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Twenty-Three

Mentally I reviewed the symptoms of a heart attack-because getting caught right now, I believed I was having one. Chest pain, neck pain, shortness of breath, no heartbeat! Yeah, I could pass out right about now.

Quickly I slipped off my gloves then turned around to see Neal standing there. How the hell had he gotten back in? Duh. There had to be a staff entrance. Thats right. Doctors and nurses came in through a door that was on the south side of the building where their parking lot was located. Geez. I never parked there since I always walked here.

Oh, hey. I stepped forward. Thank goodness he was smilingor make that ogling me. Maybe the all black outfit looked weird. Sure it did.

Hey. Is there a problem, Pauline?

Problem? How did he know? Oh, wait. Problem with Goldie?

Neal shook his head. I realized he looked oh so casual for him. Brown suede jacket. Blue jeans, snuggly fitting in all the right places, and brown boots. Yum. He looked yummy.

Did he call you or something? Neal stepped forward and placed his hand on the small of my back.

Oh, yeah. Something. I better go see him. I didnt want to wake anyone so I was sneaking around. Like Im some kind of spy! I laughed and thank goodness he joined me. Oops. We should be quiet. I leaned forward and forced myself to kiss him on the lips. Really. It was forced.

He eased me back and looked around. I guessed he didnt want any of the staff to see usyou know. Then he guided me toward Goldies room, and I suddenly realized that my patient was snoring away. What the hell was I going to use for an excuse?

It was then that I realized it paid to be a good person in ones life. Kerie Cetin walked around the corner and saw us. She hurried closer and said, Oh, Dr. Forsyth. This is so strange. I was just about to page you. Mrs. Seymour is having some excessive swelling. Can you come take a look at her?

Excuse me, Neal said to me.

I nodded and smiled. No problem. I hope shes fine.

Kerie hurried away with him.

And I looked upward and winked. Thanks.

I turned and walked back to the elevator, realizing I wouldnt have to crawl out of Goldies second story room window. Id use the staff entrance-and no one would be the wiser.

With Jagger MIA, I gave myself a mental atta girl, knowing hed do the same. However, it really didnt feel the same. In other words I didnt feel it down to my toes.


The digital clock said two and I groaned, realizing it was actually 2:00 A.M. Jogging back after my Neal scare had me revved up and falling asleep didnt come easily. Id have to nap in Goldies room tomorrow at the rate I was going.

Thank goodness the night had turned out profitablyand having nearly slept with the guy who caught you sneaking around had to be a plus.

I smiled, turned over, hugged my pillow and decided Id force myself to sleep, and before I knew it the sun was glaring in my window, the damn clock had only moved four hours, and I had to get up for the day.


Are you shitting me, Suga? Goldie asked, then made some kind of surprised noise. It was difficult to identify sounds with old Gold.

No. Neal caught me right outside your door. You do snore like a lumberjack, Gold.

We both laughed and went over the evidence that Id found last night. Goldie was so proud of me, I felt like a little kid getting a gold star on my homework.

So, Jagger disappeared, huh? Goldie asked.

Dont start on him, Gold. I have no idea where he went. All I know is, I dont need him.

Goldie gave me a nod, but it was followed by a but you want him kind of look. Thank goodness he didnt verbalize, cause there was no way I could lie to my best friend.

I waved my hands in the air. Enough about that. What the hell am I going to do about my date with Neal tonight?

Goldie walked to the window, sat in the chair and looked at me. Do, Suga? Id think you would know what to do.

If you were closer, Id smack you, but Im too tired to get up. I rolled over onto my side as I pulled the duvet up on Goldies bed. I mean, I should be wrapping this investigation up, Gold. I really dont have time for a date.

A $255,000 date?

I peeked at him from under the duvet. I hope I dont have to spring for the damn dinner!


What does one wear to a 255 grand date? I asked myself that question a gazillion times and even looked around my empty room and asked Samuel. Youre no help, Sam, I said then laughed.

A gentle breeze touched my face.

I laughed again. Okay. Youre a guy anyway. Im sure wed never agree on what looked good for me to wear. Only Goldie and Miles have that market cornered.

I lifted my black dress and decided that was the only decent thing I had. Then again, Id worn it the other night and Neal never did say how dressy we were going to get. There was nothing worse than showing up for a date under- or overdressed.

I flopped onto my bed, pulled my cell from my scrubs top and poked in the numbers.

Hey, I started to say then realized it was Neals voice mail. So I left the what to wear tonight message, flipped the cell closed and pulled the blanket over me. There wasnt much I could do until I heard from him.

For a few seconds I stared at my cell phone, and then picked it up. Damn it. I shouldnt do this, but- I pressed the contacts button, scrolled down and pressed Talk.

The Nextel subscriber you are trying to reach is not available, the disembodied voice said in my ear.

I slammed the phone shut-as if Jagger could see that Id tried to reach him.

Strictly for business purposes.

Really.


Ring. Ring.

My eyes flew open to see the red light blinking on my cell phone. I had a voice-mail message. Jagger? I pressed the button, listened to the female voice go through her rigmarole and then heard, Casual. Jeans are fine. Bring a sweater or jacket.

Neal.

Okay, he wasnt Jagger, but my stomach fluttered at the sound of his voice and my mind flashed back to imagining a near-miss of pretty damn decent sex (remember, I had no recent comparisons). I sat up in bed-feeling as if Samuel were right next to me, jeering.

Damn it. I wouldnt be surprised if youre a long lost descendent of none other than my Jagger. I laughed and realized how easily the word my had come out. Then I jumped out of bed and headed for a shower-a cold one.


You look fantastic, Pauline, Neal said as he put his arm around me and kissed my cheek.

I purred. Purred? Geez how unlike me, but it felt kinda good. Thanks. You dont look so bad yourself, although for 255,000 bucks, Id expect maybe a tuxedo.

We both laughed, and I realized the little crows-feet at the ends of Neals eyes deepened significantly when he laughed-and the damn things were way too sexy. He probably spent a bit too much time out in the sun, and guys were notorious for not using sunscreen. But then again, it did look good on him.

So, Doc, where are we headed in our casuals? Neals hand moved to the small of my back and he led me out the door. I could get used to this. Really.

Its a surprise.

Yikes. Hed leaned closer to my ear, as if I couldnt hear normal talking, and when his breath tickled my cheek, I sighed and mumbled, A surprise soundssurprising.

A surprise sounds surprising?

What the hell? I really needed to take a deep breath and to get out more. I let Neal guide me to his car. After I got in, I took several long, slow breaths to get my wits about me. This was way too much excitement for a gal from Hope Valley.

Newport. Money. House with a name. Handsome doc. Wow.

Im there.

As we drove along Bellevue, Neal cranked up the CD on his stereo. Not much into music except the few country songs I liked by Trisha Yearwood and Tim McGraws Live Like You Were Dying, I was not any kind of expert.

By the time we made it down to Americas Cup Avenue, I couldnt stand the suspense. Come on, Neal. Give me a clue.

He laughed.

My heart danced and hormones surged.

Were almost there. Patience is a virtue, Pauline.

Ha! You just enjoy being in charge! We laughed some more and soon Neal turned into a parking lot at the marina. Were going on a boat?

Yikes. Water. Not a good swimmer. Maybe seasickness.

No. He shut the car off, leaned near, touched my hair, gently pushing it behind my ear, and said, Were going on my boat.

OhmyGodthat soundsfantastic, I whispered, as if I could swim to save my life if the boat capsized.


Something that large is not going to capsize, Pauline, I told myself, looking at the gigantic white yacht bobbing gracefully before me, all the while twisting my pink locket in my hands. Id forgotten to take it off when changing, but it came in handy for nervous energy.

Neal bustled about with lines and carrying stuff from the car. A picnic basket of sorts that I wondered might be filled with food was the first thing hed brought out.

The boat bobbed.

My stomach lurched.

Damn. I wish I had some Dramamine in my purse, I mumbled.

Prone to seasickness? Neal asked.

I swung around, ready to jump in the water and drown myself. Umm.

We could head back to a drugstore and get some, but then Ill be late making my post-op rounds tonight.

I thought of Goldie. No. I dont want you to do that. I opened my purse and started to look inside.

Well, what do you have in there? Anything of use? he asked.

I dug around until I found my pill case, opened it and took out a little pink and white capsule.

Well, there you go. Benadryl. Should help. Take that, he said and eased my hand toward me. Good thing you had it.

I carry Benadryl in case I ever have some weird allergic reaction.

Even though its not for motion sickness, Pauline, it might help alleviate any nausea because it has the histamine blocker ability. His eyes kind of sparkled when he said it. I smiled to myself. Doc Neal looked so proud of himself. Then again, maybe he just wanted me to enjoy the boat ride.

Made sense coming from a doctor, so I promptly popped it into my mouth.

He looked at me and smiled.

I smiled back then thought, Shit. I only hope the Benadryl doesnt make me sleepy!


The pictures on the wall shifted-as did my stomach.

I looked up from my comfy spot in the cabin near Neal and watched him sail or drive or whatever the yacht until we were out in the Atlantic far enough that I couldnt see any land.

How romanticif I didnt barf.

If I didnt watch the pictures sway, hear the swells of water outside the front window or acknowledge that this teeny, tiny boat could actually flip over like the Poseidon, I would be enjoying myself.

Then I yawned.

Is it the company? Neal asked, turning around to look at me.

Hey, keep your eye on the road, water, whatever. And, no, it isnt the company. I yawned two more times. I think yawning is a sign of lack of oxygen.

He did something with some parts on what I called the dashboard of this vessel and walked over to me, bent down and took my hands in his. Then we need to do something about that. Maybe mouth-to-mouth?

As his delicious lips covered mine, I muttered, Shouldnt someone be at the helmwhat the hell is a helmor

Neal took my head in his hands, kissed me several times and kissed me again. No need. Were fine.

Umm. Fine. Were Suddenly he lifted me up and all my motion worries vanished.

The bright sun had settled below the horizon, casting a reddish-pink glow across the sky and water. The waves seemed to calm in order to give us a few special minutes to

How fabulous!

I figured Neal knew what he was talking about by letting the boat float around all by itself. Whats the worst that could happen anyway?

Wed drift out to sea and have to spend more time together?

I seem to be getting my moneys worth- I kissed him behind the ear and amid his moans finished with, -out of this date.

A deep chuckle tickled my cheek. Neals arms were around me, over me, and like some testosterone-soaked octopus, on every wonderful part of me. Getting a little rough, but guys will be guys.

This time we moaned in pleasure together.

Ever made love out at sea? he asked against my cheek.

I paused. There was that one cruise Id taken, but with all the murders, making love had not been on my itinerary. Nope.

Neal lifted me up and carried me toward the stairs, which led down to a cabin-the likes of which were fancier than my condo at home, and Id never tell Miles that since he owned and decorated it.

The sandstone walls were circular, as were the mahogany dressers built into said walls, which surrounded a-you guessed it-circular bed. Gold, brown and navy striped covers neatly sat on the mattress with pillow shams, with drapes and two stuffed chairs to match.

Very nautical bachelor.

Beautiful, I said as he set me down on the duvet. You the interior decorator?

He chuckled. Surgeons-make that most men in general-are not very good at that stuff.

Then who was? Damn it! I had no business asking that question.

While I chastised myself, Neal busied himself with removing my jacket, unbuttoning my blouse and slipping it off. He then very gently set it on the bedside chair. How cute.

Not the most spontaneous person around, I asked again, Are you sure no one needs to be upstairs driving this thing?

Im sure, Pauline. Ive been sailing since I was about nine. Oops. I thought Id just insulted him. He gently undid my pink locket and carefully set it on the pile of my clothing.

But youre not sailing. He nuzzled my neck at the spot just below my jawline. Ohwow. Good thing hed taken off the locket or it might have accidentally sprayed him. That would be a real sexual deal breaker for sure.

Shes well-equipped with instruments, lights, an anchor and all kinds of fancy stuff so that we cando what the hell we want down here. Besides, its a quiet night, but with the bright full moon any other boats that pass by will clearly see us. Stop worrying.

I hadnt even thought of another boat ramming into us. Thanks for that, I said.

Neal lifted me up slightly to yank the duvet and covers down. The sheets had to have been woven with a thousand thread count. I felt as if I could slide right off the side with the tilt and roll of the boat.

And my mind had been too preoccupied with Neal to remember that earlier Id felt like seasick crap.

I did yawn again.

No, its not the company, I said as I undid the zipper on Neals jacket.

Soon he was only in his jeans-and I realized I had a real thing for shirtless, well-built jean-clad guys.

I, however, had my jeans gingerly removed in one sensual moment by Neal. Hey, he was a doctor for crying out loud!

My vision blurred a bit as another damn yawn snuck out. Although I didnt want to admit it, the damn Benadryl had knocked me for a loop. Shit. I decided staying active would help keep me awake.

Neal bent over to lift his jacket and shirt up from the floor. I had to smile to myself at the guys perfection qualities. Jagger would have walked all over both of our clothing without a thought.

But the doc pulled his red shirt from the jacket, folded it, stuck it on the bedside stand and started to fold the shirt.

Force of habit. Ill be right with

Neal was talking. I knew it because I could hear his voice. But I wasnt comprehending a thing as I watched him fold his shirt so carefully.

Red.

Expensive looking.

Hmm. Intriguing.

Shirt with the one side pocketmissing a tiny piece.


Twenty-Two | Nip, Tuck, Dead | Twenty-Four







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