This brand new release is one of Jamila's most exciting dark romance books. This is a perfect book if you love romantic stories with an attractive bad boy and an African American female hero. This is a one of Jamila's sweetest bwwm books that you're guaranteed to enjoy if you love interracial romance.
Paula Gordon is working the late shift when burn victim Rocky Meade is brought in for treatment. He's been in a severe accident and Paula spends all night working with her creepy boss Doctor Harrison to stabilize the patient — at the end of the night, Rocky is stable but remains in a coma.
After Paula's shift, she's forced to face the realities of her personal life:
Her boyfriend Trent is angry with her <i>again</i> because she spends too much time at work. Paula feels overwhelmed by his demands and wonders if her relationship with Trent is even worth the drama. He just can't seem to accept that her career has always come first.
When coma patient Rocky Meade rouses from his coma, he starts flirting with the "pretty nurse" who saved his life. Spending time with Rocky starts Paula questioning everything about what she wants out of her relationship and out of life.
Paula's relationship with Trent combusts and ends dramatically and she finds herself exploring her future with Rocky. The only issue is Rocky's past is darker and more troubled than Paula ever imagined and being with him will mean compromising her "good girl" ideals.
Can she stay with the bad boy without becoming a bad girl herself? How many secrets can Paula handle in a relationship? If things work out with Rocky, will the rest of her life fall apart?
The night shift was usually quiet. In their small city, there wasn’t much to disturb the peace. But on the rare occasions where some hurricane level disaster managed to bleed through, the hospital could shift from as silent as a graveyard to a bustling ants nest. There would be screaming, nurses running down hallways, doctors yelling… All of a sudden, what was one peaceful would be thrust into furious chaos. Nothing could calm the angry energy except death — the dull flatline of a heart monitor would be the cue for the chaos to stop. Out of respect. Out of defeat.
On rare occasions, when there was a late night emergency, the noise wouldn’t just cease but it would slow down to a quiet simmer. On the rare occasion when a late night emergency was accompanied by a little bit of luck and instead of a casualty, the hospital was blessed with a miracle.
Paula Gordon was sipping a hot earl grey in the waiting room with her closest friend on shift that night. They were enjoying a rare moment of peace in the hospital — something rarely afforded to nurses. Kylie was going on and on about her recent engagement and Paula was listening attentively, longing for the time when she would have something equally inspiring to share. She wasn’t sure it would ever happen with Trent. She was thirty-two, he was nearly forty, yet he’d still shown no interest in making an honest woman out of her.
Paula was a sweet, mahogany color with reddish undertones. Her relaxed hair was long and touched the middle of her back. At work, she kept it pulled back in a ponytail for professionalism. With her hair pulled back you could see the bright round apples of Paula’s cheeks which were further highlighted by the smile she wore plastered on her face. Paula’s one way of spoiling herself was her french tip nails which she got done every two weeks like clockwork. Her eyes were a deep dark brown color that reflected the depth and darkness of her beauty. Paula was most definitely beautiful and graceful whether or not she was aware of it. She had this near magical ability to make other people around her feel calm and safe with her.
That was the very reason Kylie kept blabbering on. She knew that it was cruel to talk Paula’s ear off about this constantly, but she just couldn’t help that her friend was such a good listener. Kylie had bright red hair — totally natural — that fell down the middle of her back and giant bright hazel colored eyes.
As Paula tried to focus on Kylie’s words, a message from her boyfriend Trent flashed on her phone. He was angry with her — again. These days their relationships were more resentments than anything else. He was constantly complaining that Paula didn’t care about anything except her work. What was she supposed to do? Her dream had always been to have a great job where she could care for other people and nursing just happened to be what had called her. Paula couldn’t help that she worked night shifts; she wasn’t even sure what Trent wanted from her. Well she knew but it just wasn’t practical. Trent wanted her to quit work and just start having his babies and caring for him around the house. Paula loved him, but she just couldn’t give up her dream for him.
Her mother had always told her, “Don’t let no nigga control the money in your house girl.”
Paula didn’t often think her mother had the best advice but that piece had stuck in her head. In her adulthood, she just knew that she couldn’t resign herself to being a servant to Trent. Somehow, she knew that Trent couldn’t support her on his own. He certainly thought he could but even now, Trent made less than she did. It was another sore point in their relationship. He couldn’t handle the thought and he was in denial about it.
Paula tuned in to what Kylie was saying. She still hadn’t realized that Paula had just track of her conversation.
“So anyways Paula… What do you think? Should I let her come or should I just tell him that I don’t want his ex girlfriend’s cousin at my wedding?”
Before Paula could give her input on Kylie’s latest wedding planning drama, their beepers went off and their break was over. Kylie and Paula leapt into action and made their way to the E.R. where two stretchers were going in.
“Gordon!” The doctor called to Paula.
Kylie took her cue to follow the doctor who was ready for the other patient. Paula followed the stretcher that was floating at breakneck speed as she prepared to stabilize the patient that had just been wheeled in. It all happened so fast; by now, this ritual was mechanical and it was difficult to pick it apart step by step. Paula gathered that this patient had entered the hospital because he’d been severely burned and he had two flesh wounds from gun shots.
He was in pretty terrible condition and Paula followed the doctor and yelled back information about his vitals. The EMTs had managed to stop some of the bleeding but there was still quite a bit of work to be done before this patient was anything near stable. They moved him into the O.R. and everyone suited up to get to work on him…
It was well after two a.m. by the time the patient was stable. Throughout the surgery, Paula learned that the patient’s name was Rocky Meade. She wondered what on earth had happened to land him in the hospital with two gunshot wounds and third degree burns all over his body. She hadn’t even caught a look at his face but based on how well insured he was, there was no way he was a common street criminal or anything.
Strange. Paula was changing out of her operating scrubs in the locker room between the operating room and the hospital when she heard the doctor’s heavy breathing behind her. Dr. Harrison tapped Paula on the shoulder as she stood there in just her bra and her clean pants.
“Yes doctor?” Paula answered politely.
Internally she was thinking, “Here we go again.” She knew that Dr. Harrison didn’t have the world’s best established boundaries and he was constantly hitting on the younger nurses, even if he’d been married for over fifteen years.
“Well that was some great work in there,” He said.
His eyes eagerly lingered on Paula’s bosom.
She shot him a glare and threw her shirt on.
“Thanks,” She mumbled.
Paula hoped that he would just leave her alone after that. She had a boyfriend and she was here to work… Not pick up guys. She knew that some of the younger nurses made the mistake in thinking that older doctors were “in love” with them and would eventually leave their wives. But it never happened quite like that.
“So Paula… What are you doing after this shift?”
“It’s two in the morning doc,” Paula said. She couldn’t help but snicker.
Did he really think that she would be so easy to get in bed?
“Uh I know it’s two a.m. Paula. You’re really filling out these scrubs well aren’t you.”
Paula glared at him again and tried to push past.
“Not so easy miss. I’m not letting you leave until I get a date.”
“Please… I have a boyfriend Dr. Harrison. Let’s just forget this happened and I’ll head home.”
“Paula. I’m very discreet. I know you’re seeing some young chap but can he really provide you with everything you want in life? I mean… I’m a doctor.”
Paula wondered for a moment if that line had ever worked. She was depressed by the fact that it probably had. Dr. Harrison had probably convinced many poor girls who were just looking to be cared for that he could change their situation or do something to improve their lives. Paula had been around the hospital too long to even take him seriously. Who did he think he was? These doctors were too arrogant and all thought that someone owed them just because they happened to sit through school for a few extra years.
“Dr. Harrison, it’s late and I would really appreciate going home right now.”
“So you’re playing hard to get?” He said. An impish grin broke out across his face.
Paula was getting frustrated and she was already exhausted. She was about to head home to a boyfriend who was likely waiting for her angrily and she didn’t need this.
“NO! I’m not playing hard to get! I want you to get the hell out of here. I don’t give a damn how much money you have or how bad you think you are okay? This is unprofessional and I want you to let me leave!”
Dr. Harrison seemed taken aback. He wasn’t used to being rejected so flatly and Paula could see a flash of anger blaze across his eyes.
“Well Paula. Let’s not forget I’m your superior here and I expect at least the basic amount of respect.”
Paula was about to lash into him again, fueled by anger at his entitlement when Kylie knocked on the door and opened it.
“Oh Paula there you are. Is everything alright?”
Kylie shot Dr. Harrison a dirty look. His perversion was well known amongst all the nurses. Paula was just grateful that Kylie had come in before anything had escalated out of control.
“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Paula said, flashing Kylie a smile.
She communicated with her eyes that she was grateful Kylie had stepped in. The last thing that she wanted was to get herself in some kind of stickier situation with a well known creep.
“Let’s head home then. Good night Dr. Harrison!” Kylie said, flashing him a grimace that did its best to pass for a smile.
Paula left the room and mouthed “Thank you” to Kylie.
“Good night doc!” She called.
As they walked towards the outside of the hospital Paula felt the tension in her body unraveling quickly. She realized that she’d been carrying a lot of pain in her shoulders and body ever since they’d brought in that patient.
“How’s your patient?” Kylie asked.
Paula replied, “He’s fine. Stable last I checked. I hope he makes it through the night. No idea what the hell the situation was.”
“Lucky. The guy we brought in was already dead I think. We tried our best to revive him but… He was just gone.”
“Sorry about that.”
“Things like that happen sometimes and no matter how we try, there’s not much we can do.”
“Want me to give you a ride home?” Kylie asked.
Paula nodded. She wasn’t particularly interested in the long thirty minute walk back to her apartment in the dead of night.
“What did doctor creep want from you?”
“He wanted to go out with me,” Paula said.
Kylie snorted. “Yeah right. You know Jemma? The new intern last year? I heard from Doctor Shelby that he knocked her up and had to pay for the abortion. His wife almost found out too.”
“Wow…” Paula trailed off.
“Yeah, you definitely want to avoid him. How are things with you and Trent?”
Paula got into Kylie’s car and buckled up. How were things with her and Trent? Paula was only certain of one thing: Things weren’t getting better between them.
“I have no idea.”
“Well do you still love him?”
“Of course I love him.”
Kylie beamed. “Well my advice is you should marry him.”
“Kylie! It’s not that simple. Things are just complicated between us.”
“I don’t see what’s so complicated. You two have been together for nearly five years and you love each other? What’s the issue.”
Paula started to wonder if all this wedding planning madness was getting to Kylie’s head. She was just a tad too idealistic sometimes.
“It just is. You can’t simply get married because of inertia!”
“Then why do people get married Paula? What great cosmic reason are you aware of that the rest of us aren’t?”
Paula was quiet for a moment. In a way Kylie had a point, but Paula still thought that she was all wrong.
“Well maybe other people get married for the wrong reasons. When it’s time to get married, you just know.”
“You’re such an idealist,” Kylie teased.
Paula figured she should change the subject. The last thing she wanted was more pressure in her life when it came to Trent. The fact of the matter was, she just couldn’t see marrying him, especially not right now. Things were okay between them but they weren’t great and the recent fighting was starting to wear down on her. She wanted to feel a little more free before she got married, not so damn trapped.
“I’m scared Trent is going to end things with me Kylie,” Paula blurted out, immediately breaking her vow to change the subject.
“We’ve been fighting so much and all these late hours are just really wearing on us,” Paula confessed.
“Well that certain explains things…” Kylie muttered.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well you can’t deny that you’ve been a bit… testy.”
Paula knew she was right and she resented feeling so negative all the time. It was unlike her.
Kylie realized that Paula was looking for a word of reassurance and she did her best to provide that for her.
“You know what Paula… If you have a good man, you should do everything in your power to keep him. Trent doesn’t cheat, he’s got a job and he doesn’t spend up all your money. Work at it. In time, things will work out.”
Paula wondered if Kylie was right. Trent was probably the best she could find out there. He was tall, caramel colored with short wavy hair and a flawless body. He had his personal problems but overall, he was attractive and Kylie thought he really cared for her.
As Kylie pulled her car into Paula’s apartment complex, she leaned over and gave her friend a hug.
“I’m going to go pass out right now but I’ll see you in a couple days.”
Paula had a much needed day off coming up and she couldn’t wait to do nothing but lounge in bed and catch up on Scandal.
They said goodnight to each other and parted ways. Despite Kylie’s attempts to reassure her, Paula just couldn’t shake the sinking feeling that something big and life changing was going to happen.
Paula’s ER patient was still in the hospital a week later and he was almost close to being discharged. Most of Paula’s attention during the day was spent checking patient's’ vitals or running errands for Dr. Harrison. He was on her case more than usual because he was absolutely furious about the fact that she’d turned him down. Paula knew she shouldn’t let it bother her but she couldn’t help it. The way he treated her plain wasn’t fair. If there were any higher ups who would pay attention to her complaints, Paula would have certainly reported him. Unfortunately, the ideal hospital situation wasn’t one that she dealt with.
Paula’s day at work was particularly harrowing because she’d just had ahuge fight with Trent before she got there. She couldn’t stop replaying the details of the argument in her head and wondering what on earth went wrong. Paula knew that things were headed south fast but she still felt powerless to stop it. It was almost like she wanted the relationship to end. But Paula was just tired. She was tired of fighting Trent on everything. She was tired of compromising. She was tired of being the only one who cared about things working out between them. She wanted him to change for once. She wanted him to do something.
He was always so worried about being “the man” in the relationship but how could a real man live in such a fantasy world? He thought a real man should make all the money, but he refused to hold down a job that would support both him and Paula. He thought a real man shouldn’t have to do housework, but Paula hardly had time to clean up after him she was working so hard. And to make matters worse, he felt like all the emotional work of the relationship was the woman’s responsibility.
Paula was at her wits end. Their most recent fight was about money again. Trent was convinced that he needed to outfit his newest car with a nice set of rims. Paula insisted they put more money into saving up for a downpayment on a house. Trent accused her of trying to tie him down and embarrass him. Paula insisted she was merely trying to be responsible. Things had spiraled out of control and the next thing Paula knew, Trent was accusing her of not allowing him to be a man.
But what was she supposed to do differently? Paula thought that she and Trent shared goals in life but all of that seemed so false now. She wondered if Trent had just lied to her like that to keep her with him. He certainly enjoyed her home cooked meals, her Sunday deep cleaning and the way she helped him organize his finances. Paula was just stressed and she had no idea how to talk to Trent about any of this. The pressures of work were building up on her and Paula felt like eventually she would have to bite the bullet and pick one or the other.
She was worried though. She was thirty two years old and her mother always warned her that being single in her thirties was “a terrible idea”. Paula knew that she was attractive and she had way more to offer than her body. But she couldn’t help but feel self conscious about the fact that she wasn’t as youthful or as energetic as she had been at twenty five.
Paula wondered if today was Kylie’s day off. She longed to catch her close friend in the break room and ask her for advice on how to deal with Trent. Kylie was so swept up in her wedding planning that Paula wasn’t even sure if she could get through to her. Just as Paula was about to make a sweep of the third floor for Kylie, Dr. Harrison stopped her.
“Nurse Gordon! Can you please step into room 42 and change the patient’s bandages?”
“And don’t screw it up,” Dr. Harrison added with a snide tone. Paula knew he was just doing it to be an asshole. She had never messed up something that simple before her entire time working there.
Paula walked towards room 42. She peered into the glass window and took a look at the patient lying on the bed staring at the ceiling. He was the same burn and shooting victim from the night before. Paula remembered how dramatic that night had been for so many reasons. She wondered what this man’s story was. No one had come into the hospital to visit him at all. Paula wondered what his deal was.
He looked handsome lying there. He had thick black hair and his eyes were a brilliant grey color, so grey that they almost didn’t look real. He hardly looked as if he was in pain. Paula wondered what kind of pain killers Dr. Harrison had him on. From his days in the hospital he wa sporting thick stubble across his face. It gave him a weathered, sexy look. Paula figured she should better stop staring and get to work before Dr. Harrison walked by and berated her even more than he already had. She was tired of putting up with his abusive treatment.
Paula knocked on the door lightly to give him fair warning before she walked in. Paula caught herself wondering whether or not she looked okay in her scrubs. Her blue ones looked far better…
“Hi! I’m going to be your Nurse today. I’m Paula, Paula Gordon. How are you feeling?”
“I’m Rocky. I feel like someone took a shit all over me,” He blurted out.
Paula’s eyes widened at his use of foul language.
“Sorry. Shouldn’t say that kind of shit in front of a lady. I’m Rocky and I feel like death.”
“Do you know what pain medication Dr. Harrison has you on?”
“Not enough…” Rocky muttered.
Paula smiled and said, “Well I’m going to change your bandages today Rocky. It may hurt a little bit but we’ll take it slow.”
Paula slowly began to get to work on Rocky’s bandages. Rocky winced as she started peeling off his old ones. He was in pretty bad shape. The entire right half of Rocky’s body didn’t look like it was going to heal any time soon.
“These people won’t tell me a fucking thing. But you seem like a nice lady,” Rocky started.
Paula raised her eyebrows, indicating that he should continue the train of thought.
Rocky winced and she removed the final bit of bandage from his upper half.
He then continued, “Is it bad? Will these things ever fuckin’ heal or am I going to get stuck looking like some deformed lump of shit?”
Paula could tell that despite his casual attitude, he was genuinely concerned about the damage the burns had caused. Her curiosity about how he had ended up like this mounted even more.
“I’m not sure. The burns on your lower half look pretty bad. Most cases like this, we rarely see complete healing,” Paula said.
She couldn’t figure out why the other doctors or nurses had spared him that information. It wasn’t like it was a secret. They were probably just too busy to really care about answering his questions. Rocky seemed like a bit of a trouble maker anyways.
Paula dressed his wounds and then began to wrap them up in bandages again. Rocky was still trying his best to make conversation with her.
“So you’re my nurse for good now that I’ve woken up?” He asked.
“It depends. I’ve got a day off in a few days.”
“Huh. So you always wanted to be a nurse?”
“I guess so. At first I wanted to be a doctor but my family didn’t really have doctor money.”
Rocky smiled, “A nurse is hardly a downgrade.”
“Thanks,” Paula said.
She found his tone a little bit paternalistic. She didn’t need his encouragement to feel validated and proud of her career. She’d worked hard for this and only people who didn’t know a damn thing about the way the world worked would even think poorly about nurses profession.
“So if you don’t mind me asking… Are all the nurses around here pretty as you are?”
“Maybe,” Paula blurted out.
As soon as she’d said it, she realized that Rocky had been trying to flirt with her. Really? She was still changing his bandages and he was barely healed from his accident or incident or whatever it was. How could men be thinking about romance at all the wrong times?
“I was wondering… Do you live close to the hospital?”
“Not really. I normally get a ride to and from work every day.”
“Great. Got family around here?”
“Just my boyfriend,”” Paula answered, hoping that he would take the hint.
Rocky just grinned as if Christmas had come early.
“How long have y’all two been together?”
Paula felt heat rising to her face. The last thing she wanted to do was answer questions about Trent for this very attractive patient. She was worried that some of her resentment for Trent might bleed through if she said any more about him. Their argument from that morning was still fresh in Paula’s mind.
“Around five years.”
“And not married?”
Paula tried to hide her discomfort for the sake of bedside manner. She couldn’t believe that this guy was so bold…
“No we aren’t married yet. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Rocky seemed amused.
“Never said there was anything wrong with it.”
Paula pursed her lips and tried to hurry with the rest of her work. She had to record some information about Rocky on the chart before the doctor came in and at the rate things were going, she wanted this entire experience with Rocky to be finished quickly.
“So why wouldn’t a man marry a pretty thing like you?”
“Maybe I’m the one who won’t marry him,” Paula retorted.
“Now we both know that ain’t true,” He said.
Paula tried to avoid glaring at him again. She knew that he was trying to be funny by just thinking about Trent was making her more and more upset. To make matters worse, her lack of focus was just slowing her down even more.
“How would you know it isn’t true?” Paula asked.
Rocky grinned and revealed a perfect set of ivory teeth.
“I know because I can tell. You’re the marrying type.”
Paula wasn’t sure what the marrying type was exactly and how Rocky knew that. But she knew that she wished Trent saw that in her. She wished that Trent could recognize her real wish to settle down with someone caring and loving and make things work no matter what.
Rocky didn’t mind Paula’s lack of responsiveness.
“What time do you get off shift?”
“What’s it to you? Aren’t you trapped here?
Rocky smiled. “Maybe I am. Guess that means you can’t stop by after your shift and keep me company then? A man gets lonely.”
“I’m sorry… I have a boyfriend.”
“Are you sure about that?”
Paula couldn’t resist shooting him her best death glare that time. Now he had crossed the line from presumptuous to bold.
“Don’t question my relationship please. You don’t know a thing about me except I just changed your bandages.”
“All right Miss Thing,” He teased.
Paula wasn’t sure why she was letting a patient get under her skin. She wondered if she was doing her part to flirt with him with all those sassy responses.
“Maybe you can ask someone to bring you a book if you want company,” Paula suggested.
“Never been much of a reader.”
“Oh yeah? So what exactly do you do for fun?”
Paula couldn’t help but eye his bandages as she asked the question. Rocky quickly caught on to the fact that she was morbidly curious about his injuries. But what on earth could he tell her about them? She was cute, but she was still a stranger to him. Not to mention, he wasn’t sure what the whole deal was between the medical personnel and the police.
“I’ll do anything for fun as long as it’s a good fuckin’ time,” Rocky said.
Paula rolled her eyes and finished off his chart.
“Maybe I’ll see you on my next shift. I’ve got to finish my rounds,” She muttered.
“Good-bye pretty nurse,” Rocky called after her as she left the room.
Paula felt tension being released from her shoulders as she left the room. Whoever this guy was, he was profoundly talented at getting Paula to feel conscious about herself. Perhaps it was the way his eyes roved all over her as he questioned her about her life and relationship. Perhaps it was the way he had cut through the bullshit and seen what she really wanted. Not even Kylie really knew how desperate Paula was for the real deal.
As Paula moved around to her coma patients and geriatrics, she couldn’t help but feel guilty for flirting with Rocky or even entertaining his flirting. It wasn’t cheating on Trent by any stretch of the imagination, but it still felt good. Or bad. Or some kind of weird messed up combination of the two. Paula was even half tempted to stop by his room again after her shift. She was still curious about how he ended up in the hospital, and she enjoyed the fact that he had actually asked her questions about her life.
Paula knew in a way that she was treading on dangerous ground. She thought this man was attractive and there was a pretty good chance she was attracted to her too. The right thing to do would be to think nothing of it and remain strictly professional. After her rounds, before Paula could ponder on whether or not to visit Rocky, she got a call from Trent.
“Hey baby what you up to. Work’s through right?”
Paula didn’t hear a hint of anger in his voice, certainly not the anger that had colored his voice all morning. She was glad, but at the same time she was wary. She’d learned that Trent’s moods could change in an instant.
“Yeah I’m done, about to head home.”
“Why don’t you come over to my place instead. I’ll cook you dinner.”
Paula resisted the urge to blurt out a reminder that Trent didn’t know how to cook. She wasn’t sure what to say but she knew that it would be a bad move to throw the gesture in his face.
“You really want to cook me dinner?” She said, throwing him an easy out if he wanted it.
“Why not babe? You know you’re my number one. Yeah we fight and all that but it don’t matter. You’re my girl.”
Paula wanted to tear up. She did love Trent but those words still stung. Their relationship had been in the dumps lately and she had forgotten how committed Trent was to her. He was right: She was his number one. The thought of visiting Rocky again had totally evacuated Paula’s mind. She wanted Trent. Just Trent.
“I’ll be over soon then. I’ll see if Kylie can give me a ride. If I’ve got to take the bus I might have to wait.”
“Do what you got to baby girl. I love you.”
“Love you too,” Paula whispered and hung up.
She felt a pang of relief that Trent was actually trying to fix things between them. Maybe he had wisened up. Maybe everything between them was on the mend.
Click here to continue reading this book! If you enjoyed this excerpt and you're looking for some more books similar to this one, I recommend checking out Choosing The Daddy. It's a dark romance book by Jamila Jasper featuring a love triangle with a strong black female main character and two attractive white men, both vying for her attention. Will she choose the good guy, or the bad boy? Click here to check it out.
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