Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 44
The waiter comes back with our drinks and I order some over-priced small appetizer I probably won’t even like, and Whitney orders one too.
“I can understand,” Whitney says. “I couldn’t handle the pressure of pre-med, so I made a new plan, to get out from under that. And I was only with Tony because I wanted to escape loneliness. But of course I had to come to realize that being lonely is better than being mistreated.”
“Yeah. I hear you.”
Except I’m used to being “lonely” when it comes to not being in a relationship. I used to prefer it this way, as opposed to the other option of opening myself up to being hurt the way my dad was. The way we all were.
The sun starts to set, turning the sky various shades of purple and red. I can’t believe I’m catching myself thinking that I might actually want something serious with my physical therapist.
“To wanting to escape ourselves,” she says, and clinks her glass against mine, the loud clink reverberating in my brain and drawing me out of my thoughts.
“Cheers to that,” I respond.
But I know that for the first time in a long time, I’m not trying to escape from— or to— anything. Sure, Whitney seems able to help me get what I want long-term— back into active duty, back to being a SEAL— but right now all I want is this.
To be sitting across from a beautiful woman, watching a lovely Southwestern sunset together, and enjoying way too expensive drinks and food.
Not a care in the world. Just me and a beautiful girl and some good times I want to last for as long as possible. They can stretch on out into forever and I’d welcome that.
What in the actual fuck has gotten into me?
I’m not one to usually propose toasts, or even one to drink to them. I’m usually a bit too cynical for such superstitious nonsense. But there is just something about this guy— Harlow Bradford, the best physical therapy patient I’ve ever had and an in-between SEAL who really should be back with his team— that has me doing everything differently than I normally do. It’s probably as much about those facts as it is about the fact that he’s so fucking hot, and sweet, and fun to hang out with.
I have to admit I’m impressed with the location he chose. This has got to be a date, right? And is that a good thing or a bad thing? I still can’t decide.
I’d waited an hour to text him my address, unsure whether I should actually go through with it. I don’t want to jeopardize my career before it’s even gotten started. But it was just too tempting.
So, then I’d spent an hour trying to figure out the perfect thing to wear. I’d finally decided that there is no such thing, and I’d thrown on something cute enough to be date-like but hopefully casual enough to be… whatever the opposite of date-like is. Just in case I was not actually going on a date with the guy who had pretty much asked me out on a date… I think?
Holy crap . I need to make my brain settle down. I look at Harlow and realize that he revs up an entirely different body part. I feel wetness in my panties, and I really wish he would just take them off me already.
I have a feeling based on our obviously strong attraction for each other that us having sex is inevitable, and when I let myself think about it instead of all the mental gymnastics my mind goes through in trying not to think about, I really get carried away with how turned on he makes me feel.
I try to focus on the here and now, so I’m not driven crazy with lust and desire. I’m pleased that Harlow clearly liked the clothes I’d chosen. He was practically salivating when I came to the door, which was my intention of course. But I’m still trying to maintain the difficult balance between date-like and professional-like, if there even is such a thing.
Just as I’m trying to think of something to say that won’t reveal my crazy feelings for Harlow, I spot someone at a table near by.
Oh great .
Angela Metford. She was a mutual friend of Tony’s and mine, but more his friend than mine. I used to think she had a crush on him because she’d flirt with him and call him all the time.
She sees me looking at her, and gives me a prissy wave of her perfectly manicured hand. As she does so, she looks Harlow up and down and nods her head, eyebrows very obviously raised, as if to say, Good job .
I give her a “it’s not what you think” look but I know it doesn’t matter. Tony already thought I was cheating on him and now he’s going to hear that I was out to dinner with my patient.
I guess my ex now will officially know I’ve moved on. He seemed so angry at me before but I hope he can just let bygones be bygones when he finds out. I don’t want any more drama.
I nod my head at Angela and mouth, “hello,” and then turn my attention back to Harlow. I hope that suffices for a polite “nice to see you,” because I don’t want her coming over to my table and flirting with Harlow the way she always flirted with Tony. My cat claws would come out, for sure.
“You must come here often,” Harlow jokes, noticing that I’ve said hello to Angela. “You know all the guests.”
“I do not ,” I tell him, blushing. “Just her.”
It is rather strange that she’s here. The few times I’ve come here, she was never interested and this really isn’t her kind of place. She’s more likely to be at Anodyne, shooting pool downtown, or maybe at Sister Bar or a brewery. Not a fancy place like this.
She’s with a couple girlfriends I don’t know. I suppose they could be having a bachelorette party. It’s not that weird that she’s here. Albuquerque is a medium sized city but in many ways it feels like a small town, with everyone knowing everyone somehow, and always running into people while out on the town.
I shrug, telling myself to forget about. I don’t mention how I know her to Harlow, or—as I see her get out her phone—how she’s probably texting Tony right now to fill him in. The last thing we need is more boyfriend drama.
I try to concentrate on the moment at hand, and get back to the head space I was in before I noticed Angela. Oh yes. What to talk about with Harlow next, that isn’t getting too personal too soon?
I had figured that as long as we talk about neutral things like our careers, we should be fine. But I wasn’t expecting things to delve into the serious so soon.
“And what about you?” Harlow asks, leaning over to brush a stray hair that had fallen over one of my eyes.
I suppose I didn’t have to come up with something to say, because he has plenty of his own questions he wants to talk about. And he seems genuinely interested in finding out the answers.
The wind is picking up a bit while the sun is going down. I have to admit that it’s quite… romantic. “How did you decide to become a physical therapist?”
“Process of elimination, I guess.” I shrug. “Within the medical field, at least.”
He obviously wants me to go on, but I suddenly feel vulnerable. I don’t usually talk to people about things like this. My idea of being social is joining a book club or asking my cat what his day was like.
“I set out to be a doctor. Pre-med and all that.”
I look up at him to see if he’ll think this is funny. Most people do. Me, a doctor?
But he looks as serious and as nonplussed as if I had just told him I brush my teeth every day. So, that’s a relief.
“But…?” he asks.
The waiter brings our food, and I bite into a delicious calamari ring before continuing.
“Mmmm, this is so good,” I say, sincerely. “Good choice!”
He shrugs. “I try.”
After a pause, he asks, “So what happened to the pre-med plans?”
“It’s just… difficult. I didn’t think I could do it. Physical therapy made more sense. It’s easier, yet still fulfilling.”
He bites into his cheese and crackers but doesn’t say anything for a minute. And then he says, “Well, for what it’s worth, I think you’re a grea
“Thanks,” I say, trying hard to suppress my laughter. “But you haven’t really gotten to see me in action. You’re too easy of a case.”
“Not enough of a challenge for you, huh?” he asks. “Well, you just wait.”
Oh I’m waiting , I want to tell him, but don’t. I just take another bite of calamari that tastes as delicious as I bet his lips do.
I pull up to Whitney’s apartment and walk her to the door. She turns around to face me.
“I had a lovely time. Thank you.”
“I did too,” I tell her, and even though it’s the kind of bullshit thing that people usually say after any date, I really mean it this time. “Thanks for celebrating with me.”
It sounds like an invitation, so I draw in closer to her.
I smell the lingering scent of calamari and cheese and fruit-flavored cocktails but I also smell her . An enticing mix of lotion and subtle yet sweet natural body odor.
“I want to kiss you,” I tell her, my mouth already against her soft lips.
She opens her lips a bit wider and I slip my tongue into her wet mouth. I grab hold of her hips and draw them closer to mine.
Time stands still as we kiss, until I’m pulling at her hair and rubbing up against her in a nearly animal-like state. She has me so fuckin’ hard, and wanting her so badly.
This is exactly what I was imagining it would be like. And now I need to do everything else I’ve been wanting to do to her.
“I want to fuck you,” I tell her.
She pulls away, slowly.
“Not… yet. Not now.”
She smooths down her hair but the way she is breathing tells me she’s into it. So, what the hell?
I’m not used to chicks turning me down. Denying me the one thing I want. And I haven’t wanted anyone this bad for a long, long time. Maybe ever.
“Soon, then,” I tell her, lightly slapping her ass as she reaches for her keys.
“Yes,” she says, and stands on her tiptoes to kiss me on the chin before retreating into her house.
I reach up and grab ahold of her ass underneath her skirt, and she lets me for just a second, before hurrying into the house.
“See you soon,” she tells me, with a wink.
Damn. That fucking girl .
As soon as I’m in the car, I call Jensen.
“So you called it an early night?” he asks, as soon as he picks up. “Guess it didn’t go as well as you’d hoped?”
“No, it went fine,” I tell him, feeling strangely elated for some reason. “It was great. Except, she didn’t give it up.”
“Aww man,” says Jensen, as if he can feel my physical pain. “I remember those days. Oh well, on to the next, right?”
“She said, ‘soon.’”
I know I sound like a schoolboy full of unabated hope, but I can’t help it.
“Uh oh. You know what that sounds like?”
“She’s dragging you along. She’s holding out. For a commitment . Or some other crazy reason these chicks have. That’s against your rules. You can’t see her again. You always say so yourself, right? Harlow don’t play that way?”
I sigh. I don’t even care. I’ve forgotten about all my old dating rules— the number one rule being that I hit it and quit it or I just quit it. I only want to see Whitney again and that’s all I can think about right now.
Sure, I’ll see her again at my sessions but I want her to look at me like that, and talk to me like that, and kiss me like that. And let me do what I want to her, over and over and over again.
“Harlow,” says Jensen, snapping me back to reality. “Tell me you aren’t falling for your physical therapist.”
“I’m not. I mean, I don’t know. I mean…”
“Harlow! Get a grip.”
“Oh, look who’s talking. You fell for your fucking lawyer .”
“Riley wasn’t my lawyer at the time,” Jensen says quickly and defensively.
But I don’t buy any of his flimsy excuses. Jensen met his now-girlfriend when she was assigned to represent him in a bogus criminal charge.
For a while she might not have been his attorney, but that’s just mincing words. I know their history, because I spent a lot of late nights listening to him tell me the ins and outs of it at Louie’s over beer or pool, so he can’t deny it now.
“Yeah, yeah. You’re the pot and I’m the kettle.”
“Harlow, seriously,” Jensen says, and I can hear it in his voice. “I’m happy for you. And if you manage to bang your physical therapist I’m all for it. But just don’t get too close, emotionally. To a woman who has the power to make you or break you. It really is different than with Riley.”
“Because this girl knows she has control over the one thing you want the most in the world.”
“Oh, you mean like Riley did over your freedom ? Whether or not you went to jail ?”
I can’t help but laugh.
“Harlow. I get it. I see your point. But there were a hundred different lawyers I could have turned to if things hadn’t worked out.”
I still think he’s being a fucking hypocrite but I try to let him finish.
“She’s the physical therapist they assigned you, and don’t you think Dr. Davis had something to do with that?” Jensen asks. “What do you think he would say? Why don’t you go ask your mentor what he thinks about you being not only sexually but romantically involved with your physical therapist? Not only a one-night-fling or a friendly flirtation to keep things interesting in between your push- ups, but a real deal relationship ?”
He has me there. I have no idea what’s been up with Dr. Davis lately but I’m relatively certain he wouldn’t approve.
“And anyway Harlow, what are you even doing? You don’t even do relationships.”
“I know someone else who used to have that same mantra. Now he’s practically living with some chick he wanted to bang and move on from, just like all the rest.”
He’s silent. I’ve won.
“I guess they’re just like all the rest… until, for whatever reason, they’re not,” he concedes.
“Yeah. For whatever reason.”
“Well good luck little brother. But don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.”
I get into work and call Dr. Davis first thing, before I can forget. I receive his voicemail greeting, and then I remember how early I get to work, and that most people are still at home sleeping. So, I leave a message, informing him of Harlow’s positive progress and asking if he would like to talk further about perhaps changing his treatment plan to be more suitable.
I start out on some paperwork but my mind is still on Harlow. That kiss was electrifying and unlike anything I’d ever experienced with Tony or anyone else.
I wanted to let things go further but I was also scared. Scared of losing my internship. Scared I wouldn’t be able to walk away if I let Harlow that far into my pants— and into my life. And scared he would forget all about me as soon as he fucked me. I think that was my worst fear— for me to be hanging on and him wanting to let me go, but still having to see each other each day.
So, I listened to my brain and said yes even though my heart— and other parts of me— were saying yes, yes, oh god yes . I’ve been thinking non-stop about all the new, different, exciting and dirty things I want to let this bad boy do to me. After he’s no longer a patient of mine. And if I can hold out that long.
I’m already wondering when it can happen again. I’m wondering what will happen if I don’t stop him next time. If I let him do all the things to me that he wants to do, and that I want him to do…
Luckily, I have a patient coming in and I know that working with him will keep me focused. I’ve never liked the paperwork aspect of this job nearly as much as I enjoy being hands on with the clients. My grades are good because I force myself to study, but my cli
As I work with the patient my mind continues to flutter back and forth to Harlow. Much like my heart. I’m sad that I don’t get to see him today. But I decide I’m going to play it cool and not call or text him. I watch enough romantic comedy movies to know that’s not a good idea.
When I’m finished with the patient, I check my office voicemail only to find that I still haven’t heard back from Dr. Davis. So, I walk down the hall to discuss notes and treatment plans with Lance. Secretly, I also want to tell him about my “date” with Harlow, and how well everything is going.
But after I knock on his door, he doesn’t look as happy to see me as he usually does.
It’s such a formal greeting from him, one that I’m definitely not used to.
I try to mimic his robot-like voice. Then I let out a small chuckle, expecting him to join me in laughing and then explain what might be up, but he doesn’t. I’m left feeling stupid for using a robo voice, and I also feel as if I’m left guessing about what if anything can be wrong, which is strange.
“Thanks for dropping in on my session with Harlow yesterday,” I continue. “I’m glad you were able to see that—”
“Yeah, about that.” He frowns. “About this whole Harlow thing. I don’t know what’s going on between you two, and I really don’t want to know, but I just think you should be careful.”
“I am. I haven’t…”
“I’m not talking about sleeping with him. I’m talking about whatever you’re doing during his treatment that is contrary to Dr. Davis’ wishes.”
“Look. If I knew more of what was going on, I would say more. All I know is that Dr. Davis has contacted the facility…”
“He has? Today? Well, that’s good. I’ve been trying to reach him.”
“That’s probably not a good idea, Whitney. Let the higher-ups deal with him. I have no idea what’s going on with him and maybe you’re right that he’s less than up front about things.”