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I might be known for having the best hands in surgery, but when it comes to matters of the heart… I'm a dead shot.
- Family Secrets
- Damaged Hero
- Forbidden Romance
- Emotional Scars
- Forced Proximity
We endured years of abuse at the hands of my father—until I snapped. The moment I pulled the trigger, freeing my brothers and me from his wrath, my heart turned to stone.
Desperate to atone for the sins of my father, I became a doctor. With my brother Drake's help, and his company Angel's Wings, we've helped hundreds of women escape abusive relationships. It's my way of saving them… since I couldn't protect my own mother.
Over the years, I've seen my share of bad cases come through the ER, but one will have me risking my career. And when danger rears its ugly head, threatening to take what's mine, being a doctor isn't the only thing I’ll put on the line.
I've sworn an oath to protect life... but with my heart at stake, I'll take one if it means saving hers.
My feet pound against the pavement as I push myself along the trails. Running is one of the many ways I release stress, and today, it’s necessary. Being one of the most sought-after orthopedic
surgeons, work can become convoluted—especially when I’m forced to deal with
the head of ortho. Technically, that job should’ve been mine and there are days, like today, when I regret turning down the position. Slowing to a jog, I
ease to a stop and bend over, pressing my palms against my knees. Charles Peters—the half-rate wannabe they gave the job to—likes to needle me about my father, the man who most still remember, as the ruthless businessman his kid
killed. And that kid was me. But ruthless doesn’t even begin to cover it. They have
no idea what kind of monster we lived with.
Pulling out the t-shirt tucked in my waistband, I wipe the sweat off my face and lean my head to the sky. I’m caught
momentarily in a memory when my body jolts forward suddenly.
I turn to castigate the responsible party.
“What the fu—” but words escape me. Standing in front of me is the most beautiful woman I’ve seen in a while. Her chestnut brown hair is tugged back into a sleek ponytail, showing off the exquisite shape of her face. She looks
away quickly, but not before I glimpse her beautiful emerald eyes.
“Dios, soy una chica estúpida.” God, I'm such a stupid girl. She presses her hands against her head and continues her tirade, not noticing that I’m staring
at her. “Casi derribé a este hermoso hombre porque staba ocupado mirando su cuerpo.” I nearly knocked this gorgeous
man down because I was busy staring at his body. Her arms wave around as she paces in front of me. Stopping, she glances at me, not really making eye contact, and bites down on her lip. “Y joder qué cuerpo es.” And fuck, what a body it is. Her eyes follow my legs up as she appraises my
body, her breath catching when she reaches my face and sees me smirking.
“You alright?” I smile, my own body threatening to expose just how much her beauty turns me on.
She blinks, her eyes widening when she realizes I witnessed her entire tirade. “Yes… But I should be asking you that.
Are you okay?”
I tilt my head back and let out a laugh. “Sweetheart, it’s going to take a lot more than a tiny thing like you to hurt me. Hell, it felt more like a butterfly ran into me, not—” I wave my hand over her body. “—someone like you.”
“Someone like me?” She adjusts her stance, crossing her arms over her body.
Shaking my head. “You’re taking my words wrong. How about we start over? I’m Gage Winston… and you are?”
I don’t miss how she glances around before meeting my gaze again. Thrusting her hand forward, she says, “Poppy
“Well, Poppy Jefferson. Do you make it a habit to run over people in the park?”
She snorts, her body relaxing a bit. “No. Actually, I rarely come here. But today I managed to—” She pauses, as if not wanting to say what she almost did. “I, uh, found this place. You come here
“Every day.” I wipe my face again and smile. “I’m on my lunch break. I work over there.” I point toward the direction
the hospital is and grin.
“Oh.” She blinks, following my finger’s direction. “Must be nice to be so close to this beautiful sanctuary.”
“It is… What about you, Poppy? What do you do?”
A weird expression crosses her face. “Nothing… My family is a bit—protective.”
My eyes narrow, understanding dawning on
me. “Do they know you’re here?”
Poppy bites down on her lip, my eyes flicking towards the movement. “No. They think I’m having a spa day. Which I
kind of am. Right?” She laughs. “My parents are dead, so my overprotective brother thinks he has to keep me under his thumb. To keep me from getting hurt.”
“Jesus. This isn’t the 1800s. How old are you, anyway?” I tug the shirt over my head, noticing how her eyes follow my movements and I hide my smirk under the fabric.
“Twenty-four.” The smile she gives me is like a bolt of lightning to my chest and I mask the sharp breath with a forced cough. “What about you?” She tilts her head, appraising my frame.
Fuck. “Thirty-seven… an old man compared to you.” This beautiful creature is beyond off limits at her young age.
“Puedo llamarte papi.” Can I call you Daddy? she mumbles in Spanish before smiling up at me. “You’re in pretty good shape for an old man.”
Palming the back of my head, I scrunch my face and laugh. “Definitely well over thirty—but not an old man yet.” Glancing
down at my watch, I sigh. “As enlightening as this reminder of my slowly aging body has been, I need to get back to work. I still need to shower before the business of the day traps me.”
“Well Gage Winston, fit old man… it was nice running into you—literally.” She walks backwards, grinning. “Maybe I’ll see you around again.”
“I run every day—same time." I give her a knowing grin. "Oh, and Poppy?” I call out to her as she gets further away.
“Yeah?” she calls out.
“You can call me Daddy anytime.”