Excerpt from When One Night Isn’t Enough

By:Wendy S. Marcus

Float nurse Allison Forshay glanced at the clock on the institutional white wall of the staff lounge in the Emergency Room, wishing she could accelerate time with the snap of her fingers. Then the eight hours and six minutes that remained of Dr. Jared Padget’s last shift would vanish in seconds.

Along with him.

Hallelujah!

The chorus of sopranos belting out a private concert in her head came to an abrupt halt when the door opened and chatter from the busy outside hallway overpowered her glee.

Ali cringed, keeping her eyes on the patient chart open on the round table in front of her, struggling to maintain focus on her documentation for little Molly Dawkins, her first patient of the night. The three-year-old, blond-haired, blue-eyed terror had tried to bite the triage nurse and kicked at Ali when she’d attempted to expose the girl’s infected big toe. Then Dr. Padget had  arrived, complimented the pink polish on Molly’s tiny toenails, the delicate gold bracelets on her ankle and wrist, and the princess tattoo on her hand. In less than three minutes he’d charmed that little girl right out of her sandal, confirming Ali’s suspicion. Women of all ages were susceptible to the man’s charisma.

If there was a vaccine to protect against it, Ali would have opted for a double dose.

The subtle change in the air gave him away, some type of electrostatic attraction that caused the tiny hairs on her arms to rise and lean in his direction, her heart rate to accelerate, and her breath to hitch whenever he found her alone.

His blue scrub-covered legs and red rubber clogs entered her peripheral vision. He pulled out the chair beside her and sat down, brushing his arm against hers. No doubt on purpose, the rat.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” Dr. Jared Padget said.

“You’re hardly worth the effort it would take to avoid you.” Although, in truth, she was.

“I’m leaving on Monday.”

Yes! Finally! His arrival three months ago had thrown her life into a state of flux. Now, his temporary assignment over, his departure meant she could finally settle back into a normal routine free from his constant badgering at work and ‘coincidental’ encounters on her days off. With a flippant wave of her hand she said, “Here. Gone. Alive. Dead. Makes no difference to me.”

“Come on, Ali Kitten.” He snatched her pen. “You know you’re going to miss me.”

“About as much as I’d miss a painful hemorrhoid,” she said, glaring at him from the corners of her eyes. “And you know I don’t like when you call me that.”

“Yeah,” he said with a playful twinkle in his peridot-green eyes and that sexy smile, complete with bilateral dimples that tormented her in her sleep. He leaned back in his chair and clasped his long fingers, and her pen, behind his head. “That’s what makes it so much fun.”

Ali grabbed at her pen, making sure to mess up his neatly styled dark hair. He raised his hand over his head and back out of reach, his expression daring her to come closer.

She didn’t.

He chucked the pen onto the table.

“I hear a bunch of you are going out Sunday night to celebrate my departure,” he said, making no mention of the fact he hadn’t been invited.

She shrugged, tamping down the other, less joyful reason for the night out. “It’s as good as any other excuse for the girls to get together. And it’s easier and less fuss than burning you in effigy.”

He moved forward, rested his elbows on the table and leaned in close. “Was that supposed to hurt my feelings, Kitten?” His voice, soft and deep, vibrated through her.

Four hours into a busy twelve-hour night shift, and he had the nerve to still smell fresh from the shower. A picture of him naked, water sluicing down his tall, firm body, slick with suds, forced its way into her mind. It took immense self-control not to pound her fists against her head to get rid of it.

“What’s going on in that pretty little head I wonder?” he teased, staring at her face as if trying to see behind what she hoped was a disinterested expression.

Heaven help her if he could. For months she’d fought this attraction. First she couldn’t act on it. Now she wouldn’t.

Distance was the only thing that worked so she gathered her charts and stood.

Jared rose to stand directly in front of her, so close she noticed a tiny freckle on the skin exposed by the V-neck of his scrub top, a miniscule droplet of chocolate she wanted to lick clean. He smelled so good, his scent an intoxicant that impaired rational thought.

She stared straight ahead, at his clavicle, wouldn’t meet his eyes for fear the way he affected her would show. “Please move.”

“I think you don’t want me to move, you like me right here.”

“Now you can read minds?” She took a step back. Distance. What she wanted was distance between them. Preferably a continent, but the opposite side of New York State, the site of his next temporary assignment, would have to do.

“Yes, I can.” He tilted his face in front of hers. “And you are thinking some very naughty thoughts, Nurse Forshay.”

“Only if you consider me beating you with the bell of my stethoscope naughty. Now get out of my way.” She pushed his arm. “I’ve got to get back to work, and so do you.”

He turned serious for a change. “Are you ever going to forgive me?”

“To forgive you I would have to care about you.” She looked up and locked eyes with him. “And I don’t. Not one bit.”

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