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The Love By the Yard Series Book 5
BY MICHEL PRINCE
When Chicago Grizzlies’ defensive end, Declan Parker, has a career making play—it never crosses his mind it could be his last one on the field. But once Deck is rushed to the trauma unit at a local emergency room, the play turns out to be only one of the changes to affect his life.
Cardiothoracic surgical resident, Dr. Leeda “Lee-Lee” Jackson, scoffed when she was called in for an orthopedic case. Only the EKG told her the patient had more going on than a broken leg. Staring down at the patient struggling for air, she couldn’t help seeing her brother, Xavier. Determined to do whatever she could to get the man back on the field, Lee-Lee sets out to do what she does best.
Declan knows if his full condition is released to the Grizzlies, everything he’s ever worked toward will be lost. Not ready to put that part of his life away, he plans to do whatever it takes, and the sexy doctor is the first step. In football, if you’re not cheating—you’re not trying.
An encroachment penalty is only a five yard penalty if you get caught. However, what’s going on between the doctor and patient, could cost Declan and Lee-Lee everything they have achieved in life. Is their attraction more than a passing flirtation? Or will more than one heart need repaired when it is over?
“The urgency with which they are moving Parker has me a bit worried,” the announcer said, but Leeda Jackson barely heard the comment. She reviewed her charts, approving the dictation in her notes. The cases were a week old, but this was the first chance she’d had to go through them.
Normally Lee-Lee wasn’t distracted by regular life. Between her brother’s marriage, a new niece to be born in a few months and interviewing for fellowships around the country, she wondered when she’d get a break. Her pager went off, and she dropped her head into her upturned palms. Fine life, keep it up, she thought, I’ll meet the challenge.
Lifting the pager, she prayed for a simple floor call. The ER’s extension was followed by 911. No reason to call as the trauma code went out overhead. Logging out of the computer, Lee-Lee snatched her stethoscope and wrapped it around her neck. Sixty seconds later, she was off the elevator and rolling up into the trauma room to see a man getting his Grizzlies’ uniform cut off him. Tucking her unruly hair into the surgical cap had been a waste of time when she spotted the splinted lower limb that showed an obvious deformity.
“Caren,” she groaned. “I know I’m trauma, but not ortho trauma, laters.”
“You don’t say, Dr. Jackson?” Dr. Caren said as he stood behind the player reviewing the paper coming off the ECG. “So, the fact this guy can’t breathe without assistance and his T wave can cha-cha slide better than me, wouldn’t interest you?”
“What’s he saying?” the patient asked as they switched him from a mask to nasal cannula.
“Your hearts acting up.” She crossed the room to read the strip. Placing her stethoscope in her ears, she laid the chest piece over his sternum.
“What do you expect with a fine ass sister like you walking in the room?”
With her trauma scissors slicing through the lacing of the shoulder pads she cleared the equipment to examine the man. Broad muscles were exposed as they finally pulled the shoulder pads over his head and she reviewed the lead placement. Maybe that explained the T wave abnormality. Tatted up, the thick muscles showed the years of physical activity. She knew what went into a professional player. Her brother was currently the Assistant Offensive Coordinator for this guy’s team.
“You missing equipment?” she asked as she eyed the pile being created on the floor.
“Did you order a chest x-ray yet?” she asked Caren.
“Wait, you are interested?”
“Mildly,” she admitted as the hair rose on the back of her neck. “Send him for a chest CT with contrast. I need a better view. Keep him monitored.”
“Yes, doctor,” the ER nurse Maggie said as she started setting up the portable heart monitor and nodded to the health unit coordinator to enter the order. A call would be made, and this guy would be gone.
“While they do all this fun stuff, tell me something, what was the hit like?”
“The hit?” the player said as he glanced at his leg.
“Who do we have here?” she asked and peered over the shoulder of the nurse taking notes. “Declan Parker. Got it. What position do you play?”
“Okay, so tell me what you remember about the play.”
“Everything,” he bit defensively. “QB fumbled after a nasty hit from Conroy on the right. I scooped and ran, but someone got me from the side, but my leg stayed in place. Probably because of the guy hitting me on the other side.”
“Where on your side did he make contact?”
Declan placed his hand on his side right below his hard peck. Her mind started checking off boxes. If the player had hit him from the side, ribs might be hurt. But more than likely, the offensive player had to come from behind, tackling him and knocking the unprotected heart flush against his sternum.
“What kind of hit? Did he lead with his helmet?”
“His ass better not have,” Declan growled. “I’d say spearing. There were a couple of them.”
“One on each side?”
His brows knitted together. “Imagine a hammer hitting a wall.”
“With forward momentum. Got it,” she said as she flashed a penlight in his eyes.
“Doc for the team cleared him for a concussion, same with the EMTs and me,” Caren said.
“I’m always this lucid,” Declan said right as they sedated him a bit more.
“Alright, superstar, we’re gonna need you to lay down for the next test.”
“I don’t like that,” he said as she watched his eyes glass over a bit.
“We gave you something for the pain.” She placed her hands on the guardrails of the gurney. “You’ll have to stay still. I need some pictures. Promise to try. You can sit up on the ride there and back.”
“For you.” He gave her a wink as Dr. Burk walked in.
“Am I late to the party?” he asked as the ER nurse popped the release for the lock on the gurney and he stood in the way.
There were three kinds of ortho docs. The first kind sucked ass with their athlete clients while sighing about their little old ladies needing new hips. The second was like her. They loved puzzles and what’s better than putting together a shattered bone. She was more of a plumber game girl, getting the blood to flow through the right pipes, but still a puzzle. And finally, there was Dr. Burk. A former jock who still worked out and never understood why he didn’t make it in his chosen sport. Even after working on hundreds of athletes, he still saw someone who was less than him. Someone he could take in a pick-up game. Standing with his hands on his hips as his thick veins protruded from his hard forearms, he used his obvious x-ray vision to diagnose Declan.
“Tibia,” he said, not asking, just stating a fact no one in the room cared about. Yes, the leg was important, but with most doctors, they worked from the center of the patient out. Heart, lungs, brain being their main concern. A broken leg was painful, but rarely life-threatening.
“We’re sending him to CT,” Lee-Lee stated not about to get into a pissing match with a man willing to whip it out and aim at any time.
Lee-Lee’s jaw tensed. Sure, she was a third-year resident to his nine years of practicing, but there was a reason her attending was passed out, and she was on call. Dr. Burk not only thought he should have played professional baseball, but he believed women belonged beneath him in every sense of the word. His buzz cut blond hair wasn’t fooling anyone. The widow’s peak had inched its way back over the past six years since she first met him in med school. Not that she’d been all that enamored with the man to begin with. Having to serve a rotation with him as her attending let her see the truth of who and what he was.
“Look here, honey—” Dr. Burk began only to be verbally bitch slapped by Declan.
“I’d prefer the royal treatment. Since the big bosses are paying, let’s give them what they want.”
“Big bosses?” Dr. Burk asked, then looked toward the pile on the floor. Declan’s number fifty-five jersey was in full view. “Those are big ones.”
“That’s what she said.” Declan gave Lee-Lee another wink.
She’d be impressed if he made the gesture knowing who her brother was, but since she assumed he didn’t, she moved him into the pile of guys that were disposable. No reason to think anything more of the man. That could lead to those stupid things, like lust or worse yet love. Such a thing she’d never work her way up to. Not with her brother in the same hemisphere. Sex on occasion, but only if she hid it from the brother that didn’t think any man was good enough for her.
“Patients take priority,” she said.
“Patients don’t know all the facts.” This time Dr. Burk crossed his arms and flexed his chest and biceps.
“Neither do I until I get the CT. Now get out of the way.” Shoving him hard, Dr. Burk moved, then called to the nurse to get an x-ray of the break too.
“Might as well see what I’ll be fixing on him before I totally change my fantasy team.”
“Aren’t you all kinds of inappropriate?”
“Most days.” As they moved from the trauma room out into the doctors’ cubbies, set up for the specialists that get called in, he pulled the rolling chair out for her. “Now, why haven’t we seen each other lately?”
Luck and good timing, she thought. Instead of speaking out loud, she sat in the seat and inched it back to the desk. “Swing shifts and all. What can I say, I don’t have the luxurious life yet. Still pulling thirty-six-hour shifts.”
“Why are you focused on the heart?” he asked as his index finger stroked the back of her hand. “Is it because yours is broken? I promise you the operating room isn’t where it’ll be fixed.”
Stifling her urge to backhand the guy, she moved her hand to wake up the computer in front of her, and then logged in so she could see the CT as soon as it was up. Although the radiologist would send a formal report, no reason to not check on the labs that had been sent and such.
“His CK is up,” she said trying to move on from the subject at hand.
“He’s an athlete that broke a leg. That could have spiked it,” Dr. Burk said.
“Nothing else too out of whack.”
“You expected there to be? He’s a professional athlete. Outside of looking for a tox screen you really shouldn’t be chasing zebras.”
“His T waves aren’t making me happy. That should have some chemical effect on his blood.”
A film icon showed up on her orders, and she opened the file. CK fully explained now, with that hard of a cardiac contusion.
“Sorry, Burk, no surgery for you tonight. Stabilize and let me make sure his boo-boo on his heart doesn’t get worse.”
Burk went to his own computer to hunt down the x-rays, and she continued to review the layers of the CT. On the backside of Declan’s heart, she saw something that wouldn’t be from the hit. A weakening of a valve wall that had to have been exacerbated by contusion. As much as she wanted this to be a simple rest and patient heal thyself a repair was needed. Not today, but soon.
“I sat still,” Declan said as he rolled back into the room.
“Yes, you did,” she said trying to not be solemn. His whole career was over, and she’d have to be the one to take it away. No way could she clear him to play with that valve. Even the best repair would have him flagged immediately. Maybe there was a way around it. She’d have to look into their policies, but then again, she wasn’t sure she’d advise him he could play again. Years of training to be one of the elite only to have had a missed issue take it all away.
USA Today Bestselling author, Michel Prince, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. Michel writes new adult and adult paranormal romance as well as contemporary romance.
With characters yelling “It’s my turn damn it!!!” She tries to explain to them that alas, she can only type a hundred and twenty words a minute and they will have to wait their turn. She knows they’ll eventually find their way out of her head and to her fingertips and she looks forward to sharing them with you.
When Michel suppresses the voices in her head, she can be found cheering for her son in a variety of sports. She owes a huge thanks to her family for always being in her corner and especially her husband for supporting her every dream and never letting her give up.
Michel was awarded Elite Status with Rebel Ink Press in 2013, the service award for her local RWA chapter Midwest Fiction Writers in 2013 and 2014, and Sweetest Romance at IRAE 2015.
She resides in the Twin Cities with her husband, son, and dogs, Bolt and Sawyer.
Links to Michel’s website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon US https://tinyurl.com/y8c5zug4
Amazon UK https://tinyurl.com/y94unoap
Amazon AU https://tinyurl.com/yclo5qdo
Amazon CA https://tinyurl.com/y9etlxjy
** Special Giveaway**: Michel is giving away a $5 Amazon GC, an ebook copy of FIRST AND TEN, and an ebook copy of a backlist book to one lucky reader who comments on her Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog. Happy Reading!
Thanks, Michel, for sharing your book with us!
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