Anyone but You Read online

  “And I really want to marry a doctor,” Tricia finished wetly.

  Nina stopped patting again and glared at her. How could anybody look at Alex and just see his medical degree? Even aside from the fact that he was gorgeous, he was also sweet and funny and…Shut up, she told herself. Don’t do this to yourself. She stood up. “Well, I think it’s time we all called it a night. Alex is going to take you home now. Go get the car, Alex.”

  “We’ll all go,” Alex said. “Fred needs the fresh air.”

  “Who’s Fred?” Tricia said. “Is he a doctor?”

  Half an hour later, with Tricia deposited at her door, Nina was still fuming. “I can’t believe she was going out with you because she wants to marry a doctor.”

  Alex grinned at her, relaxed behind the wheel now that Tricia was just a soggy memory. “Well, face it—the women I date are not going out with me because of the fancy places I can take them to. I’m an ER specialist with about ten years of loans to pay off. I’m poor. So they plan for the future.”

  Nina frowned at him, trying not to appreciate the careless way his fingers draped over the wheel, and the way his long body lounged in the seat. Carelessly confident, that was Alex. Not a focused bone in his body. Don’t think about his body. She tried to find her place in the conversation. “Women should be going out with you because you’re terrific.”

  “Thank you,” Alex said. “I’ll tell them you said so.”

  In the back seat, his head hanging out the window, Fred snorted the wind out of his nose.

  “Who asked you?” Alex said to him.

  “I can’t believe she’d be so mercenary,” Nina fumed on, grateful to have something to distract her.

  “Oh, come on,” Alex said. “Why’d you marry Guy the Stiff? Because he was a rich lawyer, right?”

  “No, because he was the first man I ever slept with,” Nina said. “I was raised strict.”

  Alex was silent for a moment. “So, how many guys have you slept with?”

  “One. Guy.” Nina laughed shortly, embarrassed by her lack of an interesting past.

  “Okay, smartass, how many men have you slept with?”

  “I told you,” Nina said. “One. Guy. I met him in college and slept with him, and as far as I was concerned, that was it.”

  Alex turned to stare at her in the dim light of the front seat. “You’re kidding.”

  “No.” Nina frowned at his incredulity. He probably thought she was dull and frumpy. Well, the hell with him. So she didn’t have much of a past. That didn’t mean she wasn’t going to have a terrific future. Don’t make assumptions, Norma had said. Norma was right. She didn’t need to give up men entirely; she just had to give up marrying them. “I was backward then, but I’m not anymore,” she told him and stuck her chin out. “I’m going to have an affair.” It was a brand-new idea, but with Alex beside her, it sounded like a good one.

  Alex didn’t look impressed. Or happy, for that matter. “With whom?”

  “I have no idea.” Nina leaned her head back as the cool night air rushed in her window. She half closed her eyes and tried to look mature and depraved. “I’m still looking.”

  Alex grinned at her. “Well, put me on the shortlist.”

  Hello. Nina swallowed. He was kidding. If she took him seriously and made a pass at him, he’d be embarrassed. Look at how he’d been with Tricia. “Very funny,” she said and changed the subject. “I can’t believe Tricia was dumb enough to think that offering to sleep with you would turn you off.”

  “No, she was right about that.” Alex turned the car into the alley behind the apartment house and backed it into his parking space.

  “What?” Nina stared at him, disbelieving.

  “I wouldn’t want somebody who would sleep with me on the first date.” Alex turned off the ignition. “I have some standards.”

  “Oh.” Nina tried to digest this. It was a damn good thing she’d decided not to make a pass at him. Not only would he have thought she was too old, he’d have thought she was too easy. She regrouped. “Well, that’s good. I suppose it shows moral fiber on your part that you turned her down.”

  “I turned her down because she was drunk,” Alex corrected her. “If she’d been sober, I’d have slept with her.”

  “But you just said—”

  “I wouldn’t have asked her out again, but I would have slept with her.” Nina glared at him and he shrugged. “Hey, I did not seduce her. In fact, I was trying to sober her up. I have cups of coffee on my table upstairs to prove it. But if she’s going to make an offer while of sound mind, I’m going to take her up on it, or I wouldn’t be of sound mind.”

  “Did you ever think of showing some moral restraint?” she asked him icily.

  “No,” Alex said. “I’m male.”

  He certainly was. That was the problem. She was sitting next to him in a dark car, and he was the most masculine male she’d been with for a long time. Forever, actually. And she should be angry with him for saying he would have slept with Tricia if she’d been sober, but it was hard to be angry and turned on at the same time, and the fact was, whenever he came around, she got a nice little buzz going that didn’t fade until he was long gone.

  This was bad.

  Get out of this car, Nina told herself and opened the door. “I’m going to let the next one cry all over you.” She climbed out of the car and opened the back door for Fred. “Stay away from him, Fred. He’s a bad influence on you.”

  Fred gathered himself together and leaped for the ground, staggering a little on impact.

  “Hey, wait a minute,” Alex said to Nina, but she was already leading Fred through the gate into the backyard, and there was no way she was going to stop and continue the conversation.

  The last thing she needed to do was discuss sex with Alex Moore.

  “WHAT DO YOU DO when a woman you want shows no interest in you?” Alex asked Max the next day in the hospital cafeteria.

  Max looked at him with contempt over his eggs and hash browns. “That never happens.”

  Alex pushed his own plate away. “I don’t think I’m…sophisticated enough for this woman. I think she’s used to rich, older guys. I think she thinks I’m a kid.”

  Max shoved his fork into his breakfast. “You been wearing that beanie with the propeller again?”

  Alex frowned at him. “I’m serious, Max.”

  Max raised an eyebrow, distracted from his food for a moment. “You? Serious about a woman?”

  Alex thought about it. “I don’t know. Probably not. I’m definitely serious about getting her into bed.”

  Max nodded and went back to his eggs. “That’s more like it.”

  Alex shook his head. “But it’s not going to happen.”

  Max shook his head and spoke around bites of egg and potato. “You don’t know that. Spend some time with her. Charm her socks off. Be debonair.”

  “Oh, yeah.” Alex leaned back. “Debonair. That’s the real me.”

  Max shrugged. “Well, you’re the one who said she thought the real you was a Boy Scout.”

  Alex stared blankly across the crowded cafeteria, thinking about Nina and how Nina had looked in the dark front seat of his car, how Nina’s perfume had come to him faint and erotic in the dimness, how Nina’s skin had gleamed when they’d passed a streetlight. She’d been so warm and so close…

  “The thing about Nina,” he told Max when he’d come back to earth, “is that when I’m with her, I forget everything but her, so I can’t pretend to be somebody else. The only person I can be with Nina is me.”

  Max froze, his fork poised over his plate. “Don’t talk like that. It sounds serious.”

  “It’s not serious,” Alex said. “She’s just my neighbor. It’s no big deal.”

  “Right.” Max pointed his fork at him. “You be careful, boy. Stay away from her.”

  “Right,” Alex said, wondering if Nina liked videos and what excuse he could use to invite himself up to share her VCR.