Maryanne Torres pointed the needle up and tapped the syringe.
“What are you doing?” The patient blinked, his once cocky grin tightening into a grimace.
“Making sure there are no air bubbles. Wouldn’t want a bubble in your vein, would you?”
He pulled his arm back. “Wait, what happens if I get an air bubble?”
“You’d get an embolism, light-headedness, shortness of breath, pass out and die. Nothing to worry about.” Let’s see Mr. Big Flirt lob that one back. “Hold still.”
Snickers came from her coworkers beyond the privacy curtain.
The man leaned forward, and the left side of his cheek dimpled. He flexed his bicep. “Bet I can break that tiny, little needle of yours.”
“And get it embedded in those precious muscles? I don’t think so. Chance of infection, septic shock—” She shook her head slowly. “Possible amputation.”
“Okay, you win, nurse.” He closed his heart-breaker eyes and turned toward the curtain.
Wuss. She might be an allergy nurse, but she held the advantage and the needle. It pierced his skin right below his shapely deltoid. He winced. Dark freckles danced over warm brown skin. A straight nose with a slight flair over full fleshy lips and a chiseled jaw blended into short cropped frizzy hair.
She rubbed his arm with alcohol, his body heat and a hint of cologne inviting her to linger. Probably a player. Bet he flirts with all the nurses. She picked up the second vial, cat and dog antigen.
“How many am I getting?” the man asked.
“Four. And since you’re new, it’ll be every week for six weeks until you’re at maintenance dose.”
He trained clear emerald eyes on her. “Guess I’ll be seeing a lot of you.”
Maryanne steadied her breathing and stuck the second needle deeper. “Luck of the draw. You might get Vera or Priya.”
“Ow!” He jerked his arm. “I’ve got a swim meet coming up. Is my arm gonna be sore?”
She dabbed the tiny spots of blood with a cotton ball. “No, but you might experience massive swelling, itching, and an anaphylactic reaction.”
“Ana what?” He sucked his breath.
Maryanne kept a straight face and gestured for his other arm. “Two more.”
She administered the dust mite shot. “Don’t worry. We observe you for forty-five minutes before letting you walk out.”
“I hate needles. Did you have to poke me so hard?”
Maryanne waved the last syringe, tree pollen. “I like poking you.”
He caught her wrist. His long fingers stroked the back of her hand while his thumb rubbed her palm. “Not fair when I can’t poke back.”
Heat spread from his strong grip. Maryanne’s willpower wavered. Ever since she’d sworn off sex, she’d been tempted by a slew of hot guys. And Lucas Knight, by the stats on his chart, was an inferno—6’ 2” tall, 179 lbs, a triathlete, blood pressure 110/65, resting heart rate in the fifties. Her gaze raked his bare chest dotted with sprinkles of tight curls. Would they feel soft or coarse?
“Last shot, then forty-five minutes in the waiting room to make sure you don’t have a seizure.” She tamped down her hormones and drilled the needle into his firm upper arm.
“Yeow! You hit a nerve. What did I do?” His deep voice vibrated close to her ear.
Maryanne handed him a tissue. “I’ll call you in forty-five.”
She couldn’t fall off the wagon this quickly, not with the bet she had with Vera. Whoever held out the longest and received a marriage proposal would win bragging rights. Besides, she was tired of being used. Maryanne suppressed a sigh as Lucas pulled on a tight long sleeved jersey.
“What?” He grazed her with a sidelong glance. “Hasn’t the pleasure of pain and torture been enough? My arm’s tingling and buzzing. I might pass out any minute, drop my blood pressure and die, and you’re bored?”
She tidied her counter, disposing the used needles in the bio-hazard container, and closed his chart. “See you in forty-five. I’m on break now.”
“Cool. Let’s grab a cup of coffee.” He pulled aside the privacy curtain and swept his hand in an after-you gesture.
Her pride would have been hurt had he not hit on her, but she’d show him she was not to be trifled with. She took her purse from under the table and opened the door to the waiting room. “You. In the waiting room, in case you have to be resuscitated.”
He followed her past the edge of the waiting room. “It’s a free country.”
“Mr. Knight.” Maryanne put on her most professional tone. “The waiver you signed says K-care is not responsible for you if you don’t follow the policies. Someone has to watch you in case you have a reaction to the shots.”
He opened the door for her. “I have you. Come on, let’s grab a bite.”
The swell of his full lower lip spread, enticing her. If he didn’t look so damn sexy, she’d bite. Er, a sandwich, that’s what. She flicked her shoulder length hair back. “Follow me if you want, but I’m not giving mouth-to-mouth.”
He stumbled a few steps and grabbed his throat. His shoulders hunched, he collapsed onto his hands and knees on the walkway. Sputters and short coughs gurgled from his throat.
“Mr. Knight. Oh, my gosh!” Maryanne poured the contents of her purse on the sidewalk. “My EpiPen, where is it?”
“I might… need air.” Lucas rolled on his back, pointing to his mouth.
Where was the EpiPen she kept for emergencies? Maryanne fumbled for a pulse, while bystanders formed a circle, peppering the air with excited exclamations.
Lucas held his throat, his eyes wide and panicky. He could be going into shock. Maryanne took a deep breath and plastered her mouth over his. His chest tightened and thrashed under her. He was having a seizure. The gagging chokes twitched his abdomen. God, don’t let this be the death rattle.
“Over there, over there,” someone shouted.
She labored to help him breathe. Beads of sweat prickled over her forehead. A hand caressed the back of her neck, and the lips underneath hers puckered. A light breath fanned from his nostrils and What the? a velvety tongue swept her upper palate with tantalizing grace. Air bubbles fluttered behind her eyelids, spinning lightheaded, and she gasped, almost swooning into his kiss. He tasted minty and refreshing, and her lips responded hungrily, yearning to sink in.
Cheers and applause rang from the crowd.
“She saved his life.”
“Woo hoo! Hot! I got it on video.”
“Ah, come on, he was faking it!”
“No he wasn’t.”
Maryanne pushed away and gaped at the audience while Lucas rolled on the ground holding his stomach, a gale of booming laughter erupting from his chest. Her cheeks heated instantly. Asswipe. And even worse, she’d kissed him back and liked it.
A security guard helped her up. “Everything okay? Man having a seizure or what?”
“No, he’s fine.” But I’m not. Head down, Maryanne gathered her belongings and wove through the dispersing crowd.
[Next Scene - Dec 14]
[Next Scene - Dec 14]