It started in an elevator
After a traumatic accident, Dr. Holly Buchanan made a plan: become the world's best plastic and reconstruction surgeon. What wasn't in her plan? Tumbling into an elevator and sprawling at the feet of sinfully sexy new colleague Dr. Gabriel Alexander!
For Gabe, getting involved with someone from Manhattan's social elite can only lead to heartbreak. But he's intrigued by Holly's shy charm and intelligent passion. And with Holly bumping into him with every turn she takes, he won't be able to resist her sizzling touch forever!
Read an Excerpt
"Hey, lady! Watch it."
Dr. Holly Buchanan grimaced and threw a breathless "Sorry!" over her shoulder at the guy she'd nearly trampled as she dashed through the automatic doors into the huge marble lobby of West Manhattan Saints.
She was late. Late, late, late, damn it. And it was the second time this month. She should have suspected the morning would go to hell when she'd slept through her alarm and then broken the heel of her favorite designer pumpshopping on one foot while trying to find the other shoe.
But nothing could have prepared her for the absolute chaos that greeted her when she'd opened her front door and found furniture and boxes piled up against her door, littering the stairs and sidewalk.
It had taken a few shocked moments to work out that the avalanche was meant for the neighboring brownstone and not hers. Thank God. Unfortunately, it had taken a lot longer to convince the movera scary tattooed guy who'd towered over her by at least a foot and a halfthat the address he was looking for was right next door. Not hers.
He'd folded his huge tattooed arms across an even huger chest and stared at her with a level don't-even-think-of-messing-with-me-lady look that had made her quail in her strappy heels. And because he'd startled her, she'd blurted out the first thing that had come into her head: "Did you know that prison inmates in Russia use melted boot heels mixed with blood and urine to make tattoo ink?"
His answer, when it had come, had been accompanied by raised eyebrows and a wry twist of his lips. "Marine corps," he'd drawled in a voice that had seemed to come from his large booted feet. "One tattoo for every skirmish survived." And Holly had sucked in a mortified breath.
"Oh, my g-gosh, I'm s-sorry," she'd stammered, wanting the earth to open up and swallow her. "Th-thank you for your service."
He'd quirked an eyebrow and replied with a dry "You're welcome. Now, where should I put all this stuff?"
It had taken her time she hadn't had to convince him to call the moving company, which he did while guarding her door like a bouncer at a shady nightclub. After what had seemed like an ageduring which Holly had bounced from foot to foot in extreme impatiencehe'd finally apologized for the mistake. Then he'd reached over a box almost as tall as she was and gallantly lifted her as easily as if she were a child. To her shock he'd carried her down the box-littered steps and gently deposited her on the sidewalk with a cheerful "Wouldn't want you to twist an ankle in those shoes."
She'd mumbled a breathless "Thank you" and had risked more than a twisted ankle running for the subway.
Setting off across the huge lobby toward the bank of elevators, Holly dodged people heading in the same direction and tried to tell herself that elevators were mostly safe and that the hospital had a rigorous maintenance schedule.
She growled and skirted a crowd of nurses gathered around a large board the hospital used to announce upcoming events, lectures by visiting experts, and new staff appointments. She usually took an interest in any new announcements as she hoped her name would soon be featured when the plastic and reconstruction surgical fellowship was announced.
This morning, however, she barely gave it, or the oohing and aahing women, a cursory glance as she streaked past, heels clicking on the slick marble floor. She hated being late for meetings with the chief of surgery. He wasn't exactly the kind of man you wanted to annoyespecially if you were a surgical resident hoping for that fellowship.
The doors of one lone elevator slid open with a ding and she sent up a quick prayer and dashed into the car just as a group of noisy teens emerged. As they shoved past, one sneakered foot caught Holly's ankle and sent her flying. She valiantly tried to halt her forward momentum by grabbing for the aluminum frame and forgot that she was carrying her briefcase. It went flying one way and she went the other, landing awkwardly on her hands and knees. She heard a muffled grunt and the next thing she knew the contents of her handbag and briefcase were exploding all over the floor.
The doors swished closed and there was a moment of stunned silence during which Holly thought, You have got to be freaking kidding me!
She sucked in air and snarled a few choice words that would turn her mother's hair gray. But, jeez, it had brought back memories she didn't like to think about. Memories of a wildly tilting elevator and frightened screams as it plummeted and then exploded on impact.
For a couple of beats she struggled with control before remembering having heard a grunt. She lifted her head, hoping Monday madness was giving her auditory hallucinations on top of everything else. The last thing she needed was someone having witnessed her graceless flight.
Please, let me be alone. Please, let me be alone.
Holly blew a few escaped strands of hair out of her eyes and froze when her vision cleared. Bare inches from her nose was a pair of large scuffed sneakers attached to the bottom of faded, soft-as-butter jeans. She blinked and followed the long length of denim up endless muscular legs to something that made her eyes widen and her mouth drop open. And before she could register that she was checking out some guy's impressive package, the man dropped to his haunches and Holly found herself staring into a pair of concerned blue-green eyes surrounded by a heavy fringe of sun-tipped lasheson her hands and knees.
Sucking in a shocked breath, she wondered if she was more embarrassed by her position or the direction she'd been looking then promptly forgot everything when she felt the sensation of falling. Right into a swirl of gold-flecked blue and green. It was only when he opened his mouth and "You okay?" emerged in a voice as deep and dark as sin that she realized she'd been staring into his eyes as though she was submerged in the waters of the Caribbean and had forgotten how to breathe.
Her skin prickled and heated in premonitionof what, she wasn't entirely sure. But it felt like something monumental had just happened. Then, realizing what she was thinking, Holly gave a silent snort. Yeah, right. More like monumentally embarrassing.
His light eyes were startling in a tanned face that was both brain-ambushingly handsome and rugged. Like one of those naturally hot guys they used for advertising extreme sportswear. The kind of man who got his tan in the great outdoorslike standing on the prow of a pirate shipand not from a tanning salon.
"Just peachy," she squeaked, swallowing her mortification at having sprawled at the feet of the hottest guy in Manhattanmaybe even Americaand being caught eyeing his package then staring into his eyes like she'd been hypnotized.
Her belly quivered and for a second she wondered if the disrespectful little twerps had done her a favor. At least she now wouldn't have to suffer the additional indignity of swooning at his feet. "You sure?"
"I'm f-fine," Holly croaked, her eyes dropping momentarily to his mouth, where the sight of well-sculpted lips tipped up in an almost-smile had her tongue swelling in her mouth like she was fifteen and crushing on a hot lifeguard. Her face flamed and she pushed back to sit on her heels. "Just incredibly embarrassed," she mumbled, brushing her hands together. "So, please just ignore me and let me die with my dignity intact."
Crinkles appeared beside his amazing eyes and the corner of his mouth curled up even more, revealinghorror of horrorsa dimple. She caught herself staring at the shallow dent in his tanned cheek and gulped. Darn. He just had to have a dimple, didn't he? It was the one thing that could turn her into an awkward ninth-grader.
"I er " He cleared his throat and Holly looked up sharply, catching his attempts to suppress amusement. "I think it's a bit late for that."
She squeezed her eyes closed and gave a low moan of embarrassment. "G-great. Now I'm ." She sucked in a shaky breath and waved her hand in a quick dismissive gesture. "You know what, never mind."
Abruptly turning away, she looked around for her purse and briefcase. And therein freaking plain sight for everyone to seewas her emergency stash of tampons, littering the floor like white bullets. And for just an instant she wished they were so she could just lock, load and pull the trigger to end her misery.
They reached for the closest tampon at the exact same moment and Holly squeaked, "I'll get that," quickly snatching it up and stuffing it into the bottom of her purse. She then pounced on the remaining cartridges, hoping he hadn't seenbut when she sent him a quick glance out of the corner of her eye and saw his teeth flash, she realized he had.
Pushing out her bottom lip, she huffed out a breath and lifted a wrist to shove aside tendrils of hair obscuring her vision. Could her day get any worse? Then a hand reached for hers and she forgot all about her crappy day when a snap of electricity bolted up her arm the instant their skins touched.
He too must have felt that audible little zap because he grunted softly and his eyes narrowed speculatively before he gingerly turned her hand over to inspect her scraped palm. She barely heard him rasp, "You're hurt," over the blood rushing through her ears.
The hand engulfing hers was large and tanned with long, surprisingly elegant fingers that drew her fascinated gaze even as they sent tingles rolling over her skin. Then his thumb was brushing gently over her scraped palm and the tingles became a raging firestorm of sensation that shot directly to her breasts and well further south.
Her eyes widened. Oh oh, wow. What the heck was that? "It's n-nothing," she managed to croak, both to herself and him, before sliding her hand from his when she realized her mouth had dropped open and she was on the verge of babbling. She scooted back a little and sucked in a shaky breath, averting her face in the hope that he couldn't read her turmoil. Because, well darn. The last time she'd been this flustered had been in the seventh grade when Jimmy Richards had caught her drawing hearts and flowers around his name.
Absently rubbing her tingling palm against her thigh, she stared at the jumble of her belongings and wondered what the heck she was supposed to be doing. It was only when she saw a half-eaten candy bar that she snapped to attention and began stuffing everything she could lay her hands on into her purse.
Holy cow. Where had all this stuff come from? She couldn't even remember having seen half of it before. Certainly not the gold pen or the roll of mints. And how many hairbrushes did one person need, anyway?
She left him to gather up her textbooks, study notes and stethoscope, thinking there was nothing in her briefcase that could embarrass heruntil she remembered the old before-and-after photographs of herself that she kept as a reminder of why she was doing P&R.
Whipping around, Holly was relieved to see that the photos were nowhere in sight, but the guy was holding aloft a small foil square she hadn't even known she had. And if it was hers, it had to be at least two years old. Maybe even older.
Holly tried to look innocent, but it seemed the guy had an evil streak because he lifted a brow over gleaming blue-green eyes and drawled, "Medium?"
Oh, God, really? He was going to comment on the size?
"Keep it," she croaked. "Most condoms have a shelf life of four years, anyway. As long as you keep them in a cool, dry place." And nothing could be cooler or drier than the bottom of her briefcase, especially the past couple of years when she'd been focusing on the P&R fellowship and not relationships.
His grin turned wicked, deepening that dimple in his cheek. "Way too small," he said innocently, as though they were discussing a pair of shoes and not a freaking condom. He tilted his head and squinted at the printing on the back. "Besides, I think this one's already a year and a half past that four-year shelf-life date you were talking about."
Her face heated and she mentally rolled her eyes. Way to let a hot guy know your sex life is non-existent, Holly. She groaned silently and reached out with a growled "Just give it here," before tossing the package in the wall-mounted trash bin. For a couple of beats he stared at the stainless-steel receptacle then turned to her with a level look.
"You know someone is going to find that and use it, don't you?" He shook his head at her. "How do you think you'll feel knowing you had a handeven unwittinglyin an unplanned pregnancy?"
"Ohmigod," Holly burst out, wondering if the torture of this day would ever end and what she'd done to deserve it. "Fine!" She opened the lid and fished it out, shuddering when her fingers encountered something sticky. She shoved the errant condom into her pocket and glared at him challengingly. The unspoken words Are you happy now? vibrated in the air between them.
Eyes crinkling at the corners, he rose to his feet and offered her a hand but Holly ignored it and scrambled upall embarrassing items finally hidden, thank Godbefore accepting her briefcase from him with a strangled mutter of thanks.
She was careful not to let their hands touch. Her body was buzzing with enough electricity to light up Manhattan for a dayand she hadn't even had her coffee yet.
Fortunately, the elevator dinged its arrival at her floor and when the doors opened she escaped, hoping she never saw him again. Just before the doors slid closed he called out a friendly "Don't forget to replace that condom, it's the responsible thing to do."
A few people heard and sent her curious looks but Holly ignored them, stomping down the passageway and muttering about not being responsible for her actions when it came to hot smartasses. It was only when she passed a startled nurse pushing a bassinet that she realized she was on the twentieth floor and not the twenty-second.
Muttering to herself, she changed direction and headed for the stairs, resigned to the fact that she was nearly fifteen minutes late for her meeting.
The moment she slipped into the boardroom she felt the eyes of every person in the room turn to watch her entrance, including the laser-blue stare of the chief of surgical residents, Professor Gareth Langley. Flushing, she ducked her head and murmured an apology, and slipped into the only open chair around the huge oval table.
Fortunately, with the day she was having, she wasn't scheduled for any surgery. She'd probably slice and dice her fingersor worse.