Six

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Dear Diary,

Would the real Dr. Ryan Maxwell please stand up? He’s beautiful and smart, and did I mention beautiful? Maybe Edna isn’t as crazy as a loon. My future is so bright, I’ve got to wear shades.

Signed,

Ashley

The horse killed me. It's the only logical explanation because, after the fog clears from the Damon-induced concussion, I find myself face to face with an angel. I'm laying on a bed while he hovers over me, eyes fixed intently on my head, his lower lip caught between perfect, white teeth. His eyes are amber with flecks of green and gold and his eyelashes are out of this world, sooty and long. It's like if he blinks enough, they'll take flight.

“Ugh.” I bring my hand up to examine what he's so enthralled with when he stops focusing long enough to swat my hand away and chide me.

“Don't touch. Doctor's orders.”

“You're a doctor?”

He stops and offers a smile before he makes those gold eyes wide. “I sure hope so.” He nods to my head. “If I'm not, you could be in trouble.”

“A doctor and a comedian,” I say. “Unusual.”

He returns his attention to my wound and says, “Almost as unusual as a girl knocked out cold by a horse.”

I shrug. “It's a skill.”

He laughs. “My dad pegged you for a bit of a firecracker. Judging from the black eye and the sarcasm, I think he was right.”

“The black eye was courtesy of a box and completely unrelated to sarcasm,” I say. “Who is your dad?”

“My dad brought you here.”

“Dr. Ryan Maxwell is your dad?”

“Yes.”

Wait. If Dr. Ryan Maxwell is his dad then that means... Oh. My. God. “Are you Dr. Maxwell, too?” Please be him. Please be him. Please be Fairview’s most eligible bachelor.

He stops inspecting my head and smiles. “At your service.”

“You're Dr. Ryan Maxwell?”

“Just like my old man,” he says. He points to a folder on the table beside him. “And you are Ashley Pope.”

“I am.”

He finishes whatever it is he’s doing and secures the gauze. “You’ve bled for quite a long time for a fairly minor wound, Ashley Pope. That concerns me.”

“I'm a bleeder,” I say.

He points to a spot on his scrubs. “I can see that.”

Oh. That's embarrassing; like the one and only time I went on a date with Liam Miller, a gorgeous investment banker. He took me to a posh restaurant and boom, out of the blue my nose starts gushing like I’d sprung a leak. Liam ended up calling emergency services and never calling me again. I try to sit up but the room tilts and shifts, and my stomach drops before my vision clouds over.

“Whoa.” He’s touching me, helping me lie back down. “Slow down. Kick your feet up and stay a while.” 

“But I’ll miss my mom’s dinner.”

My cheeks flare with heat. On the list of idiotic things to say, that one tops it. What am I, twelve?

He laughs, revealing a solitary dimple on the right side of his face. His eyes dart to my hand, to my ring finger to be exact. When he discovers it’s not dressed with a ring, he says, “How about we make a deal?”

“I’m listening.”

“Well, if you stay here in bed for the next…” He pauses to check the clock on the wall. “… hour to hour and a half, I’ll take you to Lorenzo’s. It’s the best Italian place in town. I would say it’s on par with Gwen’s cooking.”

“You’ve tasted my mom’s cooking?” My eyes narrow. “More importantly, did you just ask me out?”

“The whole town has tasted your mom’s cooking,” he says. “She’s always the first to bring baked goods and casseroles to any event around here. And yes, I did just ask you out. So, what do you say, do we have a deal?”

“Isn’t there some kind of law, some code of ethics that you aren’t supposed to ask patients out on dates?” I want to kick myself. Why did I just say that?

He smiles. “We couldn’t find your health card, so legally speaking, you’re technically not a patient. Tending to you is pro bono. Besides, I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s a small town. Can’t blame me for trying.” 

Wait! Don’t give up so easy, Dr. Dreamy. “I was just playing hard to get,” I say too quickly. “Ask me again.”

The corners of his mouth curve into a smile. “Ask you again? What if I changed my mind?”

“Did you?”

“No.”

“Then ask.”

“May I take you on a proper date, as in, not in a clinic?”

“Yes.” This might just be the best day ever.

“Alright.” He moves his attention back to my head and brings his fingers to the gauze to adjust something. The wound is still tender and I wince. His face mirrors mine in a grimace. “Sorry.” 

This is the best day ever. The last time an astonishingly attractive man touched me …well it’s been a while… suffice it to say that if I were attached to one of those heart monitors, I’d be mortified. 

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