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Authors: Lauren Blakely

Full Package (13 page)

23

F
rom the pages
of Josie's Recipe Book

Josie's Chocolate Oh-No-You-Didn't-Do-That Milkshake Recipe

I
ngredients

1
pint chocolate
ice cream

Ideally some variety that is incredibly decadent and delicious, and will make you feel like you're falling . . . even though you're totally not, and you can't, and you won't.

1/4 cup milk

Milk is good for you! Milk makes for healthy bones! This recipe is clearly a health food.

Some ice

To numb your heart.

D
ump all ingredients
in a blender and blend on high until it's all one big milkshake of feelings, and emotions, and sex, and heartache, and friendship, and possibilities. Then, down the hatch.

Now, the next part of the recipe is the most essential. Once you've consumed the milkshake of your mixed-up, stirred-up, fused-and-confused feelings, brush your hands together, slap on a smile, and don't ever blend them again. Eat the ice cream
separately
, just like you're going to have that man.

That's all you can do to protect your heart. That's the only way to have him. Anything more and you might lose the best friend you've ever had.

24

A
few days later
, after I treat a runner who collapsed from dehydration during his morning run in Central Park, the charge nurse marches over to me, a clipboard in hand.

“Dr. Summers, you're wanted,” Sandy barks, her drill sergeant voice making me stand at attention.

I'm her soldier. “What have we got?”

I expect her to rattle off a litany of incoming trauma. Instead, she points her thumb in the direction of the lobby. “Pretty brunette in the waiting room asking for you.”

My ears perk. My dick springs to attention. My heart leaps. Josie has stopped by. Maybe she brought me lunch. My stomach growls. Pavlovian organ. Come to think of it, my cock is, too, judging from the speed of its response to the words “pretty brunette.”

Full-on salute in my scrubs.
Nice work, dick.

It's no surprise, though, since the last few nights with Josie have been mind-blowing, and it's not only my mind that's been blown. But I haven't just been on the receiving end of the pleasure. Like Josie, I'm a taker and I'm also a giver. I've doled out multiple orgasms, and exponents of orgasms, too, administered in all sorts of ways.

She's voracious, and I've satisfied her appetite each and every time. Including with my tongue. When I first went down on her, once wasn't enough for either of us. I gave her a double like that, and she came even harder the second time.

The next morning, I found a bakery bag on the living room table with two chocolate chip cookies in it and a note that said:
Good things come in pairs.

A day later, after a marathon session testing the sturdiness of our furniture, she left me a brownie, and the card attached read:
I think you burned this off last night. By the way, I'm super impressed with how sturdy our table is. Not to mention the wall.

I can't wait to see why she's here at noon.

I thank Sandy then take off, striding through the corridor and past the nurse's desk. I push on the big, swinging doors that lead to the waiting room. A twenty-something dude in a hoodie hunches over in a chair, hacking. A muscular mom in yoga pants clutches a toddler in her arms. The kid's face is flushed, and he's shivering. Fever, I suspect. A handful of others wait, too, staring at phones or the TV hanging on the wall. We pride ourselves at Mercy on some of the shortest waits in the ER world, and judging from the markedly un-crowded lobby, we're doing okay in that pursuit.

But that also means it's easy to see Josie's not here. I deflate. Yes, all the parts that were inflated.

“Hey, Dr. Summers.”

I turn in the direction of a most decidedly masculine voice. The angular face is familiar. Sharp nose. Kind eyes. Blond hair. The light switches on. I smile and point at the guy. “Aquaman.”

The man whose forehead doubled as a parking lot for a sex souvenir walks to me and extends a hand. He wears a sharp white dress shirt and expensive slacks. Funny, I didn't peg him for a wealthy businessman when he was in his Aquaman threads, but his duds today, from the cufflinks to the silk of his shirt, make it clear this man is rolling in it. You never know who likes to swing from the chandeliers.

I shake his hand, then turn to the aforementioned pretty brunette by his side.

“And the mermaid,” I add, and she smiles and shakes my hand. A diamond ring sparkles on her finger. She's decked out in sharp clothes, too, with a full-on executive businesswoman look.

“I'm Cassidy,” she says.

“Good to meet you. And good to see you again,” I say to my former patient. “How's the chandelier abstinence program going?”

He smiles. His girlfriend does, too, her cheeks turning red. “We took your advice,” he tells me. “The kitchen table is indeed a fine alternative.”

“Excellent. And this,” I say, pointing to his forehead. The tiniest of tiny scars is barely visible. “This looks good.”

“I know,” he says with a wide grin. “You can barely tell it's there.”

His girlfriend sets a hand on his shoulder and gazes at him adoringly. “It's the perfect amount of rugged, sexy scar,” she says sweetly, then dusts a kiss on his cheek. She turns to me. “And thank you, Doctor. You really did an amazing job stitching up Kevin. You can hardly tell.”

“Excellent. That's my job. To make my work invisible.”

“Invisible Man,” Kevin says, like he just coined the moniker for a new superhero. He clears his throat. “We wanted to get you a little thank-you gift. For taking such good care of me. And for your suggestions. The table, but also another one you gave us. We took you up on it, and we hope you like it, too.”

My eyebrows rise in curiosity.

Cassidy hands me a greeting-card-size envelope. I slide my thumb under the flap and open it. Inside is a white business card, along with a gift certificate for a cooking class.
Enticing appetizers and alluring desserts
.

I crack up, remembering our conversation on the exam table when I encouraged him to take a cooking class. “Well done, Aquaman. Well done.”

Kevin smiles widely and holds his hands out in a sheepish shrug. “Doctor's orders. Far be it for me to defy them.”

“You're a good man to follow them.”

“And listen,” he begins, adopting a more serious tone.

I tilt my head, waiting.

His blue eyes meet mine. “There's something else I need to thank you for.”

I furrow my brow. “What's that?”

But when a siren blares, and the tell-tale sign of an incoming ambulance screeches outside, I say, “Sorry, but that's my cue to go.”

We say a quick good-bye, and as I rush back into the ER, I make a hasty pit stop at the waiting room desk. A bleached blonde with tired eyes looks up at me. “Yes, Doctor?”

I nod at the sick toddler. “Make sure the kid gets seen as soon as you can, okay?”

She nods.

I head back to the madhouse, taking a quick glance at the gift along the way. It's a cooking class for two. I stuff it in my pocket, because we have a fifty-year-old man suffering from a heart attack coming in. This time, we save a life.

A
fter a busy afternoon
with no break in sight, I finish my shift and find a text from Wyatt.

In your hood. Grab a brew?

I text back with a yes, and we settle on a nearby location—Spencer and Charlotte's bar, The Lucky Spot. Spencer's behind the counter this time, and he tips his chin in greeting as we stroll in.

He pours some beers and places the glasses on the counter with a clang. “So a doctor and a carpenter walk into a bar…”

I roll my eyes. “Yeah? And what happens next? The bartender serves up a pale ale and a punchline?”

His green eyes study Wyatt and me. “Yes. Because want to know what happens when you cross a surgeon with a carpenter?”

“Oh, tell us, tell us,” Wyatt says, mocking Spencer as he chimes in like an excited kid.

“I don't know . . . but I'd hate to see what they do with a saw,” he says, then slaps his palm against the counter to punctuate his joke.

I groan. “Really?”

“That's the best you can do?” Wyatt asks.

Spencer points at my handyman friend. “I thought I nailed that one.” Then he turns to me. “But not as well as Chase would have . . . killed it.”

“Oh ha ha ha. I try to limit my kills,” I say, lifting my glass to take a drink.

Spencer preens and blows on his nails. “All right, assholes. That'll be fifty dollars.”

“You're cheap tonight,” Wyatt remarks as he takes out his wallet and pretends to fish around for a big bill.

“Just kidding. Your money's no good here. For some reason, I let you two dickheads drink for free,” he says, then heads to the end of his bar to take care of customers.

Wyatt and I shoot the breeze for a few minutes as we work on our pale ales, and then he levels me with an intense stare. “What's going on with Josie?”

I nearly spit out my drink.

The brother of the woman I'm trying desperately not to fall harder for laughs and claps my back. “Hard time holding your liquor?”

“Um, no, wrong pipe,” I lie.

“Seriously, man. I've been thinking about our talk at Joe's Sticks. Is she doing okay on the whole dating scene?”

“Yeah. She's doing great,” I say, fibbing outrageously and hating it.

“Dating any jackasses? Or have you weeded them all out?”

Briefly, my mind wanders back to the guy who made the gerbil comment, then to the idiot who tried to pry into her private life online, then to the one who started it all—Damien—by fooling my girl.

My girl.

I scrub a hand over my jaw. She's not mine. I can't think of her that way. I raise my glass. “You'll be glad to know I've safely kept her away from any and all jackasses.”

I don't include myself in the jackass count. I'm not like those other guys. I'm not hurting Josie by sleeping with her like this. We have a temporary arrangement, an understanding, a roomies-with-benefits deal. If anything, I'm the one on the faster track to get hurt.

Wyatt clinks his glass to mine. “Good. I knew I could count on you to look out for my second-favorite person in the universe.” Then sheepishly, in a lowered voice, he adds, “It's weird that I can't call Josie my favorite person anymore. She was for so long. For most of my life. But now that spot goes to the new Mrs. Hammer.”

“Natalie's gotta be first, man.”

Wyatt clasps my shoulder. “Good thing I've got you to make sure Josie's in good hands.”

“Yeah, I'll definitely make sure of that,” I say, looking away.

Because Josie is in my good hands, and I hope that's exactly where she's going to be in about an hour.

W
e text
on the way home. She's on the express train. I'm on the local line. We laugh—over text—about how we're heading home at the same time.

Then, as I head up the steps of the station and onto the bustling sidewalk, her latest text sends a burst of excitement through me because I'll see her soon.

J
osie
:
Want to do something crazy and, I dunno, walk the last few blocks together?

C
hase
:
You are a wild thing.

J
osie
:
I am. Especially when you learn what I have in store for you tonight.

A
whistle rips
through the warm early evening air, the kind a construction worker makes at a sexy woman. A familiar voice shouts at me, “Yo, Hot Stuff.”

When I stop and turn around, Josie walks towards me, a little sway in her hips, a flirty grin on her pretty pink lips. She wears a short skirt with a swirly pattern on it, and a purple V-neck T-shirt. Her hair is cinched back in a ponytail, and her wrist is adorned with her silver bracelets.

She's so fucking hot. And beautiful. And bold.

I glance around, as if I'm looking for someone else. Then I stab my finger against my chest. “You talking to me?” I ask in my best movie gangster tone.

“Yeah, I'm talking to you with the nice ass.”

I give it right back to her. “Turn around. Let me see yours.”

She twirls once, then stops in front of me. “Hey, Doctor McHottie,” she says in a softer but still sexy voice. She rises on tiptoe and gives me a peck on the cheek, and my heart races. Dumb organ. I need to remember that the heart's purpose is to pump blood, a body fluid that ferries nutrients and oxygen to cells. Its goal isn't to make me feel light-headed and dopily dizzy around her.

Even so, I clasp her jaw in my hand, and kiss her hard on the lips. If she's going to drop little whispery kisses on my face in public, I'm going to claim her naughty mouth with mine.

She moans lightly as I kiss her, and I swallow that sound. When I break the kiss, a soft sigh escapes her lips. I roam my eyes over her. As I catalogue her ridiculously cute outfit, an abhorrent thought pops into my brain. “Were you on a date after work?”

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