THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART
There was a time when Dr. Emma Sinclair wanted to challenge herself, sharpen her medical skills by plunging into the relentless pace of a New York City ER. But she was younger then. Now she’s not that much older, but at least she’s wise enough to jump at the chance to run her father’s clinic for a summer in the Sierra Nevadas. Here she treats bee stings, stomach flu, and the occasional pet cat. She also contends with patients like Stone Wilder, laid-back and well-aware of his good looks—and irritating beyond belief. The man laughs at her. And Emma loathes him. Partly because she can’t resist his smile and the gleam in his eyes . . .
As co-owner of Wilder Adventures and Expeditions, Stone knows when he sees a fish out of water. He also knows how to put it back in the water. When he tries to help Emma loosen up a bit, he pictures white-water rafting or scenic mountain hikes. He never bargained for a much more intimate encounter. Still, Emma’s sure she has no place in a town like Wishful, but Stone knows different. Emma belongs here—in this town, in his life. Convincing her is a challenge he was born to take . . .
“Jill Shalvis sweeps you away.”
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By Jill Shalvis
BRAVA BOOKSCopyright © 2009 Jill Shalvis
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHot and bothered, and not in the good way, Dr. Emma Sinclair switched the sign on her father's medical clinic from CLOSED to OPEN. It was eight a.m. sharp, and out of habit, she braced herself to be bombarded.
Not that that was going to happen, not here in Mayberry, USA.
Excuse her- Wishful, California. Nothing so simple as Mayberry. Not with the coyotes and bears she knew roamed around the property on a daily basis. She heard the coyotes in the early mornings, their eerie howls making the hair on the back of her neck stand straight up. Even more disconcerting, she'd caught sight of them watching her from the woods lining the property, their hungry eyes making her miss the streets of New York, where the worst predators were grumpy, demanding, homeless people.
She hadn't actually seen a bear yet, but everyone who came through her door had a bear story, so she figured with her karma, it was only a matter of time. Not in a hurry for that, she booted up the computer behind the front desk, remembering with a fond sigh the hustling, bustling rush of her Manhattan ER, where she literally ran her entire shift; bagging and defibbing, resuscitating, whatever came her way, with sometimes little more than caffeine in her system.
Yeah, she'd had it all in NewYork, a promising career with a fantastic sublet near Central Park, a great shift in one of the best ERs in the country ... it didn't get better than that.
But it certainly got worse.
A world away from her world, Emma was now on the other side of the country, deep in the California Sierras, pining for Starbucks and Thai take-out. Pining for crowds, traffic, and late trains, that's how homesick she was. She missed having a myriad of take-out menus taped to her empty refrigerator, her next meal a simple phone call away.
No one delivered in Wishful. Worse, there was no fast food period, no drive-thrus, nothing unless she wanted to drive the thirty plus miles to South Shore, Lake Tahoe-which meant that she, a professional water burner, was in danger of starving to death.
She missed so much about New York, but what she missed most of all was her mom, who after being invincible and raising Emma on her own while working her fingers to the bone as an RN, had done the unthinkable.
She'd died of one of the few things that Emma hadn't been able to fix-cancer.
Throat tightening, Emma moved through the front room of the old Victorian-turned-clinic, a place that had been decorated in the eighties with country chic and hadn't changed much except for the equipment, and some of that was questionable. She opened the country blue, duck-lined curtains, letting in the mid-June sun. She wondered what the day would bring. The usual bee sting? Or maybe for kicks and giggles, a stomach flu.
The problem was people in Wishful saw her as Doc's little girl. They acted as if she was just the key keeper, someone to drop some gossip with, or maybe to talk about her father-her least favorite thing to talk about.
God, what she wouldn't give for a stroke or cardiac infarction, something she could really sink her teeth into
When the front door opened, the silly ceramic cow chime above it jangled, and in came a man, supporting another. Wishful wasn't that big, and after being here for two months, Emma had met quite a few of the locals, including the Wilder brothers. TJ Wilder, tall and big and broad, assisted his equally tall and big and broad brother Stone, who was covered in mud and blood, dripping both all over her floor.
He was limping and grimacing in pain-at least until he saw her, at which point he swiped his face of all expression, going testosterone stoic. "Hey," he murmured. "What's up, Doc?"
Ah, finally. Finally something more than a nosy neighbor bringing a casserole and gossip while the real cases went all the way to South Shore. Finally something more than poison oak, something right up her alley, and she moved in to help support Stone, pulling his arm over her shoulder, grabbing his hand to steady him. He had big hands, tough and scarred, much like the man himself even before whatever had happened to him today. "First room," she directed TJ, bypassing the front desk, turning toward the hallway which held two examination rooms. "What happened?"
TJ opened his mouth, but Stone beat him to it. "Just need a few Band-Aids."
"Really." Without her and TJ's support, he'd have slid to the floor. But she was well used to stubborn patients, the majority of which were always of the male persuasion. She figured it had something to do with carrying a penis around all the time. "So you can walk on your own then?"
Stone managed to arch a brow in her direction, though only one because the other was slashed through, and bleeding down his lean jaw. "Why would I do that, when having you hold me is much more fun?" He gave her more of his weight, which she estimated at approximately one hundred and ninety pounds of solid muscle. "You're softer than old Doc Sinclair," he murmured.
True, though her father was plenty soft. In fact, it was his soft heart that had landed Emma in this situation in the first place, and she wasn't referring to the mild heart attack he'd suffered two months ago-the one that had brought her here to run his business while he recovered.
Nope, she was talking about his inability to concentrate and focus on the things that mattered, such as billing people for services rendered, a problem that had him shockingly near bankruptcy. In the time she'd been in Wishful, she'd discovered he'd not billed more often than he had billed, a mistake she wouldn't be making. Ever. "Well, you're stuck with me at the moment, soft or otherwise."
"That's okay." Stone looked at her. "He always says you're a better doctor than him."
"Whoa. He said that?"
"Yeah, which means you must be really good."
Oddly touched that her father would say such a thing about her, much less anything at all, she didn't respond. She and her father didn't know each other well. Other than the matching MDs, they had nothing in common. Her dad liked the slow, laid-back style of doctoring in a small town, while she preferred the busier, more interesting, fast-paced ER life. Oil and water ... "What happened to you, Stone? Did someone do this to you?"
"No." His voice was low and hoarse, as if it hurt just to talk. "I'm okay."
Wasn't that just a Wilder for you. Tall, built and sexy, and so completely full of shit. Out of the three brothers, she liked Cam and TJ best, mostly because they spent most of their time out of town.
But Stone ... well, he was charming and charismatic as hell, but he was also as wild as his name implied-her least favorite quality in a man, tough or otherwise. And Stone was as tough and impenetrable as they came, the kind of man who could be dropped anywhere on the planet and get on just fine. An admirable characteristic, sure, but she preferred a quiet, more sophisticated guy, preferably another doctor, who understood her world.
Not that it mattered. He was a patient not a prospective lover, and she directed him to an examination table. Not that she could "examine" much with all the mud. "We need to get those dirty things off," she told TJ, and left him to it while she pulled a gown from a drawer.
Stone lay back willingly enough when TJ pushed him down to a prone position. "Just the Band-Aids is all ... Tell you what, you give me a box, and in return I'll take you on an outdoor adventure. Name it. Anything you want."
The Wilder brothers ran an outdoor adventure/expedition company, which as far as Emma could tell meant that they got paid to be ski and mountain bike bums, playing all day long in the great outdoors.
She skied, but that was about it for the great outdoors for her. "I don't think so," she said, pulling out a tray.
"Ah, come on, the fresh air's good for you." He sounded as if he could barely talk. "How about a rock climb, or getting on a mountain bike?"
She understood the appeal of the area, she really did. It was just that in her world, which she was chomping at the bit to get back to, she didn't have time for such things. "Let's focus on your injuries."
He let loose a slow, bad boy smile, weakened by pain, but still potently sexy. "I'll be fine."
Everything Stone did was slow and sexy. Slow and sexy, slow and easy, and so laid-back she'd often thought he needed to be checked for a pulse.
But not by her. The Wilders were gorgeous, and gorgeously dangerous to female hearts across the land, so yeah, he affected her, but she was a big girl and could resist. There'd be no giving into any smiles, charming or otherwise, thank you very much. Moving to the sink, she began to wash up, no dallying for her.
She had enough going on here trying to keep the clinic up and running and her father on the path of rehabilitation as required by his medical condition-not an easy feat given that the man apparently thought he was still twenty-one instead of sixty-one, hiking and fishing daily at his remote cabin.
After seeing him only a handful of times in all her life, Emma had seen him more in the past two months than she'd ever planned on. But he still hadn't bounced back, and that worried her. She wanted him well and thriving.
And back at work, so she could go home, and back to her work.
Unfortunately, she didn't seem any closer to that than she'd been two months ago. Out of necessity, she'd taken on the additional pressure of handling his books, which were in bad shape, with invoices and reports tossed haphazardly in files in some random system that made absolutely no sense. Apparently her father accepted cash, credit cards, and if she was looking at things correctly, casseroles. Casseroles. He had a freezer full of them, and twice this week alone, someone had brought her new ones instead of money when they'd needed services rendered.
Her father had laughed at her concern, saying a single man enjoyed a home cooked meal once in awhile.
Well, he could eat one every day for a month and still have leftovers.
So could she, for that matter. Yeah, she probably wouldn't starve to death, though she couldn't vouch for the condition of her arteries after all the heavy cuisine.
She dried her hands, grabbed some sterile water and the antiseptic, and headed toward her patient, who was clearly hurting big-time. Stone was lying on the examination table, eyes and mouth strained in spite of his attempt at a relaxed air.
With sympathy, she started with the gash through his left eyebrow, squirting the water over it, gently washing the blood free of the wound, probing, until he hissed out a pained breath.
She was being easy. It was her job to be easy. "This is going to have to be stitched."
"No, thanks." Stone spoke lightly enough, but his words came through his teeth now, as if he was barely holding it together. "Seriously, just point me in the direction of those Band-Aids."
"Seriously?" she mocked lightly. "Band-Aids aren't going to do it." She stepped in and blocked him from attempting to get up when TJ might have let him. Her hands were on his shoulders, which were tense and strained belying his easy-going nature. "We need to sterilize, scrape, x-ray, and then assess, Stone. No way around it."
"That was a mouthful." He flashed another one of those potent Wilder smiles. "How about we just slow down, relax, maybe take a deep breath. I'm just a little scrapped up, that's all."
"You need stitches," TJ told him. "And you know it." Inside his pocket, his cell phone began to vibrate. He pulled it out, took one look at the ID and shot Stone an annoyed glance. "You forwarded all the office calls to my cell."
"It was your turn."
"No, it's your turn. It's always your turn."
"Exactly," Stone said. "Take the call, it might be important. Maybe it's a client, his pockets flush with cash coming our way. Or maybe it's just another woman dumping your sorry ass." Gritting his teeth, he lay back, looking pale and clammy. "Yeah, that might be fun. Put it on speaker."
"It can wait," TJ insisted. "I need to make sure you behave for the pretty doctor."
"Just get the damn phone. I'll behave."
TJ looked at Emma. He'd been clearly antagonizing his brother in order to distract Stone. Sweet. Level-headed. Yeah, TJ was definitely her favorite Wilder. "I've got him. It's fine."
TJ looked doubtful. "He's a handful."
"I mastered in handfuls."
TJ laughed appreciatively, and Stone sighed. "I'm right here."
Emma hadn't stopped examining Stone during this exchange. She'd found no other head injuries, which was good. He did have a nasty bruise along his jaw, the first of many she suspected, but nothing life threatening. "He's not in any immediate danger," she assured TJ, then slanted a look at Stone when he muttered something beneath his breath about the damned Band-Aids. "Unless I sew his mouth shut."
TJ nodded in amused sympathy, and with worry still in his eyes left the room to answer his phone.
"I thought he'd never leave."
Emma ignored him and went to work on his shirt, which was a short-sleeved performance jersey. Staring at the hem, she lifted it up over a set of defined abs.
Here he was void of mud but not blood. He'd obviously tumbled along either asphalt or dirt, because he was covered in road rash. It had to hurt like hell.
He wrapped his fingers around her wrist and she raised her gaze to his. California surfer meets angel, she thought. It was the killer combo of that easygoing air and gorgeousness. Maybe also that light brown hair, streaked gold by the sun, wind-tousled and wild and inviting enough that a woman would want to run her fingers through it. Maybe it was his strong, lean, unshaved jaw. Or maybe it was his fathomless green eyes that made a person-or in this case, one grumpy doctor-feel as if he could see her soul.
And the way he looked at her.
Yeah. It was most definitely that, and she knew right then and there-as if she hadn't already known-that he was trouble.
Crazy, big, bad trouble.
"No need to fuss," he told her. "I heal fast."
She could believe that. His body was in prime shape, sinewy and hard. Given what he did for a living-play basically-she knew that body wasn't gym-made but the real deal, born of actual outdoor activity. She got to his ribs and he winced. "Did you fall?"
"Falling is a way of life for a guy like me."
"A guy like you?"
He sucked in a hard breath as she probed her way over his torso. "Yeah. A mountain bum."
He was long and lean, not an extra ounce of fat on him, so she had no trouble accessing the ribs. Unfortunately, she had to use her fingers, and as she did, his flat, ridged belly rose and fell with his agitated breathing. "Stone?"
He opened his eyes.
"Tell me what happened," she said, looking at his pupils, which were the same size and reactive.
She'd been born here, but raised in New York by a tough-as-nails woman who'd taken no bullshit. As a result, Emma had either heard or seen it all, and nothing surprised her. Nothing. "I think I can handle it."
He let out another hard breath when she pressed on his ribs. "It's all a little fuzzy."
She frowned and eyed the bump on his head again. "Fuzzy? Are you dizzy? Spots?"
She checked his pupils again. "You can't remember what happened?"
"Well ..." He smiled faintly. "There were these three crazy women."
Her eyes flew to his in time to see his mouth quirk slightly. "Three women," she repeated.
She narrowed her eyes. "And?"
"They jumped me at Moody's."
The single bar and grill in town, where the only nightlife for thirty miles happened. Emma once again took in the road rash all over him. "Bar fight, my ass."
He laughed, then sucked in a harsh breath. "Oh, Jesus. Laughing isn't good. Laughing is bad."
"So save your breath." His jersey was snug, fitted for outdoor activity such as mountain biking or hiking. She wasn't going to be able to pull it off him without causing him considerable pain, and besides it was already torn and destroyed, so she grabbed her scissors.
And cut it up the center of his chest, spreading it wide, revealing more road rash, bleeding sullenly and clogged with dirt wherever his shirt had torn.
Excerpted from Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis Copyright © 2009 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Did any one else get Tj and Harleys story instead? Seems cute but disappointed that i wont be reading Stones story.
Look at at the title before u buy I just bought the same book twice the title is wrong what a disappointment!!!!!
i got tj and harleys story. . which ive already read. . .kind of mad i paid for both books and got the same story on both of them. . .
Jill Shalvis pens another sensational story about Wilder Adventures in Instant Gratification. Dr. Emma Sinclair is used to the non stop activity of a NY City ER. When her physician father is taken ill she comes to Wishful, California to take over the running of his small town clinic. The pace sure is much slower but her heart starts racing when she treats local heart throb Stone Wilder. Stone Wilder of Wilder Adventures lives life to the fullest and he has the scars to prove it. The new temp doctor in town sure is diff then her dad. Stone finds Emma's by the book, strong willed manner a major turn on. Stone tries to get Emma to relax and enjoy what life has to offer. He gets her out experience all that Wishful has to offer. Seeing Emma come out of her comfort zone had Stone thinking more then just a summer fling. Emma came to Wishful to help her dad and to get to know him better. She wasn't planing on anything like Stone Wilder happening to her orderly life. With her growing attraction to him and the quiet of the town, will she be able to go back to the busy ER when the summer is over? Instant Gratification is a hot and sexy story. The chemistry of Stone and Emma is electric and their conversations are funny, heartfelt and delightfully sexy. Learning more about the Wilder clan is an added treat for this reader. Jill Shalvis's books are auto buys for me and I can't wait for T. J. Wilders story.
Dr. Emma Sinclair left a successful, satisfying job in a New York City ER to come to Wishful, California and cover her father's practice while he recovers from a heart attack. Preferring the hustle and bustle of the city to the laid back, slow motion pace of Wishful, Emma can't wait for her dad to get back on his feet so she can go home. Outdoor adventurer Stone Wilder makes no bones about wanting Emma, but she's determined to remain independently alone. Until she agrees to strike up an affair with Stone that is, no strings attached. Emma didn't come to Wishful with the expectation of getting to know her estranged father, getting to know and more importantly, starting to care for, Stone Wilder, and she absolutely did not expect to get to know herself as part of the equation.**** Stone Wilder is instantly attracted to Emma Sinclair, sparks practically fly whenever he's close to the beautiful doctor. He has known and loved women for a long time so he gets the attraction and the sparks. What he doesn't get is why in the world she's in such an all-fired hurry to get back to New York. He's seriously interested in a long-term relationship, but convincing her to leave her cold, sterile NYC life is proving to be a challenge he's not certain he can win.**** Like all Jill Shalvis books, INSTANT GRATIFICATION covers all the bases. Readers will laugh at times, feel giddy at others, experience heartfelt pain, and hold their breath (and then sigh) at the steamy, searing passion. Emma and Stone seem total opposites but truth be told, they both just want someone to love and to be loved in return. I feel certain that readers will agree that this is an excellent follow-up to INSTANT ATTRACTION and I highly recommend this book, and this series, to all romance lovers.
It doenloaded the wrong story for me also. I contacted b&n support and the reuploaded the book and now i have stones story .
## WOW! What an amazing story. This is the second book in the series and although i loved the first book, i loved this one even more! Jill shalvis hits it out of the park every time. The connection between the characters are so real. My god, Stone (the hero) was unbelievably hot. And the humor: how does jill do that? I laughed out loud several times. I could not put this book down! Boy am i going to be tired when my alarm goes off in 2 hours, but definitely worth it!
Following the heart attack of her dad, Dr. Emma Sinclair leaves her work at a New York City hospital emergency room to run her dad's clinic in her hometown of Wishful, California while he recovers. However, she misses her work so though she provides expert care even to felines, she keeps herself somewhat aloof from the patients. Due to his work at Wilder Adventures and as a rescue worker, Stone Wilder has suffered plenty of injuries over the years. He is regular of the clinic and likes Doc Stone's bed manners, but appreciates the workaholic daughter wanting her in bed with him. She seems interested too yet keeps them apart with a cold scorning demeanor. Still neither can resist the attraction that leads to INSTANT GRATIFICATION. However, he wants several more decades while she is ready to flee back to her exciting medical yet also sterile personal life in New York. The second Wilder Adventures contemporary romance (see INSTANT ATTRACTION) is an amusing gender war as he is West Coast and she is East Coast. Emma is a terrific protagonist who wants to return to the Big Apple but though she detests the inane Stone, she also wants a tryst on the surgical table with him. Stone enjoys teasing the prim doctor and wants on her table too, but figured he will take her into the great outdoors first. Fans will enjoy the fun lighthearted frolic between opposites attracted and detracted. Harriet Klausner
I was really looking forward to Stone's story, but I got TJ's instead! WTH BN!? I don't want to read series books out of order!
There¿s something about this author¿s writing I love so much. Many writers can be `hit or miss¿, but for me Jill Shalvis is always a winner. Her writing is hilarious, light-hearted, and yet always manages to deal with major emotions and different relationships. This is the second book in the Wilder Brothers trilogy, and while it holds up nicely on its own, you should really read the books in order (you won¿t regret it). First of all, the cover is creepy. The other two Wilder Brothers covers are just great. But this one¿if you see it in full size the guy has frightening black eyes like something from a science fiction movie. Don't let it turn you off, and when you read, make sure you imagine someone who isn't from Star Wars. Big brother TJ, middle brother Stone and baby brother Cam run `Wilder Adventures¿ in the Sierras. They take people on adventure trips of all kinds. This book is about Stone ¿ the one who keeps everyone together and the one who takes on responsibility for everyone in his life. Emma Sinclair is a doctor from New York, and returns to her small mountain hometown to keep her father¿s small practice going while the man recovers from a heart attack. She¿s the absolute, complete opposite of Stone, and it¿s hard work getting the two of them together. Jill Shalvis writes contemporary romance ¿ no suspense or paranormal stuff in sight. I love all genres, but straight contemporary is a subgenre I have trouble finding good books in. This series is especially great because you have so much fun while reading. Shalvis¿ characters are never carbon copies of each other. Stone is an excellent businessman, great at restoring houses, fantastic at adventure sport. He¿s also terrified of needles ¿ he used superglue on a gash on his face so he wouldn¿t need to get stitches. He¿s so busy making plans for everyone else he¿s run out of time to do the things he wants. But he¿s determined to show Emma she might just be able to find a place of her own in the small community. Emma is uptight ¿ a serious planner ¿ and has absolutely no idea about all the things that happened between her parents. She arrives in town full of assumptions about everybody and everything, and she has a lot of learning to do. She¿s strong enough to admit when she¿s wrong ¿ which is quite the admirable quality in a heroine. I absolutely adored the first book in the series, Instant Attraction ¿ ditto for the third book, Instant Temptation. If you read one of these books you should read them all. They¿re all self-contained stories, but there¿s a lot more to this town to find out. This might be Jill Shalvis¿ best series, and I can¿t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Great story! Emotional, funny and sweet! I could not put it down. Love this series!!
I loved this series, it turned me into a life long Jill Shalvis fan! She has the gift for telling the best romance stories!!
Jill Shalvis is a new author for me. I enjoy how the characters interact with each other. Family dynamics help tell any story. Although the book can be read on it's own, I am going back to the first book in the series and read them all.
Havent bought others in series yet, but definitely will!
Yet again another great book. I love reading anything written by JillShalvis.
Ienjoyed the story. I wish the ending had her dad in t alittle but I lked it a lot.
I've just recently discovered Jill Shalvis and I love her books! She is my new favorite author! This series was wonderful. The author has such a knack for making you feel like you are there experiencing it all. The scenery & the people become so familiar. She makes you laugh & cry. And the love scenes are very passionate & Hot! I am now on a mission to read all of her books!
Ive read all of this authors Lucky Harbor series and some others, and theyve all been good. This was my first of this series, and I really enjoyed it. The characters were really fun and likeable, nice storyline, great chemistry, a very sweet romance. I'll be reading the other two books in the series soon!