Authors: Kele Moon
Tags: #General, #Adult, #Romance:, #Fiction
A Kiss for Luck
Dr. Clara Evans’ life has taken a turn for the worse. With a failed marriage behind her, Clara has only a bottle of wine and a romance novel for company on New Year’s Eve while waiting for the dreadful year to end.
Her lonely celebration is disrupted when her best friend Jackson Philips shows up and she couldn’t be more delighted. Tall, muscular and handsome, what’s not to love about the bighearted firefighter?
It’s not until she steals a desperately needed kiss for luck at midnight that secret desires and hidden heartaches rise to the surface, igniting an inferno of passion that burns hot enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned firefighter.
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
A Kiss for Luck
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A Kiss for Luck Copyright © 2011 Kele Moon
Edited by Grace Bradley
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book publication January 2011
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
A KISS FOR LUCK
To my mom… For always being wonderful and supportive and putting up with all the daydreaming and books eating my bedroom for most of my childhood. I love you!
“Firefighters are the hottest.”
“I know, right? But that one is smokin’, even for a firefighter. He’s the sexiest I’ve seen walk through here in a while.”
“You’re supposed to be working, not ogling the paramedics,” Clara said in an annoyed voice, looking at the chart in front of her as she reminded herself it was probably the extended shift and not the nurses causing her bad mood. “You do your job, let them do theirs.”
“Have you looked at him?” a young nurse named Faith asked, giving Clara a look of disbelief. “He’s hot, Dr. Evans. Even you would think so.”
“I’m so not impressed with your attitude,” Clara said bitterly and then looked against her will at the tall, muscular man leaning against the wall in the corner, quietly filling out paperwork on his clipboard. He was gorgeous by anyone’s standards and she knew now why the nurses were ogling him and gasped in surprise. “Jackson!”
He looked up, grinning at her, showing off a charming smile that made his entire face light up in a way that nearly knocked the air out of Clara. He had been her best friend since high school, so she should be used to that smile and the way it made him almost too beautiful to look at it, but some days it caught her off guard.
“What’re you doing here?” she asked, still shocked to see him in her emergency room.
He shrugged. “Six-car pileup. The critical went to Liberty. They routed us here,” he said as he tucked his clipboard under his arm and walked over to her. His blue eyes glowed brighter than usual under the harsh florescent lights. He ran a hand through short, sandy-blond hair, his handsome face showing a weariness and exhaustion it 6
A Kiss for Luck
hadn’t earlier this morning. “Besides, I had an eight-year-old victim. Not that he was critical. Just scraped up, thank God.”
“Oh,” Clara said in understanding. Her hospital had one of the top pediatric units in the state and every once in a while she and Jackson crossed paths at work when he was handling a pediatric call. “Sounds like you’re having a bad day.”
He raised his eyebrows. “New Year’s always sucks for us.”
“Mmm,” she agreed, grabbing the newest chart on the counter to see the seriousness of the patient’s situation. Some of the other hospitals may have been inundated with cases, but her workload was relatively light. “Do you want to grab a bite?”
“I can’t,” he said with a wince, sounding disappointed. “Owe you?”
“Sure,” she said, smiling at him and knowing he had to leave. They’d been best friends long enough for her to read the hassle of a stressful day on his face. “Be safe.
Don’t talk to strangers.”
He laughed then gave Clara an apologetic look as his gaze ran over her for one long moment, apprehension written all over his face. “I’m working a double. I picked up Terry’s shift so he could enjoy New Year’s with Marianne. You know they just got married and—”
“I’m a big girl,” Clara said, trying to hide her disappointment over celebrating New Year’s alone. She requested the night off just to be with him, not that she would admit to it. “You have to do what you have to do.”
“I didn’t want you to be alone,” he said, his voice deepening with concern. “Are you gonna be okay?”
“I’ll be fine,” she assured him, not knowing if she truly meant it. “I enjoy my own company.”
He opened his mouth as if to argue, but the walkie-talkie on his belt interrupted him. A crackling voice asked in annoyance where he was and he pulled a face at Clara in response. “I gotta take off.”
“Later,” she said and looked back to her chart.
She would have left it at that, but Jackson leaned forward, kissing her cheek softly and whispering in her ear, “Happy New Year, Clara Bow.”
She smiled, feeling her steely demeanor melting for a moment as she looked up at Jackson, admiring the dashing grin he gave her. “Same to you. I’ll see you in the morning.”
She turned around when he left, picking up another chart and only looked up when the huff of not one, but two very annoyed young nurses disrupted her train of thought.
“What?” she asked in annoyance, the good mood brought on by the unexpected appearance of Jackson dissipating.
“I thought you were married?”
“I’m getting a divorce. Thanks for the reminder,” Clara snapped at them. “Besides, he’s only a friend. I’m staying with him while I look for a new place—that’s it.”
“You’re staying with him?”
“Can you get me his number?”
“I don’t get paid enough for this,” Clara said, walking away from the nurses’
station, determined to do her job rather than answer questions that were none of their business.
* * * * *
Clara groaned as she put the key into the lock of Jackson’s apartment. She was tired, her feet hurt and she couldn’t be more relieved to be home. No matter that she had to come home to an apartment that wasn’t her own. At the moment anywhere with a hot bath and a comfortable bed was home to her.
A Kiss for Luck
She blindly ran her hand over the switches in the entryway and light flooded the very masculine living space. Everything from the leather sofa to the dark wood was obviously decor chosen by a man.
She dropped her bag on the bed in the guest bedroom and began pulling off her clothes, desperate for a hot bath. Evidence of Jackson lingered in every corner. Older, unused clothes hung in the closet, an award of merit for his service as a firefighter hung on the wall and a picture of him with his football friends from high school sat on the dresser. Jackson had given her permission to clear out the old things, but Clara hadn’t done it. Seeing them reminded her she didn’t belong there. Her stay at the apartment was only temporary until she could get her life back together and the paperwork finalized for her divorce.
What a dreadful year. Thank God it was coming to an end. New Year’s Eve was never so welcomed as far as Clara was concerned. She was in a wistful mood as she crawled into the bathtub and sat there waiting for the hot water to fill up, wishing Jackson had been able to take off for the holiday. It would have been nice to spend the last evening of the year with someone, but she wasn’t surprised he volunteered to fill in an extra shift so a coworker and his new wife could be together.
She tried not to think of just how endearing that made Jackson as she finally stretched out in the tub, using her foot to turn off the stream of hot water. The bath was heavenly, soothing her weary muscles and washing away the stress of the day. She lay there until the water grew cool and her fingertips wrinkled while she enjoyed the novelty of having time to relax.
In truth Clara was hiding and trying to waste as much time as she could. She wanted to make her way to the end of the year with as much dignity as she could muster. Lately any dignity seemed to be a scarce commodity in her life. After coming home and finding her husband fucking another woman in her bed she had been clinging to the threads of her tattered life for the past three months. She moved out of their spacious home, the one she’d worked so hard paying for, simply because she 9
couldn’t bear staying there and being reminded of her farce of a marriage. She ought to thank the blonde piece of fluff her husband had been sleeping with for giving her an excuse to do what she should have years ago.
Jackson had been furious. She’d always thought Frank, her husband, was a smart man, but he should have known better than to show up before she and Jackson had left with Clara’s things. Jackson always hated her husband with a fervor that was unusual for him. He had been waiting for five years to give Frank a piece of his mind. He did it the best way he knew how—with a hard right hook that knocked Frank off his feet and had Miss Fluff screaming she would call the police.
It showed how far Clara had sunk that she entertained that as her favorite memory.
She closed her eyes, seeing Jackson’s large frame shaking in fury as he towered over her husband. The two men hadn’t gotten along in the best of times and in the end, Frank, a top researcher in the field of ancient cultures, had no chance against Jackson, a seasoned firefighter.
Clara got out of the bath and put on her favorite nightgown, the one made of blue silk and white lace that left little to the imagination. She covered it with her well-worn robe and padded barefoot out of the spare bedroom. She settled for sitting on the leather couch with a romance novel and in the name of being truly festive, an expensive bottle of wine her mom had given her for Christmas.
By her second glass she’d turned on the radio and abandoned her book to the pleasant hum of alcohol. She lit a fire in the fireplace and stretched her feet out toward the heat, wiggling her toes as she took another sip of the heady, rich liquid. It was then she heard the door open. She turned to see Jackson walk in with his hair still wet from the shower he must have taken after his shift ended. He wore his favorite leather jacket, a black work shirt with the yellow letters of his unit emblazoned across the front and jeans.
The wine only made her more aware of how good he looked. Lines of hard muscles were plainly visible under his thin cotton t-shirt when he shrugged out of his jacket, 10
A Kiss for Luck
hanging it on the coat rack. His large, powerful arms were half bare and his jeans fit his long form well. He wore his hair in a short, no-nonsense haircut that showed off his handsome features and blue eyes. He had never grown out of the dusting of freckles over his nose and Clara was so grateful he hadn’t because they gave him an endearing, boy-next-door look that was intoxicatingly charming.