off as I take him in. He grins but doesn’t say anything. He just stands there in his blue button-up and dark denim jeans that display a trim waist and what I’m sure is a set of muscled thighs. A set of cheekbones are carved just under those baby blues and just above a hard jawline.  

Words, Collins. Use words. You love them. Use them.

His lips part in a practiced way, as if he’s attempting to appear neutral but is really hiding amusement.

“I’m fine,” I repeat, clearing my throat. “I cut myself, but it’s fine.” Flipping my attention to my finger, I see a clean little line on the tip. I can’t feel the pain over the adrenaline rushing through my veins full tilt.

“If you’d like me to take a look, I will. I’m a doctor.”

That would require you touching me and I might faint.

Come to think of it, that would require CPR.

My eyes go to his mouth, now curled into an undeniable smirk, and I hope my whimper was only in my head.

“Like a medical doctor?” I ask, sitting taller. Like you care. “Not a veterinarian or something, right?”

The smirk gives way to a laugh. “I have a medical license in the state of Arizona. Dr. Connor Manning, if you’d like to look it up.”

“I trust you,” I say.

“Trust? Yikes. This got serious fast,” he jokes.

“Honestly,” I say, wadding the napkins up and putting them on the edge of the table, “I have major trust issues. Sort of. I mean, I’ll trust the guy selling me a television even though I know he wants to sell me the most expensive one. I can respect that, you know? He needs to make a living and it’s a television. Nothing life-changing. He’s not selling me on him.”

“You clearly don’t watch the right shows if you don’t think a television can be life-changing.”

“Shows are so unbelievable now,” I groan. “Like the woman dies holding the hand of the man she loves, we all know it, only to find out she’s really ‘in love’ with her ex,” I say, using air quotes. “But she’s not. She doesn’t love him. She loved the first guy. The one she was meant to be with. So that whole ending is just … That’s not how happy endings work.”

“Maybe not all endings are happy.”

“Who wants to watch an unhappy ending?” I gasp. “I have a life full of mediocre-to-crappy endings. If I’m investing my time in something fictional, show me the fictional happy because we know it doesn’t exist in reality.”

He bursts into laughter. Shaking his head, he grips the top of the chair across from me. His forearms flex as he moves his fingers, his oversized watch catching the light, and I’m suddenly propelled back to reality.

“Anyway, back to trust,” I say, slowing myself. “I trust facts. I will trust that you’re a doctor because you aren’t my doctor. Why do I care? I just don’t trust people. Everyone is a jackass on some level.”

“I can’t really argue that. People are jackasses. That’s why I’m here.” He makes a face like he just bit into one of the limes in front of him.

“Here? In the cantina? Or San Diego?”

I have no business asking this. It’s probably a really personal thing and he’s going to look at me like I’ve overstepped my bounds and disappear into the sunset.

Well, probably not because he’d be more beautiful than the sunset and couldn’t really disappear.

He holds my gaze for a long second, my insides heating with each passing moment. The air between us swirls, delivering bursts of his warm-scented cologne across the table.

“My half brother is a jackass,” he says finally. “Long story short—Cane, my half brother, and I were supposed to do a golf charity event this weekend in Palm Springs. He backed out at the last minute.”

“So, you live here?”

“Nope. Phoenix. But I already had a plane ticket and was flying here first anyway to deliver a presentation at a hospital. So … here I am.”

I start to respond when the server interrupts us.

“Sir? Can I get you something?” he asks Connor.

Connor looks at me, then back to the server. “I actually have an order. I was sitting at the bar.”

“Was sitting, sir? Or should I move you here with the lady?”

My stomach flutters like a handful of butterflies were released inside it. Connor raises a brow as he takes in my reaction.

My breath is stolen again as I’m reminded of how handsome he is. Talking to him is so easy that I forgot how piercing his gaze is or how his shoulders seem to go on forever. Now, though, I can’t look away. It’s all I see.

Forcing a swallow down my tight throat, I smile. “If you want to sit here, that’s fine with me. No pressure though,” I add at the end for good measure. Desperation is both not a good look and not true. Ish. The ache between my thighs calls a little bullshit on that last part.

“You sure?” he asks.

“Yeah. Totally up to you.”

He chats with the server as I silently lambast myself for not wearing makeup. My face has nothing on it but a little lip gloss and aloe vera gel to hopefully keep the redness off my skin from the sun. Of all the times not to at least wear mascara, it had to be now.

The sound of the chair dragging across the floor whips my attention around just in time to see Connor sitting across from me. His drink is placed in front of him, but he doesn’t seem to notice. He’s watching me.

“What were we talking about?” he asks.

“Um, your brother being a jackass, I think,” I say, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

“Oh. Cane. Right.” He nods. “Enough about him. Trust me, his ego is big enough. He probably can sense we’re talking about him now and his head is growing bigger as we speak.”

Laughing, I lift my margarita. “He sounds interesting.”

“He’s not.” He grins. “Are you from here?”

“Just visiting for the weekend.”

“You have friends here?”

“Nope.” I take a sip of my margarita in hopes it hits my bloodstream fast. “I’m on my first solo vacation.”

He furrows a brow. “You shouldn’t tell just anyone that, you know. With your self-admitted trust issues, I’m surprised you’d tell me.”

“I’m also a black belt in aikido,” I lie. “So, don’t get any ideas.”

“I promise not to get any of those kinds of ideas.”

He takes a drink of what looks like beer, his eyes never leaving me. I squirm in my seat as his innuendo hangs heavily over the table.

“May I ask why you’re vacationing alone?” he asks, sitting his glass on a coaster. “Do you have a jackass sister that backed out on you?”

“No.” I laugh. “I have two jackass ex-husbands that have jackass wives. And kids that get needier the older they get. It was my New Year’s resolution to get out and do more things for me.”

“And this trip is for you?”

“Exactly.”

Siting back in his chair, he assesses me. “What do you hope to get out of this trip?”

“Balance,” I offer. “Peace. Reading. A tan.” An orgasm.

“I’m going to go over the ‘tan’ part of that with all the skin cancer warnings out there and go straight to the reading. What do you read?”

My cheeks match the color of the chopped tomato around the chicken breast in front of me. I’m not embarrassed that the title of the book in my bag is a variation on a harem, but I’m not sure I want to see his reaction. If his eyes get more hooded, I might not be able to take it.

I shrug. “A little of everything, really. If it has words, I’ll read it. Magazines, cookbooks, biographies.”

“You read biographies for fun?” He gives me a look. “Whose bios are you reading?”

“I don’t only read that,” I say.

I contemplate leaving it there, letting him think I’m some stick-in-the-mud that reads life stories of historical figures, but something about that doesn’t seem appealing.  

“I’m a librarian,” I confess. “I read all sorts of things. Whatever looks interesting. I guess I spend most of my time with romances.”

There’s a twinkle in his eyes at the word “romance” that makes me shiver. A spattering of goose bumps dots my arms as he licks his bottom lip.

Maybe I should’ve went for the harem title.

“Romances, huh?” he asks. “That sounds a hell of a lot better than biographies.”

“They read better too.”

“I bet they do.” He chuckles. His face stills, his eyes darkening as he seems to consider his next words. “I bet your boyfriend approves.”

That might’ve been said with levity, as if he’s making some random observation, but that’s not the complete truth. If it were, the warmth in his tone would be missing. The edges to the syllables that rakes across my skin wouldn’t be there. The heat of his gaze wouldn’t be asking me to correct him on his language.

This is the way a man looks at a woman in the romances I read. Like she’s the most interesting thing in the room—the only thing in the room. Like he can’t take his eyes off her.

Like he wants to devour her.

Breathe, Collins.

“I bet he would too if he existed.” I shrug as nonchalantly as I can.

There’s nothing nonchalant about the way he leans forward. “That’s a shame.”

Being single has been a choice since my divorce papers were signed. Men have overcomplicated my life since I married Joe at nineteen. It didn’t get any less complex when I married Kyle not a year after my first divorce.

I’ve spent the last few months actually enjoying my freedom. Discovering myself and that I don’t like sausage patties, as both Joe and Kyle did for breakfast, but rather I like sausage links with a drizzle of maple syrup. It’s funny what you don’t know about yourself until you spend some time alone.

I’ve also toyed with the idea that I spend a lot of time doing what I deem the right thing because that’s what was expected of me. Even when Kyle would ride me about always playing it safe, I justified it by saying I was a married woman with three kids. I couldn’t just hit the bar or cue up porn or wear a low-cut top. What would people say?

Yet, sitting across from this man, quite possibly the best-looking man I’ve ever laid eyes on, there’s no one around I know. There’s no one to judge. There’s no one to fall in love with that will ultimately break my heart down the road.

There’s just him. And me. And an intensity growing between us that’s palpable.

A trickle of sweat trickles down my heated skin. The longer he looks at me, the darker his eyes become.

My brain rapid-fires all sorts of nonsense, warring with itself over my next move. I finally let go, succumbing to the throb between my legs and the need to be bad. Just this once.

 

Chapter Two

You just met him.

My brain tries to calm me down. I can almost hear it telling my hormones to quiet, the adrenaline flow to yield way to the more subdued chemicals it’s ordering be expended. But there are two parts to your brain and the other part of mine has taken on the role of the bad angel on my shoulder.

As I exchange a knowing smile with Dr. Connor Manning, the yin to the yang in my head grows louder.

It would technically be a one-night stand. You haven’t had one of those. Ever. And you’re almost thirty-five. You’re allowed to have sex with someone you don’t know once, Collins. Besides, look at him.

I do. I watch him roll his shirtsleeves to his elbows. As each inch of thickly-veined skin is revealed, my panties dampen more. He takes his time as if this process requires ultimate concentration. It’s foreplay. There’s no doubt. And I’m playing, regardless of what the logical part of my brain says.

Despite the decision being made to at least stick an offer out there and see if it’s taken, my belly still swirls. I squeeze my legs together in hopes of relieving some of the sensations making the fog in my head heavier. It fails. It’s just enough friction to make me whimper.

Connor lifts his chin to me. “Hands on the table.”

“What?” I laugh. “Why?”

He leans forward, those sexy forearms resting on the table. A sly grin spreads across those gorgeous lips and I try to not stare. I try. But I do.

“Cause and effect,” he says.

“I don’t follow you.”

“You see, you made this sound. Something like a whimper. That’s the effect. I don’t know the cause.”

“Oh.” I force a swallow. “I didn’t realize that was audible. Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. I’m a fan.”

My hands coming off the table, I laugh. He doesn’t.

“What were you thinking to illicit that response?” he asks.

“Nothing.”

He lifts a brow. “Then what were you doing?”

“Nothing,” I say. My insides start swirling again, my head a mix of sense and seduction. I’ve never been here before. I’ve never been on the brink of suggesting or inferring I would be willing to sleep with someone just one time.

Not just willing. Happily.

Oh, you’re thirty-four, Collins. Stop this nonsense.

You’re thirty-four, Collins. What are you waiting for?

“That’s a lot of nothing.” He chuckles.

“Fine,” I say, not sure what in the heck is going to come out of my mouth. What side of me is going to win is up in the air but I’m committed. Whichever part of me is the strongest will win. “I was thinking about how much my finger hurt.”

Damn you!

Slinking back in my chair, shoulders rolled forward, I gaze around the room. At the plaster frog sitting on the bar. At the bathroom doors with the unisex sign. At the chalkboard with Today’s Specials spelled out in pink chalk.

At anything but at him.

He reaches for my hand. “Then let me see it.”

My cheeks turn a wicked shade of rose as he takes my palm in his. His skin is warm, oh-so-warm, and smooth. He works his thumb around my finger, pressing on various points. Lifting my hand toward his face, he inspects it like a precious gem.

“It’s fine,” I say, my voice shaking. My eyes are glued to the spots where our bodies touch. It’s so heated in those areas I wonder if it can actually burn. “It was a simple cut. I’m just a baby.”

“You could get an infection,” he says, dropping my hand to the table but not letting go. “It’s a small slice, but you don’t know what was on the knife beforehand.”

“Great.”

“I have some antibiotic creams and bandages in my room.”

That lands on my lap like a thud.

“What are the odds, would you say, of something happening?” I ask.

He grins. “If you go to my room? Or if you don’t?”

Shifting in my seat, my fingers curling against his, I sigh. “Either way?”

“I’ll be honest,” he says. Giving my hand a final, soft squeeze, he lets it go. It falls to the table before I can pull it back to my lap. “If you don’t, you’ll be fine. You might have to, you know, take care of it yourself …” He glances down at the spot where the table hits my midriff before dragging his eyes back to mine.

I gulp.

“But, yeah, you’ll be fine.” He shrugs. “But if you choose to come to my room, I’ll guarantee you’ll be better than fine.”

His tongue works inside his mouth. My jaw drops open to allow for air to actually get to my lungs so I don’t pass out.

You shouldn’t do this. You’ll regret it. Think of the regret you feel when you eat two ice cream cones in the waffle cup, Collins. This will be so much worse.

“I’d like you to check me out, Doc.”

 

Chapter Three

He hasn’t touched me. Not once. Not even by mistake.  

We paid the bill. Left the cantina. Walked across the street and into one of the nicest hotels in San Diego.

Through the lobby, up the elevator, down the hall on a floor that required a special passcode to enter, he didn’t touch me once.

Each step amped my heartbeat. Every turn toward his hotel room and our final destination had my mouth going dry. I’m doing this. I’m really doing this. My first one-night stand.

With a swipe of a key card, the door opens. Cool air wraps around us and ushers us inside. It’s a gorgeous suite with light colored wood and deep purple and gold accents. The curtains are open and the view is spectacular.

“Wow,” I whisper, padding across the soft carpet. A couch to my left, a television to my right, I pass by both to see the water below. “This is so beautiful.”

“It is.”

Looking over my shoulder, he’s standing next to me. Hands in his pockets, his eyes twinkle with mischief.

“I … Um …” My lack of experience in situations like this is kicking me in the butt. What do I say? How does this work?

“Are you okay?” He stops a few steps from me. “If you aren’t comfortable, we can leave. Or you can leave. At any time.”

I answer too quickly. “No. I don’t want to leave.”

“Good.” He sticks his hands in his pockets and rocks back on his heels. “I’m getting a slightly weird vibe off you and I just want to make sure.”

I can’t mess this up. This is what I want. Badly. I haven’t slept with a man since a couple of months before my divorce and even that probably didn’t classify as sex. It was a few pushes before a fight started and I don’t think either of us found any satisfaction in it.

I do want this. I want it in a way I think a man like that can give it to me.

“Can I be honest with you?” I ask.

“Please do.”

Settling my gaze on a bundle of fresh flowers on the table next to the sofa, counting the different shades of yellow as a distraction, I struggle to find the words that won’t make me feel stupid or him weirded out.

“Um …” I gulp. “I know all women say they’ve never done this before, but I really haven’t.”

“Done what?”

I don’t answer.

His energy moves toward me and, before I can ready myself, his fingertips touch my chin. With a gentleness that causes my knees to buckle, he brings my face toward his. “Done what?” he repeats.

“I haven’t gone to someone’s hotel room, or room otherwise, to have sex with them.” Tucking a strand of hair out of my face, then wishing I could pull all my hair in front of my face so he can’t see me, I sigh.

He drops his hand. “You have had sex before, right?”

“I have three kids.” I chuckle. “So, yes. I have had sex before. At least three times.”

He grins, the corners of his mouth curling into a smirk as the air between us settles. “So, you’ve had sex. But have you ever been fucked?”

My eyes shoot open. Muscles in my lower belly tighten as I draw in a ragged breath. “I’m not sure,” I say.

“Then you haven’t.”

“Okay.”

I don’t know what else to say. Even if I had the words, I’m not sure I could make my tongue form the syllables to pronounce them. The look he’s giving me fries every synapse in my body.

“Last question,” he says, positioning his wide torso in front of me. “Do you want to have sex right now? Or do you want to be fucked?”

“Um …” I say, forcing a swallow. In my dreams late at night when I’m envisioning a man half as gorgeous as this asking me similar questions, I’m much, much cooler. I’m sexier. I’m like the heroines in the books I read. Where is she when I need her? “I …”

“You have two options,” he says. “You can walk by me and leave this room. No harm, no foul. I’ll admire that, actually, in a lot of ways. Or you can tell me what you want.”

Staring into his eyes, imaging his hands touching my body, I shiver. Why am I nervous? My gaze travels down his neck, across his chest, and to the bulge in his pants.

I look back at him. “I want you to fuck me.”

“You sure?”

“Yes.”

A sense of empowerment floods me. I said that. I owned it. I did it—right or wrong—but this is my choice. What I want. To hell with anyone that judges me.

I’ve been the good girl my entire life, doing what was the expected thing to do. Today, I’m doing what’s good for me.

And, as he closes the distance between us, that’s to get fucked.

“Dear God,” I mutter beneath my breath as his hands find the sides of my face. His lips crash onto mine. Working them over with the skill of a surgeon, he parts them with his tongue. The warmth of his mouth topples into me as he explores the inside of my mouth like he just took the deed.

My body turns to mush and how I’m standing is a wonder. His body presses into me, the hardness of his cock digging into my stomach.

He pulls back too soon. His eyes are wild, his breath rising and falling as fast as mine. “Your lips are so sweet,” he says, stepping back.

“Thanks?”

He watches me like a hawk, as if he’s still getting his game plan together. I don’t even care what game we’re playing right now. I want him inside me stat.

“A dress was an excellent choice tonight.” He takes my hand and guides me to the sofa. I sit. He kisses me long and hard again before nudging my shoulder. I fall back, my head hitting the cushion.

Connor kneels in front of me, pulling my dress to my hips. I pant as I watch him discover I’m wearing no panties.

“Good God, woman,” he mutters. His eyes flip to mine. “You’ve been like this all night.”

“Yeah.” I giggle.

“Good thing I didn’t know this at the cantina.”

I giggle louder, partly from anxiety, partly from anticipation. “And what would’ve happened, had you known?”

“What’s about to happen now. Just in front of a whole lot of spectators.” His palm lies on the apex of my thighs. The pressure just adds to the brimming explosion ready to go off inside me. “I’m going to do a few things before I fuck you. Not because I don’t want to bury myself inside you right now, but I want to make sure that’s really what you want. Okay?”

“Fine,” I pant as his thumb presses on my swollen clit. “Whatever. Just …. Ooooh!”

His hand flips around and his thumb drags through my wet slit. He parts me with the pad of his fingers, his eyes never leaving mine. “Just what?”

“Just … Ah!”

A finger slips inside my body. I can feel the heat of my pussy as he works me gently. As he gains tempo, watching me for cues, I raise my hips toward him to urge him for more.

The top of my skull feels like it’s going to explode. My body craves him, craves a release, too worked up from being here to start with, let alone being opened up by a man I barely even know.

“Oh, God,” I groan as his hands hit my waist again. He exposes my clit with his fingers, the cool air like a fan on flames. It works me up higher and higher until his mouth hovers over it.

I try to move, try to wiggle out from beneath him, but he presses me into the cushion. Do I let him do this? Oh, God. Do I …

His tongue sinks onto me, lapping up the juices dripping down onto the couch. The contact explodes through me like a missile shot into space. My back arches, my hips lifting for more.

He inserts a finger, then two, working them back and forth in my hole. Just when I think I can’t take another sensation, my clit is sucked between his lips and I’m pretty sure I scream.

The room begins to shake, my legs involuntarily moving right along with it. I’m trembling and at his mercy. He increases his movement, cupping my bare ass with his free hand, before slowing just as I think I might break in half.

The descent from heaven is softer, gentler than I expect. Shots of climax continue to rock through me even after he pulls away.

His face is covered in … me.

“Connor,” I say, scrambling to sit up.

“Two more things,” he says. He gets to his feet and undoes his belt. “One, your pussy is sweeter than your lips. And two,” he says, jerking off the belt and tossing it onto the bed, “you’re about to get fucked.”

“That was the best fucking I’ve ever had,” I admit.

He laughs, tugging on my hand. “You haven’t seen the start of it.”

 

Chapter Four

I can barely walk.

Hell, I can barely stand.

My body hurts in ways I didn’t know it could. It hurts in places I didn’t know had nerve endings. Guess that’s why he’s a doctor and a good fuck—he knows things.

“What time does your plane leave?” he asks.

Standing in front of the windows in nothing but a pair of blue shorts and bedhead, he almost looks sorry to see me go. It’s been three days of a little beach, a little reading, and a lot of sex on the bed. And in the sand. And in the hot tub, pool, and off the side of a trail during an early morning walk in the gardens.

But with each round, something else happens: we talk. And laugh. And eat. And tell stories.

I’m fairly certain that’s not how one-night stands go.

“It leaves in four hours,” I say, glancing at my watch. “I need to get to my room and grab my stuff.”

“Want me to go with you?”

Laughing, I shake my head. “No. That will just make me late.”

“Yeah, probably …” He walks toward me. His slow swagger is something I’ll miss. “Maybe we can get fed up with jackasses and do this again sometime?”

“Maybe not a beach, though.” I cringe, making him laugh. “I have sand burn. Is that a thing?”

“It is now.” He grins, cupping my cheeks in his hand. He presses a gentle, sweet kiss to my lips. “Call me from the airport.”

“I will.”

I head to the door and grab the handle. Before I open it, I stop. “Hey, Connor?”

“Yeah, Collins?”

“This wasn’t a normal one-night stand, huh?”

“No, baby. It wasn’t.”

“Okay. Just checking.”

I turn to leave, but his hand hits the door in front of me before it even opens. I jump. “What are you doing?”

“Why did you ask me that?”

“What?”

“About the one-night stand?”

I shrug. “I don’t know. Just in case I ever have one again. Just so I know what to not expect.”

A cocky smile stretches across his cheeks. “You need a one-night stand, you call me.”

“That’s so not responsible. What if you are saving someone’s life?”

“Then I’ll wrap that up and come wrap you around me.”

Giggling, I stand on my tiptoes and give him a kiss. “I live in Albuquerque. You can’t just ‘come wrap me up.’”

“Six hours. That’s it. I could leave at six in the morning, be to you by noon, fuck you all damn afternoon and hit the road by six. Be home by midnight. It’s a day trip, really.”

“Did you do some research?”

“My dick was sore last night. Couldn’t sleep.” He grins.

“I’m not even sorry. But I do have to go.”

He leans away and allows me to open it. Stepping into the hallway, I turn and look at him.

For the first time in my life, I’m happy with a decision I made. Was it what I should’ve done? No. Was it the decision my friends and family would’ve suggested? Hardly. But I wanted to live a little and I trusted my gut and, as I give Connor a final wave before hitting the button to the elevator, I finally feel free.

 

Dr. Manning, as I said earlier, originated in The Exception Series. Each book—The Exception and The Perception—can be read as a standalone novel. They’re also available in a box set which includes The Connection, a novella that bridges the two novels together in a sweet, fun way! Check them out below.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_button _builder_version=”3.15″ button_text=”The Exception” button_url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NMP6NQA/ref=series_dp_rw_ca_1″ button_alignment=”center” /][et_pb_button _builder_version=”3.15″ button_text=”The Perception” button_url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U4VA4X8/ref=series_rw_dp_sw” button_alignment=”center” /][et_pb_button _builder_version=”3.15″ button_text=”The Exception Series Box Set” button_url=”http://amzn.to/2HLBEEl” button_alignment=”center” /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

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