Beat of the Heart


Page 10






AJ clapped his hands together. "All right then. How about I pick you up for dinner around seven?"

My brows furrowed. "Oh, you actually want to go out?"

He snickered. "You really think I'm a 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am' kinda guy, huh?"

I lifted one of my shoulders. "I just figured since this date was about sex-"

"First of all, I'd never take you straight to bed-only assholes with no game do that. Second, for you, this is about experiencing life again."

"And that includes dinner?"

"Yes, ma'am it does, along with something else thrown in just for kicks."

I found myself smiling. "Okay, then. That sounds nice."

"Gotta pen?"

"Sure." I reached into my pocket and handed him one. He took the Get Well Soon card from my other hand. "What's your number?" Once I gave it to him, he grinned. "I'll text you for the directions to pick you up, okay?"

"Okay," I replied as he handed me back the pen.

"Mia, I'm glad you finally decided to take me up on my offer."

"Me too," I replied honestly. Of course, I sounded a lot more sure of myself than I felt. Inside, I was on a Merry-Go-Round of emotions.

When AJ leaned closer to me, an intense fire burning in his eyes, I jerked back. He grinned at my reaction. "Easy girl. Just a chaste good-bye kiss," he whispered, his breath fanning over my cheek.

"Sorry."

His warm lips pressed a tender kiss on my cheek, rather than my lips. When he pulled away, he winked. "I'll make sure to ply you with a little alcohol on Friday night to make sure you're not so skittish."

Shaking my head, I pushed him playfully. "Whatever."

"I'll be back to see Frank, so maybe I'll see you before then."

"Maybe so."

Walking backwards down the hall to Frank's room, he wiggled his fingers at me. "Bye Mia."

Shifting the flowers, I waved back. "Bye AJ." Once he disappeared back into Frank's room, I exhaled the breath I'd been holding. As I walked into the station, Dee greeted me with a grin that stretched from cheek to cheek.

"Hellz to the yes! Mama Mia's gettin' back in the game!" he exclaimed, before doing a little happy dance.

"Yeah, nothing like extreme peer pressure from your bestie along with an overly persistent guy to make it happen."

"This is going to be epic!" Dee gyrated his hips as he danced over to me. "You need to make an appointment for hair and nails ASAP." His gaze dropped below my waist. "And I'm thinking a bikini wax as well. Don't wanna be welcoming Mr. Latin Lover to the jungle."

"You ass!" I cried before smacking his shoulder. My outrage only fueled him on, and two of our other shift partners broke into hysterics when he started twerking in front of me.

"Thanks. I think I need some bleach for my eyes now," I groaned.

Slinging an arm around my shoulder, Dee gave my cheek a smacking kiss. "I'm proud of you, baby girl. I think this is exactly what you need…and more."

"We'll see about that."

"You gotta have faith," he mused.

I wagged a finger at him. "So help me God if you start doing a George Michael ass swish in front of me like in the Faith video, I'm going to request a transfer for you ."

He pursed his lips. "Don't be hatin' on my mad dancing skills."

"Let's get back to work, shall we?" I prompted before grabbing a chart.

5

Friday night found me wine glass in hand, stomach twisted in knots, and pacing back and forth in my bedroom. Standing in front of Mama Sofia's antique mirror, I once again gazed at my reflection. Dee, along with my best girlfriend, Shannon, had insisted on taking me shopping at Lennox earlier in the day. Everything in my closet that was dressy or sexy had too many Dev memories attached to them. I needed a whole new ensemble for my big splash back into the dating world.

After a few stores and a few close calls, we'd finally found something we all could agree on. Well, sort of. Although they'd insisted the dress was to die for and I was going to take AJ's breath away, I was still unsure, as I turned left and right in front of the mirror. Red had always been my color, and tonight's tight little number was ruby red with tiny spaghetti straps that made a crisscrossing pattern across my lower back. While I thought I should have gone up a size, Dee insisted that it hugged my body to the point it was like a second skin. "Trust me, baby girl. Latino men love a woman with curves."

I took his word for it and bought the dress along with some killer red heels that had a patent leather strap. Shannon had insisted on taking me to have my hair and make-up done. For a sure fire sexcapade, I thought I was going to a little too much trouble, but I decided to bite my tongue and go along for the ride. Don't get me wrong. I was all about dressing to impress and feeling sexy. I didn't get a lot of chances to do it during the week in my scrubs. At the same time, I knew AJ wanted to screw my brains out whether I was wearing a Hefty bag or couture. In the end, I was so grateful for letting Dee talk me into the shoes and dress as well as Shannon with the hair and makeup. For the first time since Dev left, I felt truly sexy and desirable.

So I was all decked out at five until seven, waiting on my Prince Charming to arrive and begin this Cinderellaesque fantasy night. All the while, I fought the urge not to throw up or refuse to answer the door when AJ arrived. The doorbell rang, and I jumped a mile, sloshing wine onto the floor. "Shit!" I exclaimed. I sprinted into the bathroom and grabbed a towel. I threw it on the puddle and quickly wiped it up. I'd just made it into the hallway when the doorbell rang again. "Coming!" I shouted.

When I finally flung open the door, AJ's appearance took what breath I had left away. He wore khaki pants, a crisp white shirt with an electric blue tie, along with a navy blazer. It was quite a difference from the jeans and T-shirt from the other day. "Hi," I murmured.

"Hello there, sexy." His gaze drank me in from head to toe. "You in that dress is testing my firm resolve to make this a true date and not just sex."

I fought against the tiny fluttering of my heart at his words. "Thank you. You're looking pretty amazing yourself."

"Thanks. I do clean up nice, don't I?"







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