Authors: Lynn Burke
Evernight Publishing ®
2016 Lynn Burke
Cover Artist: Jay
WARNING: The unauthorized
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case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction.
All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely
For Burke’s Backers, my faithful
CHASING AFTER HIM
Copyright © 2016
I trudged toward my house, bleary eyes having trouble focusing on the granite
front steps. I’d just finished two shifts in a row of non-stop patients at Boston
Children’s ER. My stomach grumbled, reminding me it’d been about that long
since I’d eaten last, too.
The life of a hell-bent woman determined to become a pediatrician with
her own practice turned out to be a lot harder than I’d expected. Six months
left to go, and my mind, body, and spirit lagged. A yawn cracked my jaw and
released a white puff of air as I stepped up onto the stoop. The twilight air
smelled like snow, but I didn’t care. I had off the following day, so let it
Keys. Where’d I put my damn
I riffled through my bag. Nada. I patted down my coat pockets and
heaved a sign upon finding them near my left hip.
Chipper and up-beat, the Boston accented voice drifted across my ears,
waking me up better than a double shot of espresso. My smile came easy as I
turned toward my neighbor. Six-pack in hand, he bounded up the stairs of our
duplex beside me, stepping into both our exterior lights’ glow. His dark
rumpled hair had my fingertips tingling, his lips making my mouth salivate for
a taste. “Hey.”
“Just getting in?” he asked with a grin.
I glanced at my rumpled scrubs and crocks. “Yeah.” Not for the first
time, I wished he’d caught me in something sexier—hair down and makeup covering
the bags under my eyes.
“Damn, you work more than anyone I know.”
“And I think I’m losing my mind because of it.” I peered into the black
olive eyes that never strayed below my nose, always twinkling, always laughing
beneath his heavy brow. He couldn’t be much older than my thirty-one years, but
lines crinkled at the edges of his eyes, making me think his smile never
disappeared. “Perhaps I should have chosen a different profession. This…” I
swept my hand down my petite body, knowing my falling down ponytail and soiled
clothing beneath the gaping wool coat wouldn’t attract a tick let alone a hot
Italian. “This…” I tried again and ended up heaving a sigh.
I stifled another yawn with my hand. “Exhausted. I might not even make
it to my bed before collapsing.”
“Well, that’s too bad.” A twinkle lit in his eyes, warming my face and
the lonely place between my legs. “I was going to offer you a beer.”
Damn it all to hell.
Couldn’t very well back paddle no matter how
much I wanted—dreamed—of more than friendly neighborliness with Theodore Risso.
“Sure. You got it.” He unlocked his door while I stood and stared at
him. Sweatshirt filled out by broad shoulders, a trim waist, and an ass that
made jeans look downright delicious. Damn, the man hit all my buttons,
regardless of exhaustion.
“You all right?”
I jerked my gaze upward. “Hmm?”
He narrowed his eyes and gave me a coy smirk. “Hit the sack, kid.”
“Good night, Theo.”
He lifted his six-pack in toast and disappeared behind his door.
Tears gathered in my eyes and slid down my face in fat droplets as I
shut and locked myself into my house. Ignoring the wetness on my cheeks, I
dropped my bag to the floor and shrugged the coat off my shoulders, my body
ready to sink into a heap of muscle and bone. I didn’t bother hitting the
lights and hung my coat up on the rack beside the door.
Two windows on my right lit my living room with the street light’s
glare. The couch called my name, but I traipsed up the dark stairwell to the
bedroom and the promise of comfort my aching body craved. I sprawled atop my
comforter as tears continued to fall. A shift and flex of my toes rid me of the
crocks. They thumped on the carpet, and I closed my eyes, feet still dangling
off the edge of the bed.
made the wrong
career choice. Borderline OCD and too focused for my good, I envied my
neighbor. Theo with his carefree humming, big waves, and light steps. He didn’t
have a worry in the world, or if he did, he didn’t seem to give a shit.
I buried my face in my bed and sniffed. What I wouldn’t give to let go.
Be free of my organized, in control mind. Relax and enjoy life. Breathe free.
Same as the thought of finding my way into Theo’s bed. I hadn’t gotten
laid in … two years? Three? Medical school and my residency ruled my life,
demanded every waking hour.
Not that Theo would ever give me a second glance in something other
than scrubs anyway. In the year since I’d signed papers on the duplex, he never
once stepped over the line of friendliness. No hunger ever filled his dark
eyes. No intense looks to singe my skin. Even the couple of times I braved
dropping a hint about my interest, he didn’t seem to hear me. Or, he ignored me
to save us both the embarrassment.
He doubtless had tall, blonde bombshells falling at his feet at the
gym. While I wasn’t super curvy or tall, I had great hair and vivid blue eyes.
I didn’t play up my features, or bother with waxing, plucking, and daily
maintenance though, so I’d never attract a man like him.
Another heaved sigh, and I rolled over.
I wanted Theo, but he didn’t want me. I wanted a pediatric practice of
my own, but the process had about done me in. And, I never gave up. Never gave
in to weakness.
“Something needs to change,” I muttered and allowed sleep to douse me
in quiet peacefulness.
“The fuck, Zane? This is the third weekend in a row you’ve stood me
up.” I sprawled on my couch, beer in one hand, cell in the other. My cousin’s
chuckle over the phone pissed me off.
“I don’t need Chantelle’s anymore,” he said, dropping my jaw.
It took me a second to gather my thoughts. “Wait. You mean to tell me
? You’ve gone
“Never said that.”
“Oh.” The tension left my shoulders. “So, she’s kinky, and you just
don’t want to share.”
“Damn.” My partner in crime—or rather, the other half of our
lady-pleasing duo left me high and dry. On my own. I groaned and tipped my head
back, eyes closing. “Sasha will never want me now.”
“Why are you so hung up on her?” Zane asked. “She’s a royal bitch and a
“She’s hot as fuck.”
“Forget about her pussy. You two don’t get along, and she doesn’t want
you, your ropes, or your cock.” Zane clipped his words. “Find someone who
I swigged my beer and opened my eyes to stare out the window at the
scattered flurries. “Raquel denied you for months, but you never gave up.”
“Yeah, but I knew it was only a matter of time.”
“Cocky prick.” I lifted my beer.
“Every word, every fuckin’ look turned her on.”
I swallowed down half the bottle. “And how’d you know that? She never
responded with anything except a ‘No.’”
“Come on, man. You’re a Dom. You know how to read the signs.”
I grunted a non-committed reply.
“Tell me something,” Zane said. “Do Sasha’s nipples harden when you
look at them?”
My brow furrowed. “No, but her tone of voice does.”
“Do her pupils dilate and eyes widen when you talk about tying her up
and licking every crevice on her body?”
A growl rumbled in my chest. “No. She scowls exactly like I’m doing
“Well then.” I could imagine Zane tipping a beer in my direction as if
to prove a point.
“You’re a real prick, you know that?” I said.
“And you love me for it.”
“Come on. One last night of love ‘em and leave ‘em, then you can go
home to your little woman and play house.”
“All done with that shit. Sorry.”
I fuckin’ grasped at straws, but I couldn’t help myself. “What about
your membership? You gonna kiss that ten grand goodbye?”
“I don’t give a shit about the money,” he said.
Zane chuckled, and background murmuring let me know he wasn’t alone.
“Shame, Cuz,” I said. “A real shame. I’ll miss you.”
“We had a good run.”
My grin returned as a few memories flashed through my mind—me tying the
women up, Zane marking their skin, followed by a hot as fuck threesome. “That
we did. Tell your little goodie-two-shoes she’s a lucky woman.”
“She already knows it.”
Our shared laughter made me feel a little better, and I hung up and tossed
my cell onto the cushion beside me.
Weekends at Chantelle’s without my cousin would be boring as hell. Time
to go solo or find another to play with. Hard to find a man I trusted enough to
be the leading party when sharing a woman though. I also didn’t like lines
crossed, and while Zane didn’t care if a male or female received his markings
and attention, I sure as hell did. If a sub didn’t have a pussy, large nipples,
and flaring hips like Sasha to grab while fucking, count me out.
I chugged down the rest of my beer and sat
in silence until my ears rang.
Fucking Sasha. I’d wanted her from the first time I laid eyes on her
flaming hair and slanted hazel eyes. She’d only wanted Zane, and the one
time—we had her
in both our hands, Zane walked out before I got the chance to fuck her. He’d
left. She’d left and hadn’t looked at me since.
Wasting my mother-fucking time.
I rolled off the couch to grab another beer, my mind contemplating
Zane’s advice about finding someone who
Saturday and finally a day off. I slept until close to noon, but
depression from the night before clung like a caked, dried gauze dressing on a
festering wound. Two cups of coffee didn’t help. Neither did a third and a
heaping plate of frozen waffles.
Tiny flakes of snow swirled past the windows, millions of them settling
down and coating our suburbia neighborhood in pristine whiteness. Normally the
sight of such beauty made me happy, but I didn’t have the energy to smile. And
shovel? Forget that. I’d dig myself out the following morning before work.
Onward and upward, Dad always said. While studying to be a heart
surgeon, he’d married an intern pediatrician. What other course for their only
child than entering the healthcare field?
Should have become a
I dropped the text book I’d been re-studying all afternoon onto my lap
and rubbed my eyes, my mind overflowing with information. Cases I’d worked
through the week. Treatments, what worked and what didn’t. Each tidbit of
learned information being categorized and stored in the nice little compartments
of my brain.
If someone developed a way to shut a person’s brain down without drugs
or alcohol, I’d be the first to buy stock.
God, do I need a break.
My lamp flickered and died along with the hum of my furnace. I got off
the couch and glanced out the window. No lights shone from the snow-covered
houses across the street.
Last time we’d lost power, it’d been out for three days in sub-zero
temperatures, bursting more than one neighbor’s pipes.
I lit two candles and ate cold pizza from earlier in the week, the
chill of outdoors seeping into my house with every passing minute. By eight, I
huddled under a blanket and stared at the flickering flame of the candle beside
me. I should have crawled into bed and rested while I had the chance, but I
didn’t feel like moving. Didn’t feel like studying. Didn’t feel like eating.
Didn’t even feel like getting up to pour a glass of wine to ease the darkness
clouding not just my living room, but my mind too.
Tears welled again, hazing my vision. I let them fall, unhindered.
Might as well enjoy a good pity
I thought, as the
first sob caught in my throat. I missed my parents. Missed my dog who’d passed
away a month before I moved to Massachusetts. Lamented the fact I was over thirty
and single, living alone, with no promising male prospects in my life.
I didn’t even bother shoving my face in a pillow to quiet my crying and
catch my tears. Knowing a good cry cleansed the soul, I let it all out, no
holds barred, while allowing myself a moment of hating the need to be in
control. The drive to always get what I decided I wanted to accomplish.
My ridiculous blubbering eased up seconds before a knock sounded on my
A swipe of my arm rid my face of wetness, but I struggled to catch my
breath and not hiccup while wrapping my blanket tight around my shoulders and grabbing
the candle off the coffee table. I shuffled across the hardwood floor and peeked
out the peep hole. A hulking, shadowed figure stood on my stoop, but the
signature big wave revealed his identity.
Figured. He would have to show
up while flannel jammies hung from my petite frame, the evidence of my ugly cry
doubtless blotching my cheeks and reddening my nose.
I pulled the door open and gestured him in quick to keep the swirling
eddies out and lingering warmth trapped in my house. “Hey,” I managed past the
lump still lodged in my throat while shutting the door behind him.
“You all right?”
“Just having a major pity party.” I forced a wobbly smile.
Concern etched his forehead and filled his dark eyes. “Kinda cold over
I wrapped my free arm around my waist and sniffed. “Yeah.”
“How ‘bout that rain check?” Hands in his coat pockets, he rocked back
and forth on his feet. “It’s Saturday night, I’ve got a fire going, and I’m
bored as shit.”
Laughter bubbled, erasing some of my blues. I glanced down at my outfit.
Chances of finding my way into his bed—slim to none. He’d officially seen me at
my worst. “Sure. Why not?”
I stuffed my feet into boots, grabbed my coat off the rack, and
followed in his footsteps across our tiny lawns through the deep snow. Blessed
warmth caressed my face as I stepped past him into his entry. The opposite of
my house’s set up, the living room sat on the left with an oil lamp on the
coffee table, and the lucky dog had a big fireplace against the wall where mine
had a bow window.
“Make yourself at home,” Theo said. He kicked off his snow-covered
boots and let them lay on the entryway mat. His coat landed on the back of the
closest chair. “I’ll get us something to drink.”
He grabbed a smaller oil lamp off the table beside the door and
disappeared down the hall. I glanced around while shrugging off my coat and
ridding my feet of the winter boots. He enjoyed living and didn’t bother with
the cleaning. Papers and mail cluttered the small table beside me. Articles of
clothing and a few pairs of shoes littered the stairs. A few dust balls lay in
the corners I could see. A true Pig-Pen through and through.
Oh, to be so
The crackling fire called, and finding no place to hang my coat, I
tossed it atop his and hurried to stand before the flames, arms wrapped around
my midsection. I’d accepted his offer without thought and came over bra-less.
Barely apple-sized, my breasts and cold-pebbled nipples hid beneath the thick
I turned to find Theo grinning as usual as he placed the second oil
lamp beside the one on the coffee table.
“I’d love some, but how the hell are you going to make it?”
He held up a cast iron pot and bent to settle it into a pile of glowing
coals. “Never roughed it before?”
“I grew up in southern Florida where we never needed a fire to keep
He tipped his head back to meet my gaze. “You couldn’t pay me to live
down there. No change of seasons. No snow.”
His feigned shiver and grimace brought a smile to my lips. “I don’t
miss Florida, but I miss my parents.”
Theo stood and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Is that what the
crying was about?”
Heat flooded my cheeks, and I turned my attention on the flickering
orange flames. “Heard that, did you?”
“Walls between our entryways are pretty thin.”
He bumped my shoulder with his elbow. “I won’t tell anyone you had a
moment of weakness, Little Miss Control Freak. Promise.”
I huffed a forced laugh. “Have me pegged, do you?”
“Pretty much. Here.” He grabbed a throw off the couch and laid it
across my shoulders. “Warm up and relax. I’ll go grab the mugs.”
Tears stung again, but I bit the inside of my lip, willing them away.
While I considered Theo a friend, he didn’t need to hear me unload all my woes.
My pity party was over. Period. No more negativity. Time to get my focus back
on my life’s goals.
I curled up on the couch’s corner closest to the fire. Eyes closed, I breathed
in and out, enjoying the lingering scents of Theo’s laundry detergent and
subtle hints of cologne on the blanket. Warmth kindled between my thighs.
I allowed a daydream to form. Fireplace. Snowed in. A night with the
hottest man I’d ever laid eyes on. Running my hands down the muscles I’d
enjoyed the summer before while he mowed our lawns. The pecs and abs. That
luscious V disappearing beneath the band of his shorts.
. I shifted on the couch hoping to ease the
growing ache within me.
Rustling of clothing sounded nearby, and with a sigh, I opened my eyes.
Theo had set two mugs on the coffee table and bent over the fire, jeans hugging
his tight ass and muscled thighs.
Pooling drool required a gulp. I glanced away before he turned and
caught me staring.