One year after undergoing a unilateral mastectomy, twenty-eight year old ER nurse Stella Ciaramitaro is working on healing all wounds, visible and invisible. And it’s going pretty well. Sure, she has four pain-in-the-butt sisters, an occasionally suicidal dad, and some serious trust issues. And, yes, all dreams of soul mates, mind-blowing sex, and everlasting love have gone the way of her left breast. But overall, she’s hanging in there. Doing just fine, actually.Or at least she was until HE showed up. Nathan Drazek is a hot mess and he knows it. The laundry list of things contributing to his dysfunction includes, but is not limited to: a childhood full of mental and physical abuse, four tours in Afghanistan, and ten years policing one of the toughest beats in East Cleveland. Adding insult to injury, he’s ridiculously straight-laced, beyond aloof, and nearly incapable of interpersonal relationships. But that’s okay, because Nathan isn’t interested in anything more than just getting by. Or at least he wasn’t until SHE showed up. From the moment Nathan nearly arrests Stella on, sparks fly, limits are tested, and boundaries are shattered. A tenuous, tender friendship quickly evolves into something powerful and passionate they cannot wish away or control. But as they grow closer, new issues arise and old hurts resurface, threatening to destroy their fragile new beginning. With everything at stake, Nathan and Stella must ultimately decide which runs deeper: their scars or their love.
“Oh, Stella…what’s wrong, baby?” Nathan looked at her with such concern that Stella started crying even harder. “Did I do something wrong?”
She laughed through her tears. “No, Nathan. You’re doing everything exactly right.”
“Well, that’s a first,” he said and she laughed again.
They stared into each other’s eyes for a few long moments, Stella’s smile fading.
She slowly ran a finger down the middle of his face - over his forehead down his bridge of his nose and over his lips. “I’m afraid you’re not real,” she whispered.
Stella studied every inch of his gorgeous face from his sad whiskey eyes, to the stubble on his chin, to the little scar on his upper lip.
She traced the scar with her fingertip. “I’m too happy. And I love you way too much.” Stella searched his eyes. “I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Do you know what I mean?”
Stella watched his Adam’s Apple work his throat a few times. “Yes. Exactly.”
“I love you, Nathan. You know that, right? And not just the good things. I love the bad things, too. Not that they happened to you, but that they made you the man you are today. The strong, sensitive man that I respect and admire and love more than I ever thought I could love someone.” Stella cradled his face in her hands. “I love you so much, Nathan. So much it hurts.” She smiled. “In the best way possible.”
Nathans’s breathing quickly turned fast and shallow and a fine sweat broke out across his upper lip. “I…” He searched her face…her eyes.
Stella knew he was trying to say something.
To express something.
And she was pretty sure she knew what that something was.
“I know, mio caro. I know.” She pulled his lips to hers and kissed him slowly, gently, until they were back to the frenzied grinding they’d been doing before. A couple of minutes later, they’d slipped off the couch and were rolling around the floor.
I like nice guys...I always have and I always will. I married one and now I write about them. :)When I'm not torturing my stoic, stalwart heroes with strong, witty heroines, I enjoy reading, drinking way too much coffee, trying to be the best wife and mom I can be, and procrastinating (especially when it comes to cleaning the house). I am also a part-time student, a lover of history, and hopelessly addicted to Lifetime movies. Do not judge me. :) I also like smiley faces. A lot. :)