The Doctor's Baby Dare

By: Michelle Celmer


 Dr. Parker Reese considered himself an all-around great guy.

 He was affable and easygoing and had a great sense of humor. He was also honest and respectful and always willing to lend a hand. He was a rock in a crisis and a natural born leader. And despite the fact that he’d lived in Texas for only three months and knew nothing about cows, he had just been accepted into the prestigious Texas Cattleman’s Club. And they didn’t let just anybody in.

 Parker was one of those rare individuals who got along with everyone. Everyone who knew him liked and respected him.

 Well, almost everyone.

 Parker glanced across the hospital cafeteria to the table where the object of his recent fascination sat eating her lunch, phone in hand, earbuds in place to deflect any unwanted attention. Head nurse of the new pediatric ward at Royal Memorial Hospital, Clare Connelly was smart and competent, by far one of the best nurses he’d ever worked with. She ran a tight ship on her ward, and was highly regarded by her coworkers.

 And for reasons that escaped Parker, she refused to like him.

 Lucas Wakefield, chief of surgery and fellow Texas Cattleman’s Club member, set his tray down on the table and dropped into the seat across from Parker. “Mind if I join you?”

 Parker grinned. “I think you just did.”

 If it wasn’t for Luc, Parker wouldn’t even be in Texas. The two had met at a conference when they were both medical students. At the time, Parker had been working toward a career in cosmetic plastic surgery for the rich and famous, the only medical field his father considered lucrative enough for a tycoon’s son, and one that Parker knew would never elicit any real sense of pride. As was often the case, his father’s own selfish demands and archaic values trumped Parker’s happiness.

 Luc had told him to screw the old man and convinced Parker to follow his true passion. Pediatrics. And for the first time in his life Parker stood up to his father. There had been a fair amount of shouting, and threats to cut Parker off financially. His father had even threatened to disown him, but Parker told him that was a chance he was willing to take. His father finally, though reluctantly, conceded. That put an end to the threats and manipulations his father had always used to control him, and for the first time in his life, Parker felt truly independent. But the event had caused a fissure in their relationship, one that took many years to heal. Even so, by the time his father had passed away last year, they’d managed to resolve most of their differences.

 After a lifetime of coveting his father’s approval, he’d earned it. And now, with his inheritance, Parker had the means to do anything he wanted, wherever he wanted. He knew that he needed a change, that the only reason he’d stayed in New York was to be near his ailing father. Aside from his practice, and a few good friends, there was nothing tying him there. He knew it was time to move on. But where?

 Enter Luc. He’d called out of the blue to offer Parker a job in the town of Royal, Texas. Dr. Mann, Royal Hospital’s neonatal specialist, was retiring and they were looking for a replacement. The salary wasn’t all that impressive, but Parker’s inheritance left him set for life. So he sold his practice and relocated to Texas.

 Best move he ever made.

 “So, did you ever call that girl you met in the gift shop?” Luc asked, dumping a packet of sugar in his coffee.

 “We had dinner,” Parker told him.


 “Then I took her home.”

 “Your home or hers?”


 “Did she invite you in?”

 They always did. And he didn’t doubt that the next stop would have been her bedroom, and a couple of months ago he wouldn’t have hesitated. But something about it, about all of his romantic relationships lately, felt hollow. “She invited, I declined.”

 Luc made a noise like he’d been punched in the gut. “Dude, you’re killing me. I’m married and I’m having more sex than you are.”

 At thirty-eight, the ever-widening age span between Parker and the twentysomethings he’d been dating was losing its luster. What he was looking for now was an equal. Someone to challenge him. He glanced over at Clare again. Someone capable of stimulating his intelligence as well as his libido.

 Luc followed Parker’s line of sight and rolled his eyes. “Dude, let it go already. How many times have you asked her out?”

 Parker shrugged. He’d honestly lost track. A couple dozen at least. At first her rejection was firm, but polite—for the most part. Not so much anymore. Lately he could feel the tension when they were forced to work together. Which was often. But that was okay. It would just be that much more satisfying when she gave into him. And she would. They always did.

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