Staying Grounded by Marianne Rice

You recognize me now?” Graham’s voice sounding deeper, softer. Seductive. “Maybe.” She grinned and twirled one of the curls that came loose from her bun.

“I’m that guy you met in the coffee shop this morning. The one you gave your number to and offered to show around town.”

“Yes, I think I remember now.” She reached for her wine with her free hand and accidentally knocked the plate of grapes and crackers in the tub. Muffling a curse, she picked up the floating food and tossed it on the plate, making a mess of water and bubbles and sodden Wheat Thins.

“Are you in the bathtub?”

“Uh, nope. Just watching a movie.” She stilled, careful not to make any more splashing noises.

“Are you naked?”

“Excuse me?” Maggie stood, the loud splash of water spilling over the edge of the tub giving her away, making her feel exposed. She grabbed a towel and quickly dried off.

“Sweet baby Jesus. You’re killing me.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Riley, but we need to end this call. As I said in the office this morning—”

“I didn’t call Ms. O’Fallon and this isn’t Mr. Riley. I called the beautiful redhead who stole my breath in a coffee shop this morning. The one who left a trail of cherry vanilla that I can’t stop smelling. The one with soft, pale skin that reddens when she’s embarrassed. The Maggie who offered to show me around town.”

“I…how do you know my skin is soft?” Seriously? Why did I just say that?

“You’re not going back on your word, Maggie-from-the-coffee-shop. I have your phone number on my cup and I intend to use it. Often.”

“Is that a threat?”

“Not a bad one. Think of it as a wonderful promise.”

“You still have that cup?”

“Of course I do.”

“Why didn’t you just put my number in your phone?” Stupid, stupid, stupid! He’s sidetracking you!

“I’ll meet you at the coffee shop at nine Saturday morning. I have a few places I want to see, but I’ll gladly go wherever you want to take me. Dress comfortable.”

“What? No. I don’t—”

“Good night, Maggie. I’ll see you in two days.” He hung up before she could swear at him. The nerve! As if she’d go out with him, the pompous, arrogant, sexy pilot.

No, she’d call him back and cancel this ridiculous ploy of his to get into her pants. Maggie stormed from the bathroom and into her room, stripping off the towel and sliding into a pair of shorts and a tank top. How dare he power play the situation? She told him in her office, their relationship was strictly professional. There was no way she’d be his tour guide or his date or…anything.

Besides, she’d see him before Saturday. They had a Friday appointment. She’d set him straight. Under no circumstances would she date a patient.

Not a single one.

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