Beat of the Heart


Page 8






AJ busted out laughing while I screeched, "Dee, you faccia di merda!" I smacked him on the arm. Hard.

Pursing his full lips, Dee ignored my rant and bodily harm. "You can curse at me all you want in Italian, but the truth is the truth." He eased closer to AJ, lowering his voice. "You see, our girl has closed up shop ever since she caught her dickhead fiancé banging one of her friends."

It was at that moment that if looks could kill, Dee would be toe up in the floor, writhing in agony with a slow death. I could not believe he had just told my most intimate details to a perfect stranger, especially someone like AJ.

While I debated making a run for it, AJ's amused expression turned sympathetic. "Damn, I'm sorry, Mia. I had no idea. That fucking blows."

I shrugged, trying desperately to play off my heartache. "What can you do? Shit happens." My voice cracked betraying my emotions. Oh yes, I was going to kill Dee for dredging up my past in front of AJ. Yes, maybe slow torture would better serve him.

With his eyes boring into mine, AJ stepped forward. He swept a strand of hair out of my face. Tenderly, he ran his fingers over it before tucking it behind my ear. "Mia, he must have been fucking blind, not to mention stupid as hell, to have had you in his life, most of all in his bed, and then gone looking somewhere else." He gave a quick shake of his head. "His loss, cariño."

The intensity of his stare, along with his husky tone, caused my breath to come in rapid pants. Okay, he was having way too much of an effect on me in such a short amount of time. It was time to send him packing. "That's a very sweet sentiment, but now can you see why I'm not able to take you up on your offer?"

"Actually, I think that's all the more reason for you to go out with me."

With a sigh, I shook my head. "I'm sorry. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my patients." Side-stepping him, I grabbed a chart and powerwalked away from him. The whole way down the hall until I disappeared into room 410, I could feel his heated gaze searing into my back. Part of me wanted to whirl around and tell him I'd love nothing more than to go out with him. But the more dominant side of me-the one who was still licking its bloodied and beaten wounds-wouldn't let me.

After putting more distance between us and making a few rounds, I returned to the station to find Dee waiting for me. By his expression, I knew exactly what he was going to say, so I held my hand up. "Please, don't go there."

"Oh girl, I'm so going there."

"Dee, he is the last thing I need right now."

"Bullshit. He is exactly what you need and then some." When I stared down at my shoes, he gently pulled my chin up so I would be forced to look at him. "Mimi, he was a hot piece of male flesh who was totally and completely jonesing for you. He just worked harder for a chance at your snatch than I've ever seen a guy-straight or gay."

I smacked Dee's hand off my chin. "Snatch? You know I hate that word. And I don't think gay dudes are working hard for the… .," I gulped before whispering, "snatch."

"You are such a difficult, stubborn ass!"

"Guys like him…they don't date women like me."

"Oh, and just whom do they date?"

"Stick figures with no souls-you know the type, size zeroes with fake tits who make great looking arm candy."

"Please, lawd in Heaven, tell me you just didn't turn that guy down because of your damn self-esteem issues? Must you make a stop in negative town, rather than booty town?"

"Dee-"

He wagged his finger in my face. "Uh, uh. Don't pull that one on me. I know AJ wanted you in all your thick, junk in the trunk glory."

"Whatever," I grumbled.

"Mimi, you need something-better yet, someone-to get you out of this funk."

"You call the aftermath of having your entire world implode around you, leaving you symbolically bloody and barely breathing 'a funk'?" I demanded.

Dee's shoulders sagged a bit. "That was six months ago. Dev's moved on, and it's time for you to move on, too."

"It all makes sense up here," I said, tapping my head. "But it just doesn't seem to get here." I then covered my heart, which ached beneath my fingertips.

"Hell, I'm not saying you need to marry the dude and pop out ten children. I'm just saying he could be a good distraction-a way to help you see you're a beautiful, amazing woman that any man would be thrilled to get to bang."

Although I tried fighting it, the corners of my lips curved up at Dee's final words. "Thanks for the compliment that was in there…somewhere."

"You're welcome."

"We should probably get back to work now, don't you think?"

"Oh, I think you've definitely got some work cut out for you."

"What are you talking about?"

Dee stared past me with a curious expression. "He's baaaack," he said, mimicking the little girl from Poltergeist.

I whirled around to see AJ striding down the hall with a giant bouquet of colorful wild flowers and roses in his arms-a determined expression etched across his handsome features. When he ambled up to me, I shook my head in disbelief. "You seriously never get turned down, do you?"

"No, I don't." He grinned and shifted the flowers in his arms. "But there's another reason why I came back."

"Oh?"

He bobbed his head. "Listen, I figured that we got off on the wrong foot with you drying my junk, and I thought maybe for you to truly consider going out with me, we needed a do-over."

"Wow," I murmured. Holy shit, was this guy for real? I fought the urge to glance around to see if there were some hidden cameras, and I was totally being Punked. He wanted me to go out with him enough that he'd not only come back, but he'd brought me flowers. I had a weakness for men bearing flowers.

A beaming smile lit up his face. "So, Mia Martinelli, I'm Alejandro Joaquin Resendiz aka AJ, and it's a pleasure meeting you." He then handed me the bouquet.

"Thank you." I brought the flowers to my nose and inhaled the sweet fragrance. "These are beautiful." My eye caught the card poking out, so I reached for it.







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