Read an Excerpt
Tangling with Ty
By Jill Shalvis
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Jill Shalvis
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA naked man would have changed everything, but there wasn't one in sight. So, as always, Nicole Mann got up with the alarm. As always, she showered, dressed and nuked a breakfast burrito in less than eight minutes.
And as always, she was out the door of her apartment at top speed to get to the hospital for what was likely to be a double shift due to a late-spring flu outbreak.
Yes, her life was completely dictated by her work. So what? Being a doctor was a dream-come-true, and if she'd worked at that dream-come-true nearly every waking moment, forsaking just about everything else - including naked men - she could live with that. Being a doctor was what she'd wanted since she'd graduated high school fifteen years ago at the perfectly extraordinary age of twelve.
For a woman who prided herself on nerves of steel, Nicole nearly leapt out of her skin at the unexpected whisper coming out of the darkened hallway of her apartment building.
But it wasn't the boogey man or any other menacing threat. It was just the owner of the building and her friend, Taylor Wellington, peeking out her door. Taylor was nice and beautiful - reason enough to hate her - but she also happened to be in possession of that disarming ability to talk until Nicole's eyes crossed. It completely wore down her defenses.
That they'd - polar opposites - become friends still baffled Nicole.
"I see you," Nicole said. "Did I wake you?" Not that the perfectly-put-together Taylor looked anything other than ... well, perfectly put together, but it did happen to be the crack of dawn. A time she considered sacrilegious.
"Oh, no, the living dead couldn't wake me," Taylor assured her. "I set my alarm so I'd catch you." Her beautifully made-up eyes toured Nicole. "Honey, I thought we talked about the camouflage gear."
Nicole looked down at her camouflage cargo pants and green tank top, fitting snug to her lean form. Her wardrobe had been formed back in the expensive days of medical school when she'd been forced to shop in thrift stores, but sue her, she'd developed a fondness for the comfortable garb. That Taylor cared what she wore at all was still a surprise.
Nicole had only lived in this South Village building a few weeks, having moved from another larger building where no one ever even looked at one another. She'd only moved because that place had been sold and the new owners had plans for it to go co-op. She'd come here for its convenience to the hospital, and because it was small. Fewer people to deal with. That this building was also falling off its axis was neither here nor there, as Nicole didn't care what it looked like, as long as her bed was in it. "Why did you want to catch me?"
"I knew if I didn't, you'd forget. We're planning Suzanne's engagement party tonight."
Ah, hell. Suzanne Carter lived in the apartment next to Taylor's. The three of them, the only ones in the building, had shared many laughs and much ice cream, but Nicole still didn't want to plan a party where she'd have to dress up and smile and make nice. She hated making nice.
"You'd forgotten," Taylor said.
"No, I ..." Okay, she'd forgotten. She couldn't help it, she was single-minded. Always had been, just ask the family she never managed to see. This year alone, she'd forgotten one sister's homecoming from college, her mother's annual April Fool's Day bash and her own birthday. But her family understood something Taylor didn't.
Nicole was a firm loner. Connections to people tended to give her hives. Ditto planning engagement parties. "I'm sorry. I ... might be late."
Taylor gave her a long look. "Don't tell me. You have something new to pierce."
Nicole rolled her eyes. Taylor had been teasing her about the silver hoops she had lining one ear, but Taylor had no way of knowing that each was a trophy of sort, and a badge of honor worn proudly. "Not a new piercing, no."
With the patience of a saint, Taylor just lifted a brow.
Nicole racked her brain for her elusive people skills, but as she didn't have any, they failed her. "We're short-staffed at the hospital, and -"
"Save it, Super Girl." Taylor lifted a hand against the upcoming stream of excuses. "Let's just cut to the chase, shall we? Weddings, and all the trappings, give both of us gas." She looked right into Nicole's eyes and gave her a take-your-medicine look. "But this is for Suzanne."
Suzanne had been the only other person besides Taylor to instantly, genuinely accept Nicole, no matter how abrupt, aloof and self-absorbed she was.
The three of them had only met recently after Taylor had inherited this building with no funds to go with it. She'd rented out space to Suzanne first, then Nicole had come along. They had little in common really. Suzanne, a caterer, kept them in to-die-for food and Suzanne's personal favorite, ice cream. Taylor, with her dry wit, kept them all amused and, though she'd kill Nicole if she heard her say it, mothered them to death. And Nicole ... she had no clue what she added to the mix, so them caring about her still mystified.
But they all shared one common trait - a vow of singlehood. They'd talked about it, often toasted to it and had jointly coveted it ... Until Suzanne had done the unthinkable and fallen in love.
Nicole sighed. "I'll find a way to be here."
"Don't worry, they say you can't catch wedding fever."
"Hey, don't worry about me. My work is my life. I'm too into it, too selfish to be anything but single."
"Right. Our singlehood is firmly intact."
But they stared at each other, a little unnerved. That Suzanne, one so steadfastly single, was now getting married cast a shadow on their vow. Surely neither of them could possibly make the fall into love. Not when they kept their eyes open and their hearts closed.
Yep, heart firmly closed. They were safe that way, totally and completely safe.
Excerpted from Tangling with Ty by Jill Shalvis Copyright © 2003 by Jill Shalvis
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.