Chase Hansen. Broke. College drop out. Male stripper.
My life wasn’t at all what I imagined it would be. I should have been finishing up college, interning with a well-respected business, partying with my friends. But instead, I was raising my seventeen year old brother, struggling to make ends meet. Love wasn’t even on my radar. Besides, what did I have to offer? A few crumpled singles pulled from my G-string? Defeated and exhausted, I knew I had zero chance of finding someone to love me just as I am.
Noah Carpenter. Angry. Betrayed. Doctor.
Just when I thought my life was going exactly as it should, everything turned upside down. With my final rotation in medical school complete, I finally achieved my lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. What I never expected was to catch the man of my dreams in our bed with the man of his. Beyond infuriated, I struggled to piece together the remnants of my life. Just when I’d decided to give up on love altogether, I found a man who loved me just as I am.
Cover design: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pear Creative Covers
Photography: Christopher John at CJC Photography
Models: Sam Wiles and Aaron Michael Bell
The piece of art hanging on the wall on the east end of the hospital cafeteria had, by my best calculation, twelve hundred and eighty-two one-by-one-inch tiles of varying shades of blues and greens.
This was what my life had come to. Counting fucking tiles.
“Hello?” Wes’s voice snapped me out of my newfound habit of counting random shit to distract me. “What the hell?” he asked, taking a sip of his coffee. “I asked you how the wedding was like five minutes ago and you’re just sitting there staring at that mural like it’s a naked woman.” After another quick sip, he corrected himself, “Man. I mean a naked man.”
And just like that, the twelve hundred tiles morphed from the ocean lapping against the shore into Chase’s naked body, standing before me, waiting for me to do what I want with it.
Sexual frustration was a bitch like that.
“Oh, uh, good. It was good.” The usually shitty coffee tasted even shittier.
Wes laughed, dropping the conversation I so clearly didn’t want to have. We ate in silence, leaving ten minutes later to start our day in the emergency room. As usual, work offered me the only worthwhile distraction from the numbness of my life. Between the long and drawn-out break up with Rob, to the turmoil over the last month in dealing with how I felt about Chase and what was bubbling between us, it had been far too long since I felt like my life was my own.
Ten hours later, I found myself in a very similar situation. Wes and I were walking to the cafeteria, grabbing our hundredth cup of coffee for the day. “So, are you finally going to talk to me about whatever the hell is bothering you, or are we going to draw it out for weeks and weeks like last time, until you’re ready to blow?”
Like some pathetically frustrated teenager, even the mention of the word blow had me hardening behind my long, white lab coat. “Option B?” I joked, more asking than telling.
“Nice fucking try.” Wes pulled a chair out next to me. After peeling back the plastic lid to his Styrofoam cup, he blew on the hot liquid. “Talk,” he demanded, pressing his lips to the rim. “Now,” he added, before taking a small sip.
As if my friend possessed a magic power over me, the story about what happened over the weekend—about Rob showing up with Chase, about Chase ditching me after he took care of Katie, about me feeling ridiculously lost and confused—all the words fell from my lips with an ease that surprised even me.
“There we go,” he goaded. “So, what are you going to do about it?”
One question. So plain and simple, yet so loaded. Shrugging, I sipped my coffee, hoping it held the answer to all my life’s issues. No such luck, I guessed. “I don’t know.” I huffed. “I just don’t know.” The worst part was, that was the truth. I had no clue how to get what I wanted out of my life. On the surface, everything looked like it was perfect. But on the inside, it was the exact opposite. Working was the only thing that gave me purpose.
Wes pulled his phone from his pocket, presumably because it had buzzed. He wasn’t one to randomly scroll through pointless social media in the middle of a shift, or the middle of a conversation with a friend. He was good people like that. After punching out a quick text, he slid it back into his pocket and then focused his attention back on me. “Look, this may sound like something I’ve already told you, but dude, fucking go for it.”
Again, so simple, yet so complicated.
He continued, without letting me get a word in. “You like the guy, right?” It was a rhetorical question. “You want to see where it goes, so go for it.” Much to my surprise, Wes stood from his chair, seemingly annoyed with this very one-sided conversation. “I need to get back, and then I’m going to go home and kiss the baby goodnight. Maybe make love to my wife.”
Something about the certainty with which he spoke his words, about the permanence of his routine, made me jealous. It was a blind stupidity that fueled me through the last few hours of my shift. And by the time sixteen hours had passed, I trudged my way out of the hospital, hoping the solace of my bed would somehow make everything about the chaos of the last few days go away.
As I pulled up into my driveway, it was almost as if my bed was calling to me, my muscles aching so much with every step up the walkway. “I’m getting so fucking old,” I cursed to myself, adjusting my messenger bag over my sore shoulder.
As I punched the numbers into the keypad, I waited for Katie to bark, knowing she’d be itching to get out. Even though the dog walker I’d hired had been here today, Katie would be anxious to see me after an exceptionally long day.
Except, after hitting the fourth button, I heard nothing. Odd. Maybe I forgot to set it. Maybe the dog walker forgot. The second option was the more likely one. I guess that would have to be something I’d need to take up with her another day. Since I didn’t have the energy to deal with it right now, I let my exhaustion take over and made my way up to my bedroom. Surely Katie had to be curled up on my bed, waiting for me there.
“Katie girl,” I called out, pushing open the door to my bedroom.
A shock like I’d never known washed over me as the light from inside my room flooded my senses. “Fucking hell,” I cursed, clutching my chest as if my heart had actually jumped out of my skin.
“Hey.” A sexy, and gravelly voice spoke. Blinking away the bright lights offending my eyes, I tried to make sense of it all, but it was pointless.
“It’s me,” the voice said again, this time moving toward me. “Chase,” he clarified, though I didn’t need the clarification at this point.
“What are you doing here?”
He laughed at my pointless question before answering, “I used the code you gave me last week, and I’m waiting for you in your bedroom.” He moved toward me, each step an agonizingly slow process. When he was no more than only a few centimeters in front of me, his toes nearly next to mine, he finally touched me. His hand cupped my jaw, his thumb softly grazing over my lower lip. “I think my intentions are pretty clear. No?” A glint of humor flashed in his eyes before his mouth crashed into mine. There was nothing soft about the moment. The feel of his lips, tasting, demanding, invading, it was too much to bear.
Stepping back from him, my mind raced. He all but broke into my house. He was lying in my bed. All nice and fucking cozy. “But,” I protested.
“I know.” Without letting me finish, Chase spoke, and his words were already soaked in guilt. “It’s not the most traditional way of going about seeing you. But… I… uh…,” he stammered. This time I moved toward him, cupping his face, running my thumb along his jaw. He closed his eyes and let out a slow exhale, his lips barely parting. “I wanted you,” he admitted, his voice real and raw.
And at that moment, all my concerns, all my questions, washed away.
They melted into his skin as my body pressed against his.
Then, all at once, every restriction I’d ever felt, coursed through my blood as if they were cursing their very existence—screaming, yelling, raging, to be released. I’d like to say that I actively decided to let go of whatever had been holding me back over the last few days, hell, over the last few years.
But nothing could explain the raw animalistic power possessing my body.
Letting the passion I needed to experience flow through my veins, I pushed Chase down onto the bed. The pause I took to register the shock on his face was brief, at most. But somehow, seeing his eyes widen in shock, and his mouth part as he took in the extra oxygen his lungs so desperately craved, it fueled my need that much more.
My body fell into his, the soft mattress beneath us a cushion, enveloping our bodies as we writhed together in a hazy cloud of power and desire. With a fury I hadn’t realized I’d possessed, I pulled his shirt from his body, nearly tearing the fabric in the process. Pressing my hips into his, I kept my face less than an inch from his face. My breath, coming out in short, heated puffs, filled the limited space between us. “I want you, too,” I admitted.
With a roughness that was foreign even to me, I gripped his jaw, pulling his mouth up to my own as if my next inhale was dependent upon his exhale. “I don’t even care how you got in here.” The honesty coating my words was as genuine as the rock-hard erection pressing against Chase’s. “Just that you’re here, that’s all I need right now.”
And with that admission, I attacked his body as if it were the last meal I’d ever be offered.
|Ok, here’s the deal. I am a fan of Melissa Collins and her books. I follow her on social media, etc. So as much as I wanted to love this book, I just didn’t. And that pains me.
I questioned too many things. Why does the story begin with Chase crushing on his best friend? That story line goes no where in the book. How does this guy get a job stripping with no dance experience, not a great body, etc? Noah (the other main character) goes from resident with crazy hours, to basically office hours in no time. And he has a giant house? Because brand new doctors make a ton of money? And apparently since he now works regular office hours, he has plenty of time to drink his sorrows away. Great thing for a doctor.
Ok, besides those things. I felt no connection. Not TO the characters or between the characters. The only connection I felt was between Chase and his brother Benny. That is the relationship that Chase seems to want to cultivate and make better. He is really trying hard for his brother, but at the same time he is so self pitying.
There were good parts. The lap dance. A couple of the sex scenes. But the romance was lacking.
I won’t give up on this author, as I said I’ve loved her previous books. But this one just didn’t do it for me.
3.5 pieces of eye candy
Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.
Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.