Jetson (Steel Cobras MC #4), page 1
Steel Cobras MC
By Evie Monroe
Copyright © 2019 Evie Monroe and BookBoyfriends Publishing LLC
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2019 Evie Monroe and BookBoyfriends Publishing LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of the trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
Kill me now.
I scanned my enormous new living room in my dream house, in my dream city, where I was finally pursuing my dream job. I was sure a time would come when this place, with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean, would be a gorgeous showplace for all the parties we’d have. But right now?
It made me sick to my stomach.
Moving boxes covered every inch of the shiny maple flooring. Mountains and mountains of them.
I wanted to cry.
Funny, they called me the Ice Girl. I never broke a sweat once, even during the most stressful nights in the ER. Never showed a ripple. But this?
This had me on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Maybe it was because I knew what Michael’s wife-to-be was supposed to be.
Perfection. Plain and simple. Sophisticated, elegant, dignified. Just like him.
Me? Not so much. I put on airs, sure . . . but most of the time, like now, I felt like I was failing miserably.
I was exhausted. I’d gotten up at the crack of dawn to meet the movers at my cousin Bella’s house in L.A. to start packing my things. They didn’t show up until noon. After finally getting the contents of my bedroom loaded onto the truck, we detoured over to the rental unit to pick up the furniture I’d stored there from my dad’s house before driving all the way up the coast to the home I was planning to share with my fiancé. My name was on the dotted line so it was officially mine, but with his help every month as we planned, I could afford this.
And now, I was so tired, I might as well have done a full shift on my feet. All I wanted to do was sink onto my bed and sleep for the next twelve hours.
But I had boxes to unpack.
Lots and lots and lots of boxes.
Everything was just a big mess. I didn’t even know where, in all this mess, the movers had put my bed.
Exhausted, I slipped onto the beaten old sofa that used to sit in my parents’ house. It hadn’t seen the light of day since I was thirteen when all of my parents’ belongings had been packed away into a storage unit. I reached over and opened a cardboard flap and saw my trusty old tea kettle.
If that wasn’t a sign, I didn’t know what was.
I lifted it and my tea barrel out of the box and went through the great room, into the big eat-in kitchen with the granite countertops. As I filled the kettle from the sink, I looked around and imagined what this place would look like when I got everything unpacked. It really was my dream home. My fiancé’s, as well. Too big for just me, but for a family . . .
I smiled at the thought and put the kettle on the stove.
Family would wait for a few years, though. I needed to work on my career. I was lucky to get this position at Aveline Bay Regional Hospital, one of the best hospitals on the coast. I had the job, the house just a few blocks from the hospital, the same hospital where my fiancé worked. Things were falling into place, just like I’d always hoped.
Except . . . ugh. All these boxes. Michael hated disorder. He’d probably complain that I hadn’t cleaned well enough.
But I was dead on my feet. A little break wouldn’t hurt.
I steeped the tea, and since I didn’t have anywhere to sit in the kitchen yet, I jumped up on the center island. When my mouth fell open in a huge yawn. I could hear Michael complaining about me sitting up here. Come on, babe. That’s where we serve the food. Well, what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. He should have been here to help me move in, but he’d been called away on an emergency case. Which was nothing unusual. He was one of the most respected gastroenterologists in the area and worked out of three local hospitals, so he was constantly running all over town.
As I sipped my tea, my phone buzzed with a message from him: You all settled in?
I wondered if he was serious, or if that was an attempt to be funny. Either way, it made me nervous. I’m buried in boxes. And this isn’t even your stuff.
He still had his place until the end of the month, so we thought we’d start with my things first. He hadn’t liked the idea of me bringing my parents’ furniture with me. It was all old junk, he said. But I was sentimental about it, so he finally agreed. Knowing Michael, I had a feeling it would all end up in the back of the garage. He was kind of particular and wanted our house to look like a showplace, like his apartment did, since he was always having important colleagues over for dinner parties.
He could’ve been a surgeon, considering how precise and exact he was.
Me? I wasn’t sure I could play hostess at his dinner parties. Wasn’t sure I wanted to. I was so much younger than all of his colleagues, and messy, compared to him. He’d tell me endlessly that I needed to learn to pick up after myself, always keeping me in line.
Sometimes I felt like he was more like my father than my lover. He was fifteen years older than me. I’d met him while he was teaching courses at UCLA med school. I’d skipped a bunch of grades and graduated from college when I was seventeen, med school when I was twenty-one. Finished my surgical residency at twenty-five and then went on to do a trauma fellowship in L.A. A prodigy, they called me. School almost bored me, it was so easy; I was used to knowing more than even my teachers. But when I met Michael when I was twenty-one, all the things he knew just blew me away. I’d never got along with people my age, anyway.
Don’t forget to call your cousin and let her know you got in safe.
Right. Michael again, reminding me to pay attention to my life. I may have been one of the country’s youngest surgeons, but when it came to remembering simple things, I was a little scattered. Like I said, he was good for me. Kept m
“Well?” she asked when she picked up.
“I’m fine!” I told her. I could hear the babies crying in the background. “Everything’s good.”
“Did Michael meet you up there yet?”
“Not yet. He’s still at work. But I’ve got it under control.”
“You do?” She sounded doubtful, with good reason. The operating room was my domain, where I felt comfortable, calm and called the shots. Outside of it? Like I said, I’d lose my head if it wasn’t attached.
“Yes!” I assured her.
Bella was thirty-six, and the world’s youngest senior citizen. She worried about everything. Before Michael took over, she was my warden. She’d been just out of college with a new apartment and boyfriend when my father was killed. I was only thirteen, and she was my only blood relative, so I ended up living with her. Her boyfriend, Bruce, married her a few years later, but he was kind of a jerk. They had four kids, including twins under the age of two. Even though I provided babysitting help, I think she was glad to get me out of the house finally. Seven of us, lived in a tiny, two-bedroom apartment (yes, I had the couch), and Bruce and I were at each other’s throats like yard dogs.
“Well, I’m sure it can’t be easy for you, moving in yourself. Try not to worry. It’ll all get done.”
“I know. I’m perfect,” I said, looking around, trying to tamp down that familiar prick of nerves I got whenever I thought of Michael being disappointed in me. I tried to focus on the gorgeous home. I couldn’t believe all of this space was mine. No more sleeping on the couch. No more sharing a single bathroom with six other people. I could spread out on the sofa and buy Doritos and still have them waiting for me when I got back from work and walk naked through the living room if I so chose.
Not that Michael would approve of me doing any of that. God, he probably didn’t even know what a Dorito was.
Still, it was heaven. Freedom. I couldn’t wait to start this new chapter of my life.
“All right, honey,” Bella said, blowing me a kiss over the phone. “Take care. You need anything, you call me.”
I hit End Call, took my tea, and navigated around boxes to the old sofa. Michael liked spending quiet evenings at home, listening to classical music and tooling on his crossword puzzle in his oversized leather chair. Not that he had much time for that, because when the hospital called, he was out the door. And the hospital was always calling. But as I flopped down onto the couch, I imagined us sitting in front of the big brick fireplace together. Maybe a few kids, playing quietly on the rug in front of us.
That would be nice. It was the life Michael always said he wanted. He’d never met a woman that he wanted to settle down with until he’d found me. That was what he told me.
I needed to get some sleep. As the low man on the ABRH totem pole, even though it was my first night in the city, I’d volunteered to be on call tonight. I wanted to prove myself, and that meant I had to show them I had grit. It wasn’t enough to be the hospital’s youngest surgeon in its fifty-five-year history. I wanted to become the youngest department head, as well.
But I was too wired from all the excitement to rest. New house, new city, new possibilities.
I opened my phone to a new song that Bella had played for me on the radio, turned it up loud, set my tea aside, and started to dance around the boxes.
I went crazy, crazy in a way I hadn’t in years. Michael didn’t like rock music, or wild clubs, or parties or any of that stuff. I was always too busy trying to stay at the top of my class to bother. But truth be told . . . I loved letting loose.
Especially when Michael wasn’t around to watch.
I danced around the boxes, getting sweaty, my waist-length, dark hair flying all over the place until the music cut off, and I realized my phone was ringing.
I recognized the number on the screen. It was the hospital.
I tensed and answered at once. “Yes?”
“Speaking. Can I help you?” I said, out of breath.
“Yes. We had a bad one come in. GSW.”
I hadn’t been out of my critical care fellowship for long, but I’d seen enough of them in my residencies to know there wasn’t really such a thing as a good gunshot wound. I gritted my teeth. “I’ll be there in five minutes.”
I hung up, quickly grabbed my bag, and headed out the door. Before today, I’d done precisely one shift at ABRH, where I’d felt very much like a newbie, getting the grand tour, meeting the other staff members on my team, and learning the lay of the land. Because of my age, and the fact that I looked even five years younger, I’d been mistaken for a teenage volunteer.
That was okay. I was used to barking orders and kicking ass to have people take me seriously. They’d soon learn. Few people ever mistook me for a teenager once they saw me in the operating room.
And now? Now I wasn’t a resident anymore. I was an attending trauma surgeon, one of two on staff.
I rushed down the street, thankful I lived so close to the hospital, between the ambulances and police cars and into the sliding doors of the emergency room. As the doors slipped open, I saw something that gave me pause.
There was a long, red path leading from the sidewalk into the depths of the emergency room. It looked like something from a horror movie.
A couple of the nurses whose names I’d forgotten from orientation stood up as I got there. “Hurry,” one of them said as I flew past the waiting room. Two police officers saw me coming. “This way.”
“I think I’ll just follow the trail of blood,” I said, quickly navigating around it. “Is this from the victim?”
The young one nodded. “Two of his friends brought him in.”
“Where are they? Out in the waiting room?” I asked. The blood path abruptly stopped in the middle of the hallway, which must’ve been when the team loaded him onto a stretcher.
“We don’t know. They left before the police got here.”
“Is the victim being prepped for surgery?” I asked as I rushed to the sinks and twirled my dark hair into a bun and slipped a cap over it, then started to scrub up.
“Yes,” the older nurse with the ruddy face said to me, wringing her hands. They’re all in there now. “But it’s bad. I’ve never seen one that bad. Dr. Patel’s in there now, but they need you.”
“What’s the victim’s blood pressure like?”
“Low. Really low.”
Figured as much, with that kind of bleeding. This wasn’t good. “All right. I’m coming.”
I finished scrubbing up to the elbows, the nurses ushered me through to the emergency room. There were already a dozen people in the room, and Dr. Patel, the attending ER physician, heaved a sigh of relief when he saw me. “Dr. Benson. This one’s definitely going to need surgery,” he said as the nurses tied on my scrubs and helped me into the rubber gloves.
“Surgery? Aw, fuck no.” the guy on the table said. He was awake. That was a good sign.
“What have we got?” I asked. The nurses stepped back for me to take a look.
“Small caliber bullet. Upper right abdominal. No exit wound.” They’d stripped him naked. We’d been trained to look at the injury before anything else. But that wasn’t what I saw first. I saw the tattoos on each bicep and hesitated for a second. Just like my dad! I thought with an unexpected rush of emotion.
I looked up to the face, which was nothing like my dad. Sure, my dad was handsome, but this guy was movie-star beautiful. Youngish, too. Square jaw covered in stubble, dark blond hair, and blue eyes that were as bright as a baby’s, yet nowhere near as innocent. He was every woman’s fantasy. His entire body, from what I could see, was a work of art: Smooth skin, shapely legs, muscles in all the right places.
Well . . . he wasn’t a work of art anymore. No, as a doctor, I was trained to see clues within the human body, and I saw the evidence of hard living everywhere. He had a jagged sca
He was staring straight at me, this superior little smirk on his face like he was trying to be a tough guy and laugh off the pain. That was exactly something my dad would’ve done.
And a gunshot wound.
Hmm. It made me think back to that day fourteen years ago, when I’d lost my father, right in the front yard of my house. Stop! I scolded myself. I needed to concentrate. “All right. Let’s get an abdominal x-ray going,” I said, stepping up to the table and reaching over to inspect the area around the wound. I pressed gently into the flesh surrounding the hole. He had good muscle tone, a definite six pack. It was clear he worked out. If he cared about his body like this, why throw it away by getting involved in . . . whatever thug life he was involved in? Drugs, gangs, guns, all the dangerous stuff that made men feel like they were tough. It was so stupid. Sometimes I wanted to smack my patients upside the head. “You check the rest of him? Any other wounds?”
Dr. Patel shook his head. “No other wounds?”
“No . . . ow!” the victim said, wincing as I hit a tender spot. “Watch it, girl.”
“I’m just trying to help you, Mister. . .” I said evenly, glancing around for his file and saw his name on the screen. “Mr. Nash.”
“You want to help me, try going a little south,” he said with a wink.
I rolled my eyes as my hands felt their way around the wound. What a charmer. No fear whatsoever. I wondered if he realized he was looking death in the face. The bullet had done a number on his abdomen, bloating the tissue underneath, and I couldn’t even see the worst of it yet. I was sure the X-ray would reveal more damage, and the CT scan he was undoubtedly headed for, even more. It was amazing he was still conscious, but sometimes the adrenaline rush from a situation like this kept people from feeling the brunt of the pain.
“Doc,” the guy kept saying through gritted teeth, looking at Dr. Patel.
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