Doctor’s Orders: Prologue
Las Vegas, a year earlier
I shouldn’t have answered the call. I should have let it go to voicemail and enjoy my time with my mother in Auburn Springs. But I did, and after listening to my panicked boss begging me to go to the Las Vegas conference in his place, here I am two days later—the job done, by the way—but needing something to do before I get on my flight for New York in the morning.
I should head back to Auburn Springs and resume my vacation—or what’s left of it—but after securing the account in Las Vegas, I also want to get the project started back in New York. It’s my biggest account so far and I want my name on it even though I have a suspicion that Ryan will take all the credit like he does everything else.
But I can’t think about that right now. I need to figure out what to do now that I just found out my favorite band’s opening night is sold out. Sure, I could buy a ticket from the many scalpers selling them right outside the hotel but with tickets going for ten times their original price, I’d rather do something else.
I could wander along the Strip and check out the sights. I’ve yet to see the fountains of Bellagio. Maybe I could experience a gondola ride at the Venetian or check out Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. But I don’t want to venture out of my hotel tonight. I don’t want to get stuck in a crowd of tourists after spending the day inside the convention center with a different crowd. Instead, I want something low-key for the evening. Maybe I could check out that adult show someone was talking about at the convention today, something about a near-naked version of a popular Vegas show. Considering it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a perfect set of abs, it’s actually not a terrible idea. Probably the only negative thing about my plan is that I’ll be alone, but it still beats staying in my hotel room all night.
I down the last of my drink and swivel out of my stool. I’m in such a rush I don’t see the server walking behind me with a tray filled with drinks. All I feel is the side of my leg meeting something hard. Suddenly cocktail glasses fall from the server’s tray as she struggles to balance herself. Highball, lowball, and a cocktail glass, they all fall down. One of them, a Blue Hawaiian based on the color of the drink, spills all over a man standing to her right, ice cubes scattering on the floor.
Amid apologies and a few curses from me, I somehow manage to grab a stack of napkins from the bar and I start patting the poor man’s shirt dry. Even the front of his pants. I only stop because he grabs my wrist before I continue my determined attempt at patting napkins on his crotch.
Wait… his what?
I drop the napkins on the floor before covering my mouth in surprise. “Oh, shit. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to… to feel you up or anything.”
He laughs. “It’s okay. Really, it’s fine. Accidents happen.”
Still, my face burning with embarrassment, I pull away. “I’m really sorry. I don’t want you to think I’m…” I pause, suddenly struck by his deep blue eyes. They’re gorgeous. No, he’s gorgeous. In fact, the whole package is gorgeous. The smile, the abs, the slim hips and muscled thighs evident from the soaked fabric of his pants clinging to his skin. I don’t even notice the server who’s now joined by another hotel employee picking up the glasses from the floor.
“Why don’t you two step to the side so we can get this area cleaned up?” One of them says as the other sets up two-sided yellow signs that say “Caution Wet Floor.”
“Oh, God. I feel so bad,” I mutter under my breath as he dabs his shirt and the front of his trousers with the napkins. “I hope this isn’t going to make you late for anything.”
He shakes his head. “Nah, considering how my day’s going, this is probably the most excitement I’ve had.”
I laugh. “You’re in Vegas. How can you not have fun?”
“When you’ve been stuck in meetings all day,” he says. “And when you see your ex-girlfriend kissing your best friend in the lobby.”
“Ouch. I’m sorry to hear that. That’s not cool… at all.”
He shrugs. “Yeah, but what can you do, right? We did break up a month ago so she can see whoever she wants. But my best buddy? No wonder he’d been avoiding me this whole conference.”
Suddenly I don’t want to talk about ex-girlfriends or traitorous best friends. I hold out my hand. “I’m Ava, by the way.”
“Parker.” He grips my hand in a firm handshake. “What about you? Were you going somewhere? You seemed like you were in a hurry.”
“In a hurry to go nowhere,” I say, chuckling. There’s no way I’m telling him I was going to check out some adult circus show to ogle abs. “What about you? What were you going to do?”
Parker pulls out a pair of tickets from his jacket pocket and holds them up. “I was just on my way to the ticket counter to give one of these up. Figured someone out there would be interested. But with all the people hanging out in the main corridor, I thought I’d take a shortcut through the bar and… well, here we are.”
My eyes widen when I see what he’s holding in his hand. “How can you give those tickets up? Aerosmith is the hottest ticket in town. And it’s their opening night!”
“No shit.” Parker laughs. “I bought them a few months ago when my girl and I were still together. I don’t mind seeing the show alone but I’m sure there’s a waiting list of people who’d want my extra ticket.”
“Hell, I want it and I’m willing to buy it from you,” I exclaim as he looks at me, his eyes narrowing.
I nod. “I was just at the box office and they said it’s sold out. I mean, they’re going for so much more so I’ll understand if you’d rather do that.”
Parker shakes his head. “I don’t care about the money, but if you really want to see it, we can see it together. And no, you don’t have to pay me anything.”
I stare at him, looking for signs that this guy is pulling my leg but he’s actually serious. So serious he even hands me the ticket.
“Here. You can have it.”
“At least let me buy you a drink or something,” I stammer. “Or maybe even a late dinner.”
Parker grins as he looks at the soaked shirt that’s clinging to his unmistakable six-pack abs. “Since the show starts in half an hour, why don’t I change into something dry and meet you down here? You can buy me a drink after the show.”
I nod. “That’ll work.”
He winks playfully. “Although I’d prefer not to wear it next time.”
* * *
After the show, we find a dark corner at the hotel bar. We haven’t stopped gushing about the show, both of us unable to stop talking about the songs that took our breath away.
Sweet Emotion. Love in an Elevator. I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing. I still can’t believe I got to see the show and that I saw it with someone as wonderful as Parker.
As the server comes back with our drink orders, I realize I’ve never had this much fun in my life. Maybe it’s from being part of a band’s first show on the Strip and being so caught up in the music. Or maybe it’s the thrill that comes with hanging out with a gorgeous stranger.
There’s also no denying we’ve graduated from the initial hey-let’s-hang-out phase and we’re currently deep in the I-can’t-keep-my-hands-off-you part of the evening. I’ve never had this much fun in all my twenty-seven years. Add the way Parker looks at me like I’m the sexiest woman he’s ever met, and I’m putty… and horny as hell.
I don’t even care if I’m imagining it all, not when his fingers playfully draw circles along my shoulder as he asks me what I do for a living and I tell him that I’d rather talk about what I’d like to do to him before the night is over. When he leans closer to ask me exactly what it is I want to do to him, I tell him.
“I want to see if those rock hard abs of yours are real,” I murmur. “But first, I want to start with this.”
And that’s when the kiss happens. One minute, we’re sitting in a dark corner at the hotel bar and the next, our lips crash hungrily and I lose myself in his arms. He tastes amazing. He smells amazing—sage and the ocean mingling with his own scent. It’s intoxicating to the senses.
Suddenly I pull away, embarrassed. “I’m sorry,” I mutter, biting my lower lip and looking around. But if I’m worried that people are watching us, it’s all for nothing. Everyone else in the bar seems engrossed in their own lives.
“Don’t be.” Parker pulls me to him again, his mouth brushing against mine. “I’ve wanted to do this since we first met.”
He kisses me softly this time, his teeth nipping my upper lip gently, sending the butterflies in my stomach fluttering to life. He runs his tongue over my lower lip, teasing me with what’s to come. I lean closer, our mouths crashing together as my impatience takes over.
I don’t even care that I’m totally like a wild woman around Parker, eager to try everything I never got to try with anyone else before. But it’s not like I’ve got a reputation to protect. Right now, I’m just one of the millions of people in Sin City getting laid.
Besides, as they say in Las Vegas—what happens here stays here—and that’s exactly how this will go.
Before morning, we’ll go back to our boring lives… alone.
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