Six weeks, one wedding, no falling in love… Will the neurosurgeon and the anesthesiologist be able to stick to their rules and keep their sizzling attraction at bay? Rules of their Fake Florida Fling is available now, and you can read a short excerpt below!
“YOU REALIZE THREE other surgeons have turned this case away?”
“They weren’t me.” Dr. Asher Parks shrugged as he looked at the head of the surgery department, Dr. Levern. Asher wasn’t bragging—not really. Just being honest.
He was the best neurosurgeon at Mercy General. The best in Orlando, Florida…one of the best in the nation. He knew his skill set.
He’d chosen neurosurgery because it was complicated. In the academic world nearly everything had come easily…again not a brag, just a fact. Neurosurgery offered a challenge so many other things didn’t. And Asher loved a challenge.
This surgery was difficult…some had said impossible. An operation most neurosurgeons wouldn’t touch, and this was a competitive field. But it was a challenge Asher could meet; he was certain of it.
“A tumor in the spinal cavity. Definition of unlucky.” Dr. Levern flipped through the images on the tablet, clicking his tongue at the results.
Asher felt his nose scrunch and intentionally leaned back. It was unlucky. Statistically, nearly impossible. He understood this line of work required at least some compartmentalization of emotions. Dr. Levern didn’t mean anything by the throwaway comment, but there was a person on the other end of that “unlucky.”
Jason Mendez. Twenty, barely more than a teenager, with a full life in front of him. He should be worrying about college, or starting a career, or dating. There were so many things one looked forward to at twenty, before adult realities sneaked in. A tumor had ripped that “normal” away.
“It’s grown by three centimeters in the last six months.” Asher rocked back on his heels, trying to keep the frustration at bay. A tumor in the spinal cavity was dangerous. The surgery would take at least six hours, assuming everything went well. Three other surgeons had looked at the location of the tumor and told the patient to prepare for the end.
But Asher wasn’t ready to concede to the fates. Jason knew the risks, knew that a single slip could paralyze him. Knew that if the tumor had any attachments not currently seen on the images, removing it completely might not be possible. Since it was cancerous, that would buy him time, but not forever.
Jason understood he might not make it through the surgery. That was always a risk, but, when dealing with neurosurgery, the risks were even higher. Still, as Jason had told him, he was already under a death sentence. May as well give it a go.
And Dr. Asher Parks was more than willing to give it a go. In fact he planned to do this flawlessly. Perfection!
Dr. Levern clicked his tongue again. It was a tell every surgeon in the hospital knew. It meant the head of surgery was leaning toward yes and trying to convince himself it was the right choice.
“Think of the prestige the hospital will get for doing this.” Asher kept his voice upbeat even though the words tasted like dirt. He hated it that hospitals took prestige into their calculation matrix for high-risk cases. He may have chosen medicine because it was a challenge, but saving lives was supposed to be the purpose.
And it was for most doctors. But hospital administration was a different beast. All spreadsheets, profit margins and dividends. Unfortunately that was the beast Dr. Levern had to answer to.
“You’ll write a paper? Answer any questions, if they’re asked? Interviews, if necessary.”
“Of course.” Asher could see the mental calculations of at least a hospital-organized local press release and a medical journal publication coalescing into the affirmative. It shouldn’t matter, but that wasn’t the way life worked. And for his patients, he’d do anything.
“And you’ll have to have the best team for this. They’ll need to sign off on participating.” He tapped a pen against his desk. “It’s high risk and…”
“Understood.” Asher wanted to pump his fist, but he kept his pose professional. This was going to be approved. Jason would get the surgery, and Asher would wield the scalpel. If anyone balked, well, most of the hospital owed him at least one favor for stepping out on a limb for them.
“That includes Dr. Miller.” Dr. Levern handed him back the tablet.
“Of course.” This reply was more subdued, but Asher kept the smile on his face. “Dr. Miller and I get along fine.” That was a bit of a stretch, but Dr. Levern didn’t push him on it.
Leaving Dr. Levern’s office, Asher went in search of Rory Miller. Better to talk to her before word trickled out. He might need a bit of time to get her on his side.
He and Rory tolerated each other. They worked well together, but their personalities were diametrically opposed. He was a jokester, had to find some way to expel the stress, while she was commonly called the Rock of Mercy. She was great at her job, cared about her patients. Listened.
And the woman never flinched, never worried in surgery, never showed any emotion.
Unless it was annoyance with Dr. Parks! They’d lived next to each other for almost five years, worked together for six, and yet he wasn’t sure he’d ever seen the woman smile.
Not that he hadn’t tried. It was his secret personal project. Six years with no success, every attempt expertly rebuffed. All work and no play for the Rock. But Asher was persistent. One day he’d find the crack…
He’d met the anesthesiologist at the new-employee orientation. Sitting next to the fiery redhead with piercing green eyes should have been the highlight of his morning. Their safety presentation had been drier than dry. The monotone of the instructor made most of the assembled employees yawn.
He’d leaned over and made some joke…something lost to the fog of time now. And Rory had looked horrified; that he hadn’t forgotten. Her jade eyes flashing as she shook her head. The drop of his stomach as the beautiful doctor judged him…and found him lacking.