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M.D. Most Wanted
By Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin EnterprisesCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThere were some days that Reese Bendenetti felt as if he just hit the floor running.
This was one of those days.
He'd been up, dressed and driving before he was fully awake. Normally punctual, Reese was running behind, thanks to an asthmatic alarm clock that had chosen this morning to make a sound more like a cough than a ring when it went off. The sound had barely registered in his consciousness, and he'd fallen back to sleep only to jerk awake more than half an hour later.
When it came to getting up, Reese had been cutting time to the bone as it was, setting the clock to give him just enough leeway to shower, shave, and have breakfast - provided he moved at a pace that could easily be mistaken for the fast-forward speed on a VCR.
That had been before his fateful early-morning encounter with the "little alarm clock that couldn't." Consequently, the shower had lasted all of two minutes, his hair had still been wet when he'd gotten behind the wheel of his '94 'Vette - the single indulgence he allowed himself - and his face was fated to remain untouched by a razor until he could find some time at the hospital in between rounds, emergency room patients, and whatever else the gods chose to throw at him this morning.
Eating was something he couldn't think about until he camewithin coin-tossing distance of a vending machine at the aforementioned hospital, Blair Memorial.
Reese knew he only had himself to blame. No one had made him become a doctor, no one had told him to go into general surgery or to specialize in internal medicine. Those had been his own choices. His mother, bless her, would have been satisfied if he'd become a part-time sanitation engineer. As long as he was happy - that was her only criterion. Rachel Bendenetti never placed any demands on him, only on herself.
But healing was the only thing that did make him happy. It was in healing others that Reese felt as if he were healing himself, renewing himself. Building a better Reese Bendenetti.
He never quite understood why, he just knew that making someone else's life a little better, a little easier, always managed to do the same for him.
That was why whenever Lukas Graywolf, a cardiac surgeon, returned to the reservation where he'd been born and raised, Reese always volunteered to go along with him and provide services to people who would otherwise not be able to afford them. The way he saw it, the rewards were priceless. It had never been about money for Reese.
He'd been enamored with medicine ever since he'd applied his first Band-Aid. Almost twenty-five years later he could still remember the circumstances. After calling him a name, Janet Cummings had turned and begun to run away, only to trip on the sidewalk. She'd scraped her knee badly and it had bled. Without hesitating, he'd run into the ground-floor apartment he and his mother were living in at the time, gotten a Band-Aid and peroxide out of the medicine cabinet - the way he'd seen his mother do - and run back outside to come to Janet's aid.
He never stopped to think that she deserved it because she'd been nasty to him, all he could think of was to stop the bleeding. Watching him, Janet had stopped crying. When he was finished, she'd shyly kissed his cheek.
Reese remembered lighting up like a Christmas tree inside. Janet had been six at the time. He'd been almost seven.
It was a feeling that he wanted to have again, and he did. Each time he worked on a patient.
Working on Tomas Morales's perforated ulcer was a little more complex than applying peroxide and a Band-Aid to a scraped knee, but the feeling of satisfaction was still the same.
Taking off his mask, he tossed it into the hamper and sighed, bone weary. The operation had taken longer than he'd expected. As he ran a hand through his hair, holding the green cap he'd just removed in his other hand, his stomach growled. Fiercely.
"I heard that all the way over here," Alix DuCane cracked. She was standing by the sink, putting lotion on her freshly scrubbed hands. The gloves she'd just taken off chaffed her flesh. If she wasn't careful, she thought, she was going to wind up with skin like a lizard.
As if in response, his stomach growled again. One of the orderlies chuckled to himself.
Reese shrugged, tossing the paper towel he'd just used to dry his hands into the wastebasket.
"That's what happens when all you've had for breakfast is a small candy bar." It'd been stale at that, he thought. Hazards of war.
Having removed her own surgical cap, Alix shook out her short, curly blond hair as she crossed to him. "It was at least a granola bar, I hope."
Reese grinned and shook his head. "Nope. Chocolate bar. Pure sugar in a sticky wrapper. I think the candy in the vending machine down the hall is melting."
She tended to agree, having hit the machine more than once for an energy surge in the past week. Alix frowned in mock disapproval. "Shame on you, Dr. Bendenetti. What kind of an example are you setting for your patients? You're supposed to know better."
His shrug was careless, loose-limbed. The movement hinted that there was an ache there somewhere, waiting to emerge and make him uncomfortable. He needed a new mattress, he thought. And the time in which to purchase it.
But first things first. "Know where I can get a reliable alarm clock?"
Alix smiled to herself. She knew of several women on staff at the hospital, including two physicians, who would have been more than happy to volunteer to wake Reese up personally, any hour of the day or night. So long as they could occupy the space beside him in the bed right before then.
There was no denying it, Alix thought, looking at her friend with an impartial eye. Reese Bendenetti was one desirable hunk, made more so by the fact that he seemed to be completely unaware of his own attributes. To her knowledge, he rarely socialized. When he did, it was to catch a beer or take a cup of coffee with a group from the hospital. Never one-on-one, except with her, and theirs was a purely platonic friendship. They had a history together, going back to medical school. He'd known her when she was still married to Jeff. Before the boating accident that had taken him away from her.
Excerpted from M.D. Most Wanted by Marie Ferrarella Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.