Dr. Nicholson may be the Man in White who inspires fear in his underlings, but when the lab coat comes off, he’s just a man. Meeting Dr. Aaron Spencer at a medical convention sparks an interest he thought was long gone. His heart wants to thaw, but to be the Man in White, he needs to stay, calm, cool, and collected. Memories stir of a time when science ruled the day, but his heart was still capable of being destroyed. Aaron is bringing him back to life, but he’s still consumed by the need to possess the source. Aaron has secrets of his own.
Claudia Belle is caught between her connections. She has no control around Quentin, but she’s chosen to give her heart to John Slater. Quentin isn’t going to let John stand in his way, but when danger strikes Claudia, an uncomfortable alliance will have to form to keep her safe.
John Slater is ready to give up everything he’s ever wanted for Claudia. A surprise visit from Dr. Nicholson leaves him feeling betrayed by Joseph, who is feeling guilty himself. With the Man in White sniffing around, John and Joseph must work together to keep Claudia safe from The Company.
Joseph knows his time with John is coming to an end. One way or another, their relationship will be irrevocable severed after graduation. Either John will be forced to return to The Company’s training facility and undergo confinement, or Joseph will have to let John go in a more permanent way. John doesn’t want to forget Milton or Claudia, so there’s only one real choice. Can John and Joseph pull off the escape plan under the watchful eye of the director?
- 1 To Be Read list
I had the waiter pack up Joseph’s meal and keep Michael’s meal hot for me. Jonas arrived, taking Joseph’s seat as the waiter returned. He set the bag to Jonas’s left.
“Hungry?” I asked Jonas as the waiter disappeared. “It’s lobster…”
“Keep an eye on John Slater.” I instructed.
He nodded and grabbed an untouched glass of water.
“Also, when you have a chance, pay the McClellan household a visit, go through Miss Belle’s room for anything suspicious.”
“Do you think she knows something, sir?”READ MORE
“I’m not positive yet, but I’m curious to know if it’s mere attraction on John’s part, or something far more I’m failing to see.”
From the corner of my eye, I glimpsed his face at the front of the restaurant. The hostess was bringing him over.
“Make sure John sees you only once, but make it count.”
Jonas grinned. “Yes, sir.”
“Will you be needing anything else, sir?” Jonas asked.
I waved Aaron over. The hostess approached with him in tow. He looked very handsome in a black suit and dark slacks. He wore a pastel blue silk shirt with a navy striped tie. He was always well-dressed, no matter the occasion.
Jonas glanced back, recognizing my dinner guest.
I was aware I hadn’t answered his question, but knew there was no need to.
“I will notify the team to be on alert when you are ready to leave, sir.”
I gazed over at him and nodded.
Jonas rose, grabbed the bag, and pulled out the chair for Aaron. Aaron took the seat thanking him. Jonas walked around him and left the restaurant without a word or a look at my guest.
“He never says much, does he?” Aaron questioned.
I had no response for him as I rose to greet him. He tried to kiss me, but I avoided his gesture. “Not here,” I said.
Aaron looked pained by my rejection. I wasn’t embarrassed but I had never been one for public displays of affection whether I was with a male or female partner.
“I took the liberty to order for you,” I said as I motioned for the waiter.
Aaron’s nose wrinkled. My actions didn’t surprise him, I often took control of our relationship.
They brought out the dish and I order another bottle of wine for the two of us.
“I’m sorry, am I late?” he asked, seeing as I had started my meal.
I reached over to take his hand and squeezed it tightly. After my rejection of his longing kiss, it pained me to see him hurt and I wanted to make it up to him. I wanted to change myself. He made me want to.
“No, my darling, you are just in time.” I said, smiling ever so slightly.
Aaron blushed. “Oh.” He glanced about the display on the table. Though cleared, it was obvious there had been more than one other person seated. The waiter brought his meal and set it in front of him.
“Did you have company?”
“Business,” I muttered.
When we first met he was curious about what kind of business I conducted. I had given him a few details of what I did. He asked far too many questions, such a delightful and curious beauty he was.
Leaning forward, my eyes examined his features with precision, every single line and movement I took in. He was so lovely; the dark tone of his smooth skin was my first weakness. The coffee dark swirls of brown in his eyes were rich and bold, drawing me into his gaze. I liked everything about him, but beauty was only skin deep, his intelligence enticed and kept me interested.
The waiter bought another bottle, and poured a glass for Aaron, who smiled at the vintage of choice.
“Are we celebrating something, Bryce?”
I gave a simple smile back. “Does ordering an expensive vintage require a reason? I merely want to enjoin my moment with you.”
Aaron turned a lovely shade of red.
I observed him for a moment. He began with his vegetables, taking small bites. He loved and hated it when I studied him, but I couldn’t help myself. I loved watching him. Nothing brought me more pleasure than to see him enjoying something so trivial.
“Aaron,” I began.
He took a drink from his cup, blinking up as I said his name with such care. The smooth texture of the wine was rich and rewarding to his palate, and I could see the satisfaction on his face. He cut into a small section of his steak, dipping it so delicately and carefully it was dripping with the nectar of buttery sauce.
“If I asked you to come away with me on a trip, would you consider it?”
Aaron looked surprised by the question. It was a foolish idea to ask. Did I honestly want to drag Aaron into this chaotic lifestyle of mine?
“Well,” he hesitated, “This is sudden.”
“Sudden, how? It’s a mere question.”
“Well, I have my patients, but I... Well, I love that you have come back into my life, more than you could possibly know. But…um…” he stumbled in his own response.
I pulled my hand back.
“Bryce, is something wrong?”
“Nothing, my love, I had far too much wine. It was wrong of me to ask so much of you so suddenly. I can understand your hesitation, it was a bold question.” I immediately said and smiled.
Why ruin what we had now, with foolish questions of what if, or of a future I might not have with him? I would enjoy what I had with him now.
Aaron wiped at his lip, taking a quick sip of wine. He seemed to prepare himself. He was bold in his attempts to confront me with his deepest desires. Was he afraid I would bore of him? I played the fiend so well, the one who had broken his heart. If I had done it once before, why wouldn’t I do it again?
“Bryce, what are we? Are we…Official?” he asked straight out. Was he in doubt?
I gazed over at him. Did he desire confirmation regarding our relationship? Was that the reason for his question? Although I had given him plenty of reasons to question our union, it surprised me. Hadn’t I confirmed our union when we had reconciled?
“You know this…” I arrogantly said. I took a drink from my glass to hide the emotions in his eyes, or maybe it was to conceal the hesitation in mine from him.
“I want to hear it,” he demanded, setting his fork down. Our eyes met, a smile spread over my lips.
“Aaron, you are dear to me.” I put my glass down, running a finger around the rim, licking my lips.
“Then why can’t you say it?”
I felt a flush suddenly.
“If you want me to come away with you, at least be honest with me. Who am I to you?” He pushed the chair back when I hesitated to give him an answer. Patrons glanced in our direction. I wasn’t afraid of embarrassment, yet.
“Please, Aaron, you’re being irrational.” I cut into my steak.
I expected him to settle back into his seat, but he didn’t. I set my fork and knife down. He was waiting for me.
“What do you consider me?” I redirected the question.
“My boyfriend.” he bluntly said. “I have no shame in that. I would think you felt the same…But you don’t seem to.”
A smirk invited anger from him. He glared back pained and rose moving around the seat ready to leave. He didn’t understand this was all for him.
“Is that what you think? That I’m ashamed of you?”
Aaron didn’t answer, only kept pushing the chair forward.
“You are far more than a boyfriend,” I dared to say. “The word sounds absurd and ridiculous. However, if that is what you wish to hear, you are my boyfriend. You’re someone I love, a lover. I adore you.”
Aaron froze and gazed over at me.
“I care about you, Aaron,” I repeated.
He grinned back delighted. He took to the seat again.
“It’s been a long time since I cared for anyone else as I care for you,” I admitted.
I extended my hand from across the table. Aaron took hold, gripping my fingers and locking his hand in mine.
“I would go anywhere with you,” he said.
That was reassuring, but the guilt would never allow me to put him in danger. Aaron squeezed my hand.
We drank, ate, and enjoyed of each other’s company. Aaron talked about his work at the hospital. For the first time, I felt I could devote my attention to another. Someone I loved. I took in everything about him, the way he expressed himself, his lips as they moved when he spoke. His body as it took a breath, how he enjoyed his meal a bite at a time. There was patience in his movements, a skill and care in the way he did things.
I imagined him in a hospital, catering to his patients’ requests. I had no doubt his patients loved him, there was something about his smile- it was warm and friendly, far from the grimace most got from me. I often wondered why he found me appealing when he was the completely opposite in every way- sweet, kind and nurturing. What did he see in me, besides the fearsome man I mostly displayed? Or was this what he liked about me?
“What are you thinking about?” he suddenly asked.
I hadn’t realized I had been away in my own thoughts. It summoned a look of concern from him.
“Why a kindhearted person, such as you, would find me appealing?”
Aaron wrinkled his brow and smiled. “Do you really want me to answer, Dr. Nicholson?”
I chuckled, a long overdue laugh. I needed that, more laughter in my life. Aaron always gave me that. What I lacked most in my life was living.
“First off, you’re disturbingly and incredibly handsome,” he announced.
I felt a flush, lowered the glass in my hand, and curved a lip.
“See what I mean? Do you not know what you do when you smile like that? What you do to me?”
I raised my brow. Obviously not. “Like what?” I narrowed my eyes.
“Like that, handsome,” he grinned. “And those eyes, they’re so beautiful they seem to be hiding something. You’re so mysterious, Bryce.” Aaron squeezed my hand tightly. “I’m sure I’m not the only one that thinks that. It makes me jealous to think that smile is not just for me.”
“You have nothing to be concerned about, my love. I adore you. It’s because of you I’ve learned to laugh again.” Those words warmed his heart, I could see it in his brown eyes.
“Yet something troubles you, doesn’t it?” He knew me far too well.
“Let’s not ruin tonight with silly questions, Aaron. I want to savor this moment.” I lifted his hand and kissed it. He clutched my hand and nodded.
The desire in me grew to kiss him, and he could see that. He was seeing all my cues, easily dissecting me. I hated being predictable, but with Aaron I was carefree.
I raised my hand for the waiter and he came right over. I called for the check. Once I signed and closed the bill, we walked out of the restaurant. I walked a little ahead of him, from behind Aaron reached for my hand, coming to stand alongside me. I gladly allowed his fingers to fold around my palm and we came to the valet booth together holding hands. He wanted this tiny bit from me, and I gave it gladly. I wanted so much more for him.
Aaron handed the valet his ticket and he disappeared to retrieve the vehicle. As soon as he was gone, Aaron leaned in beside me, his warm breath brushed against my cheek as he whispered softly, “Come home with me tonight.”
Aaron cupped my cheek tenderly. As he did this, I moved in to kiss him. He welcomed my lips with an aching passion. I knew I had far too much to drink when I cupped his face with both hands hungry for his mouth. I kissed him hard. It was the first time I had lost control in public, but I didn’t care.
“I think you had too much to drink, my love,” he whispered as I fell away from him.
“I believe you’re right, Dr. Spencer.”
Aaron stroked the side of my face. I was holding him; we were holding each other. I stepped back realizing how the wine in my bloodstream had made me behave.
“I’ll take care of you tonight, if you come home with me.”
A Jaguar SUV pulled up at the front of the street for Aaron. The valet came over and Aaron handed him a tip and moved over to open the door. Aaron motioned toward the open door.
I looked down at my phone. A car pulled on the side corner, it was my henchmen.
“The babysitters have arrived.” Aaron teased.
The wine was making me lightheaded, and I lost a small chuckle to his comment. With him, I could be myself; I could be free. He made me feel so alive, so much like Andrew had when he had kissed me for the first time. Aaron was in every way a reincarnation of him and so much more…
My security detail lingered. One approached and called my name, “Dr. Nicholson, the car is waiting, sir.”
Jonas was not among them. I had sent him on a different errand, and he had sent the security detail to collect me.
Aaron motioned again. Hesitating, I glanced back at my security team. One guard had an earpiece and was all dressed in the company attire. One sat behind the driver seat, and two others were approaching me to lead me to the car after noticing I was tipsy. Another opened the vehicle door for me.
Aaron gave me no time to answer, he took hold of my hand and dragged me into the vehicle. I climbed in, and he hurried to the driver seat. He took his place behind the wheel and gave me a wide smile. Once inside, he sped off.
The men stared after me. They looked alert and alarmed. The two that had approached climbed into the vehicle and sped from the side of the street after us.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have done that,” Aaron said innocently, but I could see he enjoyed the chaos.
I wondered if they thought I was being kidnapped. I took my phone out and typed two commands for them to fall back. They did but followed regardless. It was part of their job to keep an eye on me, no matter what. I settled into the seat glancing at the rearview mirror; the vehicle was still following.
“What did you tell them? They seem to be slowing down. They’re still following through.”
“It’s their job. They will continue to follow,” I answered.
“What is the address of your residence?” I looked down at the screen of my phone. Aaron furrowed his brow back at me.
“Why do you have to tell them that?”
I gave him a small smile. “I’m required to report.”
“Report?” He reached over and snatched the phone from my grip.
His actions surprised me, and I meant to voice my objections. No one had ever done anything like that. It was strange when being governed by another provoked pleasure and delight. It was odd how it made me feel.
“Today you’re with me, Dr. Nicholson. No reporting, none of that nonsense.”
I furrowed a brow over at him. I wished it were that simple. However, the Company owned me. I wasn’t ready to go rogue, not just yet.
“If I don’t report they will become hostile. Then, we won’t have any time together, my love. Let me calm the dogs; then, I can be completely yours, darling.”
Aaron slightly gazed over. Although he didn’t agree, he reluctantly returned the phone. I grinned and took it.
“The address is 611 Saint Emanuel Street,” he dictated in a stern tone.
“Is there an access gate?”
“There’s a parking garage. No access code required. It’s a high rise in Downtown, near the ballpark. 1Lofts at the ballpark. But you know that already, Dr. Nicholson,” he firmly said recalling the day I had broken into his flat to come reconcile with him.
“Yes, of course, darling,” I simply smiled. “It was the address I’ve forgotten.”
I typed the information Aaron had related. The dogs calmed. I put the phone back in the inner pocket of my suit.
“That was easy and quick,” Aaron said.
“Do you always have to do that?” I gazed over at him.
“Yes, it’s protocol.”
“Why?” Aaron asked
“We’ve already been through this, my darling…” I said looking out the window of his vehicle. The view of downtown Houston came into frame, high-rise buildings against the nightlife of the city coming together in perfect harmony.
“Yes, I know…it’s just...” I curved a lip as we came to a traffic light.
“You didn’t believe me, did you? Is that the reason for your questions?”
“Well, not entirely,” he answered. “I knew you were important, that your work was important. But this is creepy I mean, this whole bodyguard business, you seemed more like a prisoner.”
I chuckled. The light changed and he continued down the street.
“What kind of projects are you working on? It must be some serious research for you to have such a heavy guard. You have more men on you then the president of the United States.”
His questions made me wary. “I doubt that.” I laughed.
“Should I worry?” Aaron asked.
I looked out the window at the inviting lights of the big city, its narrow streets were overflowing with patrons enjoying a stroll. I wished I could indulge in such a peaceful activity.
“Of course not,” I merely said.
“Do they know about me?”
It was an excellent question. One no one had ever asked, and one I had given little thought to.
“I mean, they must know everything, you have such a security detail on you at all times. Jonas alone looks like he’s been through thorough training.”
I curved a lip, true.
He spun his head over at me, waiting for an answer.
“There is nothing to be concerned about, Aaron. Security is merely protocol; the same protocol goes to any company ensuring care of its most guarded product…”
“You’re not a product, Bryce.”
I chuckled. “Of course not. The security is merely for my protection and nothing more. My affairs are my own. I oversee all manners of reconstruction in the science department, others report to me.”
“So, my boyfriend is the boss.”
I furrowed my brow. “Yes, but I also report to another boss…after, I’m left to my own devices to work in my lab. I head the science department and divisions—” I stopped short. The lie had evolved and was trying to bleed into the truth.
“Divisions? What sort of Divisions?”
“Reconstruction, DNA, rehabilitation.”
For a moment he was quiet. He slightly turned to look at me, trying to soak in all the details I had just said to him. I wondered what he thought. He seemed accepting of what little I had revealed.
I gazed over at him quizzically when he was far too quiet. “Is something on your mind, Aaron?”
Finally, he smiled. “You’re such an interesting man, Bryce,” he said. “So disciplined. I bet your lab is spotless.”
I curved a lip.
“Am I right?” he humored, laughing a little.
“I can’t deny I despise disorder, Aaron. I’ve always been a man of order and a believer that everything has a place.”
Aaron grinned wide. “That’s why I’m crazy about you, Bryce.”
We turned down a street, and into a covered garage. “Home sweet home.” Aaron said.
A song I didn’t recognize came through the speakers of his vehicle’s cd player. A woman sang a lovely melody. Her voice was remarkably beautiful.
Aaron caught the sound of the song and reached over to turn up the volume. “I love this song!” he said with a smile on his face.
I had never heard it, music to me was always in the form of orchestras, violins and pianos. Aaron sang along. I watched him for a moment. It fascinated me to watch him take such delight in something so simple. I wished I could do the same, but nothing moved me in the same manner. The only thing that ever brought me as close to that joy was my work.
“Dream a little dream of me,” Aaron crooned as he glanced over at me. He blushed when he caught me gazing at him. He seemed embarrassed.
“It’s a beautiful song. Doris Day sings so lovely,” he said.
I didn’t say anything, just grinned.
Moments after arriving I stood in Aaron’s home, just as I recalled when I had been there before. Aaron closed the door behind as I stepped into his luxurious flat, with high ceilings.
“It’s small, I know,” he said. “Only 850 square- feet, but it’s home and it has a great view of the ballpark. Not that I love baseball, but…” Aaron rolled his eyes. “That’s right, you already know all this,” he trailed off.
I walked ahead and looked around. Aaron walked around me toward the kitchen, troubled, pulling open a cabinet. Was my presence making him anxious? Here I was in his home, once more. My second time in a month. You would think I was moving in. I might as well keep my personal items here- toiletries, that sort of thing.
Aaron pulled out a bottle of wine from the rack where a variety of red wines were displayed. The sink did not differ from the last time when I had intruded, filled with a few dirty dishes.
He set the bottle on the granite counter of the island as he searched the cabinet for wine glasses. I moved about the small flat. “Go ahead have a seat,” Aaron offered, “get comfortable. Would you like some wine?”
I waved his offer away. I’d had my fill of wine for the day.
“May I use your facilities?” I asked.
Aaron pointed straight ahead toward the back of his flat. Ah, right.
I walked, toward the bedroom. He led the way, opening the door of his room. The clutter I witnessed on my first visit hadn’t changed. In fact, the mess seemed to have grown from the last time I had been here.
Aaron leaped ahead of me, grabbing and picking up items from off the floor and tossing them in a nearby laundry basket at one corner of the bedroom. He looked embarrassed while attempting to make the bed. I passed him by and found the facility to the left of his bed. He followed me, stopping near the bathroom door before I could enter.
“I think I can handle this part alone.” I slightly grinned.
Aaron blushed. The bathroom was in the same shape as his bedroom.
“Excuse the mess…work…” he stuttered, turning a deeper shade of pink.
I closed the door in his face. I heard movement outside the door. I pictured him cleaning the items from off his floor, making his bed, tossing the rest of his linens in the laundry basket.
The layout of the flat was simple, open and perfect for a single person. The bathroom had a small walk-in closet to the left.
I curiously walked in and pushed aside a few items of clothing. Suits and ties sat on a small center shelf, the dress shoes were placed on the lower shelf all lined up and in order. He wasn’t a complete wreck, the state of his closet proved he had potential.
To my left, there was a doorway leading to a full size washer and dryer. It was a simple bachelor flat. I hadn’t done my own laundry in so many years. My suits were all dry cleaned and handled by Jonas. I hadn’t even seen the inside of a shopping center; my attire was all ordered. It was just one of the perks of being me.
The bathroom had a granite vanity sink, and an oval tub large enough for two to have a romantic dip. I hadn’t noticed these simple details on my last visit, because I had been preoccupied.
I quickly took care of my needs, flushed, and washed my hands. After wiping my hands with a towel, I found on the top drawer of the cabinet, I entered the bedroom. The bed was made. The items once cluttering the floor were overflowing the laundry basket. A smile crept over my face.
The glasses that had been jumbled on the side table were gone. The medical books had found their places back on the single shelf, which doubled as a Television stand.
I moved through the room in search of my potential mate. As I near the balcony, I noticed it open. Aaron was standing outside gazing out into the city. His form was barely visible through the flowing curtain that blew into the room by the tiny breeze in the night. There was a game, and a roar of cheering was drifting from across the building on the other end of the street. It was both lovely and annoying.
“It’s the Astro’s game. I’ve never been. I just got the place because it’s close to work and this is the area to be in Houston…trendy,” he said.
I understood nothing of what he meant.
Aaron turned as I came to stand at the entrance. He looked handsome out of the jacket and tie. His silk polo shirt was open a few buttons, offering a lovely view of his hairless, tanned skin. I indulged in his loveliness.
“Why did you lie to me the first time we met?”
I was surprised by the question. I approached him, perched my arms on the balcony rail, and gazed into the horizon. The roaring of voices cheering and the music of the ballpark invited curiosity. I had never been to a game.
“Lie?” I asked. There could be many reasons I lied- to protect him, to protect myself, or because he was meant to be merely a one-night-stand. I couldn’t decide which option was my reason.
“You said you lived in the area,” he boldly said.
Aaron’s furrowed brows and stern tone made him look adorable. Anyone else would have irritated me.
“I didn’t lie.” Not meeting his gaze even as I felt his eyes on me. “You asked if I lived in the area, I said yes. It was the truth.” I stated.
“No, it wasn’t,” he firmly said. “Now, I find you here in Houston. You don’t live here either, do you? Why are you here?” He sounded suspicious.
“Is it because of me?”
My poor, innocent Aaron. I wished it were true. “My work requires I move a lot, Aaron. As much as I wish it was because of you my lovely, it is not.”
“Is that why you asked me if I would come away with you?”
Ah, back to that.
“Yes,” I answered. “I move a lot; the job requires it. The residence you saw in Ohio was simply a rental.”
“I figured it out that night.” Aaron looked toward the street and the ballpark. “I knew, but I was just…well, I was hoping…or maybe I was lying to myself that you and I could….be together.” He huffed. “Then, you sent me away. Jonas took me downtown where the convention was held and left me by my vehicle. I knew I was probably not gonna see you again. Imagine my surprise when you came back into my life. By sheer luck we found each other.”
“It wasn’t a coincidence…or luck as you claim.” I quickly added.
Aaron glanced back perplexed.
“If you want me to be truthful, offer me the same courtesy. You have been watching me, haven’t you? Each time I looked; you’ve been my shadow. At first, I thought I must be going insane…” I chuckled.
Aaron’s youthful face went blank.
“I’m no fool. You went looking for me… The question is, why?” I turned and narrowed my eyes over. It was the same glare I had given John on a number of occasions, the same strong look I gave others when I suspected dishonesty.
Aaron laughed out loud. I was stunned.
“Seriously? You don’t know?”
So, it was true. I curiously observed him.
Aaron moved over to me and cupped my face. “Are you that blind? I fell in love with you that moment. Gosh, maybe I’ve been in love with you far longer. You’re a brilliant man. I fell in love with your work and research before I saw you. Once I put the face to the brilliance. I fell hard…”
Shocked, it still, didn’t answer the question.
Aaron pulled away and walked to the other end of the balcony. He paced. His voice sounded shaky. “Okay, it was childish of me. Yeah, if we’re being honest, yeah, I did. I went to work at the company that employed you, with high hopes that I would see you again.” He inhaled deeply, trying to gather his thoughts.
“You work for my employer?”
1 Downtown lofts. Residents of Lofts at the Ballpark have luxurious amenities to complement their spacious apartments. The property is in close proximity to Bayou Place, Market Square, and Main Street. It is also located just two short blocks form exciting Minute Maid Park and Astro's Baseball. This trendy community is exactly where you want to be!COLLAPSE