Homicide detective Tucker Brown hasn’t always made the right decisions, but one thing about his life he’ll never regret is his son Jaydin. While at the hospital for his four-year-old’s tonsillectomy, he encounters Jaydin’s nurse, Ivan Ramsey. Tucker is taken aback, however, when he discovers he’s been assigned to investigate the potential murder of Ivan’s mother.
Ivan Ramsey is a pediatric nurse, and he loves his job more than life. Raised in a devoutly religious family, he’s not yet out to a lot of people, but on the very night he chooses to come out to his mother, she dies tragically in a house fire.Devastated by the news, Ivan all but falls to pieces, and to make matters worse, a cocky, know-it-all police detective shows up asking nosy questions. The cop implies his mother’s death might not have been an accident and even infers a family member might be responsible.
Tucker and Ivan at first clash. Their strikingly different personalities are oil and water, but soon they begin to work together to determine the real cause of Ivan’s mother’s death. In the process, sparks begin to fly and a romance ignites. Ivan falls hard, not only for the sexy detective but also his adorable son.Tucker, equally smitten, has made some discoveries he can’t yet reveal to his lover. There are so many loose ends and unanswered questions for both of them, and when the truth finally comes out, it just might tear them apart.
Holding the stuffed bear in front of his face, Ivan stepped into the hospital room. He bobbed it up and down, then back and forth, and with a high-pitched Pooh-like voice addressed his patient. “I heard someone’s having an operation today!”
“Me! I am!” The four-year old pushed himself up, then leaned forward with outstretched arms to reach for the bear. “I know it’s you, Ivan.”
“It’s me and Pooh. And you know what? I talked to the doctor, and she said Pooh can go with you when you go in for your operation.”
Jaydin scowled. “Bears can’t go in the operating room, can they?” He glanced over to his mother who stood on the opposite side of the bed. She slipped her hand onto the little guy’s shoulder.
“Well, honey, they’re going to do the operation when you’re sleeping. Pooh can stay with you till you fall asleep, and he’ll be with you again when you wake up.”
“I want him to stay with me the whole time.”
“Don’t you worry,” Ivan assured him. “Pooh will be right there.”
Ivan looked up to briefly establish eye contact with Jaydin’s mom. “Mommy and Daddy will be here. They’ll be waiting for you when you wake up. It’s gonna be so quick and easy. You’ll close your eyes one second, and the next you’ll open them and it will be all over with. And Mommy and Daddy will be there with you.”
“Daddy’s not here though.” Jaydin twisted his face, obviously fighting the urge to cry. He blinked and looked up with his big brown eyes at Ivan. “Do you know where my Daddy is?”
“He’s on his way, honey.” His mother spoke soothingly, but from the expression on her face, she was as annoyed by her ex-husband’s absence as Ivan.
Ivan had been a nurse for four years, the entirety of which he’d worked at St. Joseph’s in the pediatric ward. He’d seen hundreds of little angels come into the unit, some for minor operations and many for more serious, life-threatening procedures. Jaydin needed a tonsillectomy, which might not seem a big deal to the boy’s father, but if Ivan were the little guy’s dad, he’d have been camped out bedside until it was time to take him home. Ivan didn’t understand parents like Jaydin’s father. Obviously, the little boy idolized his daddy, but the man couldn’t be bothered to make it to the hospital in time for his son’s surgery.
Ivan walked over to the side of the bed and held out his hand, stroking his fingers across Jaydin’s soft curly hair. “Remember the cool Star Wars Band Aid you got when you first came to the hospital?”
“The Storm Trooper?”
“Yup. You want another one like that?”
Jaydin looked up at him, wide-eyed, smiling. “I want Kylo Ren!”
“Kylo Ren? He’s a bad guy, isn’t he?”
“So’s the Storm Troopers. Well, wait. Not all of ‘em. Not Finn.”
“Hmm.” Ivan reached into his pocket and pulled out an assortment of animated bandages. “Let’s see. I’ve got Rey, and here’s R2D2, and another storm trooper. I don’t have any Kylo.”
Jaydin’s bottom lip protruded, but only for a second, then he leaned forward to examine the bandages. “I want R2D2.” He smiled, arching his eyebrows in the cutest expression Ivan had ever seen, then suddenly grew serious. “Wait! Why do I get a Band Aid? I don’t have a owie.” Panicked, he looked up at his mother with pleading eyes. “I don’t want a ivy! Mom…” His face began to crinkle into an expression of anguished terror just as Ivan spun around in response to footsteps he heard from behind.
“Hey big guy!” A tall, dark, and handsome white dude stood in the door holding a stuffed Winnie the Pooh bear, about twice the size of the one Ivan had just delivered.
“Daddy! I don’t want a ivy!”
So this was Jaydin’s father? Ivan had assumed the boy’s dad was African American like his mother, but this explained Jaydin’s lighter skin tone and softer curls.
“Where have you been?” Jaydin’s mom barely concealed her irritation of her ex-husband’s tardiness. Glaring at him, she crossed her arms over her chest.
“Remember what we talked about, Jay Jay?” The man ignored his ex-wife and moved closer to the bed, holding out his Pooh bear. “We gotta be brave sometimes, even if it means doing things we don’t want to do.”
“But Daddy! It’s like a shot.”
Jaydin had been in and out of the hospital quite a bit in his young life, battling numerous throat and ear infections. He also suffered from chronic bronchial asthma, and Jaydin had been hospitalized a couple of times after having attacks. As young as he was, he knew all about hospital procedures, including the dreaded I.V.
Though Ivan had been Jaydin’s nurse previously, he’d never met the boy’s father. What Ivan did know, however, was that the little boy idolized the man. He was some sort of cop from what Ivan had gathered. Jaydin had repeatedly bragged about how his daddy’s job was to catch the bad guys.
“It’s just a little teenie, tiny poke, though.” Tall, dark, and handsome lowered himself to sit on the edge of the mattress. “And it’s so they can give you medicine when you’re having your operation. Right?” He looked up at Ivan for confirmation.
“That’s right.” Ivan forced a smile, a wave of annoyance sweeping over him. Where was this man the last two hours as his son lay fretting and panicking that his daddy wasn’t even going to show up for his operation? And now here he was at last sweeping in to act like the big, badass hero.
Ivan moved to the other side of the bed, stepping around Jaydin’s mother as Mr. Macho Police Detective remained next to his son holding the little boy’s hand. Ivan ever so gently took hold of Jaydin’s other wrist, examining the arm carefully as he sought the best location for insertion of the I.V. needle. Jaydin’s father continued to talk to the boy, promising him ice cream and Jell-O with lots of whipped cream after his operation.
As Jaydin engaged with his daddy, completely distracted from what Ivan was doing with his arm, Ivan expertly planted the I.V. Jaydin looked over, only slightly startled by the needle prick, but his daddy gently placed his fingers beneath the boy’s chin and guided his gaze back in the other direction, casually acting as if nothing was happening.
Quickly Ivan peeled open the bandage wrapper and secured the R2D2 unit over the taped I.V. port. “There ya go, little man. Good to go. You got your R2 and two Pooh bears.”
“And my daddy!”
Jaydin’s mom slid next to her son as Ivan gathered up his supplies. “And Mommy,” Jaydin added. “Together…like it used to be.”
The boy’s parents glanced at each other, then each turned to their son, smiling. “No matter what,” Jaydin’s dad said, “we’ll both always be here for our little guy.”
“I’m not little no more, Daddy.”
“No you’re not,” his mother said. “You’re growing up so fast.”
“I’m almost gonna be five, and you promised I can have a party, right?”
“Right.” Jaydin’s father nodded. “With a Star Wars cake.”
“Kylo Ren. I want a Kylo Ren cake!
Ivan’s mom is murdered and the lead detective on his case is the dad of a patient Ivan had taken care of the night before. He’s a pediatric nurse and Tucker’s four-year-old son needed a tonsillectomy. That’s where things get started…
Ivan, is hard to like. I’ll say that up front, he drove me all kinds of crazy with his constant judgement, wild assumptions and snarky attitude. He was ridiculous; aside from judgey, he also seemed pompous and a little self-absorbed. He had a problem with nearly everything about Tucker and made no bones about it. I didn’t like that, his uppity-ness. It was annoying. Then the smoking pot with the friend? LOL random!
The dialogue was kind of cringy at times. And why could everyone else call Ivan, Ivey, but he gets testy when his brother does it? That makes zero sense…. Am I being too harsh because the dude gets on my nerves so bad? Maybe. He was just so hard to like for me! Also, I think maybe Ivan was at one point going to be Ian, because he gets called Ian a couple times here and there. Things like that don’t bother me though, it was easy to overlook….
I will say that by the end of the book, Ivan had kind of grown on me… I really liked him and Tucker and I liked how they were with Tucker’s son. The killer, I had pegged from the beginning but I really wished that he wouldn’t have been so nasty to Ivan…I also really liked Ivan’s brother and I was glad he had him at his back. All in all, after Ivan put all his assumptions away and actually got to know and like Tucker.. it was a much more enjoyable story. So glad it also ended with a HEA. Can’t go wrong with a HEA.
4 pieces of eye candy for me.
Jeff has generously offered an ebook copy from his backlist (you can see the full list at www.jefferno.com) to one commenter on this post. Let us know your thoughts!