AFTERGLOW by Catherine Coulter

Book: AFTERGLOW by Catherine Coulter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Catherine Coulter
with them."
    David felt immense relief to hear that. "Good," he said. "Get as much exercise as you can, but don't go overboard. And force yourself to straighten up. The stitches won't pull out. One last thing, Chelsea, come in next Tuesday to get the stitches out."
    "Who's going to have the pleasure of doing the snipping?"
    "You want me to?" he asked, moving closer and taking her unwilling hand.
    She tried to jerk it away, but he wouldn't let her go. "No! As a matter of fact, if I never again see the backs of your ears I'll be eternally grateful!"
    "All this drama because I took care of you?" His voice was teasing, and she readily jumped to the bait.
    "You treated me like a slab of meat, you lecher, and you looked at me!"
    "Yes, all of you, as a matter of fact. Very nice."
    She growled and hissed, and he continued to smile. She remembered all too clearly that he'd examined every inch of her. It was too much. She closed her eyes tightly, willing away that very clear image.
    "But you know," he continued thoughtfully after a moment, "as I recall, you do have a major flaw—a corn on the second toe of your left foot."
    Her eyes flew open. "Get out!" She managed this time to jerk her hand out of his grasp.
    "You know something, Chelsea?" he said in a mild, nearly disinterested voice. "You irritate me more than any woman I've ever known. You are silly and ignorant, and I hope to heaven that the next time you get smacked by a moped it will be near another hospital. Oh, yeah, you write trash."
    She threw her water carafe at him.
    "Be certain not to get your bandage wet," he said, retrieving the carafe and tossing it onto the bed. He watched the remaining water soak through the sheet.
    He gave her a mock salute and left.
    "Obnoxious jerk!" she yelled after him.
    "Oh, damn and blast!" Chelsea said now into the darkness of her hotel room. Wretched, miserable man! I will not think of you anymore, except to congratulate myself on never having to see you again.
    David buried himself at the hospital, and Elsa, eyeing him with renewed hope, tried to make herself indispensable. But he wouldn't bite. Nothing. There was still a lot of gossip going around about that Lattimer woman and the scene she'd caused. And Dr. Winter's reaction. And the way he'd haunted her hospital room until she'd left. Even now, Elsa heard him being teased by administrators and other doctors.
    David found himself one late afternoon near a bookstore and wandered in. He didn't mean to, but he found himself studying titles and books in the romance section. Sure enough, they had four different books of Chelsea's. He winced at the outrageous covers and the ridiculous come-on write-ups on the back. Surely she couldn't have anything to do with all that nonsense. Of course she didn't. He remembered her moaning and telling him that the covers were getting more and more dreadful—not at all romantic, just more and more skin, and fake rapturous looks—and the write-ups, "Argh!" He smiled as he read the back of one of her novels. He was hot-blooded, handsome—and American. And now she was his property, bought and paid for.
    He shook his head, but picked up all four titles, presenting them with great panache to the clerk at the counter. To his utter astonishment he found that he couldn't put the first novel down. He was thrown into Victorian England in the early 1850s, and he could practically taste the food they were eating, almost picture the carriages and the clothing and feel the London fog. The characters were real, complex and sympathetic, and he couldn't wait to turn the next page.
    He read until three o'clock in the morning. He set the book on his nightstand, lay back in bed and thought about it. He'd enjoyed the hell out of the story, laughed at the continuous, very amusing repartee between the hero—that hot-blooded American—and the heroine. He found himself wondering about the sex scenes. Her hot-blooded hero was also an excellent lover. And a marvelous mixture of

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