“Just what the doctor, er, surgeon ordered,” Kim Baker announced to her customer, setting the cloth-covered, antique book down on the wooden counter of her quaint downtown Houston store “Baker’s Books and Baubles.” She took one look at Dr. Blake Morgan’s milk chocolate eyes, overflowing with mocking amusement, and melted. “Tired of that joke, I assume?”
He leaned an elbow on the counter, his dark blue scrubs showing off well-formed muscular arms. Apparently, the acclaimed neurosurgeon liked to stay in shape. “Why would you say that?” he queried, his voice alight with dry humor.
“Because I crack that same joke every time you come in the store.” She gave a nervous laugh that made one of his eyebrows arch. Good gosh, the man had to know she had a schoolgirl crush on him unworthy of a thirty-year-old woman. How could he not? She practically went off like a five-alarm fire every time he sauntered over from the hospital a few blocks away, to talk antique books with her. Which, lately, had been at least a few times a week for a month now.
The corners of his lips lifted. “I look forward to hearing that joke each and every time you deliver it.”
She gave him a skeptical look and rebutted, “You’re just sweet-talking me to make sure I hand over your newest treasure.” She untied the string and let the purple cloth slide away from the 1888 medical reference book.
Blake straightened, his hand settling on the old leather binding. “This really is just what the doctor ordered, as in my father, who’s been in family practice for thirty years and happens to collect antique medical editions. This book, and a lifetime supply of golf balls, should make for a perfect retirement gift.”
She smiled and leaned a hand on the counter. “I take it your father has a golf addiction he plans to feed in retirement?”
“No. That would be my mother who’s about to have my father hovering over her shoulder not knowing what to do with himself. He’ll drive her batty. Getting her onto a green with a club in hand will make sure they stay happily married.”
Surprised at the tidbits of personal information that he’d never shared before, Kim smiled. “My parents both retired from teaching in the same year, and they still drove each other batty for a few months afterward.”
“Did you send them golfing?”
“They sent themselves to Italy and ended up staying there. They love it.” She motioned to the book. “I’m glad I could help with the gift. I do enjoy my treasure hunts.” The biggest one today was finding out that Blake was not only an E.R.-era, George-Clooney look-alike, he was a good guy who loved his parents. Truly, her lust for this man quite possibly knew no boundaries—besides him. He was way out of her league.
Blake’s eyes twinkled, a hint of something warm and wonderful in their brown depths. “I enjoy a good treasure hunt myself. Something we have in common, it appears.”
Was she imagining the hint of erotic in his words, the heat in his eyes? Surely so, probably because she still had one more book to show him, and this one was of an erotic nature. Nervous all over again, Kim swiped a red curl from her eyes, thinking how untimely the wild mess on her head was, compliments of the hot Texan July. “The other book you had me bid on in that New York auction…”
He arched a brow. “Yes?”
She pulled it from a shelf under the counter, and laid it on top, trying not to blush. Not that she was a prude, but this book and this man together, well… “It arrived, as well.”
His eyes narrowed on the book—his prize—that he’d paid a small fortune for, and paid her well for brokering the purchase. She could use the funds right now. Thankfully, the store wasn’t failing: the cozy chairs, worn table and shelves well stocked with unique books and gift items charmed a good number of customers into returning. Still, even after two years of taking the leap from bookstore manager to business owner, it wasn’t exactly bringing in the dough, either.
Delicately, she cleared her throat. “I’ll just leave you to privately look it over. I’ll—”
His gaze lifted to hers. “Open it.”
“No, no,” she said. “I’ll let you. I’ll just go…” She pointed to the rows of worn, wooden shelves, with two, equally worn, cozy chairs framing them. “Over there somewhere.”
“Yes,” she said straightening. “As a matter of fact, I am.”
“It’s just a book,” he said, unwrapping it to reveal the small, well-worn brown cover with the barely legible title in Sanskrit which she knew read Kama Sutra. “Sex is as natural as the human body itself.”
She ran her hands down the back of her brown suede skirt, the above-knee length suddenly making her feel as exposed as this conversation. “Yes, but if we walked around naked, we’d still be arrested for indecent exposure.”