Ryle was correct. It only took a few days for my ankle to feel good enough that I could walk on it again. I waited a full week before attempting to leave my apartment, though. The last thing I need is to reinjure it.
Of course the ﬁrst place I went was to my ﬂoral shop. Allysa was there when I arrived today, and to say I was shocked when I walked through the front doors is an understatement. It looked like a totally different building than the one I bought. There’s still a ton of work that needs to be done, but she and Marshall had gotten rid of all the stuff we marked as trash. Everything else had been organized into piles. The windows had been washed, the ﬂoors had been mopped. She even had the area where I plan to put an ofﬁce cleaned out.
I helped her for a few hours today, but she wouldn’t let me do much that required walking at ﬁrst, so I mostly drew out plans for the store. We picked out paint colors and set a goal date to open the store that’s approximately ﬁfty-four days from now. After she left, I spent the next few hours doing all the stuff she wouldn’t let me do while she was there. It felt good to be back. But Jesus Christ, I’m tired.
Which is why I’m debating on whether or not to get up from the couch and answer the knock at my front door. Lucy is at Alex’s again tonight and I just spoke to my mother ﬁve minutes ago on the phone, so I know it isn’t either of them.
I walk to the door and check the peephole before opening it. I don’t recognize him at ﬁrst, because his head is down, but then he looks up and to the right and my heart freaks the hell out!
What is he doing here?
Ryle knocks again, and I try to brush my hair out of my face and smooth it down with my hands, but it’s a lost cause. I worked my ass off today and I look like shit, so unless I have half an hour to take a
shower, put on makeup, and throw on clothes before I open the door, he’ll pretty much have to deal with me as is.
I open the door and his immediate reaction confuses me.
“Jesus Christ,” he says, dropping his head against my door frame. He’s panting like he’s been working out, and that’s when I notice that he doesn’t look to be any more rested or clean than I am. He’s got a couple of days’ worth of stubble on his face—something I’ve never seen on him before—and his hair isn’t styled like it usually is. It’s a little erratic, like the look in his eye. “Do you have any idea how many doors I’ve knocked on to ﬁnd you?”
I shake my head, because I don’t. But now that he mentions it— how in the hell does he know where I live?
“Twenty-nine,” he says. Then he holds up his hands and repeats
the numbers with his ﬁngers while he whispers, “Two . . . nine.”
I let my gaze drop down to his clothes. He’s in scrubs, and I absolutely hate that he’s in scrubs right now. Holy hell. So much better than the onesie and way better than the Burberry.
“Why did you knock on twenty-nine doors?” I ask with a tilt of my head.
“You never told me which apartment was yours,” he says, matter-of-factly. “You said you lived in this building, but I couldn’t remember if you even said which ﬂoor. And for the record, I almost started with the third ﬂoor. I would have been here an hour ago if I went with my gut instinct.”
“Why are you here?”
He runs his hands down his face and then points over my shoulder. “Can I come in?”
I glance over my shoulder and then open the door farther. “I guess. If you tell me what you want.”
He walks inside and I close the door behind us. He glances around, wearing his stupid hot scrubs, and puts his hands on his hips as he faces me. He looks a little disappointed, but I’m not sure if it’s in me or himself.
“There’s a really big naked truth coming, okay?” he says. “Brace yourself.”
I fold my arms over my chest and watch as he inhales a breath, preparing to speak.
“These next couple of months are the most important months in my entire career. I have to be focused. I’m closing in on the end of my residency, and then I’ll have to sit for my exams.” He’s pacing my living room, talking frantically with his hands. “But for the past week, I haven’t been able to get you out of my head. I don’t know why. At work, at home. All I can think about is how crazy it feels when I’m near you, and I need you to make it stop, Lily.” He stops pacing and faces me. “Please make it stop. Just once—that’s all it’ll take. I swear.”
My ﬁngers are digging into the skin of my arms as I watch him. He’s still panting a little, and his eyes are still frantic, but he’s looking at me pleadingly.
“When is the last time you’ve had sleep?” I ask him.
He rolls his eyes like he’s frustrated that I’m not getting it. “I just got off a forty-eight-hour shift,” he says dismissively. “Focus, Lily.”
I nod and replay his words in my head. If I didn’t know
better . . . I’d almost think he was . . .
I inhale a calming breath. “Ryle,” I say carefully. “Did you seriously just knock on twenty-nine doors so you could tell me that the thought of me is making your life hell and I should have sex with you so that you’ll never have to think of me again? Are you kidding me right now?”
He folds his lips together and, after about ﬁve seconds of
thought, he slowly nods his head. “Well . . . yeah, but . . . it sounds way worse when you say it.”
I release an exasperated laugh. “That’s because it’s ridiculous, Ryle.”
He bites his bottom lip and looks around the room, like he suddenly wants to escape. I open the door and motion for him to walk out. He doesn’t. His eyes fall to my foot. “Your ankle looks good,” he says. “How does it feel?”
I roll my eyes. “Better. I was able to help Allysa at the store for the ﬁrst time today.”
He nods and then makes like he’s walking toward the door to leave. But as soon as he reaches me, he spins toward me and slaps his palms against the door on either side of my head. I gasp at both his proximity and his persistence. “Please?” he says.
I shake my head, even though my body is starting to trade sides and beg my mind to cave to him.
“I’m really good at it, Lily,” he says with a grin. “You’ll barely even have to do any work.”
I try not to laugh, but his determination is as endearing as it is annoying. “Goodnight, Ryle.”
His head drops between his shoulders and he shakes it back and forth. He pushes off the door and stands up straight. He half-turns, heading for the hallway, but then suddenly drops to his knees in front of me. He wraps his arms around my waist. “Please, Lily,” he says through self-deprecating laughter. “Please have sex with me.” He’s looking up at me with puppy dog eyes and a pathetic, hopeful grin. “I want you so, so bad and I swear, once you have sex with me you’ll never hear from me again. I promise.”
There’s something about a neurosurgeon literally on his knees begging for sex that does me in. That’s pretty pathetic.
“Get up,” I say, pushing his arms away from me. “You’re embarrassing yourself.”
He slowly stands up, dragging his hands up the door on either side of me until he has me caged in between his arms. “Is that a yes?” His chest is barely touching mine and I hate how good it feels to be wanted this much. I should be turned off by it, but I can hardly breathe when I look at him. Especially when he has this suggestive smile on his face.
“I don’t feel sexy right now, Ryle. I worked all day, I’m exhausted, I smell like sweat and probably taste like dust. If you give me a little while to shower ﬁrst, I might feel sexy enough to have sex with you.”
He’s nodding feverishly before I’m even ﬁnished speaking. “Shower. Take all the time you need. I’ll wait.”
I push him away from me and close the front door. He follows me to the bedroom and I tell him to wait on the bed for me.
Luckily, I cleaned my bedroom last night. Normally I have clothes lying around everywhere, books piled up on my nightstand, shoes and bras that don’t quite make it to my closet. But tonight it’s clean. My bed is even made up, complete with the ugly, quilted throw pillows my grandmother passed down to every person in our family.
I make a quick glance around the room, just to make sure nothing embarrassing will catch his eye. He takes a seat on my bed and I watch as he scans the room. I stand in the doorway to my bathroom and try to give him one last out.
“You say this will make it stop, but I’m warning you right now, Ryle. I’m like a drug. If you have sex with me tonight, it’s only going to make things worse for you. But once is all you’re getting. I refuse to become one of the many girls you use to—how did you word it that night? Satisfy your needs?”
He leans back on his elbows. “You aren’t that kind of girl, Lily.
And I’m not the kind of guy who needs someone more than once. We have nothing to worry about.”
I close the door behind me, wondering how in the hell this guy talked me into this.
It’s the scrubs. The scrubs are my weakness. It has nothing to do with him.
I wonder if there’s a way he could leave them on during the sex?
• • •
I’ve never taken more than half an hour to get ready, but it’s almost an hour before I’m ﬁnished in the bathroom. I shaved more parts of me than was probably necessary, and then spent a good twenty minutes having a freak-out, and had to talk myself out of opening the door and telling him to leave. But now that my hair is dry and I’m cleaner than I’ve ever been, I think I might be able to do this. I can totally have a one-night stand. I’m twenty-three years old.
I open the door and he’s still there on my bed. I’m a little disappointed to see that his scrub top is on the ﬂoor, but I don’t see his pants, so he must still be wearing them. He’s under the covers, though, so I can’t tell.
I close the door behind me and wait for him to roll over and look at me, but he doesn’t. I take a few steps closer, and that’s when I notice he’s snoring.
Not just a light—oh I just fell asleep—snore. It’s a middle of REM sleep kind of snore.
“Ryle?” I whisper. He doesn’t even budge when I shake him. You’ve got to be kidding me.
I drop down onto the bed, not even caring if I wake him. I just spent an entire hour getting ready for him after busting my ass today, and this is how he treats this night?
I can’t be mad at him, though, especially seeing how peaceful he looks. I can’t imagine working a forty-eight-hour shift. Plus, my bed is really comfortable. It’s so comfortable, it could make a person fall right back to sleep after a full night of rest. I should have warned him about that.
I check the time on my phone and it’s almost 10:30 p.m. I put
the phone on silent and then lie down next to him. His phone is on the pillow next to his head, so I grab it and swipe up the camera option. I hold his phone above us and make sure my cleavage looks good and pushed together. I snap a picture so he’ll at least see what he missed out on.
I turn off the light and laugh to myself, because I’m falling asleep next to a half-naked man that I’ve never even kissed.
• • •
I can feel his ﬁngers trailing up my arm before I even open my eyes. I force back a tired smile and pretend I’m still sleeping. His ﬁngers trail over my shoulder and stop at my collarbone, just before they reach my neck. I have a small tattoo there that I got in college. It’s a simple outline of a heart that’s slightly open at the top. I can feel his ﬁngers circle around the tattoo, and then he leans forward and presses his lips against it. I squeeze my eyes shut even tighter.
“Lily,” he whispers, wrapping an arm around my waist. I moan a little, trying to wake up, and then roll onto my back so that I can look up at him. When I open my eyes, he’s staring down at me. I can tell by the way the sunlight shines through my windows and across his face that it’s not even seven a.m. yet.
“I am the most despicable man you’ve ever met. Am I right?” I laugh, and nod a little. “Pretty damn close.”
He smiles and then brushes my hair off my face. He leans forward and presses his lips to my forehead, and I hate that he just did that. Now I’ll be the one plagued with sleepless nights, because I want to put this memory on repeat.
“I have to go,” he says. “I’m really late. But one—I’m sorry. Two
—I’ll never do this again. This is the last you’ll hear from me, I promise. And three—I’m really sorry. You have no idea.”
I force a smile, but I want to frown because I absolutely hated his
number two. I actually don’t mind if he tries this again, but then I remind myself that we want two different things from life. And it’s good that he fell asleep and we never even kissed, because if I would have had sex with him while he was wearing scrubs, I would have been the one showing up at his door on my knees, begging for more.
This is good. Rip the Band-Aid off and let him leave.
“Have a nice life, Ryle. I wish you all the success in the world.”
He doesn’t respond to my goodbye. He silently stares down at me with somewhat of a frown, and then says, “Yeah. You too, Lily.”
Then he rolls away from me and stands up. I can’t even look at him right now, so I roll onto my side so that my back is to him. I listen as he puts his shoes on and then reaches for his phone. There’s a long pause before he moves again, and I know it’s because he was staring at me. I squeeze my eyes shut until I hear the slam of the front door.
My face immediately grows warm, and I refuse to allow myself to mope. I force myself off the bed. I have work to do. I can’t be upset that I’m not enough to make a guy want to remap all of his life goals.
Besides, I have my own life goals to worry about now. And I’m really excited about them. So much so, that I really don’t have time for a guy in my life, anyway.
No time. Nope.
Busy girl, here.
I am a brave and bold businesswoman with zero fucks to give for men in scrubs.