Medicine Man (Page 37)

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He’s standing by the door, leaning against it, actually, like he has no plans to sit down. The toes inside my bunny slippers curl, for some reason.

“I’m okay.”

“How do you feel? After the group yesterday?”

I nod. “I feel good.”

“It was…” He seems to be choosing his words carefully, slowly, while being completely focused on me. “Commendable and brave. What you did yesterday. Very few people can admit their flaws even to themselves, let alone to a room full of people.”

Mesmerized.

He kind of looks mesmerized by me. Which is so, so ridiculous that I feel like maybe I’m seeing things.

“Uh, well, thanks,” I say, unsurely.

He goes silent for a few seconds and I’m waiting for the bomb to drop. He’s going to say something about The Confession Day; I know it. I can feel it. It’s coming. I tighten my body and make fists out of my hands.

You can do this, Willow. Just don’t blush too much.

“I was harsh with you,” he says finally, and I see a flicker of regret flash through his eyes.

Okay, I was totally not expecting that. I thought he was going to talk about my conduct as a patient or something.

My mouth parts as I take in a breath. A shaky breath. The truth is that yes, he was harsh, and as usual, I’ve thought about that.

The thing is that Dr. Simon Blackwood isn’t harsh. Not usually. He’s blunt and truthful, but he isn’t an asshole.

Assholes are immature. Boys trapped inside a man’s body who don’t know what to do with it. So they make everyone around them miserable, instead of just sucking it up and dealing with their problems.

This man in front of me, in his crisp shirt and wingtips, is anything but immature. He’s a man. Through and through. Mature, masculine, commanding.

Sexy.

But I’m not thinking about that right now.

“You were.” I nod. “Why?”

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Exactly. Why?

Why the fuck was he so ticked off when I asked him out? I mean, it could be that he really hates me and was totally disgusted by the idea of going on a date with me. But this isn’t high school, and I’ve already established that he isn’t immature.

So there has to be something else. His anger has to have come from somewhere else.

At last, he leans away from the door and stands up straight.

“Because there are moral and ethical concerns involved. I’m your doctor. You’re my responsibility. You’re under my care. There are lines that can’t be crossed. Your health depends on it,” he says in a low, severe tone.

Almost passionate.

He’s so passionate about taking care of me. About my mental health. Well, about his job.

But as twisted as I am, it almost makes me feel special. His passion inflames my passion, a quickening in my belly.

Taking a deep breath, I try to get my misplaced reactions under control. This is not the time. So not the time. My lust can roam free when I’m alone in my room at night. Not here.

Besides, I need to know something. Something about what he said on The Confession Day.

When they die, they don’t die alone. They kill people by leaving them behind.

“Do you know a lot of people like that? Who give up? Who… die?”

His expression remains the same, severe. So I don’t know if he heard me. But this is the only conclusion I came up with – that he might have some experience with people like me. Obviously. He’s a psychiatrist. But I think this is personal.

Something that makes him go dark and devastated at the same time.

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Then he jerks out a nod. “Yes.”

It’s said in a small voice. Not in intensity but in volume. As though he didn’t want me to hear it. As though it came from somewhere deep inside of him.

My heart clenches; I was right.

He does have personal experience with it. He does know someone who’s given up. I wish I could ask him. I know he won’t tell me, even if I did.

It’s not my business, anyway. It shouldn’t be. My chest shouldn’t ache for him. I shouldn’t want to wrap my arms around him and give him a hug. Because he looks like he could use one. He’s just too hard and closed up.

It’s not going to be me, though. That much I know.

But I can always use my words. “I… Whoever they are, I maybe understand what they were going through. And I just wish they hadn’t given up.” I stare into his eyes, so he knows I’m giving this to him. My words are for him, even though I don’t know why he needs them, what his involvement is.

“I wish they hadn’t left their life and the people in it behind. Maybe they would’ve found a reason to live. A reason to be happy.”

I sigh and lower my eyes, looking down at my slippers. Blinking, I get rid of the moisture. I can cry once I’m out of this room. I can cry when the man I’m crying for doesn’t know I’m shedding my tears for him.

Is it creepy to cry for the crush who doesn’t want you back? Maybe. But then, I’ve always been a little weird. So there.

Wiping my hands on my yoga pants, I look up and my breath evaporates. Because he’s staring at me like he’s never stared at me before. And that’s not even the part I’m focusing on.

It’s the fact that he looks so… open and angry and tortured, even.

His cheekbones have sharpened and there’s a flush covering them. A dark hue that wasn’t there before. He seems to have sprawled, even though he hasn’t moved an inch. His shoulders cover the entire breadth of the door.

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God, he’s so big.

No, actually. Big is the wrong word. He’s large. In body, in presence.

I don’t know what makes me move, what makes me approach him, but I do. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, until I’m standing close to him, tilting my neck up like I’m looking at the cloudy sky.

“I… Can I go now?” I whisper.

He bends toward me. Not like he did yesterday when he was all shaken up and furious. This leaning is slow and filled with a different kind of intensity.

“No.”

I swallow, looking into his eyes, which have moved down to my lips. Has he ever looked at my mouth before? I can’t remember. He’s always been so professional and distant that just one look of his seems exaggerated, almost too much to handle.

“W-why not?”

“Because I’m curious about something.”

I lick my lower lip. I swear it’s not meant to be provocative. It’s just that his stare is making them tingle and dry out. I didn’t know that a body part could be shy until this man focused on it like this.

“About what?”

Again, I’m expecting one thing but something entirely different happens. Instead of answering with his words, he touches me. Of his own volition.

His hands wrap around my neck, his fingers spanning the entire length of my throat, tilting my face up. My eyes are wide; I can feel it. I can feel them popping out. I can feel my heart popping out too, bursting with too many beats.

He’s touching me.

Touching. The litmus test of attraction.

“I’m curious about,” he whispers, his breath wafting over my nose, drugging my senses. “Why the fuck do I want to kiss you?”

“What?”

My hands reach up and hold his wrists. I feel like my world just went unsteady and I can’t stand up straight without his help.

Did he just… Did he say he wants to kiss me?

There’s a slight frown on his forehead, as if he’s genuinely perplexed. As if I’m a riddle and so is his desire to kiss me.

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