Yet his good mood wasn’t purely due to the progress that was being made. A big part of it was due to the unusual sense of anticipation that coursed through his body. It’d been with him since his run-in with the good doctor that morning. Most people, especially women, jumped at the chance to be with him in the hopes of gaining some of his fame or fortune. Captain Charlotte O’Brien was not one of these women. She was making him work for her respect. While she’d thawed toward him, she hadn’t tried to get to know him. And for reasons that were not entirely clear to him, he wanted to get to know her better. True friends were hard to come by and he got the impression that with some work she could be one.
Or maybe something more, his body suggested when he walked into the school’s auditorium. About ten children of various ages were running around playing an indoor version of tag while another ten or so were listening to a story on the stage. Charlie sat in the middle, dressed in a pair of loose-fitting well-worn jeans and a tank top. Typically he didn’t find anything attractive about the tomboy look. He’d always preferred a more sophisticated look on women. Yet on the good doctor it looked natural and he found it to be a real turn-on.
When no one noticed his entrance, Jake leaned against the wall and watched Charlie as she interacted with the children gathered around her. Her voice was strong and confident as she read from the picture book she held. The children around her hung on her every word, captivated as much by the story as by her voice. Jake found himself content to just stand there and listen.
It wasn’t until she read the last page and closed the book that she noticed him. A small tentative smile spread across her face as she waved in his direction and immediately Jake felt his body respond.
What the hell? She smiled at you. She didn’t get naked. Jake mentally shook his head in amazement. Since when did a simple smile turn him on? Maybe it was true what they said about there being a first time for everything.
“All set to go, Doc?” Jake kept his gaze focused on Charlie, determined to ignore the glances the other two women in the room were throwing his way.
Charlie nodded as she stood. “Just let me tell Lizzie I’m going.”
Jake couldn’t tear his eyes away from Charlie’s long legs eating up the stage as she crossed it and headed down the stairs. After a few words with a petite woman with jet black hair who he guessed was Lizzie, she joined him.
She leaned close to him and her arm brushed against his. “I owe you one for rescuing me,” she said, her voice a whisper.
Unable to stop himself he laughed at the sincerity in her voice. “Daycare not your thing, Doc?” He pushed open an auditorium door that led into the parking lot.
“Call me Charlie. Everyone does. No it’s not my thing. One or two at a time is fine but that was worse than Officer Development School.”
He’d been calling her Doc for the past four days. Not once during that time had she corrected him till today, and damn if he wasn’t pleased because of it. After opening the passenger door, he waited for her to climb in. “You looked pretty comfortable up there. The kids couldn’t take their eyes off you.” Not that I blame them. He closed the door and walked around to the driver’s side of the SUV.
Taking a water bottle out of her backpack, she took a drink before answering. “I read four or five books today. Before that we did arts and crafts. Even when I was a kid, I hated that stuff.”
Jake smiled at the exasperation in her voice. “Guess it’s a good thing you didn’t go into teaching like my sister Callie. She spends every day surrounded by twenty or so kids. Honestly, I don’t know how she does it, but she insists that she loves it.”
“She’s the one marrying Dylan Talbot, right?”
He didn’t know if she was asking to make polite conversation or because she really didn’t know which sister he was talking about. Jake didn’t think that was possible, not after last year when everyone including Callie learned that Warren Sherbrooke was her father.
“Yes. Their wedding is in a couple weeks.”
Charlie looked as if she was putting together the pieces of a puzzle in her head. “And Dylan’s your half-brother?”
Jake nodded prepared to give the explanation to yet another person. “Dylan and I have the same mom, but different fathers. Callie and I have the same dad and different mothers so, yes, I am related to both of them but Callie and Dylan are not related.” He couldn’t understand why people found the whole thing so confusing.
“You have to admit it’s a little odd. It’s not something that happens every day.”
He agreed with her on that point. Still it wasn’t that difficult to understand.
“She’s not still teaching though, is she?”
He noticed how the tone of Charlie’s voice changed from inquiry to amazement.
Pulling into a parking space in the hospital lot, Jake turned off the ignition. “Why wouldn’t she be? She’s been doing it since college.”
Charlie’s eyebrows shot up. “Her father is the President of the United States, and her soon-to-be-husband is a billionaire. It’s not like she has to. She could spend her day doing anything she wants.”
It wasn’t the first time the news that his half-sister continued to teach shocked someone, and he knew that Charlie wouldn’t be the last.
Jake got out of the truck and walked around so he could open her door, but he wasn’t quick enough. So instead he held out a hand to help her down. Surprise crossed her face again, but she accepted his hand and stepped down.
“Would you stop being a doctor if you didn’t have to work?” he asked without releasing her hand. While he waited for her answer his eyes zeroed in on her pale pink lips. His mind suddenly wouldn’t let him think about anything but how they would feel against his. As if drawn by an invisible cord he took a step closer.
Charlie ran her tongue over her lips and Jake followed its path with his eyes, his desire to kiss her growing like a wild fire out of control.
“No, of course not. I guess I can’t imagine enjoying being surrounded by that many children every day,” she answered, her voice not sounding as confident as usual to him.
Without stopping to think, Jake began to lower his head toward her. “I agree with you there,” he whispered inches from her lips.
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