Shattered (Anderson Special Ops #4) by Melody Anne

    On the island he’d certainly made her body tingle, but he’d been focused on trying to get her into bed, not learning about her mind — that was a definite turn-off for her. She’d avoided Smoke ever since they’d departed paradise. Seeing him in her safety zone would mess with her mind for a while. He seemed to fit in anywhere he wanted to be. Most people who didn’t have loved ones they were bringing to the hospital looked out of place stepping into her sanctuary. Not Smoke. He seemed as if he belonged. She hadn’t expected that from him.

    “I’m with my patient right now, Smoke,” Amira told him, keeping her voice pleasant for the sake of Mrs. Clemens, who wasn’t only listening to every word spoken, but seemed to have fallen instantly in love with Smoke. “Now’s not the best time for you to be here . . .” She stopped for a moment. “Especially without being invited.” Her voice was still pleasant, but by the twinkle in his eyes he could certainly hear the bite . . . and he didn’t care in the least.

    Before Smoke could answer, Mrs. Clemens jumped in. “Oh, I love the name Smoke. You must tell me how you got that name you sexy man,” she said as she reached out and patted Smoke’s leg.

    Amira was stunned into silence when Smoke looked down as if embarrassed or suddenly shy. The moment came and went so quickly she was sure she’d imagined his discomfort. He gently cupped Mrs. Clemens pale, wrinkled hand in his own huge palm as if he was giving his full attention to the Queen of England.

    “I’ve done a lot in my short life,” Smoke began. “I played football for the 49ers, then went into the military where I proudly served. No matter what I’ve done, though, I’ve always been as fast as a cheetah so my military team gave me the call sign of Smoke, and now I’m known more by Smoke than my real name of Tyrell Rice,” he told her.

    “Oh, I want to hear everything,” Mrs. Clemens said as she gazed adoringly at Smoke. It appeared Mrs. Clemens had forgotten all about her husband of fifty years as she fell instantly in love with Smoke. Amira had a feeling most women forgot about any man in their life when Smoke entered a room.

    “We should hear more about you,” Amira said gently as she tried to save this visit with her patient. “I’m sure Smoke would love to know about your life.”

    Mrs. Clemens gave Amira a smile before turning back to Smoke. “Oh, my life has been wonderful, but I’ve spoken of it many, many times over. I want to hear of your life. What brings you here today?”

    Smoke continued holding Mrs. Clemens hand, which Amira thought was pretty dang amazing. She hated how wonderful he was with her patient, one more thing to like about the man she didn’t want to like.

    “I’ve been trying to get the good doctor to go out on a date with me, but she keeps refusing,” Smoke said, forming his lips into a perfect pout.

    Amira’s mouth gaped open as she glared at the man. She couldn’t believe he’d just said that to her patient. Mrs. Clemens turned and gave Amira a stunned look.

    “This man wants to take you on a date, and you’ve refused him?” she asked, the words coming out so stunned it made Amira feel as if she’d done something wrong.

    “I’m a busy woman,” Amira defended. “I don’t have time to date.” Her words finished quietly, and she felt as if she were back in grade school getting scolded by the teacher.

    “That’s just nonsense,” Mrs. Clemens said. “Life’s far too short to do nothing but work. When a beautiful man like this asks you out on a date, you drop everything and go. I can tell by his gorgeous, soulful brown eyes that he’s honest. You can see mystery and wisdom in the depths of his expression that make me think of rich, dark soil that’s ready to be dug into. You’d be a fool not to accept his offer.”

    Smoke beamed at Mrs. Clemens before turning toward Amira and raising his eyebrows in challenge. He’d put her on the spot, and he didn’t have an ounce of remorse. He knew he was on a path to victory.

    “I’ll certainly talk to Smoke about it later,” Amira said. There was no way she was letting him railroad her like this.

    “Oh, no, I’m an old woman who loves to live vicariously through the younger generation. I want you to accept now so I get to know what kind of date he’s going to take you on,” Mrs. Clemens said.