There was no way she was his shrink.
This was a cruel joke his sister was playing on him. Casey had to be setting him up, right? Or his buddy Nate, who loved to pull these sorts of pranks. Except Nate had no clue he was here. He hadn’t given Nate a single meaningful detail about last night.
Maybe his mind was playing tricks on him and he was seeing Michelle everywhere. If he closed his eyes, counted to ten, and opened them again, perhaps the Dr. Milo his sister had booked his appointment with would turn out to be a school-marm type. A grandmotherly lady. Hell, how about a man?
Anyone fucking else, please.
Anyone but the absolutely enticing sex kitten he couldn’t stop thinking of since last night’s mind-blowing up-against-the-wall-in-a-dimly-lit-hotel-room sex. Not the owner of the hottest pair of legs, the most sinful mouth, and the wildest abandon he’d ever encountered.
He had plans for her. So many plans. Positions. Places.
Frozen still, they were two statues caught in shock. Jack gripped the doorframe and swallowed hard. Michelle’s brown eyes were wide, etched with complete surprise as her hand remained wrapped around the doorknob, her knuckles white from the tight hold she had on it. The silence lasted, spinning from one second to the next to the next. As if this moment of sheer dumb bad luck would unspool if they did nothing. As if it would rewind into something that made sense. Finally, she went first.
“I suppose I have the answer now to the ‘what’s your last name’ question,” she said in a strained voice.
He nodded. “Sullivan. Jack Sullivan.” Then, manners and protocol kicked in. He extended a hand. She stared at his hand as if it were an object acquired from a distant planet, a space rock she needed to study. But then, she took it, and the second they made contact, memories of her hands slammed into him.
He pictured them in his hair, grabbing his ass, trailing over his chest. Touching her own breasts.
Desire rolled through him, and he tried to tamp it down. To banish the thickening lust that was clouding his head as he flashed back to last night.
Was he supposed to tell her all his problems? All the troubles that gnawed at him? The guilt that liked to play hide-and-seek with his heart, reminding him when it peeked out from around the corner that Aubrey’s death was something he’d unlikely ever come to peace with. That’s why Casey had sent him here; Casey was the only one who knew precisely why the mythology the press had assigned to his newly-single status was horseshit. As if they could understand his heart, and his reasons. He hardly understood them himself.
He barely unloaded on his sister; he couldn’t imagine telling Michelle what had brought him here.
Correction. Dr. Milo. Doctor of Psychology, as the diploma on her wall informed him.
“And you’re Dr. Michelle Milo,” he began. “Or Dr. Milo, which was the name I had on my schedule. I didn’t know last night that my Michelle was the same Dr. Milo.” She flinched when he said my Michelle. The words surprised him too; he shouldn’t feel any sort of ownership for her, less than twenty-four hours after meeting. But hell, she was the first woman he’d felt a real thing for, a true fucking emotion, since Aubrey. Maybe that emotion was lust. Maybe it was lust plus possibility. He didn’t know, but he’d enjoyed his time with Michelle in and out of the sheets. Even if it was too early, he was staking his claim to her. She didn’t seem to want it, though, because she let go of his hand.
Crap. Did she think he’d scoped her out beforehand and tried to seduce her? That he’d pursued his shrink in advance, in some sort of clandestine operation? “I swear, I had no idea,” he added, wanting to make sure they were crystal clear on that point.
She shook her head and shushed him, then grabbed his lapels, jerked him into her office and shut the door with a lightning kind of speed.
“I don’t want anyone hearing us,” she said, still in a whisper. She stepped away from him, walked to her couch, and pressed a button on a noise machine on an end table. A low hum filled the room. She turned around. “To preserve confidentiality,” she said, waving her hand at the whirring machine.
“Of course.” Was she talking about the two of them, or other patients?
She looked him straight in the eyes. Her gorgeous browns were steely. “First of all, there’s no need to call me doctor. I’m not a medical doctor, so I don’t use the title. Michelle is totally fine. Second, I can’t see you.”
The words hit hard in the chest. Like the sharp edge of a jagged rock.
“You mean tonight?” he asked, furrowing his brow.
She nodded, but seemed flustered now, too, fiddling with the collar on her blouse as she spoke. “I mean, now. I can’t see you here. I can’t treat you. It’s 100 percent against the code of ethics. You can’t sleep with your patients. It’s the single biggest reason therapists lose their license,” she said, and her voice rose. He could hear the frustration in it, but it was laced with self-loathing too. She was pissed at herself.
“All those stories about patients falling for shrinks are glamorized,” she said. “It’s wrong. It’s just plain wrong.”
“I wasn’t your patient last night,” he said, ready to absolve her of her guilt. He knew a thing or two about that awful emotion.
She clenched her hands at her sides, as if she were channeling all her feelings there. Frustration, perhaps? Annoyance? Or was there regret flowing through her veins too? “I had an appointment scheduled with you already.”
“But I didn’t know it was you. You didn’t know it was me . . . did you?” he asked, then the possibility dawned on him. Had she known who he was? His brain was spinning now, and it wasn’t making pretty kaleidoscopic images. Maybe she’d been the one scoping him out clandestinely.
“No!” She jammed her hands in her hair, and whatever she’d been keeping under the surface bubbled up. Her voice rose. “I never would have done that. Jack, I don’t even know a thing about you, except you sell toys. I don’t even know what kind of toys you sell. Do you sell Legos? Weeble Wobbles? Dolls?” She raised her eyebrows in question as she fired off options. “Do you run a toy store or something?”
He didn’t even bother to contain the grin as he shook his head, laughing deeply. “I sell sex toys.”
Her jaw went slack. She blinked several times, then swallowed. She sank down onto the couch, dropped her head between her legs and breathed out hard. For a second he thought she was having an anxiety attack, but she popped back up, grabbed his elbow, opened the door and escorted him out of the office. “You need to see someone else,” she said, marching him down the hall to the stairs, and two flights down, then into another hallway. She walked him into another psychology practice, then mouthed thank God when she spotted a door open.