I knew there was joy in motherhood, but I’ve always seen the other side where children are sick or injured and the panic in the mothers’ eyes. I wasn’t ready to become a mother, not yet. I had a career I had to focus on and a life to live before I invited a bundle of joy into my life.

After examining the baby and determining that she had a lung infection, I gave the mother antibiotics and directions to help her breathe easier. She left the clinic feeling relieved and looking calm.

The rest of the day was a blur – countless patients with various illnesses. At four o’clock the waiting room had finally emptied. I’d been so busy I didn’t spend much time thinking about Michael.

I had a couple hours to get ready for him to pick me up. It’d been a long time since I’d been on a real date.

I wondered sometimes why men didn’t ask me out or never called me for a second date. I think I’m a good catch. I have my shit together… maybe a little too together and independent for some guys.

“Where you rushing off to, Doc?” Cammie asked as I tried to sneak out the door.

“I just have some things to do,” I replied, stopping in the doorway.

I never was a good liar.

I could see the giant smile spread across her face. She slammed her hand on the desk and began to laugh. “You go, girl. I want all the details. Shoo now,” she said waving her hands at me.

I blew her a kiss, stepping out into the warm sunshine and felt a sense of renewed hope.

The clinic didn’t leave me zapped of energy and emotionally drained like the hospital.

I twirled the razor in my hand and debated with myself about shaving. If I shaved, I felt like I hoped the night would end with a roll in the hay. If I didn’t shave, it guaranteed that I wouldn’t commit a carnal sin.

Running my fingers over my shin, I could feel the prickle of hair. I sighed and caved, deciding to forgo the European look.

I carefully shaved, then rinsed out the heavy conditioner in my hair before climbing out of the shower. The mirror had fogged over and I opened the door to let in some of the cool air. I had one hour to blow dry, do my makeup, and get dressed.

I towel dried my hair a little first before walking into my closet to pick out something sexy as he’d requested. I found the perfect little black dress that had a very low cut back and stopped just below the knee. It showed just the right amount of cleavage, but it wasn’t trampy. It made people stop and stare.

I wanted his eyes on me tonight and no one else.

I did my best to do a smoky eye as they call it in all the fashion magazines. I dried my hair before finishing the rest of my makeup.

As the minutes ticked away my heart started to pound, I could feel my blood pressure rising. I felt flushed and clammy.

I blotted the thin layer of dampness from my skin just before six and pulled the dress over my head carefully before strapping on my favorite black heels with the red bottoms.

The day I was able to afford to buy myself a pair was the day I knew I could take care of myself – I’d arrived and stood on my own two feet.

I looked in the mirror one last time and turned around, making sure my underwear didn’t show and everything was in the right place.

“It’s just a date. I got this.” My pep talk helped a little until the doorbell rang. I never really felt nervous on a date before, but there was something different about him.

“Coming,” I yelled as I walked through the house, grabbing my purse and keys.

I opened it to the stunning man leaning against the doorframe with the sexiest grin on his face.

Whistling, his eyes raked over my body before landing on my face. “Fucking beautiful. Turn around,” he said, twirling his finger in the air. “Absolutely stunning.” He held his out.

“Thank you. You’re looking pretty damn good yourself.”

He did too. Wearing a sky blue dress shirt, tucked into his black pants, the sleeves were rolled halfway up his forearms. He looked like he just stepped out of GQ magazine.

His mouth enveloped mine as soon as I locked the door and faced him. Pulling my body against him, claiming my lips with as much fervor as he had the night before, he stole my breath. His hand on the small of my back felt like a hot iron against my skin, searing into me.

“Ready?” he asked as he released me.

“Yes,” I said, a little too breathy.

He helped me into his pickup truck before closing the door and jogging around to the driver side. The truck was modern and decked out. It wasn’t a redneck truck but a total boy toy, black and trimmed in chrome.

“Where are we headed?” I asked, pulling my dress down to my knees.

“Sunset Beach for dinner.” He adjusted and gripped the steering wheel tightly as he glanced at my legs.

“There isn’t a restaurant there.”

“I know.” Resting his arm behind my head, he backed out of the drive.

I uncrossed my legs and shifted in my seat and he glanced down before looking back toward the road.

“What did you do today?” he asked.

“Worked at the free clinic in town and you?”

“I worked out and went to the shop for a couple hours. Tell me about the clinic.”

I told him about the work we did and the residents in the county that lacked simple things like medicine and insurance. He listed intently and asked questions throughout our conversation.

“Kids too?” he asked with furrowed brows.

“They’re the saddest to see.” I frowned, looking out the window.

He rested his hand on my knee and squeezed, causing a wave of warmth to emanate through my body. “I never knew there was such a problem.”

“Homelessness and poverty is pervasive in this area, Michael. Underemployment is almost an epidemic.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” His eyes were soft when he looked at me, waiting for the traffic light.

“Not unless you have a medical degree,” I laughed.

“Don’t have that, but there has to be another way I can help. My family does a lot of charity work. My parents are huge in helping people in the area.”

“Maybe. We do have a small fundraiser coming up. Last year we raised ten thousand dollars which helped us update some of the equipment in the clinic, but there’s so much more that’s needed.”

I didn’t really want to ask for his help, but if his family already helped organizations in the area, I couldn’t turn it down.

“I honestly have never heard of it. I’m sure my family would love to help.”

“It’s very kind of you, Michael.” I smiled at him, his kindness made me feel giddy.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for kids.”

“Do you have any of your own?” I didn’t want to pry, but I wanted to know his situation.

Did he have a crazy ass ex or a gaggle of kids running around all over town that I needed to be aware of before we went any further.

“No kids, you?”

“No, I barely have time to date with work, let alone have a child.”

“You shouldn’t work so much, Mia. Life’s too short not to enjoy it.”

Staring out the window I thought about his words. I did enjoy my life, didn’t I? “I do enjoy my life,” I said without conviction.

“Are you telling me or trying to convince yourself?” he asked as we pulled into the deserted parking lot.

“Where’s everyone? I’ve never seen the parking lot empty before.”

“It’s closed for a private event.”

Giving him a confused look, I asked, ‘Then why are we here?”

He turned off the engine and turned toward me. “I rented the beach for tonight. It’s all ours.”

“I don’t know what to say,” I said as he climbed out of the truck.

“Does this man know how to do anything small?” I mumbled as I reached down and removed my heals before he opened the door.

“Great idea,” he said as he looked at my feet. He kicked off his dress shoes and threw them on the driver’s side floor before helping me down.

A small white canopy sat in the distance, near the edge of the crashing waves. The sand felt hot on my soles, the sun still beating against the small glass crystals. It was like walking on warm pillows as it squished between my toes.

“Thank you,” I said as I stared at the waves crashing against the shore.

“For what?” he asked, sliding his hand into mine.

“The beach at sunset. It’s one of my favorite places and I rarely get to come here.” I squeezed his hand feeling completely at peace.

“It’s one of my favorites, too. Great for thinking and getting away from it all,” he said as we approached the canopy.

A small round table was in the middle, decorated with a white linen table clothes, fine white china, wine glasses, and candles. The floor was the warm sand and a chandelier hung from the beams. Soft music filled the air along with the warm breeze flowing off the ocean waves.

It may have been the single most romantic date I’d ever had.

“You did all this in a couple hours?” I asked in shock.

“I have mad skills and connections don’t hurt either.” He laughed.

“I may have under estimated you, Michael,” I said as I kissed his cheek and inhaled his musky scent mixed with the salty ocean air.

“Most people do,” he said as he pulled out my chair.

Leaning over, I brushed my fingers against his cheek. “You’re sweet,” I said wanting to kiss him.

Grabbing my hand, he planted a sensual kiss on the inside of my wrist, making my knees feel weak. If he kept this up my panties would be wetter than the sand

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