Authors: Kathi S. Barton
Tags: #erotic romance, #Paranormal Romance
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of
the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed
as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
World Castle Publishing, LLC
© Kathi S. Barton 2015
Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC, December 14, 2015
rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in articles and reviews.
Table of Contents
Nolan looked around his new office. He’d
never had one of his own before. The other practice that he’d been working for
had a community one they’d all shared…several doctors using the same computer
in the same small ten-by-ten room. This was his and his alone. Burke, too,
would have his own office when his notice was up at the hospital. For now he
was working just a couple of hours a week to help Nolan out. And his office was
going to wait, he told Nolan, until he could really devote his time to it.
The walls were decorated with just Nolan’s
things. It was a small thing to be happy about, he supposed. His diplomas were
there, along with his awards…and there were plenty of those, as he’d always
been a hard worker. Plus, he’d been able to bring in pictures of his family…his
mom and grandparents. The photo of his father in his uniform about a month
before he’d been killed had a prominent place on his wall, along with some of
the things that he treasured above all else, such as smaller pictures of just
him and his father. And his brothers too, the ones that were currently pissed
He supposed if he was honest with himself, he
was the one that was pissed. He’d needed their help, yes, and their support on
the project that he’d been trying to get up off the ground for months now.
Nolan knew that he’d of gotten it there, but the fact was he was too broke to
go on and would have lost it all if they hadn’t sat him down and told him they
were going to help him, in any way they could.
“But I can do this.” Even Garth, the money
maker in the family, shook his head. “You just don’t understand. This is
something that I want to do, and I don’t want you taking over.”
His mom, the best mom in the entire world,
had given him the most disappointed look he’d ever seen. His heart broke then,
and that had made his temper lash out at the entire family. But his pride had
won out on making things up to his mom.
“Fine. Go ahead and take over. Like you do
everything else. It wouldn’t be the Bentley clan thing if you guys didn’t have
your two cents in it too, now would it? And that’s what bothered you so much.” He
started to get up and leave them to their “intervention,” but his mother stood
up and ordered him to sit. “I’m not ten. You can’t treat me this way.”
“You are my son and I will treat you how you
act. Sit down.” He sat, but he’d been a little more than pissed. Holding his
temper had always served him well, but right now he wasn’t trying all that
hard. “How much money have you spent on this amazing project?”
“Everything.” There was no point in lying to
them. They all knew, he was sure. “But it was worth every penny, and I’m going
to put more into it when I have it.”
“Good.” Her answer surprised him. “You think
that I’m not proud of what you’ve done? Do you think…well you do, don’t you?
You’ve proven that, haven’t you? Do you think that any of us would want you to
not be able to make this dream of yours work? That we’d just let you fail at
something that you’ve worked so hard at?”
“I don’t want your help. I can do this on my
own.” His mother only sat down and pushed an envelope at him. “I’m not taking
your money, Mom. It’s what we all worked for so that you’d be set for the rest
of your life.”
“I am set. I have my sons here. And their
families. And this isn’t only from me. We all put money in here.” The envelope
was pushed at him until it was right at his fingertips. “Take it or not. It’s
entirely up to you. But if you fail at this—and you will, because you’re not
letting us help you when you need it—then I do not want to hear a single word
from you. And your father’s name on this place will be a terrible legacy to him
should you not let your family support you as he did us.”
She’d gotten up and moved to the door, her last
sentence stinging him the hardest. When they’d all left him, even his two
nieces, he sat there for ten more minutes before he got up and snatched the
envelope up before going to his car. He’d not been back home since.
“Doctor Nolan?” Nolan looked up at Loraine
Bean, the nurse that had worked for him at his old practice and had begged to
come and work for him here. “There’s a patient here that needs some attention.
He didn’t have an appointment, and I can’t get anything from him. I think he’s
been hurt pretty badly.”
Nolan stood up and told her to take him to
the examining room, that he’d be right there. She nodded but didn’t move.
“I don’t think…he’s just a kid, not much
bigger than my own son. About thirteen or so. He won’t even tell me his name.” Nolan
paused in pulling on his lab coat to ask her what the boy had said to her. “Nothing
other than to show me his arm, and I came to get you.”
“Show him in and I’ll be there in a moment.”
She nodded again and left. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but he would help
the child. Going down the hall, he tried to think what would have happened, and
realized he was probably making it a great deal worse than it was.
Entering the room, he looked at his patient. The
kid turned to him, and two things struck Nolan at once. The kid was afraid of
him, and he was human. The scent of blood, strong and fresh, made Nolan’s cat
make himself known. Nolan decided to go slowly.
“My name is Nolan Bentley. I’m the doctor who
is going to look at you.” The kid nodded, and Nolan sat on the stool while the
kid sat on the big exam table. “What is it you’re here to see me about?”
The kid peeled the dishtowel from his
forearm. Nolan could see that it had been bleeding a great deal. The towel,
like his sleeve, was soaked through, and he was wincing as the skin was
exposed. Someone had cut him, badly and deeply.
“Can you tell me what happened?” The boy said
nothing, but stared at him. “I can’t help you unless you help me. If you were
cut by a fence or something like that, you’d need to have a tetanus shot first.
Then I’d have to make sure there was no rust or anything in the cut. If it was
a knife, I’d have to know what sort of knife. Were you cutting chicken and the
blade slipped? Maybe you got hit by a piece of falling glass. Or you—”
“Knife. A switchblade.” Nolan nodded and
pulled on some gloves. “I’m…he tried to take my money. Not that I have much,
but I worked for it. He’s bigger, so it’s not like I didn’t try to protect
myself, but…he’s bigger.”
“I don’t blame you.” Nolan rolled a table with
all the things he’d need to stitch him up toward them and had the kid put his
arm over it so he could look at it better. “It’s going to need about
twenty-five or so stitches. But it will need to be cleaned out first. What does
the other kid look like? The one that hurt you. Other than big, I mean. Did you
get some good licks in yourself?”
“He just left me there. I don’t think he’s
hurting though. He’s a known bully and has a gang that hangs with him. I might
have hit him a few times, but it was just luck, not anything more.” Nolan told
him what he was going to do, and the kid just watched. Opening the wound up, he
could see that while it was very deep, it had cut no major veins or tendons. But
it was going to be sore for a while.
“Do you have a parent or guardian you can
have my nurse call?” When the boy didn’t answer him, Nolan stopped looking at
the wound and looked at him. “I have to make a call to her or the police. If
she’s the one that did this to you, then I can get you some—”
“No. She’d never do that…it’s not her. It’s
the man that thinks he can boss her around a lot that I worry about.” Nolan frowned,
wondering what sort of life this kid had. “He’s a real douche canoe. And no matter
how many times she tells him to back off, he’s right up in our face. And she’s
not my mom, but my aunt.”
“All right. We’ll still have to call her. This
guy, does he live with you two?” The kid shook his head hard. “Then I don’t
understand how it’s going to be an issue with her being called.”
“They took the car last week because money is
so short. We knew they were going to. It’s been hard on us since my mom passed
away a few months ago.” Nolan felt his heart break for the kid. “Aunt Rylee has
been working hard, but not having a car, she won’t be able to get here now.
Plus, the buses don’t run that late on her second job. Walking home at night is
dangerous, but she is trying really hard.”
“And what is your name? For the records. And
if you give me her address, I can have someone go and pick her up and bring her
here.” The kid was shaking his head. “No one will hurt her or you now that
you’re here. I swear that to you.”
“I know that. But she’s…she’s not very…she’s
been under a lot of stress. And she freaks out really easy. Not badly, but…last
night she cried for two hours because she didn’t have the money for me to go on
this class thing. I told her it was okay, but she is…she’s weird about that
sort of stuff. She’s this really…she was in the army when Mom called her, and
she was so…Mom said it was army life, but she was so hard. But now she’s sort
of…I guess squishy. Cries about stuff that’s okay, and then gets all blown up
when things are an injustice, as she calls them. I really love her, but she’s
weird, like I said.”
“I see. Let me get her address and I’ll have
my mom go and get her. She’s understanding about this sort of thing.” The kid
still didn’t seem convinced, and Nolan had to admire him for protecting his
family. “She’s going to have to find out sooner or later, I’m afraid. You can’t
just hide something like this from her. She’ll be more hurt if you do, I bet.
My mom would be.”
“All right, but don’t say that I didn’t warn
you. Her name is really Rylee McClure.” He also gave him the address. “My name
is Shane. Shane Cole.”
The phone in the examining room was there for
him to use, but for the life of him he had no idea how to contact his mother on
it. She had a cell phone, he supposed, but whenever he needed her he would just
reach out to contact her through their link. He did that now.
I need your cell number.
She laughed and gave
it to him.
Okay. I need to call you. Will you be able to answer me?
Yes. I’m assuming this is for someone else’s
He told her it was and why.
I see. Go ahead and call me then. I’m with Reggie
and Chris. The three of us were going to go to the grocery, but this will be
He called her and explained again what he
needed. Giving her both their names and the address, he could hear his
sister-in-law in the background laughing. Reggie was talking to one of the
babies, he knew from the sound of her voice, and was telling them how Uncle
Nolan was a doctor woctor. Whatever the hell that meant. Hanging up a few
minutes later, he sat back down on the chair and started cleaning the wound out
while talking with young Shane.
The doorbell nearly scared ten years off her
life. Rylee had had her head in the dryer, trying to find the last sock that
had been there when she’d put it in the stupid thing, but now was missing. She
not only bumped her head, but was pretty sure that the sock was eaten, again by
the stupid machine. She was still rubbing her head when she went to the door
and peeked out the side glass.
It wasn’t Mike, thank goodness. But whatever
the two women were selling, she had no money for, nor did she have time for
their spiel. Opening the door, she could see Mike coming out of his townhouse
next door and staring at them like he wasn’t going anywhere until he had all
the information she did. The nosey prick was driving her nuts. Just as the
elder woman opened her mouth to speak, Mike cut her off.
“You said you weren’t going to be home
tonight. You never told me about no company.” She ignored him for the two
women. “I don’t think you should be letting them in. They look shifty to me. And
if you got no plans, then you can go with me to the movies like I told you we
could. That boy of yours, he can stay home. I don’t like him either.”
Her temper nearly got the better of her. Rylee
hated Mike Packer and wanted to murder him daily, but lately, since her sister
had died, he’d been making a total ass of himself, bugging her and telling her
what she should and shouldn’t be doing. And when her car had gotten
repossessed, he’d been all over that like white on rice. He insisted that he be
the one to drive her all over town, going so far as to send cabs that she’d
call for away when they arrived at her house.
The younger woman spoke before she could. “Fuck
off, buddy. We’re not here to see you, so go the fuck back in your house.”
Well, that took religious zealots off the list of who they might be, Rylee
thought with a grin. The older woman tisked at the younger one, who did not
look the least bit repentant when she said she was sorry. Mike made his way
back into his house, but his door, forever opening and closing like a damned
revolving door lately, stood open just a little.
“Are you Rylee McClure?” Rylee told her she
was, a finger of fear going down her back. “I’m sorry, my dear, do you think we
could go inside? Your neighbor seems to think this has something to do with
Mike’s door slammed shut and the older woman
smiled at her. For reasons she could not understand, she liked them both. And
when she invited them in, she knew that she’d be as safe with them as she would
with her gun pointed to whoever might be coming for her. A strange thought, but
lately a lot of things had been strange.