What do tattooed butts, the Mafia and a medical student have in common? Tonia Fuller! Tonia, a blonde bombshell with a bust to make a Barbie doll weep, is a klutz. Wearing four-inch spike heels and already top-heavy, her center of gravity is elusive. When hunky medical student Raphael Beauchamp comes to her rescue twice, he thinks he knows why Tonia’s falling. It’s those ridiculous designer stilettos.
After Tonia’s tumble down some stairs results in a nasty concussion and she has no one to stay with her, Raphael opts to look after this headstrong beauty. Raphael discovers that Tonia’s the ex-wife of a Las Vegas Mafia don. She has half an offshore bank account number tattooed on her butt and someone’s after her. A normal person would don a pair of running shoes and get the hell out of Boston. But it’s too late for Raphael. Tonia’s not the only one who’s been falling.
“Why won’t this damn winter end?” Tonia Fuller mumbled. She cursed the freezing rain as she shivered and picked her way across the icy sidewalk to her office building. Still unfamiliar with the fickle March weather in Boston , she’d worn her new alligator shoes with three-inch heels and hadn’t bothered to carry an umbrella.
“Almost there,” she muttered.
As if she’d jinxed herself, her next footstep flew out from under her and she crashed onto the cold, wet, unforgiving cement.
Mentally, she reeled off a slew of oaths, but with the wind knocked out of her she couldn’t utter a word.
An unwelcome upside down face wearing a stupid grin hovered over her. “Good morning, Grace. Have a nice trip?”
Wanting to spew some unacceptable words at her boss and ask him if he knew how many times she had heard that stupid, worn-out joke, it was a good thing Tonia couldn’t speak. As soon as she could, she refilled her lungs with a gasp and struggled to sit up.
“Hold on!” cried an unfamiliar voice. A magnificent well-built, dark-haired man in a navy blue uniform hurried over and knelt beside her.
She did her best to yank her skirt and camelhair coat over her bare thighs, meanwhile noticing how far away her right shoe had landed when launched from her foot.
“See you inside,” her boss called over his shoulder.
Tonia glared at his retreating back. Of all the insensitive…
“Don’t get up,” Mr. Tall, Dark and Dripping said. “You took a nasty spill and I’d better check you out before you try to stand.”
Tonia glanced at his uniform’s insignia and saw that he worked for Fleet Ambulance, then stared into his down-turned, brown eyes. He had a sad puppy look, as if filled with genuine concern for her safety. As lovely as that was, she was not about to lie on the ice, freezing her butt off, while this gorgeous guy “checked her out”.
“Thanks, but I’m all right. Really.”
“Please don’t move. I’m a medical student. You need to listen to what I’m telling you. You could have a hairline fracture of your spine. If you move you could cause more damage. Maybe even paralysis.”
Tonia sighed, flicked her blonde bangs out of her eyes and read his nametag out loud. “Raphael Beauchamp. Paramedic.”
“Yeah. Well, I’m almost a doctor. I’m on spring break. I’ll graduate in a couple of months and be interning after that. What’s your name?”
“Tonia Fuller. The late Tonia Fuller. I’m ten minutes late already, so as nice as you are to offer, I don’t have time to let you examine me.”
“I was on my way to work too, but it looks like I’ve already got my hands full right here. I’m sure both of our bosses will understand why we’re late.”
Tonia noticed where his eyes had landed. Right where every man’s eyes landed. He was looking her square in the knockers. To his credit, he glanced away, whipped off his glove, reached for her wrist and checked her pulse.
“I’m fine,” she said. Her protest weakened as he held her wrist in his warm, take-charge fingers for several seconds. Even with freezing rain spattering her face she could feel heat rising to her cheeks.
“Your pulse is a little fast.”
There’s a big surprise. Her heart rate would be pounding if they had met in a coffee shop.
“Does anything hurt? Did you hit your head?”
“Everything hurts, especially my pride.”
“Stay put while I grab my cell phone and call an ambulance.”
“You must be joking. I don’t need an ambulance. I need to get to work before my boss docks my pay.”
“Who was that who just looked down at you and went inside?”
“My boss. He’s a lawyer and probably disappointed that we can’t sue God for the weather.”
“Your boss is a dick.”
She couldn’t help giggling. “You noticed that right off, did you?”
“Yeah. Now stay here and don’t move.”
“Okay, you win. But first, would you be a love and grab my other shoe before someone kicks it into the street?”
As soon as he had his back turned she pushed herself up, removed her remaining shoe and stood on freezing feet. At least she was vertical.
When he turned around and saw her standing there, he folded his arms and frowned at her. She mimicked his expression and posture, including one alligator shoe sticking out from under her crossed arms.
Shaking his head, he approached and handed her the shoe. “Why were you wearing those ridiculous high heels instead of something more practical on a day like this?”
“They’re not ridiculous, they’re Gucci.”
Raphael rolled his eyes.
She set both shoes on the sidewalk. Teetering slightly, she stepped into them. Raphael grabbed hold of her arm to steady her. Instead of letting go as soon as she had her balance, he walked her to the door.
“You know,” he said, “when I want to wear my spike heels, I listen to the weather forecast first.”
She laughed, picturing this handsome hunk in spike heels. “Oh, really? Are they black vinyl to match your corset? I think
I’ve seen you in the red light district.”
Raphael smiled as he opened the door for her.
Oh and a cute smile too. Everything about this man got her blood pounding.
“Well, it was nice meeting you, Miss Fuller.” As he spoke his eyes drifted down to where she was, indeed, fuller than most.
Ordinarily she would have been annoyed from years of being gawked at, yet when he jerked his gaze back to her face quickly, she had to give him points for trying.
“Nice to meet you too, Mr. Paramedic. Thanks for your help.” Somehow, a handshake didn’t seem quite adequate. She looked into his warm darkening eyes and held his gaze a little longer than usual while she decided what to do. He didn’t move. He didn’t even blink.
Quick, before you chicken out. Tonia brushed his cheek with her lips, turned and ran into the building without looking back until she reached the elevator. He was writing a note against the glass. As the doors closed he turned the paper around. It said, “Get boots.”
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