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A NineStar Press Publication

www.ninestarpress.com

Falling for Him

Copyright © 2017 CL Mustafic

Cover Art by Natasha Snow ©Copyright 2017

Edited by: BJ Toth

Published in 2017 by NineStar Press, New Mexico, USA.


This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, NineStar Press, LLC.


Warning

This book contains sexually explicit content, which is only suitable for mature readers.

Falling for Him

CL Mustafic

Table of Contents

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Epilogue

About the Author

Dedication

To my family,

who left me alone for enough five-minute increments to write this book.

Acknowledgements

I’d like to thank the people who helped me bring this book to this point.


To Morwen Navarre, who encouraged me to submit my work to a publisher: without you pushing me, I probably wouldn’t have taken the chance or survived the numerous rejections.

To Tonna Saunders, for being there for me every step of the way with this story. For reading the darn thing about twenty times and still giving me crap about the dog. Readers like you are the reason I keep writing.

To Christina Quinn and Jamila Lindsey, for listening to me cry and complain about anything and everything and then kicking me in the butt to get me back on track.

To Pippa Brook for her reassuring comments when the nerves really hit.

And finally to BJ Toth, my editor, and also the person who finally took a chance on Gavin and Lex. Thank you for giving me this opportunity, and I promise to make the most of it.

Chapter One

“I’m really sorry to drag you guys out here again,” Dr. Gavin Addison said to the two police officers who were standing on his front porch. His soon-to-be ex-wife had been at it again. This time both of the back tires on his car were slashed, and the note she’d put on the windshield left no doubt in his mind who’d done the dirty deed. Gavin hated having to call the cops every few days, and they were probably just as sick of responding to file the damn complaints from him.

“It’s not a problem; that’s what we’re here for,” Officer Grady said reassuringly. It was definitely a bad sign that Gavin knew most of the officers by name. Grady’s partner stood off to the side, silent as usual. Officer Turner was not a talkative man. Gavin couldn’t remember the younger officer ever uttering a word in his presence.

“I know, but I still feel bad. You guys want a cup of coffee or anything?” he offered.

“Nah, we have to get this written up and head over to the campus. There’s a kegger going on at one of the frat houses, and we’ve been taking noise complaints all night. Time to shut it down.” Grady smiled.

“On a Thursday night? Kids these days.” Gavin tsked jokingly. His eyes shifted to Officer Turner who, unlike his partner, had caught the sarcasm in Gavin’s statement and smirked as Officer Grady nodded his agreement. It was the first emotion Gavin had seen on Officer Turner’s face, and it transformed him. He looked more like one of the frat boys they were going to bust than the stoic cop Gavin had always thought him to be.

Grady handed him the clipboard to get his signature on the statement. With that done, Officer Grady reminded him to make sure all his windows and doors were properly locked and said goodnight. Gavin thanked them again and made sure he locked the front door after going in. He shut the porch light off and checked the time. Christ, he had to be up at six—five hours of sleep if he could manage to settle down again.

Gavin’s alarm jarred him out of an uneasy slumber. He sat up on the edge of the bed to stretch and rub his eyes. Feeling like shit and with the thought of a busy day ahead, of rounds to make before a full schedule at the clinic, he got up and stumbled into the kitchen to start the coffeepot. From there, he went on to the bathroom where he showered, shaved, and dressed in record time. He grabbed his biggest travel mug, filled it with coffee, and was halfway out the door when he remembered that his car wasn’t going anywhere on only two good tires.

“Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck,” he swore as he went back into the house to call his friend Riley for a lift. Riley swore it wasn’t a problem to swing by and pick him up, but Gavin professed his gratitude anyway. He filled a second travel mug from the chilling pot and went to the porch to wait for his ride.

Riley pulled up to the curb a few minutes later, and Gavin climbed into the front seat, handing a grateful-looking Riley the second travel mug. “Thanks again, I know it’s out of your way, but the incident happened late last night, or I would have called to give you a heads-up,” Gavin said.

“Hey, man, like I said, so not a problem. I can’t believe that bitch did it again. How is she not in jail?” Riley asked. He took a sip of the coffee, hummed his approval, and gave Gavin a thumbs-up. One thing he liked about Riley: he never minced words, always saying what was on his mind. Gavin wouldn’t usually tolerate someone badmouthing his wife, but Riley got a free pass since he was Gavin’s best friend and had known Cassie as long as Gavin had.

“You know that I hate when you talk about her like that. She’s just taking the divorce really hard.” Gavin repeated what he’d been saying for the past month and a half in defense of Cassandra. “Her cousin’s a lawyer, and somehow he’s kept her out of jail so far. Not that I want her in jail, but I sure wish she’d leave my damn car alone.”

Riley shook his head. “Gav, you are way too nice sometimes. She’s the reason you’re getting a divorce in the first place, or did you forget that you caught her playing hide the salami with the UPS guy?”

“I know, I know, but we were married for almost ten years, Riley. That’s a long time to love someone. It’s not that easy to just make these feelings stop. She’s the only woman I ever loved, you know?” He probably should hate Cassie, but he couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for her. She wasn’t an easy person to love. People just didn’t get her most of the time. They thought she came across as cold and self-absorbed. Her nickname in college had been the Ice Queen. People thought he was stupid because, yeah, she’d cheated on him, and he was pissed about it, but they could have worked through it if she hadn’t said the things she’d said to him. He could forgive her for cheating, but knowing what she thought about him was something he couldn’t forget or get over.

“Dude, you need to get back out there and find you a chick that can appreciate what you got to offer. You know all the single nurses and half the married ones would give their left tit to go out with you. All you gotta do is pick one,” Riley said. “If I were you, I’d so be hitting up Lacey; that girl is so fine. I’d tap that if Sheila wouldn’t kick my ass for it.”

“You’re a pig, you know that?” Gavin asked. “And Sheila would kick your ass just for talking like that. I should tell her. It’s been a while since you’ve had a good ass kicking.”

Riley pulled into the staff lot and parked. “Shit, that woman kicks my ass on a regular basis. Says she needs to keep me in line.”

Gavin laughed because both things were probably true. They got out of the car and headed into the hospital. “You here all day, or do you have clinic hours?”

“I’m here all day. You just here for rounds?”

“Yeah, I have a couple of surgical patients I have to see this morning, and then I’m off to the clinic. I was going to buy you lunch as a thank you for the ride, but we’ll have to do it another day.”

“Sure thing, man, let me know if you need a ride home. I could swing by and pick you up. See ya later.” They went their separate ways once inside the hospital.

Gavin made his way up to the fourth floor nurses station and pulled the charts for his patients. He was sitting at one of the desks in a little alcove behind the counter when the giggling began. He looked up and around the corner. The nurses were gathered around the computer tittering like little girls.

“I can’t believe that’s him.”

“Oh my god, look what it says he’s into.”

“This has got to be a joke.”

“No, that’s really him.”

“I wouldn’t mind doing that to him, if that’s what he wants.”

“That is some sick, perverted stuff right there.”

“You’d never guess. He seems so normal and nice.”

“How did you find this?”

“There was a sticky note on the computer with the link on it. I had no idea what it was, but this is what came up when I typed it in,” one of the younger nurses said to the crowd around her.

“Do you think he put it there hoping maybe one of us would be interested?” asked Janie, another of the younger nurses.

Gavin had to see what was going on. He got out of his chair and walked toward the group. He knew something wasn’t right when they noticed him, and Tamara blushed bright red and tried to shut the computer off before he could see what was on the screen.

“Hey, ladies, what’s got you all in such a tizzy?” he asked with his most congenial smile. They stood around, gaping at him like they’d never seen him before. He stepped over and then moved around, Tamara and looked at the screen. Gavin couldn’t believe what he saw. The blush crept up his neck as he read what was there for everyone to see. It was like a train wreck; he couldn’t stop looking at it.

“Dr. Addison, are you okay?”

“Grab him a chair.”

“Get some water.”

“Doctor, sit down and put your head between your legs.” Sandy, the head nurse, pushed him down into the chair and shoved his head between his knees. “Do you need a paper bag? I think you’re hyperventilating.” Someone shoved a paper bag into Gavin’s hands. He put it to his mouth and breathed into it until he felt himself calming down.

The nurses were murmuring around him, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying until he heard Sandy’s authoritative voice ask, “What the hell is this? Who did this?” Gavin looked up to see Sandy pointing at the computer and eyeing all of her nurses with suspicion. “I want answers, and I want them now!”

“I did it, but it was a mistake,” Lisa said. She pointed to the sticky note before adding, “That was on the screen, and I typed it in. I didn’t know what it was. I swear.”

“That’s not the only mistake you made. What made you think it was a good idea to spread this around? You should have reported it to me. This isn’t the type of thing that should be viewed at work, and I want to know who’s responsible for the sticky note,” she lectured. No one took responsibility for the Post-it.

Gavin got up from the chair and took the neon yellow piece of paper off the desk. The gathered nurses stared at him like he was some sort of animal. He turned to leave when Sandy put her hand on his arm. “I’m fine. I have a couple of patients to see, and then I’ll be out of your hair. I’m going to take this. The cops might want to see it when I file a report.”

“I’m sorry, Dr. Addison, this should never have happened. What you do on your own time is your business, but I really don’t think we need to get the police involved. I don’t think there’s been a crime committed here.” Her tone was nonjudgmental, but her posture was rigid.

“I’m not…” Gavin started but took a deep calming breath. “You know that I’m going through a divorce right now?” Sandy nodded, yes, of course everyone knew. “My wife has been making things difficult for me, and I think she may have had a hand in this. I assure you I’ve never been on this site before in my life, let alone set up a profile looking for someone to peg me,” he finished with a grimace.

“Oh, well, okay then. I’ll sort this mess out and try to contain the fallout,” she said.

“Thanks, Sandy, I appreciate that.” Good luck with that; this would be the top gossip for the next week unless a couple of residents got caught fucking in a broom closet again. Gavin fought the urge to hurry through his rounds and get the hell out of there. He considered his options, and no matter how he worked it out, there was no getting out of attending his patients at the hospital unless he wanted to quit his job.

Thankfully, the news hadn’t reached the clinic when he got there at ten. His mind was still occupied by what he’d seen and he couldn’t wait to get a moment alone in his office to look into it more thoroughly. He’d seen four patients when his pager went off with a 9-1-1 code from Riley. The news had reached the ER. Gavin checked his schedule. Riley would have to wait until he had a small break between the patient he was about to see and the one after.

He did his best to not rush the old man who was in for a consult for cataract surgery. He patiently explained the procedure to the man’s wife and daughter and answered all of their questions. When he left them with the nurse to finish up, he breathed a sigh of relief. He made his way to his office and sat down heavily in his chair. He pulled the sticky note out of his wallet and typed the URL into the computer as he dialed Riley. The website was getyourkinkon dot com, and it was like nothing Gavin had ever seen before in his life.

“Hey, man, what the hell? Why am I hearing all kinds of crazy-ass shit about the most vanilla boy I know?” Riley asked upon answering.

Instead of explaining, he asked, “What the hell is pegging?”

Riley’s laughter was loud enough that Gavin had to pull the phone away from his ear until it died down. “Holy shit, Gav, it’s true, huh?”

“You didn’t answer the question, and what’s true?”

“Pegging is when a woman fucks you up the ass with a strap-on. There’s this crazy rumor going around that a certain doctor is into some kinky-ass sex, and the nurses are all aflutter,” he said still laughing, making Gavin want to punch him.

“Fuck you, Ri. I think Cassie might have done this. I don’t even know what half this shit is.” Gavin was still looking at his made-up profile. Staring back at Gavin was a picture of himself in a pair of cutoff jean shorts and nothing else, giving the camera his best come-hither look. Cassie had taken it one day when he’d been feeling extra amorous and had been trying his best to get her into bed, but it had turned into them giggling over Gavin’s sad attempts at seduction.

“I kinda figured you weren’t that kinky. You’d have told me if you were. So on a scale of one to ten, how embarrassed are you?” Riley asked.

“Two hundred or so,” Gavin replied. He now knew what pegging was but still had no clue what some of the other things were and was quite sure he wouldn’t be into them even if he did. “What I want to know is how she could have planted the Post-it note with the website on it at the nurse’s station. This is just fucking crazy, even for her.”

“You sure it was her?” Riley asked, but his tone told Gavin he was only playing the devil’s advocate.

“Who else would do this?” Gavin covered his face, blocking out his own image on the screen. “Oh, god, this is so bad. Everyone thinks I’m some kind of pervert now. How the hell am I going to show my face at the hospital again?”

“Maybe you just gotta own it, bro. Walk in tomorrow and strut your stuff. Who cares what everyone else thinks? To each their own, man. If you wanna be a kinky fucker, you go on and be the best kinky fucker you can be,” Riley advised.

“But I’m not a kinky fucker.” His words sounded whiny, but damn it, he needed to whine to someone. He looked at the clock. “I have to go. I have a patient in a couple of minutes. Want to give me a ride to the police station after your shift?”

“Yeah, sure, I’ll be there. Laters.”

Gavin called AAA to schedule them to change his tires that evening, so at least his car would be in working order again. Damn Cassie. He didn’t want to hate her, but she was doing her best to make him. He slogged his way through the rest of his workday and gratefully climbed into the car when Riley showed up to drive him to the station.

Riley was smiling when Gavin got in the car. “So, I checked out your profile. Dude, that is some serious kink. Did you see that you got like sixty spanks?” he asked.

Gavin groaned and asked, “Do I even want to know what spanks are?”

“Spanks are what interested people send you. It means that they’re into the same stuff and wanna get you tied to a bed, so they can get their kink on, you know, like the name of the web site?” Riley answered through his laughter.

“How the hell do you know that?”

“Hey, I was curious, so I spent a little time checking it out for you. Maybe you should take a couple of those kinky chicks up on their offers. How long’s it been since you got laid?” he asked.

“Number one, I am not going out with anyone who would be on that site. Number two, you are a seriously deranged person. Number three, it’s none of your damn business how long it’s been since I’ve had sex. Number four, if it was your business, it’s been too damn long,” Gavin said. All of it was true. He hadn’t had sex with anyone other than himself in almost seven months, and before that, sex with Cassie had been sporadic at best for the last couple of years.

Riley shook his head in commiseration. “We should go out sometime, find you someone to release the pressure. You’re a good-looking guy, Gav. I’m sure there’re plenty of chicks that would go home with you for the night.”

“Maybe that’s a good idea,” Gavin agreed. Casual sex had never really been his thing, but maybe it was time for him to try something different.

“You want me to come in and wait?” Riley asked when they pulled up in front of the police station.

“Nah, go on home. I’ll call a cab if I don’t feel like walking.” He didn’t think he could put up with Riley’s joking around through the process of filing the complaint, and once he was done, he probably wouldn’t want company either. “Thanks again for the rides.”

“Always a pleasure to chauffeur your ass around. Talk at you tomorrow,” Riley said as Gavin got out of the car and shut the door. He watched Riley drive away before turning to the building behind him. He straightened his spine and headed in to get it over with so he could go home and hide in his bed under the covers.

Chapter Two

Officer Lex Turner had just clocked in at six p.m. for his round-the-clock shift. He’d settled at his desk with some paperwork when Grady plopped himself down on the edge of it. Lex looked up expectantly, waiting to hear whatever gossip his older, chattier partner had to spill. He hoped it wasn’t something about him again. Damn cops were like old ladies with their gossip, and his personal life featured more prominently into the rumor mill than he liked.

“So guess who’s having a baby?” Grady asked. Lex shrugged. He had a good idea of who it was but didn’t really give a damn. “Come on, Turner, not even a guess?”

Lex sighed. Grady wouldn’t give up until he guessed. “Leisha from homicide?” The stunned expression on Grady’s face was priceless.

“Someone already told you, didn’t they?”

“No, it was an educated guess based on the fact that she and her husband have been trying for almost a year, and the fact that you look happy. I know that you want to take the detective’s exam and move to homicide.” Lex tried not to look smug, but in his opinion, he’d make a better detective than Grady any day. “I take it she’s not planning on coming back after the baby’s born?”

“Nope, she’s actually trying to transfer out to some little hick town up north, from what I heard,” Grady supplied as he moved his ass from Lex’s desk to his own desk chair.

“Good for her. I hope she gets what she wants.” He wouldn’t disparage anyone’s dreams, even if they were to live a life of a small-town cop in the frozen north. He had his own dreams, but he kept his aspirations to himself. He didn’t need to give his coworkers more to talk about.

“How much paperwork we got tonight?” Grady asked. He turned on his computer and started digging through his desk drawer, looking for god knows what.

“Not too much. Gotta finish up that report on the doc’s vandalism, and you need to write up that accident report. Then we can get back out there for another fun-filled night,” Lex said, making Grady wrinkle his nose.

“That damn woman makes for a lot of fucking paperwork. I’ve got half a mind to handcuff her to her water heater and forget her,” Grady said with a smirk for his own cocky bravado. “Don’t know how a nice guy like the doc got mixed up with a crazy bitch like that.”

Lex sat back in his chair. That was the question, wasn’t it? The doc seemed like a decent enough guy. Why his ex, one Cassandra Addison, would want to make the poor guy’s life hell was beyond Lex. It was even more fucked up when you added in the fact that, from what Lex had gathered, she’d cheated on him. He just hoped they wouldn’t end up with a Fatal Attraction–type ending with this case.

“Yeah, well, sometimes they hide the crazy until they have you in their clutches; then, bam presto chango, psycho chick is in your bed, and you’re fucked in more ways than one,” Lex said.

“Sounds like you got some experience in that area.”

“Don’t we all?”

Grady’s gaze shifted to something over Lex’s shoulder. “Speak of the devil,” Grady whispered.

Lex turned around, hoping that Cassandra Addison was not, in fact, standing behind him. Nope, not the bitch, but Gavin was, and he didn’t look thrilled to be in Lex’s humble workplace. Lex cast an appreciative look over the handsome doctor. He was one fine-looking man, with blond hair that curled wispily around his head and those deep-brown eyes, where you expected to see crystal blue, got Lex every time. Gavin had the greatest smile, and the dimples that peeked out at the slightest grin made Lex want to dip his tongue in them. He shook his head to clear away the thoughts of what he would like to do to the doc, if the doc was so inclined, that was.

“You got him, Grady. You know you’re better with this kind of crap.” He didn’t tell Grady that he got tongue-tied around Gavin and was afraid he’d make a fool of himself.

Grady stood up, smiled, and gestured for Gavin to take a seat by his desk. “Hey there, Doc, what’s up today?” he asked as if Gavin’s was a social visit.

Color rose on Gavin’s cheeks as he flushed a little before answering. Lex was glad he was sitting at his desk because the doc blushing like that did things to his body that weren’t acceptable in polite company. “There’s been another incident. I can’t be one hundred percent sure she did this, but I can’t think of anyone else who would want to humiliate me so much.”

“So what did she do this time?” Grady asked, “Or allegedly do?”

Gavin handed Grady a little slip of paper. “If you punch that into your web browser, you can see for yourself.” Grady took the paper and turned to his computer to type in the web address. He waited a second, and when Grady’s brow furrowed at what he saw on the screen, Gavin’s blush deepened. Lex itched to see what was on that screen but stayed in his seat.

“Why do you want me to look at your personal ad?” Grady asked.

“Because I didn’t post it, and that little sticky note was stuck to a computer at the nurse’s station on the fourth floor surgical unit where I happen to do rounds every morning. Everyone at the hospital now thinks I’m some kind of kinky pervert,” Gavin explained, visibly upset.

Lex had to see what was on Grady’s screen. He got up to look at his partner’s computer. He instantly understood why the doc had turned pink when he handed over the little piece of paper. Lex shook his head; that woman was pure evil.

“So you think your wife posted this profile and then planted the sticky note so that your colleagues would see it, and what?” Grady asked.

“How the hell should I know what she was thinking? I just really want all of this to stop.” Gavin’s voice shook with emotion. Lex feared the doc may be on the verge of tears. That was not something Lex wanted to see. He didn’t think he could handle watching the doc cry without giving into his urge to comfort him. He patted Gavin’s shoulder in reassurance when he went to sit back in his chair. Gavin looked up at Lex and gave him a thin smile. “I’m sorry. I’m just getting really sick of not knowing what she’s going to do next to screw with me. I mean messing with my car or my house is one thing, but my job should be off limits.”

“All of it should be off limits.” Lex surprised himself by blurting the words out. He couldn’t help it; something about the doc brought out the protective side of him. If he had his way, no one would mess with Gavin.

“That’s true,” Grady agreed. “But as long as she has that lawyer of hers, we’re never going to be able to keep her in jail on petty vandalism charges.”

“Isn’t this like stalking or something? Couldn’t you find something else to charge her with?” The pleading tone in Gavin’s voice went straight to Lex’s gut. He could tell the doc was at his wit’s end.

“Well, sounds like you’ve had a change of heart. I remember when you begged us to just file a report but didn’t want us to arrest her,” Grady said.

“Yeah, well, it’s hard to do that to someone you love, but I think she finally crossed the line with this one.” He looked from Grady to Lex. Lex nodded his agreement; yes, she’d definitely crossed the line.

“Okay well, I’m not sure what we can do with this. I’ll have to take it down to our computer-crimes division to see if there’s been an actual crime committed. If so, we’ll see if we can prove that your wife is responsible for it. It’s probably going to take a few days before we have any answers for you. Sorry, but that’s the best I can do,” Grady said.

“I understand.” Gavin stood up. “Thanks for your time. Sorry to be such a bother, really sorry. Let me know if you need anything more from me, and if you could keep me updated on this, I’d appreciate it.” He shook hands with Grady and then turned to Lex. Lex was surprised but stood quickly and grasped the doc’s hand. Gavin smiled as they shook. “Thanks for taking this seriously.”

A pleasant tingle ran up Lex’s arm at the thrill of touching the man he desired. He reminded himself to let go of Gavin’s hand before it got awkward. “Sure, it’s our job.” Dumb, he sounded like an idiot, but at least he hadn’t stammered. Gavin’s smile brightened a little before he turned to leave.

Lex watched as Gavin made his way through the desks and out the lobby door. Why were the straight ones always the ones who got to him the most? Lex turned back to find Grady eyeballing him. “What?” he asked.

“What’s with that look you were giving the doc?”

“What are you talking about? What look?” Lex asked.

“Like you wanted to give him a hug. Kiss his boo-boos and make ’em all better.” He accompanied his statement with kissy sounds.

“Shut up, Grady. I just feel bad for the guy. I wish we could do something more to stop his wife from harassing him. It’s gotta be rough on him.” Lex sat down at his desk and stared at Grady.

“We’re doing what we can. You write up the report; I’m going to run this down to Don and see what he makes of it. Maybe they can get her on something more serious because of the computer stuff.” Grady got up and took the little slip of paper off his desk. He headed off to see the geek squad and left Lex to do the grunt work.

Lex had finished his reports, and Grady still hadn’t returned. He turned Grady’s monitor so that he could punch the URL into his own machine and bring up the profile with Gavin’s picture on it. Shit, the look on the doc’s face had him hard in a second. He suddenly wished he was at home. He’d definitely spend some time alone with his hand and that picture when he was off shift in the morning. He wrote the web address on a slip of paper and stuck it in his pocket. He closed his browser and went to the break room to grab a pop before they headed out. Grady met him on his way out of the break room, and he didn’t look happy.

“Don told me there’s probably not going to be anything we can charge Addison with. He said he’d look into it, and if he can prove she’s responsible, the doc could maybe take her to civil court and sue for defamation. That’s about all though,” Grady said as they walked to their cruiser together.

Lex wasn’t happy about that either. He dreaded having to tell the doc or being there when Grady told him since he probably wouldn’t be able to string that many words together in the doc’s presence.

Lex got in the driver’s side because Grady was a menace when he was behind the wheel, and Lex didn’t feel like writing up an accident report for their car again. The first half of their shift passed pretty uneventfully, a few traffic stops, a couple of noise complaints, and an accident—quiet for a Friday night. They were sitting at the truck stop café, taking their lunch break, when Lex’s cell phone rang.

“Who the hell’s calling you at one in the morning?” Grady asked.

Good question, Lex thought before he pulled his phone out and checked the caller ID. Great, it was his mom. “Hey, Mom, what’s wrong?” he asked because there had to be something wrong for her to call him at that time of night.

“What kind of greeting is that?” she asked.

“Sorry, but really, what’s wrong?”

“Agent is sick. He’s been throwing up since I fed him his supper.”

“Okay, what do you want me to do about it?” he asked.

“Well, nothing I suppose, but I thought that you’d want to know.”

“Mom, it’s one in the morning, and I’m working. If the dog is still sick in the morning when I get home, I’ll deal with it. You should try to get some sleep; just lock Agent in the laundry room so he doesn’t make a mess on the carpets.” He flipped off Grady who was snickering at him from across the table.

He could hear his mom huff through the phone before she said, “Fine, so sorry to bother you. He’s your dog; I thought you’d care that he was sick; my mistake.”

“Mom—”

“No, no, I’ll deal with it; don’t worry about a thing, good-bye,” she said before she hung up. He’d probably be in for a huge guilt trip when he got home. Putting his phone back in his pocket, he shook his head at Grady.

“That’s what you get for still living with your mommy.”

“Yeah, yeah, shut it, why don’t ya.” He spared an annoyed look for his partner. He hadn’t told anyone the reason he lived with his mother. He didn’t need people looking at him funny because his mom was a bit of a nut job. She couldn’t help it really. After his dad had passed away a year and a half ago, she’d just lost it. Lots of odd behavior and one suicide attempt later, he’d packed up her house and moved her into his rented condo where he could keep a better eye on her. She still had her moments, but having Lex to dote on, and a dog to keep her company when he couldn’t, had helped a lot. She was doing much better.

Grady smirked as they paid their bill and went back out on patrol. The rest of their shift dragged, and Lex found his mind wandering back to Gavin. He hadn’t been with a man for quite some time, probably going on six months. Not that many men caught his eye and made it worth him risking his secret getting out, but the doc, if he was willing, would be worth it. He ran through a few fantasies as they sat in the parking lot just off the college campus, waiting to see if they could catch any late partiers driving home after drinking a bit too much. Really they were just trying to kill the last hour before they could head back to the station to do some of their paperwork and go home.

* * *

“See you Monday morning, Turner. Try not to get into any trouble,” Grady called to Lex as he left the locker room.

“Yeah, see ya,” Lex hollered back as the door swung shut behind his partner. Thank god he had the next couple of days off, and then it was back to the day shift for two weeks. He grabbed his bag and headed for the door.

“Hey, Lex, got any plans for your days off?” the front desk officer asked him before he could get out the door.

He turned to the woman behind the desk. Officer Landry was a good-looking woman. It was no secret that she was interested in more than friendship where Lex was concerned, but he’d never dip his wick at work, so in his mind, she was off limits. He smiled. “Not really. Gonna get some sleep and then veg out in front of the TV, most likely.” And probably take his dog to the vet to appease his mom, but she didn’t need to hear about that little saga.

“That doesn’t sound like any fun. A bunch of us are going out to Stucky’s tonight. You should come,” she offered.

“Yeah, if nothing comes up, maybe I will. Gotta get going. Need to hit the sack soon, or I’m gonna pass out right here.”

“Okay, see you later, Lex.”

Lex parked his pickup in the driveway and went into his condo. He stopped in the kitchen to give his mom a kiss. He was surprised to see her up, making him breakfast. “Hey there, Mamacita, what’s cooking?” he asked.

“I made you an omelette, and there’s coffee too,” she said as he kissed her cheek.

“How’s Agent?”

“Oh that stupid mutt decided that he was just fine after I called you. Of course, he puked up a sock, so I’m thinking that he didn’t just magically get better to spite me. He’s sleeping in my room right now. Sit down. This is done.”

Thank god, the dog was fine, and it looked like his mom was going to forget that she was upset with him. Lex sat at the breakfast bar and let her serve him. She bustled around the kitchen while he ate. “Hey, Ma, are you going over to Sally’s tonight?”

She turned and looked at him for a minute before answering. “I planned on it. Why, do you have a girl coming over?”

“No, some people from work are going out, and I thought I might meet them for a beer at Stucky’s.”

“Then why do you care if I’m going out?”

“I don’t want to leave you sitting here alone after I’ve been on nights for the last two weeks. I know that you get lonely, and I feel bad,” he explained.

“Honey, I don’t need a babysitter. I’m a grown woman, and I’m used to being alone sometimes. Besides, I go out during the day. I have my quilting club and the church group. I’m not lonely. You go and have some fun; you deserve a night out,” she said firmly.

He smirked around his last bite of omelette. “Okay, Ma, you win. I’ll go out and get hammered because you told me to.”

She swatted the back of his head. “I didn’t say to get drunk, you nincompoop. I said to have some fun. Just make sure to call if you’re going to get in late so I know not to worry.” She cleared his breakfast dishes and gave him a peck on the cheek when he made his way past her to his bedroom.

He put his gun in the safe and sat down at his computer to take a look at the object of his recent obsession before hitting the sack. He studied the way the jean shorts clung to Gavin’s slim but muscular thighs. He memorized how the shorts hung low on the man’s hips and followed the trail of blond hair, slightly darker than that on his head, which lead from his navel to the waistband of his shorts. But it was those eyes that he couldn’t stop looking at. They were brown, and at first glance nothing special, but the camera had caught the amber flecks that made them completely hypnotizing.

He saved the image on his computer just in case the doc decided to remove the profile. He shut the machine down and stripped naked to crawl into bed. The blackout shades on his windows left the room pitch-black when he turned off his bedside lamp. Lex didn’t even have to close his eyes to shut out the world while he imagined what it would be like to take the doc to bed. He brought himself off quickly, fumbled for the tissues on his nightstand, and fell asleep after making a few halfhearted swipes to clean his belly.

Chapter Three

“I won’t give her the house. It’s mine. My uncle left it to me before we got married. I won’t budge on this. I don’t care what she does, the house is mine.” Raising his voice at his lawyer probably wasn’t endearing Gavin to the poor man. He couldn’t help it. Cassie was demanding that he either give her the house or sell it and split the proceeds with her. What should have been a fairly quick and painless divorce was turning into a nightmare because, in Gavin’s view, Cassie was being unreasonable.

“I’m sorry, Dr. Addison, but she contends that since she worked during your years in medical school and basically supported the both of you, she’s entitled to a share of the house. I really don’t want to take this before a judge because I can’t guarantee you’d come away with the property,” Mr. Goldfarb, his attorney, advised.

“But she cheated on me. That should count for something. Plus, shouldn’t the fact that she’s been harassing me for the past three months put some weight on my side too?” Gavin asked.

“If we can’t come up with some sort of an agreement, this will drag on forever. It’s in your best interest to get this settled so we can draw up the agreement to send to the judge; then it’s just a matter of a couple of weeks, and you’ll be a free man,” Goldfarb explained. “I guess you need to decide what you want more: your house or to get that woman out of your life as quickly as possible.”

Gavin sat back in the plush chair and rubbed his slightly stubbled cheeks with the palms of his hands. He didn’t know what Cassie was playing at, but she was hell-bent on winning. She knew he loved the house. He’d spent weekends and weeks in the summer there with his uncle; it held countless memories for him. There was no way he’d give her the house, but the thought of selling it killed him. Then it was like a light bulb went off in his head.

“What if I got a loan for half the house’s value and paid her off? Would she agree to that?” he asked. The idea excited him—maybe he could get out of his marriage and keep his beloved house. It would mean putting his plan to fast-track paying off his student loans on hold. Adding a mortgage payment to his monthly budget would mean less for those payments, but if it meant not losing the house, he’d do it in a heartbeat.

Goldfarb didn’t look as excited as Gavin felt. “I can talk to her attorney, but I believe this demand is more out of spite than it is about the money. I’ll call her attorney and let you know, but you need to think about what you want to do if she doesn’t accept the offer. It would be best if you made up your mind by the next time we speak.” Goldfarb stood up.

Gavin took the gesture as a cue and stood too. “I’ll decide and have an answer for you, but I really hope she accepts.” He shook Goldfarb’s offered hand and let the man walk him to the door.

“I’m sorry about this, Gavin. If the law was fair, you wouldn’t have to go through this. My advice is next time you get married, make sure you have her sign a prenuptial agreement,” Goldfarb said. Gavin always found it funny how his lawyer became strangely casual at the door to his office.

“Thanks, Marvin, I’ll keep that in mind. Let me know what you find out.”

“Will do. Take care now.” Goldfarb opened the door to let Gavin out into the hallway.

“You too.” Gavin walked to the elevators and slumped against the wall as he descended to the lobby.

* * *

Gavin waited a week and a half to get an answer from Goldfarb, but when it came, he felt the world lift from his shoulders. Cassie had accepted the offer. Gavin was glad he’d been proactive. He’d had his little house appraised and had been preapproved for the mortgage he needed to pay her off. Goldfarb had already drawn up the agreement with Cassie’s attorney, and all they needed was to sign it so it could be sent to the judge.

He called Riley with the good news. “It’s finally going to be over. She accepted the offer! I have to run downtown to sign the papers, and then it’s as good as done!” Gavin couldn’t keep the excitement out of his voice.

“Cool beans, man. Congrats! We should go celebrate. Let’s go out on Friday.”

“Yeah, we should do that. We can celebrate the divorce and the fact that it’s been almost two weeks since she’s fucked with me. I feel like a free man at last.”

“Oh man, we’re going to go out and get shit-faced and find you a fine young thing to get you laid, finally.” Riley’s smile was evident through the phone. “I’ll pick you up at seven, so we can go eat and then hit Stucky’s. You mind if I bring Sheila?”

“That sounds like a plan, and of course I don’t mind. She’s a way better wingman than you are anyway. She’s got much better taste in women,” Gavin said with a chuckle.

“That’s because she’ll try to find you a nice girl to settle down with, while I on the other hand, am going to try to find you a naughty girl that will suck your nuts and let you fuck her in the ass,” Riley stated proudly.

Gavin laughed because it was true—that was exactly the type of girl Riley would look for. “Man you are so gross. I’d love to hear what other colorful characteristics you’d look for in a girl for me, but I have to get going if I’m going to be on time for my appointment. See you at work tomorrow.”

“Not if I see you first. Later.”

Gavin was on cloud nine. He called the bank and had them start processing his loan and then signed his divorce agreement with a flourish. It seemed everything was going his way.

* * *

On Friday night, Gavin was feeling all right. First, he, Riley, and Sheila had a nice dinner at his favorite steak house, and then at Stucky’s, they’d grabbed a great table near the dance floor. Riley went to the bar to get drinks since getting a waitress’s attention on a busy Friday night would mean waiting half an hour for a beer.

“Oh my god, Gavin, I’m so glad that all that business with Cassie is finally over. The way she’s been treating you is a mark on the face of all womankind. How anyone could be so mean to such a sweet guy is beyond me,” Sheila said. She was shaking her head, and her frizzy brown hair was flying around her like it had a life of its own.

Gavin put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. “Thanks, hon. That means a lot coming from you.” Gavin liked Sheila, and he was still trying to figure out how a dork like Riley had landed such a great woman.

“Hey, man, get your mitts off my woman,” Riley said as he put the beers down on the table in front of them. “There are plenty of hot chicks here; you don’t need to be gettin’ all up on mine.”

Gavin and Sheila laughed as they separated. “I thought you were going to get us some shots to start us off right.” Gavin eyed the three beers.

Riley lifted the corner of his mouth in a smirk he thought made him look devilish, but Gavin had tried over and over to tell him it only made him look constipated. “I couldn’t carry the whole order, so one of the waitresses is going to bring it over.” He tipped his beer back and drained most of it in one pull.

Oh boy, Gavin didn’t even want to wager a guess at how much booze Riley had ordered. He looked out over the crowd while taking a drink of his beer. Riley was right; there were plenty of good-looking women around. Gavin was hoping that maybe he could find one who wouldn’t mind spending some time with him, like maybe some sexy, naked time. The waitress showed up with a tray. There were twelve shots and six more beers on the tray.

Gavin raised an eyebrow at Riley. “You weren’t shitting when you said you were going to get me drunk.” He downed one of the shots set in front of him and cringed at the taste. He drank some of his beer to wash away the burn.

“We need to get you good and liquored up. Then we’re going to get you laid.” Riley held up his shot for Gavin to clink against his own. After drinking the shot, it was evident Gavin was buzzed when he clumsily set his glass down, almost knocking over his beer. “Lightweight.”

“Costs less for me to have a good time that way,” Gavin joked.

“Let’s dance.” Sheila grabbed Gavin and pulled him out of his seat. Gavin sent a pleading look toward Riley and got a shrug and a grin in return instead of assistance. Finding no help in that direction, Gavin looked for anyone else who might come to his aid but came up empty. Defeated, he let Sheila lead him out into the middle of the already crowded dance floor.

Stucky’s was not a dance club; it was a bar with a tiny square where there were no tables. It was always so packed that chances were if you needed to scratch your ass while on the dance floor, you’d be goosing the guy behind you, so one needed to be careful while dancing at Stucky’s.

Sheila had some moves, which made up for the fact that Gavin didn’t. He watched and swayed and tried out some jerky motions he knew made him look like a big dork, while she shimmied around him. She was finally ready to go back to the table after five songs. As they were leaving the floor, Gavin caught sight of a petite redhead who he swore was checking him out. Gavin smiled at her, and she winked back.

“Nice. She was totally checking you out the whole time you were doing whatever it was you were doing out there while Sheila was dancing. Seriously dude, at one point I thought I’d have to come out there because it looked like you were having a seizure,” Riley said when they got back to their table. Riley grabbed Sheila and gave her a sloppy kiss. She slapped him on the arm when he released her. “Had to make sure the little ginger over there knows that Gav’s not with you. Can’t have a fine woman like you cock blocking my man here.”

Gavin chuckled and downed a shot and half a beer. “She is pretty cute.” Gavin looked in her direction again. She was talking to another girl but gazing at Gavin. When their eyes met, she smiled and licked her lower lip before pulling it in between her teeth for a nibble. Gavin’s pants got a bit tighter, and he reached down to adjust himself.

“Holy shit, you really do need to get laid if just a little lip licking has you popping a chubby,” Riley said, having noticed Gavin’s adjustment.

“Quit looking at his crotch, you big freak.” Sheila elbowed Riley in the ribs. “And stop checking out that girl before I start thinking that you’re not just here to get him laid.” She scowled at Riley, and he gave her a wide-eyed innocent look before he leaned in to kiss her.

Gavin watched the two of them and thought about how much he missed having someone to be with like that. He quickly downed two more shots and the other half of his beer. When he stood up, it took him a couple of seconds to get steady on his feet. Good, he thought, the booze was doing the trick.

“Gotta hit the head,” he said to the canoodling couple. He made his way through the crowd and to the bathroom without knocking into anyone. He did his business and checked himself in the mirror as he washed his hands. His face was a bit flushed from the alcohol, but his hair gel was still holding. He nodded at his reflection and decided that after one more drink or maybe five, he’d be ready to talk to the hot chick who was checking him out.

His plan didn’t work out because the redhead was sitting at their table when he got back. Riley had his arm casually draped around Sheila’s shoulders, and he was talking animatedly to the girl across from them. She smiled up at Gavin as he took the seat next to her.

“Hey, man, ’bout time you got back. Everything come out all right?” Riley asked and winked. Sheila groaned at the middle-school joke and elbowed Riley again.

“Gavin, this is Rachel,” Sheila said as if she was introducing him to an old friend.

“Hi, Rachel, nice to meet you.” Cripes, could he be more of a geek? He sounded so stiff and formal. Riley would have had a way better opening line than that. Gavin’s nerves kicked in; he’d been out of the dating game for a long time. What if he didn’t know how to do it anymore? Riley pushed a shot toward him. He didn’t hesitate to tip it back. Yep, that was what he needed—some more liquid courage.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Gavin. Your friends have had nothing but good things to say about you,” Rachel said with a wide, friendly smile.

“That’s only because we haven’t gotten to the good stuff yet,” Riley joked. “Like that time in med school when Gav—”

“Ri, I’ll kill you if you finish that sentence. Remember which one of us knows more embarrassing things about the other.” Gavin tried to sound menacing, but the giggles made that pretty much impossible.

“Then you both better watch it because I have the power to bring all ya’ll down.” Sheila upped the ante.

Rachel watched the back and forth with a grin. “I take it you guys have known each other a long time,” she said.

“Oh yeah, we go way back. If there’s anything you want to know about boy wonder here, you just go ahead and ask,” Riley said.

“Does he have a girlfriend?” Rachel took a drink to hide her smile.

Riley and Gavin, who were both drinking their beers when she asked her question, sputtered and choked. Sheila stepped up to answer. “Nope, no girlfriend. He’s single and ready to mingle.”

“Hey, stop trying to pimp my boy out; that’s my job!” Riley exclaimed in faux outrage.

Gavin laughed at his friends. “You’ll have to excuse them. They don’t allow weekend passes from the psychiatric hospital very often, so they have no social skills. You also have to figure in the fact that alcohol and antipsychotics don’t mix very well,” Gavin stage whispered to Rachel. She laughed! Gavin mentally patted himself on the back for being so witty. Then he mentally smacked his forehead for being a big enough loser to have to pat his own back, mentally or not.

“Gav, you promised not to tell!” Sheila said through her laughter.

“What happened to doctor-patient confidentiality? That’s so not cool, bro.” Riley winked at Rachel. Gavin downed another shot. He was really enjoying himself. Rachel shifted a little closer, causing their knees to touch.

“So, do you want to dance?” She leaned in to ask Gavin.

“I’m not much of a dancer,” Gavin said. “Ow, what the hell, Ri?” He glared at his friend who had kicked him in the shin under the table. Riley made a face at him and tipped his head toward Rachel.

Sheila was just as subtle when she blurted out, “She’s asking you to go out and grind your bodies together, and you tell her you can’t dance? Gav, are you being dense on purpose?”

Gavin looked from his friends to Rachel, who was sitting there with an amused look. “I guess I want to dance?”

Rachel stood up and reached for his hand. “Come on, I’ll teach you some moves.” He gulped one more shot for good luck and allowed her to lead him to the middle of the dance floor.

Rachel was probably six inches shorter than Gavin’s six-foot-three height, the top of her head coming up to his nose. The first thing she did was grab his hips and got them moving to the beat. She then straddled one of his legs and started grinding on him. Gavin had never thought dancing was much fun, but Rachel was quickly changing his mind.


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