Heart Surgeon Stone Lassiter has successfully transplanted beating hearts. It's his own that is causing him the most agony. With a death bed promise to his fiancée, he's driven to open a transplant center in her hometown, and arrives at Deerborne County General Hospital . Single minded in his focus, he inadvertently alienates the nursing staff he needs to make his dream a success. He sets his stethoscope on intensive care nurse, Faith Daniels, to improve his image. Nurse of the Year, Faith Daniels has passed every nursing exam, but when faced with the task of the MCAT, she has severe test anxiety. Burned by her ex-husband, who used her while she put him through law school, she has become focused on passing that darn exam, and achieving her own dream to become a doctor in her own right. Will the white lie Stone tells Faith jeopardize the love they find?
Staying after her shift to finish her charting had cost her precious study time. Her patient who'd had the appendectomy had to go back to surgery, but not before she'd had to give him several units of blood to stabilize him. Thank goodness he was going to be okay. She tapped her toe impatiently. What was taking the elevator so darn long? The evening hours were rapidly dwindling. Her thoughts trailed back to the MCAT. She'd made it a habit to review a portion of the test each night before going to bed, and she hadn't even had dinner yet. All she wanted was someone to rub her aching feet and feed her
Was that so much to ask?
She sighed, and her stomach rumbled loudly while she waited for the elevator that would take her back to the parking garage.Chinese sounded good. Should she call ahead and order take out to pick up on the way home? There was a book full of to-go menus in the nurses' lounge where she could easily find what she needed. She glanced up at the lights outside the closed elevator doors. Still stuck on floor nine.
Decision made, she turned and ran straight into a solid wall of muscle. Knocked back from the impact, her purse went in one direction and her MCAT book flew in another. Strong arms enveloped her in a secure grip, keeping her from falling on the floor.
Pressed to the man's chest, the familiar lemony scent hit her first. Dread roiled in the pit of her stomach. Faith knew who held her. She forced herself to tilt her head back and peer into eyes reminiscent of a block of hardened deep chocolate.
Doctor Stone Lassiter.
Her earlier thought returned. What would it be like to melt that chocolate? Too bad she didn't even own a fondu pot. Warmth crept up her neck and into her cheeks. "Sorry. I'm in a rush."
His eyes narrowed, but he made no move to release her. "Are you late for a date?"
Faith had difficulty concentrating on his words. Heat burned through her scrubs and settled low in her belly. "Wh-what?"
"You know? A date? Where two people go to share a meal or a movie?"
The deep timber of his voice slid up her spine, and she shivered. "A date?"
"You're not usually this dense, Faith."
The sardonic expression on his face snapped her out of the fugue-like state and sparked her temper. "Gee, thanks for the confidence booster. You can let go of me now, Dr. Lassiter. I'm in no danger of falling any longer."
Surprise lit his eyes and he released her. Bending, he picked up her book and purse from the floor. He glimpsed the cover of the study guide and appeared puzzled. "The MCAT? You're studying to get into med school?"
Faith snatched the book out of his hands. "That's none of your business." Her gaze touched on her handbag. "I'll take my purse. Like I said, I'm in a hurry."
He retained her purse and stared at her with penetrating eyes. "Have you eaten?"
"No. I was going to pick something up on my way home. Why?" she asked warily.
"Because I have a proposition for you. We'll talk about it over dinner."
Let's see. Dinner with the self-important Greek Adonis or study? Cozying up with her study guide for the night seemed to hold even larger appeal all of a sudden.
Faith laughed. "Oh, that's rich. I may have appeared dense to you a few minutes ago Dr. Lassiter, but I'm not stupid. There is nothing you could possibly have to say outside of work that would interest me in the least."
He grabbed the book from her unsuspecting hands.
"Hey! What are you doing?"
"This is what we have to discuss, Faith." He smiled without humor and jiggled the book in front of her, just out of her grasp.
Hands on her hips, Faith stared at him. Dr. Lassiter was acting completely out of character for the second time that day. "I think I like your snide, arrogant persona better. I wasn't aware you belonged on the fourth floor with the other psych patients when you were off duty."
He scowled, smoothed his red tie, and buttoned his navy suit jacket. "I'm not snide or arrogant."
Faith chuckled. "It's rather interesting, don't you think, you didn't deny you belonged on the psych ward." Sobering, she held out her hand. "Really, I'd love to stay and exchange insults with you all day, but I have to get home. My stuff, please."
He started to hand it over to her, then pulled it just beyond her reach. "I heard the nurses talking in the med room a while ago. They said you froze up while taking the exam. Is that true, Faith? Do you have test anxiety?"
Her amusement died. She felt the color drain from her face. Damn gossips. She stiffened her spine and straightened to her full height of five-foot-eight inches.
"So what if I do," she admitted, hating the defensive tone that had crept into her voice. "Lots of people have trouble taking tests."
"Then it appears we have something important to discuss, after all." He gave her an engaging smile. "I'm even willing to overlook the fact you called me arrogant and snide and pay for dinner. I can help you with your problem if you help me with a little problem of my own."
Faith opened her mouth to make another sarcastic comment. What kind of problems did this guy have? He seemed to have everything. She had several suggestions for his "little problem".
He held up a finger, halting her before she spoke. "Ah, I'd watch it, Faith. I'm only going to make this offer once. How badly do you want to score high marks on the entrance exam? Or better yet, how bad do you want to get into med school?"
Now, that was a loaded question. Damn him. He played dirty. It was just like him to use her dream to get what he wanted. Faith expected no less from the conceited jerk. She'd give everything she had and more, and he knew it. Her dreams had been put on hold long enough. The only thing standing between her and med school was the damn test.
Maybe he could help her. After all, he was a doctor and had taken the exam. What could it hurt to hear what he had to say? Dubious about his intentions, but curious all the same, Faith nodded. She was starving. "All right, Dr. Lassiter. Do you like Chinese?"
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