Love Lies Beneath(2)

By: Jen Talty


“I bet I’m your last patient today.” He didn’t need to wager, he knew without a doubt that she had no more patients after him. He made sure he was the very last appointment on the books.

She folded her arms across her chest. He tried not to look at the perfect round swells above her forearms, but it proved impossible. He was after all, a full-blooded American male. “Not only don’t I date my patients, but I make it a rule not to date military men.”

He raised his hands. “This is a military facility. Who else would be in here but military men and women?”

“Not the point.”

“And I’m not asking for a date. Just a drink. Call it a send-off celebration before I’m deployed again.”

“You’re going to have to pass the physical, twice.” She held up two fingers. “Before anyone gives you the thumbs up for a mission.” Her eyes twinkled like she’d just defeated an opponent in a game of chess.

“One drink. That’s all I’m asking. When you’re done, you can leave if you want. I won’t ask for a second, promise.”

She opened her mouth, but he held up his hand, knowing exactly where her thoughts were headed. “Shots don’t count.”

“Smart man, but still, no.”

He did his best to frown, hoping she’d take pity on a man feeling dejected. “Are you really going to make me beg?”

She laughed, tossing her head back, exposing her sweet, supple neck. All he could think about was kissing the spot right under her earlobe.

“You don’t strike me as the type of man who begs for anything,” she said.

“I don’t, but you’re with the exception.”

“Wow, that’s a really good line. If I wasn’t seeing someone, I’d be falling for it for sure.” Her right eye twitched, and she glanced up and to the left, after blinking a few times, breaking off eye contact.

Liar.

He contemplated calling her out on it but thought better of it. It certainly wouldn’t get him his one drink.

“I hope he knows what a lucky man he is.” Mitch unwrapped the ice from his frozen knee. “If he doesn’t get that, or you just feel like a nice glass of wine and good conversation before heading home, I’ll be at the Food Hut. I’m sure you know where it is.” He stood, holding out his hand, waiting, while her smile faded, and her gaze darted between his hand and face.

“It’s been a real honor,” she said, pushing back her chair. “Thank you for your service.”

He nodded, letting his hand linger until she jerked hers back.

She was interested in the drink.

Maybe more.

“You take good care, Ashley.”

He waltzed out of the room, not looking back.

God, he hoped she joined him. But if she didn’t, at least his buddies wouldn’t know he’d crashed and burned.



***



Ashley bit down on her lower lip, cocking her head, watching the sexy Navy SEAL saunter through the exercise room. He wasn’t the first military man to hit on her.

But he was the only one that made her consider, for a single second, that he might be worth a date.

Or two.

No.

She cleaned up the room and tossed the dirty towels in the bin before making her way to the office to sign out for the night.

Standing in front of the medical building, the humid Florida air smacked her pores like large raindrops.

Her eyes focused on the coastal sign filled with green, coral, yellow, and blue wood planks hanging over a restaurant door with the words: Food Hut.

In her eight years working as a physical therapist on the Jacksonville Naval Base, she never once entered the bar and grill across the street. Not only did a lot of her co-workers meet there after work, but so did half the men and women stationed or living on the base.

Jingling her car keys, she hesitated at the driver’s side door of her small SUV.

“What the hell,” she muttered. One drink with a handsome man who could carry on an intelligent conversation wouldn’t hurt. Although she’d keep up the ruse that she was in a relationship.

She frowned, tossing her keys into her purse as she crossed the street. Meeting him certainly sent the wrong message, and she didn’t want to encourage him. That said, while his team might be stationed out of Jacksonville, the likelihood he’d actually spend that much time in the city was slim to none.