ER physician's assistant Hunter guards his heart carefully, but that doesn't stop him from falling for Shawn, the front desk clerk. He keeps his distance from relationships for a reason, but just can't help himself when it comes to Shawn.
Shawn is on the run from the law and love to protect himself and anyone else involved. One man is dead because of him, and his life now is simple and easily thrown into a bag at any hint of danger. Until he meets Hunter, and he no longer wants to run.
Forced into a hostage situation, buried passion explodes in the aftermath, and sex in the supply closet brings their hearts back to life. Tentatively, step by step, they begin to explore a relationship together until the past catches up with Shawn.
FBI agent Nick Truman has finally found his man, but when Shawn escapes, he focuses his attention on Hunter. Shawn returns, even though it means sacrificing himself to save Hunter from the man who framed him for murder.
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“Should shave my hair off,” Hunter said to Marisa.
His friend was smoking a cigarette despite constant harping from Hunter to stop. She smoked only one or two a day, she said, escaping her husband and kids to step out into their backyard to light up or, like now, at the end of her shift.
“Don’t you dare.” Marisa exhaled a final plume of smoke mixed with the pale steam of her breath. She dropped the butt and ground it out beneath her thick-soled shoe, then picked it up and flicked it unerringly into the bin at the hospital entrance with a smile. They weren’t supposed to smoke on hospital grounds, but it was too dangerous to go off campus and into the neighborhood.
A man pushed through the doors of the ER.
“Here’s our Shawn,” Marisa said in a low voice.
“He’s not ours,” Hunter said blithely. “He’s someone else’s.”
“I did, after you left. He turned me down and told me he was with someone.”
Shawn had dressed for the February weather in a gray hoodie under a black denim jacket and a Red Sox cap. He had a long, loping stride and stood about an inch taller than Hunter. He tipped his face up from under the bill of the cap, caught Hunter’s eye, and smiled.
“The hell he is,” Marisa muttered.
“Hey.” Hunter smiled back because he couldn’t help it. He’d avoided Shawn most of the night shift and planned on going back to an earlier dinner time for the rest of his life. Yet he missed seeing Shawn. The hookup he’d taken to his bed last Friday night and who’d spent the weekend hadn’t made him feel like this. They’d had some laughs, yet Hunter had been relieved when the guy left. Hunter’s heart skipped a beat when Shawn stopped and said hello to Marisa, then turned to him. Something fizzy and sweet bubbled in his veins, tingling under his skin. His heart stopped its aching as if a morphine drip were in that smile.
“You’re angry at me?” Shawn’s pale brows shot up into his forehead.
“Not at all.”
His blue eyes kindled with relief. “You didn’t have dinner break at your usual time.”
“No, I didn’t. I—” Hunter turned to Marisa, but she only smiled, I told you so in her eyes. He made himself look back at Shawn. “I’ll be there tomorrow.”
Shawn’s smile widened. “Okay, good.” He looked up at the sky and the gathering clouds. “Feels like spring will never get here. February must be the longest month of the year.”
“Aren’t you cold? You don’t have a winter jacket?” Marisa scolded.
“Nah, I’m fine.”
Hunter and Marisa watched Shawn walk down K Street. He put his hand on top of his cap to keep the wind from taking it and pushed the other hand into his pocket. As he turned at the corner and out of sight, he left Hunter with the impression he was lonely and cold.
“Chuck’s late. He’s usually waiting for you,” Hunter commented.
Hunter didn’t like to leave until Marisa’s husband arrived with their two small girls to pick her up. She opened her mouth to answer, but three gunshots blasted out into the low hum of traffic.
“Shit,” Hunter said. The shots had come from the same direction Shawn had gone.