Chapter 2




I should have stayed fired instead of letting Corbin Sterling save my job.

I’ve been on my feet for fourteen hours in this godforsaken, understaffed hospital that is overflowing with too many patients.

“Bella, exam four. He has his scripts, just needs to be cleaned up and bandaged before being released. You good with that?” Dr. Lewis says as he walks by, not really giving me the option to say no. It’s never really a question; just a nice command.

“Sure,” I mumble to no one on my way to grab the shit. I was supposed to be out of here three hours ago, but thanks to a freaking stomach virus, half of the staff is out sick.

I grab all I need, silently cursing the lazy doctors here. They spend two seconds with a patient after making them wait hours to be seen. Then they send us in with minimal knowledge of what’s going on. It’s counterproductive. Now I have to go read the chart that he has already read. He could have just briefed me.

I should have just stayed a RN instead of working longer to become NP-C. And this place tends to get more unorganized by the second with the constant moving us around to deal with the shortage of healthy employees right now.

After grabbing all I need, I head to the exam room, but stumble over my own two feet when my eyes land on what’s waiting for me. Please don’t let me be drooling.

Hospital gowns are not sexy. So explain how that pale gown with tiny dots on it makes the bastard on the exam bed seem like a freaking piece of tattooed art. My eyes run down his arms, taking in all the ink that sleeves them both. His tan skin separates the numerous pieces that seem to be bound together by thorny vine designs.

His legs have some ink toward the thighs, which I can see since he has the gown just barely covering his—

“Enjoying the view?” The gruff, sexy, incredibly confident voice has my eyes jerking back up.

His inky black hair is tousled on his head. I’m not sure what color his eyes are, but they look dark. And tempting. And… taunting. A cocky smirk is fixed on his very sexy lips, which pisses me off.

Just my luck. He’s exactly the kind of guy I’ve sworn off, and I’m squirming in my panties. Clearing my throat, I put down my supplies, and pick up the chart, but I can’t focus enough to read it.

Really hate myself right now.

“That weirdo doctor said I didn’t need stitches.”

“If that’s what he said, then he’s right,” I say under my breath, really trying to read.

Apparently I can’t focus when the scent of him is all around me. I can’t describe it, really; it’s almost a masculine fragrance, but a hint spicy as well.

Clearing my throat again, I put the chart down and go to inspect the wound while picking my sterile bandaging kit back up. I place it all on the rolling cart’s tray on top, then slide it closer to him, doing damn good not to look at him.

“Where is your—”

The words die on my tongue when he spreads his legs, almost letting that gown rise too high, and I see the shallow, yet jagged looking cut. It’s long but not deep. It’s also not bleeding too much, fortunately.

With a cut like that, it’d look like I was bleeding to death. Then again, I’m a free-bleeder.

“Waited three hours just to see a doc, then realize I could have just used a bandage from the store down the street. Gotta love the ER.”

“Considering that is a jagged cut, I’m assuming you weren’t cut by something sterile. Antibiotics are a good idea, considering its location.”

I sound professional and not at all like a breathy drone. Yay me.

The rolling stool is already positioned right between his legs, but I hesitate, clutching the edge of the cart that holds my supplies.

“How did this happen?” I ask, trying to sound as calm and monotone as possible.

My eyes move up again just as a slow smile spreads across his face. His eyebrows bounce as he tilts his head to the right.

“See? There were these two girls in my room, and—”

“On second thought,” I interrupt, “let me rephrase the question. What did this?”

I wish I could just read the damn chart.

“A crazy bitch with a broken beer bottle,” he answers with a careless shrug.

Yep. He’s the example of the bad boy all misguided girls think is sexy. Bad boys look sexy. Bad boys seem sexy. We all want a bad boy… Until they live up to their name and cheat, lie, or steal.

So I have no pity for him or the girl whose heart he broke. She had to have seen it coming. You can’t buy a snake and be surprised when it bites.

I used to be that girl. Not anymore. At least I’m trying hard not to be that girl anymore, I should say. Doesn’t make me immune.

Stupid body.

Shaking off the thoughts, I pull on my gloves, happy for the latex layer between us. “I assume you’re not allergic to latex,” I say sweetly, even smiling as I lay out the double entendre, while also asking the question required by law.

“No glove, no love, baby,” he says, winking at me.

“My name is Bella. Not baby.”

His grin widens. “Short for Isabella? Got you a sparkly vampire boy at home?”

I groan, sick of those kinds of jokes. “Way to be original. It’s short for Belladonna.”

His smile falters. “As in the pretty but toxic plant?”

This time, I wink. “Belladonna, as in the Atropa belladonna or the deadly nightshade,” I elaborate, but then I hear the words aloud and cringe. That sounds annoyingly pompous to my own ears.

I sit down and start working my way through the process of cleaning his wound. Am I imagining I’m in front of my late grandfather instead of him? Definitely. It’s working too, because my hands are steady and I’m really disgusted to be this close to the money shot.

“You can move your hand up a little higher,” he says, causing me to lift my eyes and shattering that whole grandfather illusion I had going on.

That damn cocky smirk of his is only boiling my blood—in numerous ways. But I continue to remain the picture of composure. Okay, that’s a lie, but I attempt it.

“Gee,” I say dryly, “use that line often?”

Using the gauze, I press down on the wound harder than necessary, but he doesn’t so much as flinch. Talk about pain tolerance.

“Usually when a girl has me out of my boxers, we’re past the point of me using any lines.”

He stares at me, biting down on his lower lip, and I swear he looks even smugger. What an ass—Hold up. What did he just say?

“Why did you take your boxers off?” I hiss, looking around like someone might see us even though we’re shielded in the private exam room.

My eyes dart back to his leg as I work quicker, needing him out of here.

“They said to strip and put on the gown. I was just obeying orders. I’m a good boy like that.”

Good boy my ass. He reeks of sex and trouble. He’s exactly my type—the type I hate myself for wanting. The type that comes with a warning label: Don’t trust me. I will slice your heart to pieces and sell those pieces to the highest bidder.

Why is this an issue for me? Hell if I know. Everyone has their vices. Meet mine.

He needs to go.

He leans back, and my eyes inadvertently follow the motion. But I’m sucking in a breath and almost falling off my stool when I see what’s right in front of my face.

Fully erect, ungodly sized, and mouthwateringly decorated... From base to tip almost, there are numerous barbells sticking through his cock, torturing me with all things bad for my health.

Did I just whimper? Yes. Yes I did.

“It’s called a Jacob’s ladder,” he says, still sounding smug and not giving a damn that his dick is right in my face.

What am I supposed to be doing? Why am I between his legs?

I curse myself when I realize I’m licking my lips, and I dart my eyes back to his leg, resuming the task at hand.

“Must be a bitch to walk through a metal detector,” I retort, trying not to act as affected, breathless, and damn tempted as I am.

He laughs a throaty, raw laugh that has my toes trying to curl. He shouldn’t be able to even laugh sexy.

“Just let me know when you want to learn to climb a ladder, Belladonna. I’ll be glad to teach you.”

My face heats again, and I try very hard to remember once again that I’m supposed to be getting him and his Jacob’s ladder out of here.

“I’m guessing you do use that line a lot,” I mumble, eliciting another sexy chuckle from the jerk who refuses to pull down his gown.

As soon as I’m finished, I hand him the standardized list of all the post-care shit he needs to do. Give it air, clean the wound, blah blah blah. I run over the highlights as quickly as possible, inching back toward the door the entire time.

“There’s a party at my house this weekend,” he randomly interrupts. “A few kegs, good music, that sort of thing.”

“Try not to get stabbed again,” I say with a saccharine sweet smile and heavily batted lashes.

He snorts derisively.

“Come hang out with me. Make sure your patient is being well taken care of,” he says, smirking at me.

Walking toward him, I steel myself, ready to do what needs to be done. I pat his cheek, smile at him, then roll my eyes. For some reason, he sucks in a sharp breath as the cocky look fades to surprise.

“Not a chance in hell,” I tell him.

I turn around, putting my back to him, ignoring the sting just of just that touch. Should have kept my gloves on and left his skin alone.

At least I’ll have a pretty image and a sexy sound in mind when I fire up my Magic Wand tonight. And in my fantasies, the bad boys are safe.

“Don’t act like you don’t want to,” he drawls, recovering from whatever seemed to stun him. “Your eyes have been undressing me since you got in here.”

I laugh while rolling the traitorous eyes.

“No need to undress you when you’re showing me the goods for free. Besides, I grew out of keg parties in college.”

“I can promise I’d make it worth your while,” he goes on.

I hate my body. Really, I do. Especially when it fires up in response to the threat—or sensual promise. Coming from his lips, it almost sounds like a threat.

Turning to face him, I prop a hip against the counter and cross my arms over my chest. Mostly to hide my girls’ reaction to his offer, since I wore a thin bra today.

“You may not hear this often, but you’re not my type. Sorry, player. Looks like you’ll have to find someone else to stab you with a broken beer bottle this weekend.”

He smiles bigger, much to my dissatisfaction. That was not supposed to make him smile.

“It’s Ethan. Not player,” he points out, mocking my comment from earlier. “And you’re a shameless liar, Bella.”

Bristling, I shift my weight on my legs.

“I’m not lying,” I lie. “You’re not my type. Despite your over-inflated ego, not all girls are rushing to be one of the two in your room.”

His rumble of laughter does stupid, stupid things to me.

“I usually only have one girl in my room at a time,” he quips, still smiling.

That definitely helps snap me out of my moment of weakness. Cheater. Player. Definitely that type. Those are almost the ones I hate the most. The thieves win the top slot.

“Have fun with her this weekend,” I tell him before turning on a heel and disappearing from the room before he can stop me.

One day, my body will catch up to my mind and stop being attracted to all things bad for my health.