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Authors: Jenny Lyn

Burn

BOOK: Burn
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Evernight
Publishing

 

www.evernightpublishing.com

 

 

 

Copyright© 2013 Jenny Lyn

 

 

 
ISBN: 978-1-77130-539-6

 

Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs

 

Editor:
Karyn
White

 

 

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

WARNING: The unauthorized
reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.
 
No part of this book may be used or
reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the
case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

 

This is a work of fiction. All
names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

To those first loves who become
lasting loves.

 

BURN

 

 

Jenny Lyn

 

Copyright © 2013

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

The female
tittering at the nurse’s station had become too much for Tate. Normally that
sort of thing didn’t bother her. She’d even been known to join in the fun on
occasion, when nights in the ER were slow and relatively quiet.

Tonight wasn’t
one of those times.

She was exhausted—
thank
the mattress gods she was nearing the end of her shift.
Her head pounded like a bass drum, and she’d been kicked and puked on by a cranky
four-year-old. Despite changing her scrubs, the smell wouldn’t leave her
sinuses, and the four ibuprofen and three cups of coffee she’d swallowed had
done nothing to alleviate the other two things either.

Hating herself
just a little, she looked up from the chart she was scribbling notes in and
cleared her throat loudly. The giggling stopped, but some of the looks she
received as the women dispersed said her name hit a few shit lists. She sighed,
making a mental note to ply them with a decadent dessert in hopes of erasing
the “bitch” tag she’d just been assigned.

Colleen, a
friend and one of the nurses who’d joined the staff at Atlanta General around
the same time as Tate, walked over to where she
stood,
a sympathetic smile on her face. Unfortunately, Colleen still held a patient’s chart
in her hand.

She patted Tate on
the back. “It’ll all be over soon.”

“Only to start
up again in twelve hours,” Tate said wryly. Not that she hated her job.
Far from it, actually.
Today’s shift had just been particularly
trying, and the incessant headache only made matters worse.

“This one might
make you feel better.” Colleen handed the file to Tate and winked. “Room six.”

Curious, Tate
glanced down at the chart, habitually scanning the medical information first
before her eyes landed on the name. Going stock still in the middle of the busy
hallway, she blinked, thinking she’d somehow misread what it said, and scanned
the name again.
Ryan Hart
.
Nope, no mistake.

Maybe it wasn’t
the same Ryan Hart she’d known eight years ago. Hart was a fairly common name.
So was Ryan, she told herself. But then she read the birth date. The year
matched hers.
 

Damn.

Well, that
explained Colleen’s comment and why the nurses were so animated—they’d gotten a
peek at him.

She glanced back
at Colleen who was now on the phone, then looked around to see if there were
any other doctors she could hand the file off to before hiding in a supply
closet until this particular Ryan Hart left the building. Sure, it was cowardly
of her and unprofessional, too, but seeing this particular Ryan Hart again could
be disastrous.

It was no use.
The emergency room was slammed, and they were short-staffed tonight. That left
her little choice but to face down the devil from her past. Tate gathered every
fiber of fortitude she had inside of her and pushed open the door to exam room six.

When Ryan looked
up, a pirate’s smile split his full mouth and wrinkled the corners of his blue,
blue eyes. He looked bigger than what she remembered, more filled-out in all
the right places, and his classically handsome features had sharpened a bit
with maturity. He wore his sandy-blond hair very short, and in one of those
messy-on-top styles she envied men the two seconds it took to accomplish.

God help her,
time had been very,
very
good to him.

Tate, on the
other hand, felt herself wilt a little in her Nikes. She probably looked like recycled
crap and smelled like vomit. She wore no make-up; her red hair was pulled back
in a ratty ponytail that hadn’t been touched since she’d showered before coming
in to work, and the putrid green scrubs undoubtedly made her complexion look sallow.
Awesome.

Wait, why was
she worrying about what she looked like? And dammit, she was blushing, too.
With such fair skin, her face would glow like a neon sign.

“Hello, Tate,”
he said in that same chocolaty voice she still heard in the occasional dream.

No,
nightmare
.

“Ryan.”

Tate mustered
the strength it took to step closer to where he sat perched on the edge of the
narrow hospital gurney. His long legs hung over the side, toes nearly touching
the floor. He had on faded jeans, scuff-toed lace-up boots, and a plain white
undershirt. A black leather motorcycle jacket and silver full-face helmet sat
in the chair next to the bed. At least he had the good sense to wear one.

“It’s good to
see you. Congratulations,” he said, pointing at the ID badge clipped to her top.

“Thanks.” She
purposely didn’t reciprocate on the “good to see you” comment because she
didn’t like having to lie unless it was absolutely necessary.

“I always knew
you’d do it.”

“Then you had more
confidence in me than I did. I came close to quitting more than once.”

“But you didn’t,
and now look at you. Tate Reilly, M.D. I’m happy for you.”

Tate mumbled
another awkward “Thank you,” and glanced at Ryan’s chart in hopes of avoiding
more small talk. He was here for a burn to his left forearm. She noticed he
held that arm cocked out to the side a little so it wouldn’t brush up against
his clothing, his hand braced on his thigh for support.

Realizing she had
to touch him, Tate pulled on a pair of latex gloves. Although necessary, they would
also provide a thin barrier between her fingertips and his skin. “Let me see
the burn.”

He held his arm
out in front of him, twisting his wrist so she could examine the injury. She
could sense his stare like a physical touch, feel his body heat radiating
toward her. Ryan had always been one of those people you were inherently drawn
to, friendly, and easygoing. Nothing ever seemed to rattle him. And of course,
on top of the good looks and quality personality traits, he had to smell
amazing, like leather mixed with a subtle hint of something spicy and
masculine.
His soap maybe, or an aftershave.

Geez,
Tate, focus on your job.

The burn
encompassed an area about the size of her palm halfway between his wrist and
elbow. It looked angry, the skin red, puffy, and warm. There were a couple of
spots nearest the center that were starting to rise into small blisters, but
lucky for him it wasn’t serious.

“It’s mostly
first degree with a mild second degree area in the center. It won’t require
debridement, just some antibiotic cream and a loose bandage for a week or so while
it heals. You’ll need to stay out of the sun as well. I can write you a
prescription for pain medicine if you think you need it.”

“Nah, I’m good.”

“Ibuprofen will
help with the inflammation.”

“Got
it.
What is ‘debridement’ exactly?”

“With more
serious burns, the destroyed layers of skin have to be scrubbed away.”

He visibly
shuddered.
“Sounds painful.”

“That’s where
morphine comes in handy. How did you get the injury?”

“Occupational
hazard.
I’m a sous chef at Bite.”

Tate’s stomach
did a strange little dip at knowing he was back in Atlanta, working only a few
blocks away from the hospital.

“Have you heard
of the place?” he asked when she remained quiet.

“Uh, yeah, I
think so.
Real popular and a hit with the local critics.
Owned by that Kevin dude who’s on TV once a week?”

Ryan grinned,
and Tate took a step back, as if that smile would somehow pull her further into
his force field. It certainly had before. “That’s the one. Kevin Lattimore is
who hired me.
Great chef and an all-around nice guy.”

For some
unexplained reason, she asked, “How did you wind up a chef?”

He shrugged, and
the smile slipped away. “It just sort of found me I guess.
Long
story.”

One she didn’t want
to hear and he obviously didn’t want to recount, especially not to her. She was
just the disposable girl he’d fucked in college for seven months then tossed
away like the pair of gloves she stripped off her hands and deposited in the
waste bin.

BOOK: Burn
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