Cheater's Regret (Curious Liaisons 2) - Page 18

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It didn’t last long.

Not with the Ghost of Christmas Past staying in my same building—not with his inability to keep his head out of my life, or his demands to himself.

Sometimes I hated my own family.

And the fact that when I needed my father the most, he was drunk.

And when I wanted him to stay the hell away from my personal life, he refused to leave—and ruined the best thing I’d ever had.

Chapter Fifteen

AUSTIN

I’d never seen a surgery before—and I refused to count that one time in sixth grade when we were forced to watch a knee scope and I almost puked.

I had only been twelve!

I was an adult now.

I could totally handle watching someone get cut up.

Shivering, I downed the rest of my fruit smoothie and walked toward the elevators. I really shouldn’t have worn such high heels, my feet were starting to burn where my skin rubbed the soft leather, I knew I was going to get blisters when I put the suckers on, but I wanted to be tall—I hated how big Thatch was in the first place because he’d always made me feel small, safe. And I was a tall girl, all legs.

So high heels were my armor.

And I needed armor around him.

Since the armor around my heart had a tendency to just fall to the ground whenever he smiled at me. Ugh.

Why was it so hard for me to get the hint?

He didn’t want me.

Though he did seem to be having trouble giving his body that memo if what I walked in on was any indication. It had looked like he was literally seconds away from pleasing himself by the potted plant. Then again, I wasn’t vain enough to assume he was even thinking about me.

With my luck, he was envisioning Nancy’s fake pout.

Or another girl’s boobs.

Ugh, everywhere I looked, I saw perfection in that stupid office building.

I thought I was over my body-image insecurities that had been triggered by my ex from high school—until I started dating a plastic surgeon and was actually exposed to a small dose of what he did on a daily basis. While I was dating Thatch, I hadn’t given my flaws a ton of thought, or maybe I just pushed all of those dangerous thoughts away. And now? Now it was all I could think about.

Maybe I was being judgmental, but why not go into emergency medicine? Why encourage people to spend thousands of dollars on fixing flaws? On gaining perfection at the expense of their health?

“Austin.” Mia winked at me. “Dr. Holloway’s in his office, waiting.”

“Thanks.” Heat rushed into my cheeks.

She had knowing eyes, that office assistant.

My heels screamed in outrage by the time I walked to Thatch’s office. The door was open, and he was pulling his blond hair back into the hottest, messiest man bun I’d ever seen in my entire life.

It was impossible not to physically react to how beautiful the man was. I sucked in a breath and pressed a hand to my chest while I waited for my heartbeat to slow back to its normal rhythm.

Thatch in jeans. Hot.

Thatch naked. Hot.

Thatch in scrubs?

Holy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It wasn’t fair.

Blue scrubs shouldn’t be sexy.

And they sure as hell shouldn’t fit him the way they did, making his biceps somehow look bigger, or his face that much more sculpted.

He glanced up and smiled. “Hey, you ready for your first surgery?”

My body cheered while my brain told all my lady parts to calm the heck down. That smile wasn’t for us.

Not by a long shot.

Professional. Be professional.

Passing the class.

That’s all that mattered.

“Sure!” I chirped in a cheerleader-like fashion. Oh man. I was so dead when it came to this guy. “Do I need to change?” I tugged at my blouse.

He nodded and walked around his desk, pointing to a chair. “Those should fit. I’ll wait outside.”

For some reason, that deflated me.

The fact that he was going to wait outside and not watch my striptease. I inwardly groaned. We weren’t dating! What did I expect!

Besides! This was his workplace, after all!

I quickly went to work taking off all my clothes and said a prayer of thanks when I noticed a pair of Nike tennis shoes in my size. They looked new, so I wasn’t sure if he had someone grab me a pair so I wouldn’t have to wear my heels with scrubs, or if he just kept women’s shoes size nine lying around.

Well, that was a depressing thought.

I pulled my hair back into a low bun and opened the door to announce I was ready.

Thatch started at my feet and slowly raked his eyes up my body, stopping at my hair. “We match.”

“Man buns for the win?” I teased.

His lips twitched. “I think I pull it off better.”

Damn right he did. Bastard. “Just admit they’re extensions already.”

“Hah.” His gleaming white smile was almost too much, as in, I almost stumbled against his rock-hard body and had a near heart attack. “Let’s go.”

His pace was fast, I tried to keep up as we weaved through the office and then took the elevator up one level.

My heart was hammering inside my chest so hard, I felt like I was going to puke. Why was I nervous? It wasn’t like I had to perform the surgery!

“This way.” He marched through the halls like he owned them. People stared, they whispered, and it was like he didn’t notice how freaking hot it was when he took charge.

He stopped and typed in a passcode, and a glass door made a whooshing sound as it unlocked.

“You’re not touching anyone or anything, but if you want the full experience, you can wash up,” he said as he started lathering his hands, suds going clear to his elbows as he washed and washed and washed.

“I think you’re clean,” I pointed out when it had been at least two minutes.

With a laugh, he started rinsing off just as Nancy walked in, a mask covering her mouth. “Ready?”

“Of course.” His answer seemed so easy and carefree. Meanwhile, I was freaking out—still freaking out.

She held open gloves for him, helped him into his surgical attire or whatever the heck they called the thing she just put over his clothes and his feet.

It was like watching a live version of The Night Shift.

Only this wasn’t emergency surgery.

Elective—it was elective.

And yet, he still had to take these kinds of precautions.

I could feel my adrenaline spike when Nancy walked over to me, covered my mouth and nose with a mask, handed me a scrub cap, and basically shoved me in the right direction with a pat on the back.

The operating room was really bright; that was the first thing I noticed. And the second?

There was a team of at least four people.

Not including the patient who was looking up at Thatch with complete adoration.

>

A pang of jealousy sliced through me as I waited in the spot I’d claimed by the wall.

“How are you feeling?” Thatch asked in a soothing yet commanding voice.

“Oh, I’m just ready,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Very ready for this. Have been for a long time.”

I held my snort in.

Why was she so emotional over breast implants?

A guy—I’m assuming the anesthesiologist—inserted something in her IV, and then Thatch asked her what her weekend plans were, like he wasn’t pulling down her sheet and getting ready to cut her up.

There were Sharpie marks on her body, and a section of her skin was a bright orange.

“Oh, I plan on watching some Netflix and . . .” Her speech slurred and her eyes closed.

“Austin.” Thatch said my name loudly. “You can get closer. She’s sedated, and you know I don’t bite.”

Hah, false, he did bite.

And often.

Typically my neck.

And sometimes the inside of my right thigh.

I shivered.

And then I took a step forward, and another, until I was close enough to see both of her exposed breasts, or what should have been breasts.

I saw scars.

And a flat chest.

I couldn’t help my gasp as the room stilled around me. Before I knew what was happening, a tear slipped down my cheek and then another followed.

I was a complete bitch.

That was all there was to it.

Because while I’d been on my high horse, judging anyone and everyone who had walked into Thatch’s office to fix their imperfections, it had never occurred to me—that he would be giving implants to a breast-cancer survivor.

“Scalpel.” Thatch leaned over her and made an incision near her armpit. The incision seemed a little too small to stuff the implant into. There was a lot of blood, and then he shoved it in and I nearly puked.

Her chest inflated—and even with the blood and weird colors, I could tell it was going to look amazing.

He moved the implant with his fingers, then leaned down, measuring, watching, waiting. Everyone was silent.

He repeated the process for the right breast, and when Dr. Perfectionist was finished, he sewed her up with angry black stitches that I assumed would dissolve over time.

I was assuming a lot.


Tags: Rachel Van Dyken Curious Liaisons Romance
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