THE PERFECT PRESCRIPTION
Dr. Chloe Brody cares about all her patients. Maybe more than she should. Because one day rodeo cowboy Wyatt Kelley shows up in her ER, busted up but still flirting. He's got no place to go, so she takes him home.
Soon, Wyatt is seeing stuff no one else in Chloe's life has noticed. The pretty doctor has a full life, but inside, she's alone, just like him. When the attraction between them heats up, Wyatt knows he should leave Blue Falls and Chloe behindbecause what can a broken cowboy with an ugly past offer a woman like her? Chloe, though, is determined to show Wyatt that she doesn't care about his past. She just wants him to be a part of her future.
About the Author
Trish Milburn is a freelance journalist, lives in the South, and is a big fan of the outdoors and U.S. National Parks. When not writing, she enjoys hiking, nature photography, reading, traveling, watching TV or movies, and surfing the Web. She's also a big geek girl, including being a Browncoat and a Whovian, and has been known to cosplay at Dragon*Con.
Read an Excerpt
Wyatt Kelley stood on the edge of the bucking chute, looking down at the monster bull. Beelzebub. From what he'd heard of the bull's nasty attitude, the demonic name fit. Yeah, this had "easy ride" written all over it. The moment he mounted the two-ton bull, ol' Beezy let him know exactly what he thought of having a rider by twitching, fidgeting, snorting. Basically saying, "Your butt is toast."
"I don't think he wants to be your best friend," said one of the cowboys manning the chute.
"What?" Wyatt patted the bull on the side of his neck. "This little guy is a sweetheart. We're going out for drinks afterward."
As if to disagree, Beezy stomped the dirt and shuddered beneath him, causing the bell hanging from the lower part of Wyatt's bull rope to clang.
"Next up, we've got a cowboy out of the Cowboy State," the rodeo announcer said as Wyatt readjusted the rope, getting his grip just right. "Wyatt Kelley will be riding Beelzebub."
Wyatt took a deep breath, let it out, then nodded. The moment the chute opened, Beelzebub shot out and began bucking as if Wyatt were a nest full of angry hornets. The arena around him became a dirt-brown blur as the bull spun and kicked so hard it nearly jarred the teeth out of Wyatt's head. As if ticked off that he hadn't gotten rid of Wyatt's weight yet, Beezy switched directions and kicked even harder.
Wyatt held on for all he was worth, pretty sure this was the longest eight seconds of his career. And he'd ridden more bulls than he could count. In the next moment, his hat went flying. Sensing victory, the bull seemed to corral all of his intense power and did a belly roll, coming completely off the ground as he kicked all four feet out to the side. Wyatt felt himself slide but he tightened his hold on the rope and his legs pressed against the bull's sides. By some miracle, he stayed on.
But as soon as the bull landed on his feet, he went into a spin that spelled doom. In less than the blink of an eye, the bull bucked Wyatt off into the well, the center of the rank bastard's spin. Wyatt's heart rate accelerated when he realized his hand was caught in his rope, adrenaline fueling panic. He fought to free himself, but before he could Beezy caught him with a horn.
Pain shot through the lower part of his side just before he went airborne and was flung to the other side of the bull. Wyatt was still fighting to free himself and not succumb to the pain when the bull caught him again, this time across his abdomen just below his safety vest.
This was not good. Really not good.
Wyatt felt like a rag doll, one that might well soon have its guts spilling over the dirt of the arena. It wasn't as if he hadn't thought of dying like this before, but the reality sure did suck a bushel of lemons.
His body slammed against the ground before he realized his hand had finally come loose from the rope.
His vision dimmed, and he didn't think he could move even if he saw the bull's hooves heading toward his face. But it wasn't the bull that came into his line of sight but rather the painted face of one of the bullfighters.
"Hang on, buddy." The man's words sounded off, as if they were having to move through water or maybe thick syrup to reach Wyatt's ears. "We're going to get you some help."
The bullfighter shifted away to speak to someone Wyatt couldn't see. Wyatt stared up at the sky beyond the lights of the arena and blinked slowly. He wondered if he looked down would he find that the lower half of his body was no longer attached to the top half and they just hadn't told him yet.
He wasn't sure how much time passed, but it seemed between one blink and the next paramedics appeared. He glanced to the right and saw an ambulance. At least it wasn't a hearse. Guess that meant he wasn't dead. They fitted him with a neck brace without too much trouble. But when they started to slip a backboard beneath him, he cried out without even thinking about it. That tended to happen when it felt as if your gut were being sliced open with a flaming hot machete.
In the next moment, the two paramedics and what must have been half the cowboys in attendance were lifting him and carrying him to the ambulance. Somehow the muffled applause of the spectators reached him, and the guy from the chute smiled down at him.
"Hear that? You're going to get a lot of ladies after this."
Wyatt wasn't entirely sure that the body parts that would interest the ladies weren't long gone. And when they loaded him in the ambulance, causing a fresh hell to tear at his middle, thoughts of the ladies were the furthest thing from his mind.
Everything seemed to send a new shock wave of pain through him. The slamming shut of the ambulance door, the driver climbing into the front seat, the jouncing of the rig as it left the arena. When the ambulance made the turn out of the rodeo grounds onto the road, black dots appeared in front of Wyatt's eyes.
"To hell with this," he thought before letting himself pass out.
Dr. Chloe Brody dropped the coins into the snack machine then looked through the glass front at her choices. The granola bar or bag of apple slices were the wisest choices, but the chocolate cupcakes seemed to be singing a siren song to her. Come on, you know you want to, that devious package of sugary goodness whispered. You can run off the pesky calories later.
Giving in to temptation, she punched the appropriate buttons and watched the cupcakes drop.
"Hey, Doc," called Lori Dalton from the ER nurses' station. "You want to enter the pool?"
Chloe grabbed her cupcakes and walked toward the trio of women behind the desk. "I'm afraid to ask.
What's the pool for?"
Sophie Wells, a petite blonde, looked up and smiled. "On who Verona is going to target next."
Chloe laughed as she leaned against the wall that separated the nurses' station from the four curtained trauma and triage areas. Verona Charles was Blue Falls's version of Cupid. Her favorite pastime was seeing which couples she could match up. While she sent many happily single people fleeing, she did have a remarkably good rate of success. Last year alone, she'd not only successfully matched her niece, Elissa, but also Elissa's two best friends, India and Skyler. And she'd probably had her hand in a few more couples ending up together.
"You all are tempting fate," Chloe said.
"I already have a man," said Lori as she flashed her engagement ring.
Chloe gestured toward Sophie and Jenna Marks, who normally worked at the clinic with Chloe but was picking up some extra hours at the hospital. As usual, the nurse had her dark brown hair pulled back in a thick ponytail that swayed when she moved. "Yeah, but these two don't."
"Well, you could help with Jenna," Sophie said. "She's had the hots for your brother forever."
Jenna swatted Sophie's arm.
"What? You do. Every time you see Garrett, you practically drool all over yourself."
Jenna huffed. "I do not."
"Whatever." Sophie returned her gaze to Chloe.
"Oh, no." Chloe shook her head. "I'm not getting in the middle of that." She gestured toward the notepad on which Lori had written several names. "Who are the choices?"
"My money's on Greg Bozeman," Sophie said.
Chloe laughed again. "You've got to be joking." Greg was the biggest flirt in town, more so than even her younger brother, Owen.
"Think about it," Sophie said. "It would be the biggest feather in her cap so far."
Chloe shook her head. "I'll believe it when I see it. What are my other choices?"
"Daisy Ford," Lori said, naming one of the waitresses down at the Primrose Café. "Jesse Bradshaw, Andrew Canton." Lori read off a few other names before tossing in Bernie Shumaker, who had to be as old as Blue Falls.
"Okay, now I know you all have lost it."
Sophie shrugged. "Got to do something. It's a slow night."
They all froze.
"You did not just say that," Lori said.
They all looked toward the emergency entrance as if Sophie's words would tempt a herd of sick and injured to start flooding the ER. When the doors remained free of patients, they breathed a collective sigh of relief.
"What about you, Chloe?" Jenna asked, grinning. "You're single. Maybe we should put your name on the list."
Chloe lifted her package of cupcakes. "On that note, my new best friends and I are headed to the break room."
She'd just sat down and ripped away the plastic wrapping when she heard the siren. Considering one of the hospital's two ambulances sat outside the ER, this one had to be coming from the rodeo. Leaving her snack behind, she hurried back to the ER just as the paramedics were unloading their patient.
"What have we got?" she asked Dale Marsh, one of the paramedics.
"Male, thirty-one, name Wyatt Kelley. Took a bull horn to the side and the lower abdomen."
As she got her first look at the cowboy, she noticed his shirt soaked with blood. "Put him in trauma one."
Chloe started directing the nurses to remove both the cowboy's protective vest and his shirt so she could assess the seriousness of the guy's injuries. He'd been out cold when they wheeled him in, but when they lifted him he moaned in agony. As they laid him back, his eyes shot wide open and locked on her.
"Are you trying to kill me?" he asked, his voice breathless and strained.
She smiled, hoping to calm him. "Quite the opposite, handsome. You'll be good as new before you know it." A lot of doctors she'd worked with remained detached and clinical when working with patients, but that wasn't her style. She'd tried, and just couldn't stick to it. Wanting to help people and caring about them were the reasons she'd become a doctor in the first place. Maybe she'd burn out sooner, but she'd deal with that when the time came.
Chloe squeezed his hand then got back to work flushing his wounds. She pulled out a sliver of horn that had broken off and directed the nurses to start antibiotics so the bacteria from the horn didn't do the guy in. When she was able to see the wounds better, a deep laceration just below where his safety vest had ended and a puncture wound in his left side, she knew he needed surgery.
She made eye contact with Jenna. "Get Dr. Pierce in here."
Jenna nodded and hurried out of the trauma area.
"Please tell me Dr. Pierce isn't in charge of the morgue," the cowboy said.
Despite the pain he was in, the guy still managed to hang on to his sense of humor. She was pretty sure she'd be howling in agony.
"Not for this little scratch, cowboy."
She nodded. "Nice to meet you, Wyatt. I'm Dr.
He gritted his teeth against a wave of pain. "Gotta say, you're way prettier than most of the ER docs I've seen."
She shook her head. "See, you're not hurt too badly if you can flirt." The reality was his injuries weren't minor, but she didn't need him freaking out about how he wasn't going to be sitting on a bull anytime in the near future. These guys lived pretty spare unless they were in the big money, and Blue Falls hadn't quite made it to the big-time rodeo circuit yet.
"Hon, there's always time to flirt until you stop breathing." As if to contradict himself, he caught his breath as his injuries sent another jolt of pain through his body.
The good thing about Blue Falls being so small, it didn't take Dr. Pierce, the surgeon, long to reach the hospital.
Chloe took Wyatt's hand. "We're going to send you to surgery now and get you fixed up. Dr. Pierce will take good care of you." She gestured toward where the surgeon was walking by on his way to prep for surgery.
"He's not as pretty as you," Wyatt said, drawing a chuckle from Chloe.
When she started to step away, Wyatt squeezed her hand with a surprising grip considering the shape he was in. When her eyes met his, her heart skipped a beat. Damn, he was good-looking, even dirt- and blood-covered and with his face pale from the pain and blood loss. An unexpected heat rushed through her before she grabbed on to some professionalism and gave his hand a quick squeeze before releasing it.
"See you on the other side, cowboy." Wyatt gave her a crooked grin. "Promise?" She just smiled and sent him off to surgery. "Yep, we definitely need to add you to the pool list," Lori said. "In fact, I think you just jumped to the top of it."
"Wyatt and Chloe sitting in a tree," Sophie said in a singsong voice. "K-i-s-s-i-n-g."
Chloe made as if she were going to throw one of her used surgical gloves at Sophie, sending the nurse scurrying away with a laugh. "Hard to pair me with someone who doesn't live here."
"India's and Skyler's husbands didn't live here, either, when they met them," Sophie called back.
Jenna deposited her used gloves in the hazardous waste bin. "And they just happened to be hot cowboys, too."
Chloe rolled her eyes and disposed of her own gloves. After thoroughly washing her hands and arms, she left the ER with a wave to the nurses. "I'm going to go finish my date with a cupcake."
"Save one for that delicious cowboy," Sophie called down the corridor.
She wasn't sure if it was the nurses' teasing, Wyatt Kelley's flirting, or the way her heart had stuttered when he'd held her hand and met her eyes, but she kept thinking about him throughout the rest of her shift. The cupcakes didn't distract her. Neither did dealing with a toddler who'd eaten an electric-lime crayon. When she tried to focus on anything else, her mind kept sliding back to the rugged angle of Wyatt's square jaw and those blue-gray eyes that had watched her with more interest than anyone with his abdomen ripped open should have been able to muster.
Even after her shift was over, she hung around. She figured the nurses would have a field day with that, but she didn't care. She kept telling herself it was professional interest, that she wanted to make sure her patient made it through surgery. She was so wrapped up in trying to convince herself she wasn't interested in Wyatt Kelley for anything other than medical reasons that she nearly ran into Dr. Pierce as he came out of the short corridor that led to surgery.
"You're still here?" His forehead wrinkled as he glanced at the clock on the wall.
"Yeah. Just checking on a few things before I leave." She nodded toward the surgical area. "How's Mr. Kelley?"
"In one piece, though he's not going to be riding in the foreseeable future. Maybe ever."
She didn't know Wyatt, but her heart hurt for him at that bit of news. She'd been around enough cowboys in her life to know they didn't like having to face hanging it up.
Several long moments after Dr. Pierce left, Chloe continued to stare down the corridor toward the double doors that led to surgery. She'd spent mere minutes with Wyatt, but she didn't like the image that formed in her mind of the light going out of his beautiful eyes as his future was ripped away. Why she cared so much, she had no idea. But she did.