A prescription for sweet satisfaction
Pediatrician Macy Carter has been so busy expanding her practice she's had no time to build the family she craves. Her late, much-loved surrogate father apparently had some matchmaking in mind when he arranged for a sexy architect to take over his home and company. Too bad Derek is a single dad who's been there, done that, and intends to remain unattached. Their priorities are totally out of sync. Their chemistry? Unbelievably potent.
Thanks to his former mentor, Derek Logan just inherited an architectural business, a house and the gorgeous client next door. He's keeping away from forever relationships, but this doctor's sensual touch is addictive. Helping Macy build her dream medical complex awakens Derek to how much more he now wants out of life. But has he hesitated too long to prove he's ready for and deserving of her love?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Macy Carter stood next to the hospital bed and stared down at the man who had been the only thing close to a father that she'd ever had. The man who had been a pillar of strength during some of the most critical times of her life. The man who had beat cancer once, but was now living his last days.
She adjusted the crisp white linen covering him, smoothing out invisible wrinkles and not caring that he hated people fussing over him. Her gaze took in his once-smooth dark skin that now had a yellowish tint. Noah Price was the strongest man she knew, and seeing him like this was like looking at a stranger. So much had changed over the past few months.
A heaviness lodged in her chest and tears pricked the back of her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.
Noah had made her promise that she wouldn't cry over him. As if she could actually keep that type of promise. She was trying. But what was she going to do without him?
She reclaimed her seat next to the bed and rested her head against the back of the chair, closing her eyes. The hospital room was quiet, except for the steady beep of the machines monitoring Noah's vitals, which grated on her nerves more than if the room were full of people talking at the same time. Still, there was no other place she'd rather be than by his side. She would give anything to hear another one of his speeches. Make the most of your life, baby girl. She could hear the fatherly advice in her head so clearly. Had it not been for him, she doubted she would have made it through medical school and then her residency. He was everything she needed: supportive, encouraging, and her biggest cheerleader. Looking back on her life in foster care, she wondered what it would have been like to have him in her life from day one. A shoulder to cry on, someone to make her feel secure and someone to teach her about dating and staying away from knuckleheaded boys.
Macy's head jerked up. The single word, barely audible in the stark white hospital room, caught her off guard. For the past two hours, she had sat near Noah's hospital bed and he hadn't spoken a word.
She pushed out of her seat and slowly approached him. "Noah?" She grabbed hold of his limp hand, hoping she hadn't imagined hearing his raspy voice. In the past five days, his health had taken a turn for the worse and the doctors had done all they could do for him. "Noah?"
He opened his eyes and turned to her, gently squeezing her hand. A slight smile tilted the left corner of his lips but disappeared just as quickly.
"Your mother," he rasped. "How did it go?"
A sick feeling flowed through Macy as she thought about the brief conversation she'd had with her biological mother two days earlier. Of all the things Noah could have recalled, she couldn't believe he had remembered her telling him that she had found the woman who had given birth to her.
For the past year, Macy had spent a small fortune paying an investigator to locate Patrice, only to find out the woman wanted nothing to do with her. At two years old, Macy had been placed in foster care after her mother had been arrested for shoplifting and carrying a concealed weapon. Once Patrice was released from jail, she didn't fight to regain custody. Instead, she abandoned Macy, leaving her in foster care.
The slight pressure from Noah's grip on Macy's hand pulled her back to the present.
"Not good. She didn't want to meet, and asked me never to contact her again. She didn't even give me a chance to ask any questions before she hung up on me."
To say Macy was devastated would be an understatement. Granted, her mother had been very young when Macy was born, but not wanting anything to do with her now was unbelievable. What type of mother would disregard her own child?
"I'm sorry, sweetheart," Noah said. His voice was getting weaker by the day. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma over a decade ago and had been in remission until recently. Despite her and other doctors encouraging him to get treatment, he declined, stating that he wasn't going through chemotherapy and radiation again. The doctors had given him two months, and that was six months ago, but now his health was declining at a rapid pace. "Her loss." Noah squeezed her hand again. Though his grip was weak, she could feel the love and support that he had always given her over the years.
Macy smiled. Her foster mother, Mama Adel, used to speak those same words whenever Macy got in a funk about Patrice giving her up. Had it not been for Mama Adel and Macy's two foster sisters, Iris and Janna, Macy didn't know where she'd be. The love she felt for those three women often made it feel as if her heart would explode. And then there was Noah. He had been her landlord shortly after she moved to Atlanta and quickly became the father she'd never had.
"Noah, I just can't understand how someone can give up her child and not feel any remorse. She acted as if I was inconveniencing her by even calling."
Macy glanced down at him. His eyes were closed and her gaze moved to the slight rise and fall of his chest. She sighed and pulled away, but he tugged lightly on her hand.
"Better off without her. Time to move on." His voice might have been faint, but there was conviction behind his words.
She swallowed the lump in her throat. "Yeah, I know, but it's easier said than done."
But he was right. It was time for her to move on. She was thirty-five, and there were things in her life she had yet to accomplish. One was opening a medical complex and the other, getting married and starting a family. These days, neither goal seemed reachable anytime soon.
Two years ago, Noah had told her that he wanted to help get the medical complex open. Already an owner of several properties in Atlanta, he had been on the lookout for the ideal location and building, or so he had said. Macy had identified several possible commercial properties in the Alpharetta area outside Atlanta, but Noah had always found something wrong with the buildings.
Noah cracked open his eyes. "Where's Derek?" He rubbed his forehead and dropped his hand back onto the bed as if the appendage weighed a ton.
Macy shrugged, not that Noah noticed since he had closed his eyes again. She didn't know where his mini-me had gone, but she was glad he wasn't in the room.
She had officially met Derek six months earlier when Noah had to undergo surgery. Prior to that, she had only heard stories of him. Noah talked about his protégé like a proud father would discuss his son.
Macy still remembered the effect Derek's arrival had on the nurses and hospital staff back then. Tall, muscular, with skin the color of milk chocolate and movie-star good looks, he had a larger-than-life demeanor that sucked the air right out of the room, and Macy had cursed her body for responding.
He was an extremely attractive man, but what held her mind, body and soul captive were his eyes. They were dark and intense, sharp and assessing, making her powerless to look away. Never had a man warranted that type of reaction from her. With this latest visit, he'd been in town for five days, and his presence was wreaking havoc with her senses.
"Derek stepped out." Macy finally answered Noah's question. Noah might have only been Derek Logan's mentor, but almost everything about his protégé reminded her of her surrogate father. Like Noah, Derek wasn't a big talker. There was a quiet spirit about him and she wondered if anything rattled him.
"Noah, do you want me to go and find him?"
He hesitated. "No."
Good. The man was a detriment to her mental peace. When they both were spending time in Noah's hospital room, she kept stealing glances at Derek. He might have been a little standoffish, but he was definitely nice to look at. As far as she was concerned, the less time she spent with him, the better. She had every intention of ignoring the strong pull she felt whenever he was near. She had a feeling he felt it, too. Eyes didn't lie. His appreciative gaze had traveled down the length of her body on more than one occasion.
She shuddered. Yeah, the less time she spent in his presence, the better.
"Craig, I hope you're not teaching my son any bad habits or spoiling him." Derek Logan switched his cell phone to his other ear. He leaned against the sill of the floor-to-ceiling window in the small hospital waiting room, glad to hear his brother's voice.
"Your son is in good hands, bro. I'm teaching him everything I know."
"Yeah, that's what concerns me. I've already had to break him from claiming every girl or woman he meets as his girlfriend." Craig's hearty laugh flowed through the phone line. Sure, he was laughing, but when Jason had asked his teacher to be his date, Derek had been caught totally off guard.
"Well, since I married Toni, Jason and I don't discuss girlfriends."
"Good. He's four years old. As far as I'm concerned, he shouldn't know anything about girlfriends."
"Well, you don't have to worry about that anymore. Now I'm teaching him all about what it's like to have a wife."
Derek shook his head. He knew his brother was joking, but ever since Craig married Toni Jenkins a year ago, all his brother talked about was how wonderful marriage was and how much he loved being a father. Their infant son had mellowed his brother out. As a Cincinnati police detective, he had been wound tighter than a politician on election day before he'd married and had a baby. As far as Derek was concerned, Toni was the best thing that had ever happened to Craig.
"So I assume you're calling to talk to the kid." Craig cut into Derek's thoughts.
"Well, he's not here. Toni took him and the baby over to her grandparents' house. I'm sure they'll be back soon. I'll have Jason call you when he comes in." Derek heard pots banging over the phone line and assumed Craig was cooking. Out of the four of his brothers, Craig was the best chef, though they all could hold their own in the kitchen. "So how is Noah doing?"
"About the same. His doctor said there was nothing else they could do for him."
"Ah, man, I'm sorry to hear that. I guess the better question would be, how are you doing with all of this?"
Derek had always seen Noah as invincible. For fifteen years, Noah had served as his mentor as well as a father figure, being there for all the big events in Derek's life. He couldn't imagine his life without the old man, as he lovingly referred to him.
They had met in Cincinnati the summer before Derek started college. Noah had been a presenter at a three-day seminar that Derek attended, and they immediately hit it off. When Noah had offered Derek, who was majoring in architecture, an internship at his company the following summer, their relationship took off from there. Derek spent every summer while in college at Price Architectural Firm.
"I'm all right. The whole situation is still a little unbelievable. Before I left his room, he mentioned that he was tired. I'm not sure if he was just tired or tired of fighting." Derek dropped down in a nearby chair, inhaled deeply and released his breath slowly. He'd had about six hours of sleep in the last forty-eight hours, and exhaustion consumed his body.
"Well, you know if you need any of us, just say the word and we're there."
"I know. Thanks, man. I appreciate that. With you taking care of my lil' man, that's all I can ask." When Derek's wife walked out on him and Jason four years ago, he had raised his son by himself, and though at times it was hard, he couldn't imagine not having Jason in his life. He also couldn't imagine not having the support of his family members, who were always willing to step in and help.
"So how are you dealing with, uh, what's her name?
"What do you mean?" He glanced at his Movado watch, a gift to himself after he landed a huge contract to redesign an office building a few months earlier.
"I mean, have you gotten to know her better? You do realize that you're not getting any younger, don't you? What better way to get back into the dating scene than with a doctor? She could probably teach you things that"
"Man, I'm not trying to start anything here," Derek said, though he'd been attracted to Macy from the moment he met her. "My main and only focus in Atlanta is Noah. Macy is like a daughter to him, so we're cordial but nothing else. My life is in Cincinnati. You know that."
"You're a freelance architect. You can work anywhere. If she's as hot as you described, maybe you should be trying to get to know her. It's way past time you got back out there and started dating again."
Derek sighed and ran his hand over his head. It seemed as if he was getting the same speech from everyone lately, especially from Craig and their brother Keith, who was two years older than Derek. He could understand Craig's insistence, but not Keith, who was in the middle of a divorce.
He and Craig talked for a few minutes longer before Derek disconnected. It was time to check on Noah.
The moment he stepped into the room, Macy's pager went off. She glanced at it and blew out a breath. Derek knew she was a pediatrician, but didn't know much else about her, which was okay with him.
If she's as hot as you described, maybe you should be trying to get to know her. Craig's words flitted around in his head. She might have been fine as hell, with blemish-free skin, light brown eyes and a smile that could stop a man in his tracks. But Derek didn't have time for dating, especially dating long-distance. So what if he was curious about whether her long hair was as soft as it looked or that her full lips tempted him beyond belief? He wasn't going to start something he had no intention of finishing.
"When Noah wakes up, can you tell him I'll see him a little later?" Macy asked.
Derek nodded and she surprised him by handing him a business card. They had been keeping vigil over Noah for days and this was the first time she had given him her contact information.
"The hospital knows how to reach me, but can you call me if anything changes?"
Derek accepted the card and glanced at it before returning his attention to her. He had to be careful around her. Those eyes, accented with long eyelashes, could do a brother more harm than good.