I knew what to expect, or so I thought.
Just another busy let’s-get-this-over-with Monday night. I’d tend to the usual Monday night ER patients, guzzle bad coffee like a superstar; chat with Penelope, do damage control when she said one of her ‘quotables’ too loud. I’d think wistfully of the sleep I’d get in a few hours, while tempering the longing with the firm resolve that I was working my dream job.
And it went just like that, this typical Monday night. Until, that is, they came in.
I was on such autopilot mode of efficient work and kind cheer, that the sight of them – same chin-length beach boy hair, same guarded eyes the brown of leather belts - only pierced my consciousness after several seconds.
“Patched him up best we could at the club, but my brother’ll need stitches- ASAP,” the one was saying as he supported the other.
The other one had a bad gash on his forehead, and more stubble, but that was where the differences ended.
“Ignore him,” the twin with the cut said with a wink. “My brother takes worrying to an art form.”
Beside me, Penelope’s eyes widened, while my own mind pinged with understanding. Yes, these two men had the same hair, same face, were the same two prototypes of hotness – twins.
“Mr. Owen and Jake Powers,” I said, taking refuge behind the chart so I could get a hold of myself. All of me was flushing, from my cheeks all the way to between my legs.
“Perfect last name for a boxer, am I right?” Jake said with a wince.
“Less talking and more sitting still so the nurse can do her job,” Owen growled.
“You mean” – Jake checked my nametag – “Hyacinth.”
“My friends call me Cin,” I said automatically, frowning. Where the heck had that come from?
Focus, Cin, I told myself.
“Sorry Cin,” Owen said, slinging himself into a chair at the hospital bedside. “Don’t mean to be rude. Just worried about my little brother.”
“Little by two minutes,” Jake said sorely.
“Jake Powers,” Penelope said, stepping beside me. Her Bambi eyes were locked on him in a way that I knew from experience wasn’t good. “I’ve heard of you.”
Jake cracked a smile, although his gaze didn’t move from me. “Does that mean I can get some VIP treatment here and snag a little whiskey or something for the pain?”
“No,” I said smoothly at the same time that Owen sharply said, “Jake!”
He smiled gratefully at me. “Just ignore him if he gets to be too much.”
“Same goes for my brother,” Jake said, flipping Owen a sweet ‘fuck-you’ smile. “He tends to forget himself in front of pretty girls.”
“Normally I’d say slap him if he crosses the line,” Owen said darkly. “But in the circumstances….”
Smiling weakly, I turned to my kit. Focus Cin. So what if some hot boxer twins were flirting with me? I had a job to do.
The cool metal of the tool shelf sharpened me somewhat as I rifled through the bin for what I was looking for. Producing the sutures, needle driver, tissue forceps and sterilized needle and thread, I gave the twins an all-business smile. “Thanks, but I should be fine. A needle in his forehead should do the trick.” My smirk wavered. Keep it professional, Cin. “Now, don’t move.”
I poised my needle over his forehead skin, preparing for contact.
“Yeah, yeah,” Jake said cockily. “I should be goo-”
The stabbing in of the needle shut him right up. Beside me, Penelope had flit away and was hovering at a distance. Even after two years as a full-time nurse, she still could hardly stomach the whole graphic bit. Although if I needed her she’d be there in an instant.
It was only a minute or so of the work, basically skin sewing, and then I was finished, and Jake started breathing again.
“Thanks,” he said weakly, all of his former bravado gone.
He drew in a deep breath that fell out of him. “You come in here thinking you’re all tough and then,” – a sheepish smile – “You get your ass handed to you by a pretty girl with a needle.”
“If it’s any consolation, I’ve had some people bawl like babies, so you’re no wuss,” I said.
“Thanks,” Jake said. “But this is going to be ammo for my brother for weeks.”
A glance to Owen found him smiling, shrugging. “Serves you right, when you were so set on being a tough guy that you weren’t even going to come here in the first place.”
“If I’d known…” Jake trailed off.
His gaze stroked down my body. I twisted away, busying myself with putting away my supplies in the proper bins.
“Anyway,” Jake was saying. “Guess it’s just my luck you know your stuff.”
I nodded. “Guess so. Now try to keep those clean and dry and go see your doctor in about seven days to have them taken out. You can take regular ibuprofen for any discomfort. If there’s nothing else you need, I should get back to work.” I was normally a little friendlier, but something about these two gorgeous men and the way they were both looking at me, put me on edge.
Owen got up. “Cin’s right. It’s very busy here. We should get going.”
Something about the forced way the words came out made me feel like Owen was saying it as much for himself as he was for his brother.
“Hope everything heals up ok,” I told Jake. “Good luck with your fights.”
“Thanks,” he said, hesitating. Owen couldn’t seem to get on with leaving either.
“Listen,” Jake said.
“It was great meeting you,” Owen said, pulling him away. Jake’s mouth twisted into a scowl as he allowed himself to be led out the door.
As soon as they were nearly out of sight, Penelope scampered up.
“Before our next patients, can I just say holy hell were those two hot? One hot boxer is omg-worthy enough, but TWINS?”
When a quick scan for our stick-up-the-ass supervisor Viola revealed a clear coast, I allowed myself a smile. “They really were.”
Penelope sighed. “I’ve been to a couple of Jake’s fights. Seeing Owen in business mode and Jake in the ring, it’s orgasm-worthy, I swear to God.”
She laughed. “What? It’s true.” She bopped me with her hip. “You should come to one of his fights sometime.”
I pretended to peer at Jake’s chart, which was pointless since he was gone by now. “Boxing matches aren’t really my thing.”
“How do you know if you’ve never been?”
When I didn’t respond, she continued, “Which was your favorite?”
“We’re on duty,” I said curtly.
There was more than that, truthfully. Replaying what had just happened with the twins made my head spin and my stomach churn. When was the last time I’d been this attracted to anyone, let alone two anyones?
“Ok, so you may be right,” Penelope said, her tone was as unrepentant as ever. “About them and the sanctity of work and all of that nonsense. But girl, could you please let me set you up with this great guy I met?” Her hand batted a stray dark curl off her temples. “He’s my friend’s brother, which I didn’t realize until the date itself. Which meant that anything beyond the chaste cheek kiss we shared at the end of the night would be impossible.”
I tried to avoid her gaze for as long as possible, hoping she’d drop it and find something else to do, but I knew better. She’d been after me for the better part of six months. “Sure,” I finally said.
I peered past Penelope’s shoulder, which showed that the next patient was nearly here. “Really,” said.
“You know it would be good for you,” she was saying. “Two years in the desert…”
“Pen,” I warned her.
She stuck her tongue out at me. “You know I hate that nickname.”
“And you know how I hate when you refer to what I’ve been through as ‘the desert’.”
“Fine, fine.” Penelope’s stray dark curl was back and bobbing along to what she said.
She quieted down just in time for the patient to arrive. Turned out he was another fall and cut case, which we dealt with quickly enough.
No sooner had he left, humming a happy tune, then did Penelope turn to me with a triumphant smile. “There. Sent it.”
She rolled her eyes at me. “Paul. That guy I told you about.”
Grabbing my phone, she let out a squeal as she checked it. “He already texted you!”
I could only glare at her. “Should I not have?”
When I didn’t respond, she grabbed her phone. “Ugh, there I go again, Meddling Penelope. Don’t you worry. I’ll text him saying it was the wrong number, then.”
I put my hand over her phone. “It’s fine.”
Penelope declared, “So if you two get married you totally have to make me your maid of honor.”
“Jesus Penelope, settle down. I have agreed to one date, let’s not go dress shopping just yet,” I said to her, annoyed. Why had I agreed to do this?
As if reading my mind, Penelope leaned in and said, “Because I’m your best friend.”
And only friend, I thought to myself. After the accident, I’d lost touch with most of our friends. Not by any conscious choice, it just hurt too much to see them, to have to talk about it.
“You should wear that red dress you have,” Penelope was saying. Oh, and one more thing.”
“Your shift is over, get out of here.”
My gaze swept to the clock. Whoa, it was. Guess time flies when you’re thinking of hot boxer twins.
I shook the thought out of my mind as I got ready to leave. It didn’t matter how hot the twins were, or how much they’d seemed to be attracted to me too. There was little to no chance of ever seeing them again, so I might as well put it out of my mind.
I was halfway out the door when Penelope’s text came my way. I still hadn’t checked the three that Paul had sent me, but hers came up on my screen. BTW, I suggested he take you to Pickle Barrel.
I sighed as I unlocked my car door. I knew that Penelope only had my best interests at heart, but I just wasn’t ready to date again. The thought of it made me supremely uncomfortable. I took some solace in the fact that I would be so busy with extra shifts that I’d picked up that it would be two weeks before I’d even have time to go on a date. Hopefully by then Penelope would have forgotten all about it.
Another message from her pinged on my phone reminding me that there was little to no chance of that happening.