More Than Words

More Than This, Book 3

Jess Dee

Chapter 1

Molly Harris blinked twice, sure her eyes must be deceiving her. But focusing her gaze only confirmed what her brain told her the first time. The woman in the white coat who’d walked into the reception area of the doctor’s waiting room was indeed holding a surfboard.

After three years of working as a medical receptionist in the private hospital in Sydney, Molly had seen her fair share of unexpected surprises, but the vibrant red, yellow and white surfboard against the backdrop of the bluish-grey walls? That was a first.

The board was much bigger than the pretty redhead holding it.

Molly tried to hide her astonishment. “May I help you?”

“Uh, yeah, please.” The woman smiled as she walked over to the counter. “I’m looking for Sam.”

“These are Dr. Sherman’s rooms,” Molly confirmed, “but I’m afraid he’s not in right now.” It was a little before eight thirty in the morning, which meant Sam was busy with ward rounds.

“Darn. I thought I’d catch him before work.” The woman frowned. “I need to return his surfboard. I’ve already had it a few days, and I’m pretty sure he’s starting to miss it.”

Molly caught her jaw before it dropped. Sam had lent someone his board? His only escape from work? He treasured that thing.

“Would it be okay if I left it here for him?”

“Of course. Why not bring it into my office, and we can lean it against the wall, out of the way?” Her office was separated from the waiting room by the counter, which doubled as her desk. If the surfboard rested against the back wall, no one would see it.

“That would be great.”

Molly beckoned her around the counter and pointed to the appropriate spot, between her office and the kitchen. “Prop it right over there.”

“Would you mind giving Sam a message for me?” the surfer asked as she balanced the board in place. It looked enormous in the smallish space.

“Not at all.” Well, maybe she would mind a bit. It depended on the message. If Sam was lending his surfboard to the woman, it meant he was hanging out with her, and the thought about killed Molly.

Not that it surprised her. A gorgeous man like Sam should hang out with pretty women. He probably had flocks of them flanking his sides whenever he left the hospital. Harems.

She fought off a grimace. Being a member of Sam’s harem held no appeal. Call her selfish…but she wanted him all to herself. Every scrumptious six-plus feet of him.

Of course that wouldn’t happen. Couldn’t happen. First off, Sam saw her as nothing more than his receptionist, and second, she valued and needed her job too much. The last thing she’d do was put it in jeopardy by throwing herself at him, no matter how appealing the idea—and the man—might be.

“I’m Sarah,” the redhead said. “Would you tell Sam I came round to say thank y—No, wait, to thank him from the very bottom of my heart.” She smiled then, a small, private smile that told Molly the woman was thinking very intimate thoughts.

It made her stomach hurt.

She’d thought intimate thoughts about Sam too. Only that was all they were. Thoughts. They’d never be anything more. They’d never make her smile the way Sarah currently smiled.

“Could you also let him know,” Sarah continued, oblivious to the ache in Molly’s heart, “he is definitely the kind of man I could marry. In a heartbeat. If circumstances were different I’d be tugging on a white dress and marching him down that aisle tomorrow.”

Jealousy ripped through her. For a good few seconds Molly couldn’t respond.

Damn it, she had no right to feel this way. She had no hold over Sam. He deserved to find a beautiful woman who’d make him happy, and instinct told her Sarah was that woman. Beautiful, warm and very friendly.

But the woman was talking marriage, for God’s sake—to the man Molly loved. That fact alone made Molly want to claw her eyes out.

And roll up in a little ball and sob.

Molly retracted her imaginary claws. Sarah smiled so sweetly, she was difficult to dislike. “You’d marry him for lending you his surfboard?”

The surfer’s laughter echoed through the rooms. “No, I’d marry him because he’s wonderful, thoughtful, kind, generous and pretty darn gorgeous too. Oh, and he’s a pediatrician. C’mon, you can’t tell me that’s not a perfect package.”

She didn’t try. Sam was indeed one perfect package. Molly put on her neutral, professional face. “He’s lovely to work for too.”

Sarah nodded. “I can believe that.” She walked back around to the other side of the counter. “You’re lucky. You get to see Sam every day. I bet you’re the envy of every woman out there.”

Molly’s laugh was genuine. “The only reason the women who come in here envy me is that I don’t have a sick child.” Well, not anymore, anyway. “Otherwise I’m guessing they’re too worried about their kids to even notice me.”

“Ah, good point.” Sarah’s expression became serious. “Well, at least they know they’re in good hands with Sam.”

“The best,” Molly agreed, then clamped her mouth shut. If she wasn’t careful, she’d start singing Sam’s praises, and wouldn’t that expose every one of those feelings she hid so deep inside?

“Okay, I best be getting off to work. Please send Sam my love and give him my messages.”

“No worries,” Molly reassured her, and Sarah walked out of the waiting room with a friendly wave, leaving Molly alone to ponder the surfboard, the pretty redhead and the fact that Sam was now further out of her reach than ever.

She sat back down in her chair and scowled at the board.

Okay, she was a cow.

Why couldn’t she be happy for Sam? After his last relationship with Dena the devil, or “bitch-face” as Sam’s sister called her, she should be glad he’d found someone nice. Not just nice. The perfect woman for him. A surfer and—if her white coat was anything to go by—a doctor too.

Molly couldn’t surf to save her life and would never be a doctor.

Not that she wanted to be a doctor. She was perfectly happy working as Sam’s receptionist. The hours suited her—Sam had tailored them to suit her—the work was always stimulating, she was good at her job and she had the best damn boss in Sydney.

The best-looking boss too.

God knew she had endless fantasies about that boss of hers. Erotic fantasies that left her either breathless or panting. Inappropriate fantasies that no receptionist should have about her boss.

The fantasies were almost as hot as the man.

Now Molly faced a problem. How could she fantasize about Sam knowing he was with another woman? She should quit while she was ahead. Not quit the job. No, she loved her job—and needed it if she had any hope of supporting her sister, Mickey. Her only option was to toss her dirty thoughts out the window and never think of him again in that way.

She’d focus on work instead. That was why she was here, wasn’t it?

She turned with determination to her computer, opened her inbox and stared at the email on top. The afterhours lab had sent Sam, a pediatric neurologist, a letter titled For Attention: Dr. Sam Sherman.

Even as she sat there, reading the results, another letter formed in her mind. A letter that had nothing to do with blood results and everything to do with the way Sam got her blood zinging by just looking at her.

Before Molly could remind herself she’d given up on the Sam-and-Molly fantasies, she’d minimized the lab’s email, opened a new message and, for lack of any more creative ideas, given it the same title.

Careful to leave the TO: box blank—because she had no intention of ever sending this particular letter—she got straight to work on the content, knowing it would be deleted as soon as she finished writing it.

Dear Sam,

And just like that, Molly’s fingers were flying over her keyboard, the thoughts coming faster than she could type.

I think it’s time you knew how I really feel. Perhaps once you know, you’ll understand why I’m addressing you as Sam and not Dr. Sherman. Under the circumstances “doctor” sounds a little, well, formal.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think of you as a doctor. The best doctor in Sydney, as your patients and their parents will agree. And after what you did for Mickey, you should be awarded a Nobel Prize. But this letter isn’t about your ability as a medical expert. It’s a little more…intimate than that.

You may want to brace yourself, Sam. I’m about to get very personal.

The truth is, when I think about you, my body forgets you’re a doctor. It forgets I’m your receptionist too. When I think about you, work of any kind ceases to exist. What I imagine is way more personal, way more intimate and way more…erotic.

Thoughts of you make me all shivery inside. My stomach does these crazy flip-flops and my breasts begin to ache. Don’t worry. There’s no cause for concern. When I say ache, I mean it in the best way. As in my breasts become all tender and sensitive, and my nipples tighten into hard beads that need to be touched. And kissed. Licked too. And even nibbled. Tiny bites would always be appreciated.

The thought of you leaning over my chest, your tongue leaving silvery hot streaks of yumminess on my nipples as you lick them…

Phew. There are tons of shivers now, all of them racing up my spine.

Molly took a deep breath and looked up, checking to see the rooms were still empty. It would do her no good whatsoever if Sam or his first patient arrived without her noticing.

She needn’t have worried. All was quiet. It was still too early for Sam’s rounds to be over or for the first patient appointment.

Consumed by her words, she returned her attention to the letter. She wished she could say the writing was cathartic, wished it could ease her blatant jealousy of Sarah the surfer. But it wasn’t, and it didn’t. And to top it off, the writing was making her horny.

Oh, God. Now I’ve gone and done it. Gotten all turned on from writing to you.

Can you picture that, Sam? I’m sitting in the chair you bought me (because you said it was chiropractor-approved and good for my posture) and squirming because I’m getting excited.

You’re not surprised, are you? Haven’t you guessed how I feel about you? Don’t my huge puppy eyes give me away every time I look in your direction?

I try to hide it. Try to act professionally, but there are moments when you say something or you smile or you look at me in that intense way you sometimes look at me, and that’s all it takes to get the shivers going again.

I’m imagining you looking at me now. Your gaze makes me want you to touch me. You know how I mentioned you licking and kissing my breasts? Well, I’d hate for you to think I might not be interested in feeling your mouth anywhere else on my body. And by anywhere else, I mean down there! Between my legs.

I dream about you licking my pussy.

Are you shocked?

That word sounds so…dirty. So naughty. But that’s what happens when I think about you. All these dirty, naughty thoughts cram into my mind. They make my pussy tingle and then I get all wet.

That’s my fantasy, Sam, and it has been for a while now. Well, it’s one of my many fantasies anyway. You going down on me. Burying your face between my legs and licking me until I scream—or cry—with relief.

I’d probably cry. Not because I’d be sad. (How could I possibly be sad with your head buried between my legs?) But because I’ve felt this way for so long, the reality of you kissing me there—or anywhere for that matter—would be overwhelming.

It would be like all my birthday wishes finally coming true.

Any chance of you fulfilling those wishes? I’d have to warn you though, my coming on your tongue isn’t the only wish I have where you’re involved. There are so many it would take a lifetime to act them all out.

But you know what I’d like the most? A kiss from you.

A sweet kiss, on my lips, so I finally get to taste your mouth and feel your tongue against mine. I would love to kiss you, Sam. Soft, sweet kisses to delight, and long, deep kisses to arouse. And all the other kisses in between. I want to try them all with you. Before you’ve kissed my pussy…and after.

I know these fantasies will never come true. Know you’ll never actually read this letter, so you’ll never l know how badly I want you to kiss me. How badly I want you, full stop. But that’s okay. Kinda.

I’m happy to sit here and imagine…

All my love and kisses,

Molly

P.S. It’s my birthday on Friday. I’ll be twenty-seven. Can you imagine how cool it would be if you made all my birthday wishes come true?

She’d barely typed her name when the door to Sam’s—Dr. Sherman’s—offices opened and in walked the man himself, looking nothing less than scrumptious. Quick as a flash, she minimized the email with shaky hands. There was no time to delete it.

Molly wasn’t sure she could hide the effect writing the letter had on her though. Her nipples were tight and beaded against her bra, her breath was shallower than usual and damn it, she was all achy and aroused.

Seeing the man in question didn’t help her physical ailments one bit.

Although Sam wasn’t looking quite as gorgeous as usual.

Nope, wrong description. He always looked gorgeous. Today he simply wasn’t quite so fresh and vibrant. It was a bit before nine a.m., and he already appeared to be exhausted. As though he hadn’t gotten a minute’s sleep.

Compliments of Sarah the surfer? Although if he had been with Sarah, surely she’d have given him the surfboard before they parted company?

“Dr. Sherman?” The thought of his new girlfriend helped Molly get her over-aroused body under control.

“Morning, Miss Molly.” Sam yawned.

The nickname warmed her all over—like it always did. “Big night?”

“Too big.”

Argh. Jealousy made the warmth turn cold very quickly. Why couldn’t she be the one giving Sam his big nights instead of Sarah? Why couldn’t she confess her true feelings to him and be done with it?

Because she was an adult woman with adult responsibilities and a little sister to take care of, that’s why. She couldn’t toss those responsibilities aside for the sake of a girly crush.

“My phone rang at two this morning and I’ve been on the go since,” Sam said wearily. “Spent the last five hours in CCU.”

Phew. Doctor time, not Sarah time. Which would explain the surfboard.

Oh Lord, she was pathetic, getting all jealous of a medical crisis. What else would bring him to the Children’s Critical Care Unit in the middle of the night?

“Emergency?” Duh. Silly question.

“Yep. A complicated one too.”

Molly waited. She suspected this had to do with Allan Bennet, the seven-year-old Sam had diagnosed yesterday with a brainstem glioma.

She was wrong.

“The patient, four-year-old Greg Avery, fell down a flight of steps, landed on his head and lost consciousness. The mother and stepfather called an ambulance at one thirty.”

Molly balked. “One thirty in the morning?” But it was more the nature of the injuries that worried her than the time. An accident like that could cause both head and spinal injuries, something she unfortunately had altogether too much experience with.

Sam nodded.

“What was a child doing walking around at that time of night?”

“That’s where the case gets complicated.” Sam frowned and motioned to Molly to follow him into his office where he pulled off his white coat and placed his briefcase and an armful of papers on his desk.

And there they were. His beautiful, broad shoulders. Shoulders that Molly could only admire from a distance. Lucky Sarah, she got to get all up close and personal with them.

Sam wore no tie and the top buttons of his shirt were undone, allowing her a small glimpse of the top of his chest. Dear God, she wanted to lick him there. Along that patch of hard, naked male flesh. A little lick. She wouldn’t be too greedy. Enough to get a taste of that salty, musky skin…

“The mother said he was sleepwalking.”

Molly raised an eyebrow. Okay. That would make sense. But it didn’t explain Sam’s concern. “You don’t believe them?”

“I’m not sure.” He sighed and dropped into his seat.

It was the genuine care and concern he had for his patients that made Molly adore him all the more.

“According to the mother, Greg’s walked in his sleep before. Apparently he goes from his bedroom to her and his stepfather’s and stands talking unintelligibly until one of them takes him back to his bed.”

“So why your uncertainty?” Molly didn’t hesitate to ask. Sam always chatted to her about his difficult cases, claiming she helped him gain perspective and objectivity.

“He has bruises.”

“Wouldn’t you expect to see bruising if he fell down a flight of steps?” Really nasty bruising.

“If they were only new ones, yes.” Sam rubbed his eyes. “But the ones I saw were…old. Brown and faded. Purple. Some were greenish. And there were several of them, on his chest, his upper arms, his stomach and his back. Places usually covered by a shirt.”

Molly’s stomach rolled. “Ah.” No wonder Sam looked so unsettled. She felt a little queasy herself. If the child were clumsy or prone to falls, he’d have discoloration of his skin all over, not just in places usually hidden by clothing. The strategic placement of the bruising suggested something far more sinister than mere clumsiness.

Oh, the things she’d learned working for a doctor.

“You don’t think the fall was an accident.”

“My gut tells me no.”

God, who’d want to hurt a four-year-old?

She silently thanked Sam for teaching her to distance herself from the patients and their lives. If he hadn’t, Molly would be an emotional wreck every day.

Molly took the stack of papers and articles Sam had put on the desk and began to sort through them. A pile for his desk, a pile to be filed and a pile for the bin. She tossed a page with a red line scrawled through it into the bin. “Have you contacted the Child Protection Helpline?”

If Sam hadn’t yet contacted them or DOCS—the Department of Community Services—one of the nursing staff was probably doing it right now.

“We decided to wait until Greg had been stabilized and hopefully regained consciousness, in case he could give us more information.” He shook his head grimly. “But Greg hasn’t woken up, and we didn’t want to leave it any longer. Ella from CCU was phoning when I left. Meanwhile, I need you to get a hospital social worker on the case.” Sam grabbed a notepad and started writing. “This is the patient’s full name, his parents’ names, ward details, bed details and…” He swallowed. “My suspicions.”

His handwriting was close to illegible—perhaps the only flaw Molly could find in him, but she’d long ago mastered the art of deciphering his script.

“What about getting the police involved?”

Sam grimaced. “Yeah, we’re going to see what Child Protection recommends. They might contact them as part of the procedure.”

She wondered which of young Greg Avery’s parents could be responsible for the old bruises. And possibly the new ones too. “Mother or stepfather?”

Lines of worry marred Sam’s face. Molly restrained her need to caress his cheeks, ease his pain.

“I’m not sure. Instinctively I suspect the stepfather, but that’s because he’s both physically bigger than the mother and emotionally more removed. She’s the talkative one. He didn’t open his mouth the entire time. Just sat there tightlipped and let Mum do the talking.”

“Are they aware you’re contacting DOCS and the social worker?”

“I warned them in all cases like this we had to notify the authorities.”

“How did they react?”

Sam pursed his lips. “They didn’t, and that worries me even more. The stepfather became quieter and more removed, and the mother blathered on about something irrelevant.”

“Is the biological father in the picture?”

“He’s in Paris, on business. Mum got hold of him earlier. Apparently he’s catching the first flight home.”

“I’ll get right on the social worker.” Molly understood the urgency. Sam was passionate about his patients. He lived to make them better, or when that was unachievable, make them as comfortable as possible. A child who’d been deliberately hurt at his parent’s or stepparent’s hand was likely eating him up inside.

Molly sometimes suspected Sam had done a better job teaching her to distance herself than teaching himself.

She quickly finished sorting through the papers as he wrote and held out her hand to take the sheet when Sam finished scrawling on it, then added it to the journal articles she had in her other hand.

“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. You had a visitor today.”

“I did?” He looked up at her.

“Sarah popped in to return your surfboard.”

Sam’s expression changed from weary to delighted. And damned if his happiness didn’t cut Molly straight through to the bone.

“The board’s in my office. I have a message from her too.”

“Yeah?” He grinned.

Lord, if he didn’t have the best smile in Sydney.

“She says thank you from the bottom of her heart.”

“No worries there. It was my pleasure.”

Oh, Molly bet it was. She frowned and did her best to restrain the jealous monster. “Wait. There’s more.”

The doctor raised an eyebrow.

“I think she wants to marry you.”

Sam snorted out loud. “She does, does she?” Amusement danced in his beautiful hazel eyes.

“She’s looking for a ring, Doc.” Molly wiggled her ring finger at him. “Her exact words were, you are indeed the kind of man she could marry, and if circumstances were different she’d march you down the aisle tomorrow.”

This time it was pure pleasure that filled Sam’s face.

Down, jealous monster. Down. Now!

“So, should I be investigating churches and reception halls for the two of you?” She doubted Sam would have the time. Or maybe she hoped he wouldn’t.

Sam grinned. “Not necessary, Miss Molly. I have full faith that when the need arises, Sarah will manage that part fine on her own.”

Her stomach heaved, and suddenly she couldn’t discuss the prospective wedding any longer. Not without throwing herself at Sam’s feet and begging him to lose the surfer woman permanently. “Well, as I said, the board’s in my office.”

“Thanks.” Sam’s gaze was losing focus. His mind was already back on his patients. It was time to get on with work.

“Can I get you a coffee before I make the calls?” she offered.

“I’d kill for one. Thanks.” Sam opened a case file, aaaand…his attention was no longer hers.

Molly dumped the sheets on her desk and headed to the small kitchen to make him his usual choice of coffee: strong cappuccino, very little milk and half a sugar. Since he’d bought the Nespresso, both she and Sam were drinking altogether too much of the stuff. But Molly had almost as big a crush on the machine as she did on the doctor.

What other boss spoiled his receptionist rotten by buying her a coffee machine? Sam had brought it to the office the day after she’d tossed an almost-full cup of seriously bad coffee from the hospital canteen into the sink.

“Can’t have my receptionist moaning about her drink,” he’d said as he plugged it in. “If a good hit of coffee is all it takes to make her smile, a good hit of coffee she will get. As often as she likes.”

Of course Molly had fallen a little bit more in love with Sam for buying the Nespresso. Which did her no good whatsoever now, seeing as he and Sarah were talking about marriage.

She added a white chocolate Tim Tam to the saucer. Sam had a weakness for the biscuits, and Molly made sure to keep ample stock of them in the kitchen at all times. If it were up to her, she’d keep a fresh supply of cupcakes too. They were her weakness. Luckily for her hips, they went stale too quickly to stock.

She took the cappuccino back to his office.

“Beauty, mate. Thanks.” He took a bite of the Tim Tam, closed his eyes and sighed in pleasure.

Silently, Molly sighed right along with him. Sam looked way more delicious than the Tim Tam ever would.

“Can you phone the ward? Get Ella on the line and put her through to me? Also, I’m waiting for results from blood work I sent through, and I need the file for the glioma patient from yesterday. Have to confirm surgery times with Masters.” Masters was the pediatric neurosurgeon Sam preferred to work with.

“No worries. I’ll get on it now.”

“Oh, and I got a call from Lianne Anders. Simone is getting worse. I told her to come in this morning. Can you phone and give her a time?”

“To see you, or to be admitted?”

“To come to the rooms.”

She scowled at him.

“We’re too busy today?” Somehow he managed to look both charming and shamefaced at the same time.

“You’re already overbooked.” His schedule was always crammed full, and some days—like today—were fuller than others. But the man refused to say no to anyone. She sighed. “It’s going to be a jolly full morning.”

Sam gave her an enigmatic smile. “You’ll manage. You always do.”

Sheesh, the darn flatterer could coax her into anything, even managing an unmanageable day. But Sam was right. She’d slip Simone in at eleven fifteen. Sam would have to drink his midmorning cappuccino at his desk instead of stealing five minutes from his day to share a coffee with her in the kitchen.

“I’m waiting on results from two MRIs and a CT scan from radiology. Can you get those for me, stat?”

“Absolutely.” Molly made a quick mental note of all the things she needed to do. “Anything else?”

Sam shook his head. “Nothing else.”

“Right, then I’ll get started on that list.” She cast him one more look, devouring him with her gaze. Even stressed, worried and exhausted, Sam looked edible.

She turned, grateful he’d been too distracted to notice her lustful stare, and made for the door.

“Uh, Miss Molly?”

“Yeah, Doc?”

He smiled at her, sending a fresh rush of heat through her. “Thank you.”

She smiled back. “Just doing my job.” And once again, Molly headed to her desk, her limbs supple from the warmth that had flooded her muscles.

* * * *

Sam’s first patient of the day arrived while Molly was on the phone to the ward. As she connected Sam to Nurse Ella she turned to greet Liam Collins and his mother. Within five minutes, Liam was digging through the big orange toy box in the corner of the waiting room, alongside two other patients.

Molly was talking to the hospital social worker when a fourth patient arrived. No sooner had the girl, Jeanette, sat down, than she began to convulse. Sam tended to her right there on the floor, beside the bright green-and-red chairs that lined the walls, as everyone else stared on in morbid fascination.

Molly stood close in case Sam needed anything. Watching him in action did funny things to her heart. He worked with a calm and a confidence that seemed to ease Jeanette’s mother and the other onlookers. He also spoke to Jeannette the entire time, telling her what was happening and explaining what he was doing.

When the worst of the convulsions had passed, Sam carried Jeanette through to his consultation room. He asked Molly to organize a wheelchair from reception so they could take the patient down to Emergency once he had her stabilized.

With the chair on its way, Molly retrieved the email from the lab. She’d minimized it earlier but needed to send it to Sam now. The door opened, and in walked a man carrying three envelopes.

The results from radiology.

She forwarded the email to Sam, accepted the envelopes with thanks and was helping a new patient fill in the necessary forms by the time the radiology messenger left.

Fifteen minutes later, Jeanette’s seizure was under control and she was on her way to the ward instead of Emergency, as Sam wanted to monitor her through the night.

He had the scans in hand and was taking Liam into his office as he called over his shoulder. “Uh, Molly? The blood results you sent through earlier?”

“Yep?” She looked up at him.

“I think you sent the wrong mail. Want to check on that and send the right one?” And then he was gone, walking through the door behind Liam and his mother.

Which was just as well, because it meant Sam never had the opportunity to witness Molly’s abject horror.

Holy shit.

Chapter 2

Utterly wiped out, Sam lowered his ass into his chair and hit Enter on his computer. Greg Avery still hadn’t regained consciousness, and a copy of his case file—recording every one of Sam and Ella’s concerns—was currently sitting with DOCS. Simone Anders was back in hospital, Jeanette Green’s epilepsy was once more under control, and Allan Bennet’s surgery was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. the next morning. Which took care of less than a fifth of the patients he’d seen today.

The screen flickered to life, the only light in his now dark and empty rooms. He squinted, searching for the email icon, and opened his inbox.

It was late, the hospital downstairs deserted of visitors. Sam knew he should have headed home after his final ward round. The thought of his bed made his body yearn for the hard mattress and soft sheets. His residency days were long behind him, which meant he no longer functioned adequately when exhausted. In total he’d had all of ninety minutes’ rest in the last thirty-six hours.

But Sam couldn’t leave. Not until he read the rest of Molly’s email. God knew the first couple of paragraphs had blown his mind. He wasn’t prepared to wait until he got home to see the whole thing.

Damn pity he couldn’t have read it earlier. But with one crisis after another, time had not been his friend. Didn’t mean her words hadn’t remained in his thoughts the whole day.

His indispensable, capable, funny, sassy and sexy-as-hell receptionist had been with him from day one, when he’d moved from the public Sydney’s Children’s Hospital to his own private practice three years ago.

Molly was the sister of one of his patients at the time, a five-year-old girl who’d broken her back in an MVA a year previously.

The then twenty-three-year-old Molly had stepped up to the plate, taking responsibility for Mickey’s care and livelihood. In effect, she became her new mother, since Molly and Mickey’s mum had died in the car accident.

Hiring Molly had been the best damn idea he’d ever had. She’d needed the work, and he’d needed her help.

Molly took care of his rooms, leaving him free to focus on medicine. She knew every patient by name and could rattle off personal details about them that Sam had no knowledge of. He trusted her implicitly, as did his patients and their parents. She was the backbone of his practice.

Hell, she was his backbone. Sam was totally reliant on her.

Yet today he hadn’t been thinking about her as a big sister or a receptionist or an employee. Nope, today—when he’d had a minute to think—he’d thought about her as a woman. A damn sexy woman, at that.

Something he’d tried for four years not to think about her.

He found the mail he sought and opened it.

Dear Sam,

I think it’s time you knew how I really feel. Perhaps once you know, you’ll understand why I’m addressing you as Sam and not Dr. Sherman. Under the circumstances “doctor” sounds a little, well, formal.

Okay, so he hadn’t imagined those first few lines—even if they made no sense. He’d been asking Molly to call him Sam for three years now—since she came to work with him. But she insisted on sticking to Dr. Sherman. Sometimes, when she wasn’t concentrating, she called him Doc, much the way his friends did.

He read further, gobbling up the words.

Then Sam’s jaw dropped. He blinked hard and rubbed his eyes, sure he’d misread a few things. But starting over only confirmed what he thought he’d seen. To make doubly sure, he read the first few paragraphs again, and then he couldn’t stop reading.

He devoured the letter.

By the time he’d reached the “All my love and kisses” Molly had signed her name with, he was hard as a freaking rock.

Jesus.

For a good few seconds, Sam sat where he was, stunned.

His receptionist had written him a dirty letter. An erotic, dirty letter. And damned if it didn’t stun him all the way down to his bones—and turn him the fuck on. Make him want to haul her into his arms and shower her with every one of those kisses she craved. Soft and sweet, long and deep…

His chest tightened and his dick ached.

Kisses to her lips and to her pussy.

Ah, Christ.

For four years, Sam had forced himself to overlook Molly’s charm and beauty. He’d pretended there was nothing about her that sang to his soul. Ignored the blond hair that tumbled over her back, her soft almond gaze that seemed to look deep into his heart—and see things he never showed anyone—and her cute little nose. And he absolutely wouldn’t let his thoughts dwell on her breasts. Even if they were the best he’d ever seen.

Not that he’d ever seen them. Well, not uncovered anyway. But he did somehow manage to get a good look at her clothed ones every day.

Yes, he’d almost drooled the first time he’d met her. Instinct had dictated he ask her out, get to know her better, talk to her for hours—about anyone and anything. Professionalism and a need to focus on her sister had brought him back in line. Molly and Mickey had been in crisis, and the last thing either of them had needed was for the consultant on the case to take a personal interest in the big sister.

Even though intuition had told him there was something special about Molly—something that went far beyond physical attraction and whacked him in the gut every time she was near—he’d treated her as he did every other one of his patients’ family members.

Besides, Molly’s attention had been on Mickey. And on making ends meet. On somehow finding the money to pay for what would amount to an enormous medical bill for Mickey’s year in treatment and rehabilitation.

Sam’s decision to offer her a job had been a no-brainer. She’d needed the money, and he’d known she’d be perfect for the position.

Not that he’d stopped thinking of her as sexy over the years. Hell, no. He’d just forced himself to take his attraction to her out of the equation. Molly was now his receptionist. End of story. It would be inappropriate and unprofessional to ogle her tits or drool on her feet whenever he spoke to her.

Truth was, if he ever let himself see her as the beautiful woman she was, he’d be all over her like cheap perfume.

He scrubbed a hand over his face. Hell. Her letter had his balls so twisted in knots he was thinking in dumb clichés. But fuck. She’d admitted she wanted him to lick her pussy. How could he possibly think clearly? How could he focus on anything other than how that pussy would taste as he ran his tongue over the seam of her lips, flicked it over her clit…

So consumed was he by the images, by the desire that tackled him, tackled his best boss intentions, he almost failed to notice a second email from his receptionist. Yep, more than half the mails in his inbox came from her, but it was the title of the email that caught his attention:

Letter Of Resignation

Sam’s erection died a sudden death.

He sat up a little straighter and opened the mail.

Dear Dr. Sherman,

So, no more “Sam”?

It is with deep regret I forward my letter of resignation. I have tried to see a way around this, but after my mistake this morning, I am left with no option.

I never intended to send you the personal email. It was supposed to be deleted as soon as I’d written it. I realize now that if I could send it to you accidentally, I could send it to anyone, thus diminishing the level of professionalism associated with your practice.

Apart from that, my remaining on as your receptionist would be awkward and uncomfortable for both of us. Your work is stressful enough. The last thing you need is a strained atmosphere in your rooms.

I am required to work out a thirty-day notice period, but if you’re okay with it, I will stay on only until you find a suitable replacement. I know that with Dr. Akron retiring at the end of the month, Sally from his rooms is looking for a new position. Let me know if you’re interested, and I will set up an interview with her.

I apologize for any embarrassment I may have caused and thank you for the opportunity to work with you over the last three years.

With regards and regrets,

Molly Harris

Sam was shaking his head before he’d even finished the mail. As if he’d ever let Molly go. How the hell would she manage to pay back her loans and look after Mickey? Apart from that, he, his practice and his patients would fall apart within days. Hours.

The reply was typed before Sam thought twice.

Dear Molly,

Thank you for offering both your letter of resignation and your apologies. Neither is necessary.

I cannot accept your resignation and expect to see you back in the rooms at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, business as usual.

Warm regards,

Dr. Sam Sherman

MBBS, MSc(Med), FRACP

Sam hit send, closed the letter of resignation and found himself staring at Molly’s first letter. He read it again. Twice. And then sat back with another massive erection and a silvery-hot sensation in his stomach that had more to do with a happiness and excitement he hadn’t felt in years than physical desire.

Hah. If Molly thought she could walk away after dropping a bombshell like that, she was sadly mistaken.

Dear Molly,

For the second time, Sam was typing a reply before he’d thought twice.

As a pediatric specialist, I find the adult nature of your condition intriguing. Further investigation is advised, as it appears your symptoms may be contagious.

Since reading your letter I have experienced aches and shivers similar to the ones you described. My body has forgotten you are my receptionist, and I am inundated by a sudden abundance of dirty thoughts.

Perhaps you could send through a more detailed description of your physical state so I can effectively analyze the situation and formulate an adequate course of treatment—for both of us.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Sam Sherman

MBBS, MSc(Med), FRACP

Before hitting send, Sam read over the email once, then deleted his formal signature at the bottom, instead signing the letter with a simple Sam. Now that he understood why Molly had addressed him as such, he was loath for her to ever go back to calling him Dr. Sherman.

In fact, now that he knew why she thought of him as Sam, he wanted to hear her say his name out loud. And whisper it in his ear in an intimate moment, and moan it on a breathless hiss of air—as he licked her pussy.

Sam was suddenly hungry—no, starving—for a taste of his receptionist’s pussy.

More than that, he wanted her to look him in the eye while they spoke casually—about anything—and call him by his name. He wanted the emotional connection with her as much as he wanted the physical one.

He’d been working way too hard these last few months, with no break to focus on his social life. Sam couldn’t remember the last time he had a woman in his bed. Which might explain why Molly’s letter had him wound up beyond decency.

With a shake of his head, he grabbed his briefcase, stood and walked out of his office. He took a detour into Molly’s office to grab his surfboard, glad to have it back. If he got enough sleep tonight, he’d put the board to good use in the morning and hit the beach at dawn. After the two days he’d had, he could use the exercise and the opportunity to destress.

Working off a little of the physical and emotional reaction Molly’s words had wrought would be a good thing too. Although Sam knew he’d soon be working that reaction off in the shower at home—with the help of his hand and his friend, Mr. Soap.

His mind was already anticipating the next personal email he’d receive from Molly. So long as it had nothing to do with resigning, he couldn’t wait to read it.

* * * *

Hours after tucking Mickey in bed and giving her a final kiss goodnight, Molly sat on her bed with the laptop and checked her inbox for the one hundred and seventy-third time since getting home.

Her hands shook and her belly lurched.

Her mistake today had officially landed her on the front page of the Annals of the World’s Dumbest People. It had also landed her in the pits of hell. Sam knew how she felt about him. In one fell swoop, she’d humiliated herself and ruined the best job she’d ever had.

Even Mickey had picked up on her anxiety and mortification, asking if she was okay countless times. She’d done her best to reassure her sister but hadn’t exactly succeeded. There was no way she could promise Mickey everything would be fine if she didn’t believe it herself.

How would she support them? How would she pay off the massive loans the bank had been reluctant to give her in the first place? She’d lose her car and her credit rating, and she and Mickey would have to move somewhere more affordable than the matchbox-sized two-bedroom unit they currently lived in.

What a huge, horrible mess.

The previous one hundred and seventy-two times Molly’d checked her emails had been fruitless, so she’d forced herself to wait at least an hour before checking again. It was the longest hour of her life.

This time when she looked, there was not one email from Sam, but two.

Both desperate to see his response and terrified to read what he’d written, she opened the letter of resignation first—with a billion butterflies in her belly.

Then promptly burst into tears.

Sam had refused her resignation. She didn’t have to leave. Didn’t have to panic about where her next paycheck would come from or how she’d afford to put food on the table or clothes on Mickey’s back.

The relief was so overwhelming, Molly began to hyperventilate. The room spun, forcing her to place her head on her knees and focus on the almost impossible task of inhaling and exhaling evenly.

She’d no sooner established a reliable rhythm of breathing when the mortification hit her all over again. Sam may have rejected her resignation, but how on earth could she ever face him? Ever look him in the eye knowing he’d read that letter?

With hands shaking even harder than before, she clicked on the second email. It took a good few seconds before she could pry her eyes open and read the damn thing. And when she did, when she’d reread every word at least twice, the tears had ceased and her jaw hung open in disbelief.

Holy shit.

Sam liked the letter. More than liked. He’d been aroused by it. Aaaand…he wanted her to write him another one.

Molly started to smile. And laugh. And then hiccup as her breath lost its rhythm again.

Sam was aroused—by her. She’d turned him on.

She threw herself back on her bed and lay there grinning stupidly at the ceiling. Of all the scenarios she’d pictured after sending through the wrong email, this one had never occurred to her. Dr. Sherman wanted her. His receptionist. He also wanted another letter from—

Hang on!

Yeah, Molly might be grateful, happy and dumbstruck, but she wasn’t a complete moron. She may have overstepped the boundaries of the doctor/receptionist relationship, but Sam was overstepping other relationship boundaries. Boundaries that didn’t sit at all comfortably with her.

She hopped onto her knees and hit reply. This time she didn’t bother with pleasantries or formalities.

Sam—aren’t you forgetting something?

The letter was sent before she had time to second-guess herself.

Then the waiting began. It had taken over six hours for him to respond the first time. How long would it take—?

Her computer dinged.

Not too long apparently.

Forgetting what?

Sam

Molly rolled her eyes. Men!

Sarah.

His response wasn’t much longer.

What about Sarah?

Duh. What did he think?

She wants to marry you. Remember?

It’s hardly appropriate for me to send another email, don’t you think?

Even as she hit send, she blushed. Was she really emailing the boss about her dirty letters and his almost-fiancée?

The next email took a couple of minutes longer to arrive.

Miss Molly, trust me. Sarah has absolutely no bearing on anything that happens between us. And I hope your mistakenly thinking she’s interested in marrying me doesn’t stop you from writing to me again.

After all, we have to identify these symptoms we’re both suffering from. Even more importantly, we need to find an effective treatment…

Sam

Molly almost passed out from relief.

So you’re not marrying Sarah?

I’m not marrying Sarah.

That was all it took for Molly to once again fling herself back on the bed and grin stupidly at the ceiling. This time, the light-headedness had nothing to do with relief or fear of being fired. It had to do with the world of incredible possibilities that had opened up. Possibilities Molly had never dared consider before.

Sam wasn’t getting married, and he wanted to explore the so-called symptoms both he and Molly were experiencing. Her boss wanted more emails!

Could she do it? Could she send him another explicit letter? And if she could, how did she then keep their private interaction separate from their professional dealings? Because no matter what might change between them personally, Molly was still his receptionist, and she needed to act as one.

~

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