Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Heart And The City. This extract is shared with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the tour and to the publisher for providing the extract.
The series is set in New York City and was written before 2020. It makes no reference to recent events.
British doctor Lea Holm has come to New York to work in her chosen field of emergency medicine. She loves her new life in this exciting city and can’t wait to get started with her research project. The last thing she needs are distractions.
But then she meets famous actor Ricco Como in her building – a distraction if ever there was one. He’s gorgeous and sweet, and there’s an immediate connection between them. Lea tries to resist temptation, but when he comes to her for help dealing with his steadily worsening migraine she can’t turn away from his plight.
As Ricco’s health takes a turn for the worse, their lives become more and more entwined. But can their growing attraction withstand the strain of his ill health, and can he let Lea be more than just his doctor?
**This novella series contains detailed descriptions of long-term health conditions, cheating and a bereavement.**
“You can fuck off, you asshole!”
The voice in the hall was so loud, so penetrating that Lea froze by the door, a mug of tea in her hand. She waited, listening hard. Another voice now, male, lower. She couldn’t make out any words. Lea considered. Back in London, in her ex-council block flat, opening the door on a domestic argument would’ve been the last thing on her mind. But this was one of the most high-end apartment buildings in Lower Manhattan, not Clapham Common. And Lea thought she knew who that second voice belonged to.
She put her tea on the hall table and opened her apartment door.
Before she could get a look at the two people arguing she was roughly shoved aside by a tall, leggy woman with a face like thunderclouds. Stalking past she threw one scathing look behind herself; ignoring Lea. “Piss off, you loser!”
As she turned again her eyes alighted on Lea. She gave a derisive snort. Then she raised one hand over her shoulder, middle finger outstretched. Stunned Lea glanced down the hall. There stood Ricco in his front door. He looked… well, Lea didn’t know what he looked like, exactly. Embarrassed? Upset? Relieved? Amused?
A bit of all of the above?
The ping of the elevator announced the departure of the angry woman and Lea had a sense of anticlimax.
“You okay?” Ricco asked.
Lea felt touched he’d ask if she was okay when he’d been the one getting read the riot act. She moved toward him. “I’m fine. Are you, though?”
There was a bloody scratch high on Ricco’s left cheek. Lea scanned his face. His expression was pinched like he was in pain. He was very pale. Lea frowned. What had that woman done to him? She indicated the scratch. “Did she do that?”
Ricco raised his hand and touched the spot. He winced. “Must’ve been Carl. He hates fighting. As a matter of fact, so do I.”
Lea asked, “Want me to look at that? It’s pretty close to the eye.” And then, when he hesitated, she added, “I’m a doctor.”
“Ah.” His expression cleared. “Sure, thank you.”
“Just give me a sec.”
Lea went back into her apartment, grabbed the keys from the hall table and her kit bag from the floor by the shoe rack, then pulled the door closed behind herself.
She followed Ricco into the penthouse, looking around curiously as they climbed a mahogany staircase. She tried to focus on the task at hand – if she was to look at his injury, minor as it appeared, she should keep that curiosity in check, at least for now.
The penthouse was expensively furnished, but Lea’s first thought was still, ‘Stereotypical bachelor pad’. There were no knick-knacks and apart from the two large charcoal sofas strewn with pillows the place looked almost uninhabited. A large stereo system stood in a corner, but no TV was in evidence. Carmine had mentioned that Ricco had a son, but there were no toys lying around. So the kid must either be older or didn’t live with his dad. Lea hadn’t pressed her landlord for details.
At the top of the staircase, Ricco turned to her. “Where, uh, d’you want me?”
Lea considered, then indicated the sofas standing at right angles in the middle of the room. “There, so we got lots of light. Sit in the corner so I can face you.”
He obliged and led the way over. Lea sat and looked at the scratch on his cheek. It was just below the eye, but it was really superficial and had stopped bleeding. She pulled iodine, cotton swabs, and small band-aids from her kit, then put on disposable gloves.
“Bit of a close call with the eye, but hardly needs my attention,” she said. “Seeing as I’m here though…”
He grinned as she tilted his head toward her. “Bill me only for your time, then.”
She looked at him, confused. Then it dawned on her. A joke. “I’m not even a private doctor. I work in A&E… I mean, an ER.”
“Are you from England?” he asked. “I thought I caught the accent. Nice.”
Lea smiled. She was used to it by now, people here got that excited gleam in their eyes. But from Ricco, the comment gave her butterflies. “I came over from London a few weeks ago.”
“Oh wow.” He tried to look at her but she clicked her tongue and nudged his cheek. He turned his head back. “Sorry. Do you think you’ll stay?”
“It’s very early days, but I’d like to if I can.”
“Won’t your family miss you?” He sounded genuinely interested and she found that she didn’t mind sharing personal details with him.
“My mum died a few years ago. That was all the family I had.”
“Boyfriend, then? Husband?” He grinned but held still. “Girlfriend, maybe?” He said all of it in a droll way that conveyed the fact that he was joking. Lea had to grin as well.
“None of those, if you have to know.” She dabbed at the cut a little harder than necessary, and he winced. “Are you always this nosy?”
He shrugged, still grinning. “Guess so.”
Lea chuckled and placed a small band-aid on his cheek. “There, all done.”
“Thanks a lot. Hey, you got time for that coffee now?” he asked. “Since you don’t wanna bill me that’s the least I can do.”
“Sure,” she said as she pulled off the gloves.
He glanced at the gloves and used cotton swabs. “I got no medical waste bin.”
“Household waste is fine.” Lea smiled and replaced the unused supplies in her bag.
“Over here.” He went into the kitchen and pointed at a cupboard. Then he turned to the gleaming espresso machine. “Latte? Espresso? Americano?”
“Latte please,” Lea said. “Two shots.”
Heart And The City is available from Amazon.
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