I’m completely blown away by her worries—about things I had never even considered. I was so worried about the basics with Benjamin… like having a genuine conversation or seeing a movie together at some point, I never considered what would happen if this turned into a real relationship.
And she has a very valid point.
How could I ever compete with a dead wife and child? It seems almost insurmountable.
“Call and cancel the date,” she suggests quickly.
I’m shaking my head without any thought, going on gut instinct. “I don’t want to.”
“Oh, God,” she moans over-dramatically. “You’ve already fallen for him, haven’t you? You’re already in too deep. Your heart’s already in danger of being shattered by him.”
“Jorie,” I exclaim, partly in annoyance but partly in amusement. “Stop with the paranoia and hysteria. I’m going into this with my eyes open wide, and I’m not in danger of anything right this moment.”
She just stares dubiously.
“Granted,” I admit with an acknowledging incline of my head, “you’ve made some good points about where I might stand in the hierarchy of things with Benjamin, but we are nowhere near worrying about that just yet. It’s still just sex, and I’m sure dinner probably has everything to do with the fact he’s getting off call and will be hungry. I’m sure things are going to be fine.”
But even as I say those words, I have to admit… she has me thinking. Should I even bother with a man who could potentially never be enough for me, because I am most likely never going to be enough for him based on what he used to have?
I’ve seen Elena in any number of sexy outfits at The Wicked Horse. She likes them tight, short, and revealing, and I like them as well.
Like her better naked.
And yet, as I walk toward her in the lobby of the hospital’s main floor, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her look more beautiful. I had merely told her I was taking her to dinner, then left it up to her what to wear because where I’m taking her, anything from jeans to a cocktail dress would be appropriate.
But she surprises me in a feminine wraparound dress in a floral print. It’s ankle length in flowing layers. She has on a pair of nude-colored heels, and her makeup is very understated. Her hair is sleek and gathered at the nape of her neck. For jewelry, she has simple gold studs in her ears.
She looks amazing—completely out of character from the sex kitten I’d met and fucked at the club. I have to wonder which Elena is the real one. Perhaps she’s a mixture of both.
“Hey,” she says as I approach, her eyes taking me in. I dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt after my last surgery, opting for casual. I even put on tennis shoes rather than my standard loafers or the low boots I’d usually wear, but my leg is aching a bit after standing beside the operating table all day and comfortable shoes help.
“You look gorgeous,” I say, noting her flash of surprise at my compliment as I bend in to brush my lips across her cheek.
“Thank you,” she mumbles with a shy smile, and it’s obvious she’s completely off her game. Maybe the real Elena is the sex-club vixen who doesn’t know how to be wooed.
Not that I’m trying to date her.
This probably isn’t going to be what she’d been expecting when I said dinner, but where I’m taking her is a bit monumental.
I grab Elena’s hand, position her on my non-cane side, then lead her out of the hospital. “Do you mind if we take my car?”
“Not at all,” she replies.
We walk in silence across a small parking lot to a private lot for on-call doctors. I lead her over to my Audi Q8, open the door, and help her into the passenger seat. She’s already buckled by the time I get in. Within moments, I’m pulling out of the hospital parking lot. I cross one intersection, turn right at the next, then pull into another parking lot. The entire journey takes less than a minute.
When I glance over at Elena, she’s scanning our surroundings in surprise.
I pull up to the first four-story brick building, put the car in park, and then shut it off. She looks up at it for a moment before turning to me, curiosity burning in her eyes. “What are we doing here?”
“Dinner,” I say with a smile before hopping out of the car. I move over to her door, open it, and help her out.
“At a friend’s place?” she inquires as I lead her to the first-floor apartment directly in front of us.
“No,” I say as I slip my key in the door. “My place.”
I open the door, then let her step inside. She places her hand clutch on a small counter that separates the kitchen and living room, then examines my new but sparsely furnished apartment.