Body Shop Bad Boys #1
June 7, 2016
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GET TO KNOW THE BODY SHOP BAD BOYS
Johnny, Foley, Sam, and Lou are the rough and tumble mechanics of Webster’s Garage. These reformed bad boys are used to living fast, but it’s the women in their lives who take them from zero to sixty in a heartbeat.
Johnny Devlin’s a charmer with a checkered past. He’s had his eye on scorching-hot bartender Lara Valley for ages, but she’s rejected him more than once. That doesn’t mean he won’t come to her aid when some dirtbag mauls her. When she asks him on a date as a no-strings-attached thank you, he can’t say no. And then he’s saying nothing but hell, yes.
The shift seemed to last forever, and Lara didn’t get to administer the medications or do the intakes she’d been told she’d do today. Instead, she’d been tasked with a lot of clean up and busywork Nurse Guyen didn’t have time for.
“Honestly, it’s like she’s running a race and losing,” Kelly muttered as they emptied a patient’s bedpan and cleared the sheets. Though housekeeping would be coming up to clean the room, Nurse Guyen had thought the experience of mopping up after a patient would do them good.
Lara didn’t feel like she was too good to do anything, so it wasn’t the idea of cleaning that bothered her. She’d washed her share of fluids and vomit from overstimulated little girls and the drunks at Ray’s more than a time or two. She just wished she could have spent her time learning more medical procedure, not how to best scrub a floor.
“Yeah, she’s not my favorite preceptor,” Lara admitted. “You done your paper yet?”
“I’m presenting my ICU paper in two weeks. The paper is half the battle. It’s the presentation part I hate.”
“Ugh. Me too. And just think, we’re only into our third week of the term.”
“Kill me now.” Kelly made a face.
Nurse Guyen arrived in the doorway and hurried them up. “Come on, ladies. We have a new admission, and I’d like for you to learn something about the process. I’ll be at the desk. Chop-chop.”
Kelly and Lara shared a pained groan. Time with Nurse Guyen would no doubt feel like an eternity.
When Lara arrived home that night, she was tired, hungry, and pissed off. Johnny hadn’t texted her all day. Granted, they’d just started hooking up, but he hadn’t responded to her message about Friday night. For once she had two nights off from work, and she had nothing to do for one of them.
Silly to feel let down just because a guy hadn’t answered a simple text. Yet she had a feeling her disappointment was her own fault. Dating had rules a smart girl followed. Rule number one: stop reading into every damn thing he does. Rule number two: stop caring so much, or your heart will be broken in tiny pieces when he eventually acts like a dumbass, as they all do.
Groaning at her inability to reason like a mature woman, she deliberately avoided thinking about him. Instead, Lara dressed in her favorite grubby sweats, ate a PB&J for dinner, and washed it down with a glass of milk. She vegged out for an hour, but by eight she was dragging. Just as she’d started to fall asleep on the couch, watching her favorite sitcom, someone knocked on the door.
She debated ignoring it. Had it been important, someone would have called.
More door banging. “Hey, it’s Johnny.”
She woke in the blink of an eye and forced herself to calmly get up and walk, not run, to the door. After checking through the peephole and verifying it was, in fact, the-man-who-didn’t-text, she again took her time answering.
She opened the door and waited. “Yeah?”
He held out a bouquet of flowers. “For you.”
Nonplused, she took them and moved back when he stepped forward. He’d maneuvered himself into her apartment with ease.
“Thanks.” He looked harried, which was unlike him.
“No.” Before she could ask what was wrong, he dragged her into his arms and kissed the breath out of her. “There,” he rasped. “Now I’m better. I’ve been dying to do that for days.”
She clutched the flowers in one hand, his jacket in another. “Uh, hi.”
His green eyes deepened as he smiled. “Hi.” Then he did that thing where he caressed her cheek. He cupped her chin and kissed her again, so tenderly and with so much feeling she didn’t know what to think. “I missed you.”
“You did?” She frowned. “You didn’t answer my text.”
“I had Foley’s phone, and he had mine. I’d be more worried if I’d texted you back, because it would have been Foley being a smart-ass. Don’t worry, I’ll get my phone back tomorrow. As it is, I’ve already spent a lot of time talking with Mrs. Sanders today. Foley’s mom is such a trip.”
Relieved he hadn’t deliberately ignored her, she perked up. “So what brought you by? You just happened to have a bouquet of flowers on hand with no one to give them to?”
“Something like that.”
She left him to put them in water and thought they cheered her dented and dinged dining room table.
“So did you miss me?” he asked, his hands in his pockets. He’d thrown his jacket over the arm of the couch and wore a plain black T-shirt and jeans. It should have been illegal what the man could do to denim and cotton. The tattoos on his forearm stood out against his golden skin, and she wanted to trace them with her tongue.
Swallowing hard at the thought, she considered how to answer him. “Did I miss you? Hmm…”
“A simple yes-or-no question, Ms. Valley.”
“Well, I missed some parts of you.”
“Oh?” He grinned.
“Your charming wit. Your pretty face.”
“And that awesome tattoo I still haven’t seen all of.”
“I can remedy that.” He pulled her with him to the couch and sat, then pushed up his sleeve, letting her look him over. “So what else did you miss?” He raised his brows up and down.
“That’s about it. I’m good.” She held his thick forearm, running her fingers over his ink. A muscle car, snakes, some tribal work, and hearts, of all things. The color pattern had been very well done, the art a thing of beauty. “Did J.T. do this?”
“Yeah. It’s amazing, right? But don’t tell him. He has a big head already.” Del’s brother could work wonders with ink. And he was a charmer to boot.
“Well then, I probably shouldn’t tell you how amazing you are either. Your head is melon-sized as it is.”
“Yeah, and other parts of me are just as big.” He grinned but didn’t pull her into contact with said parts.
A good thing, because her libido revved way hot way fast around Pretty Johnny.
She tried to subtly scoot away, but he held her fast. Instead of making a move, he cuddled her close in a hug. His body heat bled through quickly, and she snuggled back with a sigh. “You are so warm.”
“I think you mean I’m hot. I hear that a lot.”
She pinched him. “Braggart.”
“Ow. Why are you always abusing me?”
She felt him kiss the top of her head and eased even deeper into him. “Because I can.” She moaned when he started rubbing her free shoulder. “I had such a bad day.” Well, except for her lunch, but she doubted Johnny wanted to know about Peter—Pete. She smiled. Her one bright spot had been a male version of Rena. A gossip who’d made her smile and laugh, and he hadn’t been bad to look at either.
“Tell me all about it, baby. But hurry before the commercial’s done. I love this show.”
“Wouldn’t want to interrupt prime-time programming,” she said drily.
“I was kidding. You take your time.”
She told him about Nurse Guyen around yawns. Then she closed her eyes, just for a minute, and enjoyed the warmth of his body and the joy in his laugh. I could really grow to love this guy… Wonder if that’s covered in the dating rules, was her last thought before sleep overtook her.
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking or biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after. She lives in in Central Oregon.