Then he saw her…
Running to her car, her briefcase held over her head, Dr. Nicole Stevenson – Nikki Sanders once upon a time – dashed to a white four-wheel-drive that was parked in a nearby lot.
Rain ran down Thorne’s neck and dripped off his nose as he watched her. Her hair was no longer pinned to the back of her head, but caught in the wind. Her stark white lab coat had been replaced by a long leather jacket cinched firmly around her waist.
Without thinking, Thorne ran across the puddle-strewn lot. “Nikki!”
She looked up and he was stunned. “Oh. Thorne.” With raindrops caught in the sweep of her eyelashes and her blonde-streaked hair tossed around her face in soft layers, she was more gorgeous than he remembered. Raindrops slipped down sculpted cheeks to a small mouth that was set in a startled pout.
For a split second he thought of kissing her, but quickly shoved that ridiculous thought from his mind.
She jabbed her key into the SUV’s lock. “What’re you doing lurking around out here?”
“Maybe I was waiting for you,” he said automatically – actually flirting with her. For the love of God, what had gotten into him?
He saw her eyes round a bit, then one corner of her mouth lifted in sarcasm. “Try again.”
“Okay, how about this? I just got finished dealing with Nurse Ratched up in Pediatrics and was tossed out on my ear.”
“Someone intimidated you?” One eyebrow lifted in disbelief. “I don’t think so.” If she’d been teasing him before, she’d obviously thought better of it and her smile fell away. She yanked open the door and the interior light blinked on. “Now….was there something you wanted?”
You, he thought, then chided himself. What the devil was he thinking? What they’d shared was over. “I didn’t get your home number.”
“I didn’t give it to you.”
“Because of your husband?”
“What? No.” She shook her head. “There is no husband, not anymore.”
She was standing between the car and open door, waiting, her hair turning dark with the rain. His heart raced. She was single. “If it’s an emergency, the hospital will page me.”
“I’d feel better if I could—“
“Look, Thorne,” she said pointedly. “I understand that you’re a man used to getting your way, of being in charge, of making things happen, but this time you can’t, okay? At least not with me, not anymore, not with St. James Hospital. So if there’s nothing else, you’ll have to excuse me.” Her eyes weren’t the least bit warm and yet her lips, slick with rainwater, just begged to be kissed.
And, damn it, he reacted. Knowing that she’d probably slap him silly, he grabbed her, hauled her body close to his and bent his head so that his lips were suspended just above hers. “Okay, Nikki,” he said as he felt her tense, “I excuse you.”
Then he kissed her, pressed his mouth over hers and felt a second’s surrender when her lips parted and her breath mingled with his as rain drenched them both. The scent of her perfume teased his nostrils and memories of making love to her over and over again burned through his brain. Dear God, how she’d responded to him then, just as she was now. He was lost in the feel of her and old emotions escaped from the place where he’d so steadfastly locked them long ago. With a groan he kissed her harder, deeper, his arms tightening around her.
Her entire body stiffened. She jerked her head away as if she’d been burned. “Don’t,” she warned, her voice husky, her lips trembling a bit. She swallowed hard, then leaned back to glare up at him. “Don’t ever do this again….”