Naturally Yours by Adele Downs
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Who will save the man that saves the world?
Paramedic Mickey Kendall hasn’t slept a full night since his return from Iraq. He rescues victims by day and protects the innocent after dark. Mickey doesn’t do it for glory; he wants absolution, not admiration. He lives by the rule: No personal contact after a rescue. That code meets the ultimate test when Mickey saves a child’s life on a roadside and declines the parents’ invitation to dinner at their upscale restaurant.
Master chef Amanda Greer lives by the principle that delicious food and good company build bridges. When she learns Mickey has refused her partners’ hospitality, she persuades him to change his mind. On the night the handsome paramedic visits her restaurant, Amanda joins him at his table, and their unexpected chemistry leads to a passionate kiss.
In Amanda’s arms, Mickey finds relief from the stressors that haunt him, but resists falling in love. When Amanda challenges him to confront his demons and accept the love she offers, Mickey arrives at a crossroad. The war-weary paramedic must face a different kind of battle to claim the woman who reignites his passion for living and revives his wounded heart.
“They called you a hero in the press.” Her dark lashes lowered and lifted and she smiled at him with admiration shining in her eyes. “They were right, of course. What you did for Jack can never be repaid.”
Mickey winced at the hero reference. “I hate to disappoint you, but I only did what I’m trained to do.”
Amanda made sounds of disagreement low in her throat. “Elena told me at least a hundred and fifty cars passed her on the highway. Every one of them ignored her cries for help. Of all those people, don’t you think one might have been medically trained? Or at least cared enough to respond? No. You stopped. Only you.”
Oh. He hadn’t thought of that.
She pointed a finger at his chest. “There’s a difference between you and other people. There’s no other way to explain what happened on that roadway. Elena is convinced you’re special, and I never doubt her perceptions. That’s another reason why I wanted to meet you.”
Mickey stared into Amanda’s eyes and her pupils dilated. Her lips parted, ever so slightly, as if to welcome a kiss. Her tongue touched the inside of her bottom lip and disappeared. Mickey knew then, she felt it too. Synergy. Chemistry. An attraction so powerful it turned kinetic on contact.
Some called it love at first sight.
Amanda. Even her name was beautiful.
She took a sip of her drink and he watched her mouth and throat work the liquid. When she set down the tumbler, she wiped a droplet from the corner of her mouth with a trimmed, unpolished fingertip. Mickey wished he could have swiped the bead away with his tongue.
Amanda leaned closer and pressed a hand to his wrist. “Trained or not, you were the only stranger on that highway who had a heart.”
Mickey laid his hand over hers and she let him keep it there. Until now, he wasn’t sure he still had a heart. His had been chipped away, piece by piece, like a block of ice since the war. He’d considered it long gone, with his soul. In mere minutes, what was left had thawed in the center, leaving him raw and exposed.
Amanda continued to speak; clearly unaware she’d stripped away another layer. “I love Jack like he’s my own son. He’s a terrific kid. I’ve helped take care of him since the day the Martins and I started this restaurant. When you saved him, you saved us all.” Amanda leaned in and pressed a quick, sweet kiss against Mickey’s jaw.
Their gazes locked when she sat back in her chair. The gravity of her words and her straightforward kiss humbled him into speechlessness. He’d been thanked many times before, but this woman had gotten to him like no one else. He squeezed her hand and then downed the rest of his drink. Amanda took another sip of hers and set the glass on the table before retreating into silence. She turned the tumbler slowly in her hands.
Mickey looked back at her and tapped two fingers against the menu’s leather cover. “Nothing here is what I expected.”
Amanda returned a quiet smile, either assuming he meant food choices, or pretending he had. She tucked her arms beneath her breasts and leaned forward against the edge of the table, lifting perfect white swells above the neckline of her red blouse. “Organic means untouched by artificiality. Grown and consumed in its natural state. We eat only healthy foods unspoiled by chemicals, preservatives, hormones, steroids, antibiotics, and genetically modified seeds or cells. Pure.”
Pure. Mickey gazed at the stunning woman by his side and sensed that was true for her, too. The texture of her skin looked smooth as cream and welcoming to the touch. He longed to run his hands along her thighs, imagining sleek roads leading to heaven at their apex. “I like the sound of that.” The way she looked back at him while he studied her face made him wonder if she’d read his mind.
The one that had gone dirty.
Adele Downs writes contemporary romance inside the office of her rural Pennsylvania home. She is a former journalist, published in newspapers and magazines inside the USA, UK, and Caribbean.
Adele is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter where she serves as a past-president. She has written several articles for RWR magazine (Romance Writers Report), the trade journal of Romance Writers of America, and has presented workshops for writers.
When Adele isn’t working on her current project, she can be found riding in her convertible or reading a book on the nearest beach.
Visit Adele Downs at http://adeledowns.wordpress.com
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