“Going to dinner with me tonight.”

Her gaze met his. “I’ve already told you no to going to dinner tonight.”

“That was yesterday. Today’s a new day.”

“My answer hasn’t changed.”

“It should.”

Rosalyn stepped out of a patient room, glanced toward Carly and Stone, and stopped to stare.

“That’s a matter of opinion,” Carly quipped.

Obviously, Rosalyn’s opinion ran more along the lines of Stone’s. Grinning big, she gave a thumb up.

“Your opinion is that you should deprive yourself of dinner with me?”

“Deprive myself?” Carly snorted, then shook her head at Rosalyn. “I’ll survive just fine if we never go to dinner.”

Turning, Stone shot a grin at Rosalyn, who smiled back, then headed toward the nurses’ station.

“You won’t know what you’re missing.”

Shifting her weight, Carly squinted at him. “Is that supposed to bother me?”

His eyes flashed somewhere between serious and teasing. “It should.”


“Because there’s something between you and I.”

Her breath caught. She felt it. He felt it. Thoughts of her mother were all that kept her from throwing herself at the mercy of whatever he wanted. She had no time for a relationship, no energy for a relationship. Everything she had, and more, was already claimed.

“You’re wrong.” She smiled tightly. “There’s nothing I want from you.”

“Why don’t I believe you?”

Because I’m a horrible liar and usually pride myself on being a person who tells the truth, but with you…

She didn’t want his pity. Or his rejection if he felt the same as Tony had.

“I don’t know,” she replied, not meeting his eyes. “Why don’t you?”

“Because you’re not telling the truth.”

She hadn’t expected him to call her bluff, and her gaze shot to his. “How dare you say such a thing?”

“Because it’s true.”

She lifted her chin in indignation, partly feigned, partly real, at his arrogance. “So your word gets taken as the truth, but not mine?”

“In this case, yes.”

“What an ego you have, Dr. Parker.”

“Stating facts doesn’t make me egotistical.”

Carly put her hands on her hips and glared at him with the sternest look she could muster. Not an easy thing to do when he was grinning at her with his brilliant smile and twinkling eyes.

“Is there a point to this conversation?”

“Just enjoying your company.” His tone was teasing, but the glint in his eyes said he told the truth.

If she were honest, she’d admit she was enjoying his company, too. Which was ridiculous considering what their actual words were. Was she really that desperate for any scrap of his attention?

“I’ve work to do.” She glanced down the hallway and caught Rosalyn and a nurse’s aide watching them.

“Am I interfering with your work, Carly?”

“Yes.” Carly’s head hurt. Or maybe it was her heart.

“How so?”

“You’re distracting me.”

His eyes danced. “You’re admitting you find me distracting? Finally, we’re getting somewhere.”

She bit the inside of her lower lip, then shook her head. “Dr. Parker, I shouldn’t be having lengthy personal conversations while on the clock.”

“Which is why you should go to dinner with me tonight. We could have lengthy personal conversations to our hearts’ content.”

She wanted to. She wanted to say yes, go to dinner with him, and stare into his eyes all evening. Longer.

But, even if she could, how unfair would that be to him? Very. To lead him, or anyone, on was wrong.

She should tell him, should apologize for smiling when he sat with her at break, for laughing at his corny jokes, for looking at him and longing for things outside her grasp.

But she couldn’t find the words, so she hurried away, dodging into a patient room to avoid both the man she could feel watching her and her two co-workers anxiously waiting to question her.

She didn’t think of herself as a woman who ran from her problems. But, at the moment, running from temptation, and the questioning thereof, seemed the best course of action.


“CAN I HELP you with that?”

Carly peeped at Stone from over the top of the box she carried through the hospital corridor. He’d changed out of his navy scrubs into his own clothes, black trousers and a green polo shirt that perfectly matched the color of his eyes. She fought sighing in appreciation. The man should be in movies, not a hospital operating room.

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