Made for you the best mi.., p.10

Made for You (The Best Mistake), page 10

 

Made for You (The Best Mistake)
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  Now.

  After paying for her new look and leaving a hefty tip, she hit up the next stop on her vacation-from-life plan. No not a plan. No more plans.

  The receptionist at Brynn’s office looked up in surprise as she strode in the door. “Hey, Dr. Dalton. I thought you were out this week?”

  “Oh, I am,” Brynn said with a bright smile. And I’m about to be out a lot longer than that. “When Dr. Wee is free, could you tell her I’m in?”

  “I like the hair!” Erika called after her as Brynn headed to her office.

  Brynn dropped her purse onto the chair and stood for a moment with her hands on her hips, taking in the perfectly tidy desk, the alphabetized journals on the shelves, the neat row of fake plants she’d set along the window because they looked more uniform than real plants.

  “It looks like a robot lives here,” Brynn announced to the emptiness.

  She reached out and moved her stapler a few inches so it wasn’t neatly in line with the pen holder and the paper clip dispenser. She promptly moved it back. Maybe she wasn’t quite ready for that. Brynn reached out again. Moved it a half inch forward.

  There. That was okay. Baby steps.

  “Rearranging?”

  Brynn glanced up toward the voice and saw a very curious-looking Susan standing in the doorway.

  “Sue, we need to talk.”

  Susan entered and, closing the door, looked as unruffled and unperturbed as ever. It was how Brynn had always thought of herself. At least until her thirty-first birthday had brought it all crashing down around her, turning her into a high-strung, self-doubting train wreck.

  “What’s with the hair?” Susan asked, settling into one of the chairs. “Midlife crisis?”

  “God, I hope this isn’t the midpoint,” Brynn said vehemently, tucking her hair behind her ear and liking that it didn’t stay there the way it used to.

  She dropped into the other guest chair next to Susan rather than across from her on the other side. “Things have been okay here, right? Since I’ve been out.”

  Susan arched an eyebrow and folded her hands in her lap. “You mean in the all of four days that you’ve been gone? Yeah, we’ve been just fine.”

  “Dr. Anders is doing okay?”

  “Yeah, Blake is great. He’s a little green, but conscientious…asks questions when he has them. And the patients love him. Especially the thirteen-year-old girls.”

  “I bet,” Brynn said absently. Blake Anders had been doing a residency with them, but when Brynn had called in “sick” for the week, he’d been asked to take on more hours.

  She only hoped that he’d be open to taking a lot more patients for the next few weeks.

  “What’s going on, Brynn?”

  Brynn took a deep breath, forcing herself to meet Susan’s eyes. “I think I need some time off.”

  Susan didn’t flinch. “Longer than this week, you mean?”

  “Yeah. I’m thinking more like…through the end of the month.”

  “Okay, no problem. As long as you need.”

  Brynn stared at her partner in exasperation. “You’re supposed to freak out. At least a little bit.”

  Susan gave a small smile. “Oh, believe me, if I didn’t have Blake, I probably would. But honestly, we’ll handle it. You’ll be missed, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.”

  Brynn sucked in a breath. Just like that. It was so easy. She’d been half expecting—hoping—that Susan would protest. Maybe try to talk her out of it.

  No going back now.

  “Well, okay, then,” Brynn said. “I’ll make sure all of my patient notes are updated, of course. And I’ll contact them all personally to let them know I’ll be on leave. And you can call me anytime. And I’ll check in…”

  Susan put a hand on her arm. “Brynn. We’ve got this. You take care of you.”

  Brynn nodded. “Yeah. Okay. I will.”

  “Look, I don’t mean to pry, and I understand you want privacy, but…”

  “I’m okay, Susan,” Brynn said with a reassuring smile. On the outside, anyway. “There are no scary health issues or suicidal impulses, I just need some time, you know?”

  “Totally. My sister had this total epiphany last year, and went on this three-month-long backpacking trip through Asia. When she came back, she gave up law and opened up her own organic bakery.”

  Brynn blinked. “Well, I’m not planning on quitting. And I can’t bake worth a damn. And backpacking? When did she shower?”

  Susan gave a slight laugh. “Okay, I can see that you need this break more than I thought. Seriously, though, don’t give yourself any expectations for the next few weeks, okay? Not even good-intentioned ones.”

  “Sometimes the good-intentioned ones seem to do the most damage,” Brynn muttered.

  “Too much of a good thing, and all that,” Susan agreed.

  “Yeah, I guess.”

  Susan glanced discreetly at her thin designer watch. “I’ve got a patient in five. You’ll let me know if you need anything?”

  “For sure. And I’ll get all my notes together and have them to you and Blake by the end of the week.”

  “I know you will,” Susan said breezily, heading toward the door. “And Brynn? Have fun, okay? Whatever that looks like…mimosas for breakfast, skydiving, Vegas, monkey sex…just go for it.”

  Brynn tilted her head and narrowed her eyes at Susan. “You say that so easily. Have you ever gone for it?”

  Susan gave her a cheeky smile. “No. But I’m only twenty-seven.”

  Touché.

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  When you feel the urge to do something

  irrational, sleep on it.

  —Brynn Dalton’s Rules for an

  Exemplary Life, #9

  Brynn Dalton maintained a very a strict list of Do Nots.

  Perms. Trans fats. Cubic zirconia. Tequila. Glitter nail polish. Airplane bathrooms. Casual sex. William Thatcher.

  The last two items of her list were completely unrelated, of course. At least, they were supposed to be.

  But then that kiss in the car had happened, and Brynn couldn’t seem to separate “Will” from “sex.” And after an uncharacteristic three glasses of Pinot Grigio, it was getting a lot harder to remember why exactly “William Thatcher” and “casual sex” were on her Do Not list at all.

  Combining the two wouldn’t be so horrible, would it?

  Yes. Yes, it would be very horrible, said her brain.

  But fun. Really hot, sexy fun, said her loins.

  Clearly, it was her loins that had done the majority of absorbing the three glasses of wine she’d just consumed at her monthly sorority reunion.

  She wasn’t drunk. Just tipsy. And tipsy was not something Brynn did often because it left her feeling reckless.

  Brynn Dalton did not do reckless. Come to think of it, she should probably add it to her Do Not list. Nothing good ever came from being impetuous. That was where STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and broken hearts came from.

  And yet here she was, standing outside Will Thatcher’s home and debating the unthinkable.

  It bothered her that he lived in a homey town house. Hotshot bachelors like William Thatcher were supposed to live in monolithic high-rises. Brynn had been here before, of course. He’d hosted an anniversary for her parents two years earlier, and she’d also been by a couple times to pick up an inebriated Sophie.

  But she’d never really picked up the details before. Like a friendly blue welcome mat. Why would a man who could barely be civil have a welcome mat?

  The dark green of his front door was also all wrong. Hunter-green accents were for her future home. They did not belong at the enemy’s abode. And the dented brass knocker looked like it had been well used. Probably by a constant stream of female visitors.

  The flower pots bothered her more than anything. They were empty now thanks to Seattle’s chillier-than-usual winter, but she couldn’t help but wonder what he planted in the summer months. Flowers? Herbs
? Or maybe something more stark and manly, like palms. Not that she could see him out here watering the damn things. Or maybe she just didn’t want to picture it.

  Brynn squeezed her eyes shut and told herself to walk away. Contemplating a one-night stand with public enemy number one was dangerous enough. Humanizing the bastard would be a disaster.

  Damn Carrie for pushing that last glass of wine. Although it wasn’t really fair to blame her friend. It wasn’t like Brynn didn’t know her own limits. The monthly sorority reunions were notoriously boozy. Granted the sugary Jell-O shots of college had given way to overpriced wine bars, but her group of girlfriends still knew their way around their drinks. Brynn usually limited herself to one or two glasses, but she had the day off tomorrow, and she’d really hoped that third glass would help rid her of the itchy feeling.

  Instead it had led her here. Enemy territory.

  “This is insane,” she muttered. “I’m not that drunk.”

  There were plenty of less dangerous men with whom she could scratch her itch. That accountant she’d gone on a date with last week would probably be willing. Or an ex? She thought briefly of Gray but quickly discarded the thought. They hadn’t slept together when they were dating, why would they sleep together after they’d broken up?

  Besides, something clearly was happening between him and her sister. Not that Brynn could actually see something developing there. They wouldn’t make it past the first date when Sophie insisted on rowdy karaoke and Gray wanted to go to the opera. Something she’d told him straight-out when he’d driven her home after the emergency room the other night. Sophie would kill Brynn if she knew she’d interfered, but Brynn hadn’t been able to resist the opportunity to talk with Gray.

  The soft looks that Sophie had been shooting Gray were not harmless employee-to-employee glances. Brynn hadn’t seen her sister look at anyone that way in years. Sophie choosing to care about something was a rare gift, one that Brynn had made damn sure Gray knew to either accept or return with care.

  “Will?”

  “Brynn.” His voice was low and gravelly. She felt the smart part of her slipping away, and her reckless feeling increased tenfold.

  “Hi, um…why are you calling me?” she asked in a too-casual high-pitched voice.

  He was silent for several moments. “What are you doing on my front porch?”

  Oh God. She squeezed her eyes shut. “You know?”

  “I saw the cab and watched you teeter up my walkway in death heels. Pretty sexy shoes for an orthodontist.”

  Brynn scowled at that. She hated how he always undermined her career, as though being an orthodontist meant you had to be frumpy and wear clogs.

  “Yeah, well, I was just leaving,” she grumbled.

  The door opened so suddenly that she nearly fell forward. Their eyes locked for several heated moments, and moving on unspoken agreement, they silently hung up their cell phones without saying another word.

  Will had braced his arm on the doorjamb as though barring her entrance.

  Not exactly a welcoming start, Brynn thought with a pang.

  Then his hand slid up several inches as he lifted his eyebrows in invitation, leaving just enough room for her to slide under his arm if she wanted to.

  She wanted to.

  Swallowing dryly, she ducked under his arm so she was standing in his foyer. He closed the door with a quiet click, and they still said nothing.

  She studied Will closely, waiting for smugness or mockery, but his face was carefully blank.

  “I, um…I just thought I’d stop by. You know, to say hi, and stuff,” she said, her voice husky.

  His eyebrow quirked at the mention of “stuff,” but instead of giving her a hard time, he just nodded and gestured toward the kitchen. “Let me get you a glass of wine.”

  “Oh gosh, no. I’ve had plenty,” she said, following him into the kitchen.

  He paused in opening the fridge. “You’re drunk?” Something like disappointment flashed across his face.

  “No, just a little buzzy. And getting less so by the minute.”

  “Coming from a not-so-great date?” he asked, pouring her a glass of ice water.

  “No, just a girls’ night.” She lowered herself onto the leather bar stool and fixed her eyes on her glass as he poured himself some sort of amber-looking liquid.

  “And you came by to say hi,” he said, taking a long swallow of his drink.

  “Mm-hmm,” she said, tracing a drip of condensation down the side of her glass.

  The wine buzz was fading, but the recklessness wasn’t.

  Her mind kept returning to The Kiss from the car. It had been running over and over through her brain like a track on repeat. And the more she thought about it, the more she wanted to do it again. Take it further.

  But not like this. He was supposed to be his usual crude self. She wanted hot, meaningless anger sex. Something she could walk away from without so much as a bruise on her emotions.

  This quiet, contemplative Will set her on edge. She didn’t know how to speak with him in any language other than “feud.”

  Why didn’t he call her bony or snobby or vapid and set her temper off so that she could storm out? Storming out was immature, but smart. Practical. Necessary. Storming out was very Brynn.

  And that was the problem. She was sick of herself. She wanted a break from being the organized, uptight, no-sex-before-the-fifth-date goody-goody.

  Who better to give her a night’s vacation from perfect than a man who spent more on condoms in a year than he did on food?

  Brynn shook her head to try and clear it. She was making herself dizzy with all of this waffling. Either she wanted to jump his crass bones, or she didn’t. Make up your mind.

  And then the most disturbing thought of all hit her. What if he didn’t want her?

  She’d taken for granted that he was a womanizer, but for all her complaining about him going through women faster than a toddler went through Cheerios, he’d never made a move on her. Not in high school, when they’d run in the same social circles. Not in college, when he’d practically lived at her house over Christmas break. And certainly not in their adult life, when their once-harmless bickering had turned into very real dislike.

  Not until that rainy night in his car, and she still wasn’t sure that the kiss hadn’t been more about punishing her than passion.

  The thought of being rejected by Will was almost enough to bring back the practical, self-preserving Brynn. And yet still she didn’t move.

  Just do it. You have the rest of your life to be boring.

  Brynn set aside her untouched water glass and stood.

  Keeping her eyes locked on his moody blue gaze, she slowly made her way around his kitchen island. She continued her slow approach until there were only inches between them. Still he didn’t move or speak.

  Brynn let her eyes move over him the way she’d seen him check out women a thousand times before. He was wearing a tight black T-shirt, jeans, and a scowl. He looked like every woman’s bad-boy fantasy. Perfect.

  Licking her lips nervously, she pulled the glass from his hand and set it on the counter. She felt a little thrill of gratification when something dark and dangerous flashed through his normally bored eyes.

  She hesitantly ran her manicured fingernails lightly over his rib cage, closing her eyes in ecstatic panic when she heard him suck in a sharp breath.

  Rough fingers clamped around her wrist. “Brynn, wait—”

  No! Desperate to stop him from thinking this through, she rose to her toes and kissed him. It was a soft kiss, just the merest brush of her lips against his. But still, she shuddered. He tasted warm and smoky and strangely addicting.

  She kissed him again, lingering this time. His lips moved just slightly beneath hers. Not quite returning the kiss, but not pulling back either.

  He’s letting me decide, she realized. Whatever she was feeling was nothing like the manic passion of the car, and that alarmed her. This kiss was softer. Nic
er.

  And every instinct was screaming that “soft” with William Thatcher was dangerous. “Soft” wasn’t what she was here for. She wanted hot, animalistic sex on the floor of his bachelor pad, not soft, heady kisses in his homey kitchen.

  Determined to banish all traces of tenderness, Brynn wound her arms around his neck and pulled his head down to her. Her lips were firmer this time, and she nipped at his bottom lip. He stiffened, and for a fraction of a second she had the horrible sensation that he was going to pull pack. Push her away.

  He doesn’t want me, she realized in horror.

  Then Will moved so quickly that she nearly lost her balance. Sliding one arm around her back, he hoisted her onto the kitchen counter, even as his other hand slid around the back of her head.

  She closed her eyes and waited for the crush of his lips, but his fingers clenched in her hair and held her still. His eyes had gone so dark they were almost black, and he stared into hers with an unreadable expression.

  “You’ll hate me if we do this,” he said gruffly.

  “I already hate you.”

  “Then why are you here?”

  She almost laughed at that. She had her legs around his waist and he had to ask? “Isn’t that kind of obvious?”

  “Just sex?”

  “Yes. And just this one time. And, Will…if you tell anyone about this, I will kill you.”

  His head tilted back slightly, and something unidentifiable flashed across his face before he resumed his usual bored expression.

  “Well, if it’s one-time sex you want, you’ve come to the right place,” he said with an evil little grin.

  Then his mouth closed over hers, and she resigned herself to the inevitable.

  She was going to become one of William Thatcher’s women.

  * * *

  Will knew Brynn would be back around. Knew it was only a matter of time before she ended up on his front door looking to scratch an itch she couldn’t even identify.

  But he sure as hell didn’t expect this Brynn.

  “Sweetie, what the hell happened to you?”

  Although he was pretty sure he already knew, and he wanted to kill that sallow-faced James for doing it to her. Not that Will hadn’t seen it coming.

 
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