Authors: Rebecca Avery
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Literature & Fiction
Tags: Literature & Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Carla Johnson never really got a chance to grieve the death of her husband. Following the tragedy, life just took over and left her scrambling to keep her head above water. A wedding to help plan for her daughter, two young sons to care for, bills to pay and the need to find a more secure job is stressful enough. Add in nursing one handsome yet stubborn man back to health and some days it all feels like too much. In helping him heal she may have found a potential new career path but only if she doesn’t lose herself in his hazel eyes and sinful smile first.
Detective Greg Sanders understands about human nature more than most but the middle aged mother of three he’s so fascinated by, is a whole other matter. Her need to sweep the past under the rug and pretend it isn’t part of the present not only frustrates him, but fuels the protective instincts ingrained in him as a cop and a man. The quiet, emotional and absolutely lovely woman should be predictable but he is finding her to be anything but. As the least likely person to find associating with a bunch of bikers, he often finds her right in the middle of the group, right alongside his own sister. If she can give those guys a chance, why not him?
Other Books in this Series
Riding with Honor series book 5
Rebecca M. Avery
This is an original publication of Rebecca M. Avery
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are being used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013
Rebecca M. Avery
Cover Design by George Guignet (Miserable George)
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.
Library of Congress Catalog
Rebecca M. Avery
To Kevin whose unexpected and impressive plot development skills made this book possible and to Michelle who is doing a fine job with the hand life dealt her. Both of you should be proud of yourselves.
“I just think it would be better if you stayed at my place… at least for a couple of days until you aren’t on the pain medication anymore. Then, if you want to stay at Becca’s beach house, I can just come by and check on you a couple of times a week instead,” Carla Johnson said to the man sitting on the edge of the hospital bed in a gown that showed more than it covered.
Those silly examination gowns swam on her and often could wrap around her almost twice. On him it looked like an oversized t-shirt and showcased his muscular legs. The really sad part was he looked good even in a hospital gown with his blond hair, which unlike hers, didn’t appear to have even a single strand of grey and hazel eyes that sometimes looked green, sometimes brown and sometimes even red. The gunshot wound to his shoulder that required heavy bandages and a sling to keep his arm from pulling on the stitches only added to the air of danger that surrounded him.
Those unique colored eyes followed her around the room wherever she went. She began organizing his clothes into a bag along with the paperwork regarding the proper care of his surgical wound and the sling on his arm. His prescriptions were mixed in with other papers outlining his follow up visit at the doctor’s office and the first two outpatient physical therapy appointments that were already scheduled.
“Becca said you were preparing for Thanksgiving and doing stuff for Chuck’s birthday, so I’m sure you have better things to do than babysit me,” Detective Greg Sanders replied, clearly frustrated. “Why don’t you give me a minute to get dressed and we’ll discuss this in the car. I am more than ready to get out of here and find some real food.”
Standing up he was more than a half a head taller than her. As he straightened to his full height he wobbled slightly and Carla rushed over to where he stood. He shook his head as though trying to clear the fog from the painkillers and antibiotics he had taken with his breakfast. Once he had his bearings, he looked down at where she stood reaching her free hand out to him as if she could actually keep him from falling down with one hand and then he smiled. His lips and smile were the first things she’d noticed about him.
Carla had met Greg a few months ago when her father, Judge Nathan Patterson, brought him and his sister, Becca Waters, to the house for a meeting. The gathering was regarding Chuck Reynolds, who was performing his court ordered community service requirements by helping Carla with her household. Chuck was on probation and Becca was the attorney representing him.
Chuck’s community service just happened to have been ordered by Carla’s father. Chuck helped Carla with her two sons every week night and sometimes on weekends too. The young man had very quickly made a place for himself in Carla’s family as though he were one of her kids as well.
Even with the seriousness of the circumstances that brought Greg and Becca to her home that day, she had immediately been distracted by Greg’s mouth and perfect smile. She’d noticed it every time after their initial introduction and today was no exception.
“You asked me to help you out while you recovered and I have the spare room at my house all freshened up for you. You may find that not having the full use of your dominate hand and arm is a little harder to deal with than you think,” she said after adjusting all the items she was carrying in order to maintain one free hand to open doors with. “I’ll just run this stuff out to my car which is in the little side lot for patient pickup. Then I’ll come back in to get the flowers and balloons and walk down with you.”
Greg’s beautiful mouth smiled even wider upon realizing that her words were spoken directly to his lips and perfect teeth since she couldn’t look at anything else. Glancing up at him she quickly backed away from the sexy twinkle flickering in his eyes that she found looking back at her. Then turning away from him she walked out of the room.
She could do this
… help Greg Sanders out for a few weeks until he was back on his feet so to speak. It was the least she could do to try and repay his sister, Becca, who had done so much for Chuck.
Most of Carla’s friends thought that the death of her husband, Douglas, almost a year ago had done something to her mental state. In all reality she thanked God for all the changes in her life over this past year. If she had been left
to mourn Doug’s passing when it first happened, she might have taken the same path that her daughter, Meredith, had gone down with self-pity and depression.
Instead, by the time Carla had looked up from making Doug’s funeral arrangements, filing all the necessary documents with the county, working with the attorney and insurance company regarding the accident, helping the boys cope with the loss of their father, and nursing Meredith back to health, several months had passed. Her two sons, Matt and Ben, were able to grieve for their father but there hadn’t been time for Carla to really feel the loss.
After dealing with all the legal matters for both the accident and Doug’s death, her focus had shifted to helping Meredith deal with her guilt over the accident. Meredith’s emotional downward spiral had been almost more than Carla could bear to watch. Just when she had thought the accident claimed not only her husband but her daughter too, along came one tattooed gangster named Chuck Reynolds, as a direct answer to her prayers for help. The whole neighborhood might think she was crazy for opening her home to the young man and allowing him to care for Matt and Ben, but Carla recognized an angel when she saw one… even if that angel looked like a thug on the outside.
Carla smiled while thinking of her new makeshift family as she organized all of Greg’s things in the trunk of her car. She kept his prescriptions with her and put them in her purse so that she could stop at the pharmacy on her way home. She would never have pictured her daughter dating someone like Chuck prior to the accident, but the young man had been Meredith’s lifeline in the storm.
Chuck and Meredith falling in love had been so different than Carla’s own experience with romance, she had wondered if it happened too fast for them, but watching them together over the past few months had quickly put her fears to rest. Though their love was different than what Carla had shared with her late husband, it was meant to be and she had no doubt they would make it.
Douglas Johnson had come into Carla’s life before Meredith’s first birthday and his take charge, organized personality had been just what she had needed to heal after her failed relationship and engagement to Meredith’s biological father. It had taken until Meredith was nearly three years old before she and Doug had actually married. Her late husband had adopted Meredith legally not long after that and had been more of a father to Meredith than Carla could have ever hoped for. Nothing would replace him…
. Not a day went by that Carla didn’t think of his kind eyes and what a wonderful man he was.
She missed him.
Feeling herself tear up, she knew she still didn’t have time to lose herself in the pain that simmered just beneath the surface like a warm pot of soup, waiting for her to acknowledge it. Instead she set it on the back burner yet again and headed back inside the hospital.
Someday it would be her turn… her turn to grieve, her turn to face her uncertain future, her turn to start a new life, but today wasn’t that day. Today was about helping out one of the many new friends she had made since Chuck had come into their lives.
She stopped mid-step upon entering Greg’s room, startled at seeing the expanse of naked, muscular chest displaying a thin patch of blond hair trailing a path down the center and disappearing into a pair of jeans that were zipped but unbuttoned. Doug had been a wonderful husband and father but right now it was a little hard to keep his memory in the front of her mind because she could not remember Doug ever looking like what was on display at the moment. Even the momentary feeling of guilt for looking wasn’t enough to make her look away.
Greg was almost the same height as Doug had been but where Doug had been on the chunky side, which he then allowed to settle around his belly as middle age happened, Greg looked like working out was his other full time job.
She should be ashamed for scoping out a man that wasn’t her husband… but just look at him!
“Can you help with this?” Greg asked with a high level of anxiety and frustration in his voice.
“Yea… sure,” she replied.
Her eyes again followed the thin line of hair down his flat, sculpted stomach to rest on the button of his jeans that he held loosely in his left hand.
Walking over to him, she stopped in front of him and he let go of the button. He wasn’t the only one who would have to adjust to all the things he couldn’t do for himself without the use of his dominate hand and arm. Never in her life had buttoning a pair of jeans felt so intimate.
She slowly reached out and grasped the button and the opposing side of his jeans and pulled the two sides closer to each other which only succeeded in rubbing the backs of her fingers against the nicest looking abs she’d seen up close and personal like this...
. His sharp intake of breath brought her eyes up to his handsome face only to settle on his full lips.
On top of his obvious reaction to her touch,
hy did he have to be so handsome?
After getting his pants buttoned she reached for his shirt at the same time he did and their hands met.
She released her hold on the material while stepping back to give him room and went to gather up the balloons and flowers to put them on a cart one of the nurses had brought in to the room. Once everything was situated, she turned back to find him sitting on the edge of the bed again with his uninjured arm through one sleeve and a perplexed look on his face while the other sleeve was halfway over his sling. Walking back over to him, she adjusted the sleeve guiding it up and over the sling, then settled it in place before bunching up the shirt to make it easier to slip over his head and was suddenly stopped by the frown on his face.