Christian had just finished with his first patient of the day, Mrs. Corrigan, a female vampire from Boston in her third trimester. She and her life mate arrived today for a routine check up and ultrasound. After assuring them all was well with Mom and baby, he retreated to his office to chart before his next appointment.
Luckily most vampire couples were wealthy, a product of longevity. Their species had a lifespan roughly seven times longer than a human. This patient and her spouse had made a trip halfway across the country for her monthly exam. The couple had spent tens of thousands of dollars to conceive their child and thanks to his and Asa’s AR19crx fertility drug the couple were expecting a baby girl.
Unfortunately, the couple would have to put their lives and careers on hold for the remaining eight weeks of Mrs. Corrigan’s pregnancy. He’d ordered her to stay here in the New Orlean’s area at his country retreat where the practice housed mothers close to birthing. A precautionary measure. Babies didn’t always show up on their scheduled due date.
Many years ago he’d turned the lower level of the house into a small hospital with delivery and surgery rooms and everything necessary to care for those of his kind. The top floor was a maternity ward with a nursery, occasionally used when the clinic’s hospital overflowed with patients, which these days was quite often. Of course some out of town patients provided their own lodging, but for those not quite as financially blessed, he and his partners Asa and Noah put them up at the retreat for free.
He could hardly wait for his practice’s visions to become reality. Once they had offices and doctors in cities across the US, and eventually worldwide, hopefully a patient’s commute would be a drive rather than a plane trip.
A knock sounded on his office door and he glanced up from the chart. “Come in.”
A moment later, Tiffany Peebles entered, her expression a bit hesitant. “Your receptionist up front, Grace is it? She directed me to human resources then told me to come see you here. Hope I’m not disturbing you.”
Ah. He’d been expecting her. Tiffany was a good friend of his and now an employee. This was her first day--finally. It had taken her a little over four months to dissolve her business so she could commit herself here one hundred percent as the V clinic’s IT.
He flashed her a welcoming smile and waved her inside. “Darlin’, you’re never a disturbance. Have a seat.” He gestured toward the two black leather arm chairs situated in front of his desk.
She settled in one across from him. “Christian, I just want to thank you again for this opportunity. I’m really looking forward to working for the V clinic.”
“And I couldn’t be happier to have you here.” That statement was true and it wasn’t. Tiffany would bring the V clinic’s information technology into the twenty first century, something they’d needed for a very long time. Also for a very long time he’d been thinking about making Tiffany a bed partner. They had chemistry, lots of chemistry. Trouble was she happened to be the human daughter of one of his closest friends. Now she was his employee—even more reason to bottle his lust for her. Having her so close to him might just prove that bottle had very brittle glass.
“Thanks. I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little nervous about this. Not the job itself. I’ve set up patient systems for dozens of medical practices. It’s just been years since I’ve worked in an office situation.”
Christian could sense nervousness percolating in her. She was bound to be a bit uneasy. She’d dissolved an eleven year business to be his IT person. He had every intention of making her transition into the V clinic as pleasant as possible. “You will fit in, Tiffany. No need to worry about that.”
“Really? You think? It’s been years since I’ve done the whole office socializing thing. I hope I’m up to it.”
He knew what she meant. She was a computer nerd. Her business and personal life had always revolved around computer operations, games, whatever techie people like her did for work or fun. But like himself, she was a fan of outdoor sports too, a number of which they’d enjoyed together many times over the twelve years they’d been friends.
As far as socializing went, it seemed she only did that with family and the Davenport/Peebles extended clan, most of which were vampires. Needless to say she felt more comfortable around his species. Unfortunately most of his staff were humans. But all his people knew he’d hired her and all were anxious to meet her.
“No worries, Tiffany. The entire staff has been anticipating you’re arrival. They’re so sick of the manual system we have in place—just trust me when I tell you you’ll be welcomed with open arms. I’ve made sure of it.”
She laughed softly. “That’s good to hear.”
“So tell me. How are things with you, beautiful?”
She shrugged and offered him a cute, little half smile. “It’s been a bit crazy trying to close my business, clear out my office space and still finish projects with clients. Otherwise I’m fine and I’m really excited to be here. I believe I’m done with all the paperwork so what’s next?”
“Getting you a place to work would be the first order of business, but can you give me a second to finish charting on this patient?”
“Of course. Take all the time you need. It’s your dime, gorgeous.” She drawled the playful endearment.
Christian winked at her. He enjoyed flirting with her and she usually returned the favor. Nothing ever came of it, but maybe one day he’d change that. “Fair enough. Make yourself comfortable.”
“Care if I look around?” She craned her neck around toward a wall supporting a large bookshelf where he housed a collection of antique medical journals.
“Not at all.” He gestured for her to help herself.
She got up and walked over to the bookshelf, pulled out an old dusty volume and began to peruse it’s contents.
Yes, she was going to fit in fine around here. What a relief to have a new hire he knew as well as Tiffany. She came from a family of prominent vampires, all good friends of his so he had no need to worry she’d put the true nature of his practice at risk. Hiring humans for a vampire practice was tricky business, but the V clinic did so all the time. If the hire wasn’t known personally by one of the partners, enchantment was employed during the interview process to make sure the human was trustworthy.
He couldn’t wait for everyone to meet Tiffany. Asa, his best friend and partner would take a shine to her because the two were so alike. Noah on the other hand, his third partner, not so much he’d bet. That vampire was very old school.
He picked up his pen and re-opened the chart. The task needed to be done while the information was still fresh in his head. Then he could focus on pertinent issues with Tiffany regarding her position. Minutes into charting, a number of inappropriate positions with Tiffany which had nothing to do with her work at the V clinic began filtering into his thoughts. She’d been in his office less than five minutes and already his pulse rate and breathing had spiked. So had another part of his anatomy.
He glanced at her now meandering about the room, her attention settling on the wall displaying his myriad of medical degrees which were many. He watched her study them, while he studied her cute little backside painted into a pair of dark blue denim jeans.
God, she was a pretty little thing and everything he liked in a female. She was tall with the body of an Amazon woman, the features of an exotic goddess with a riot of waist length, curly auburn hair, generally pony tailed as it was today. And her eyes were limpid, dark chocolate pools any man could get lost in.
He had a whole new respect for the old adage out of sight out of mind.
Christian closed the chart, got up and walked over to her.
She turned and smiled up at him. “Ready for me now?”
“All yours, Darlin’.”
She glanced back at the wall and pointed to his first medical degree. “Geez, Christian. You earned your first medical degree in 1948? How old are you, dude?”
He chuckled. “For a vampire, I’m just a pup. One hundred and twelve. Or will be next month.”
Her eyes went wide and round. “I get vampire longevity, it’s just a little weird because you look my age. Wow. A hundred and twelve, huh?”
“It’s not weird if you’re vampire. The majority of your family is vampire. You know our species have benefits.”
“Of course. Longevity wouldn’t be so bad.” She grinned.
“There’s far more than that, Darlin’.”
“I’m sure I don’t have to tell you.”
“Mind control and psychic abilities. I was a little worried about that taking on this job. I know you enchant your employees prior to hire.”
She did look worried. He hastened to reassure her, “Darlin’, I’d never enchant you. It would be impossible since you’ve already enchanted me.”
Her eyes went wide with surprise. “Ha ha. Christian, you’re a mess, you know that?”
“So you’ve told me many times.”
She released an exasperated sigh and ran her tongue across her upper lip.
Watching her now, Christian began to ponder what he’d like to do to those lips of hers, painted a pretty shade of dark rose. He sucked in a deep breath and caught her blood scent, undisguised by her perfume and shampoo. Those smelled good too. He reached out and took hold of an auburn curl which had strayed from her ponytail, wrapped it around his index finger and inhaled again. More than his next breath he wanted to sink his fangs in her neck and taste her.
Not a good train of thought for a post interview. He tucked the stray lock behind her ear.
“You’re being bold. Care if I play?” She reached up and took hold of his long blonde ponytail which happened to be resting on his shoulder. She twirled it around her forefinger slowly, seductively, then all at once gave it a harsh tug.
“Ouch.” He tugged his hair free of her hold and said, “I guess I deserved that.”
“Yes, you did,” she chided. “Look, I know you like to flirt and I don’t mind. But let’s keep the little game we play in the vault, okay? I don’t need co-workers thinking you hired me because we’re knocking boots. Got it?”
“Got it,” he muttered, righteously chastised and feeling it. He was supposed to be getting her settled in here. He took a step back and folded his fingers together at his waist before they went to exploring something more interesting than a lock of hair. “So Darlin’, back to business. What sort of questions do you have for me?”
“I just need to know where to begin.”
“To be honest, Tiffany, all I want is for this to be easy and connect the dots between New Orleans and future V clinics and hospitals. I can’t tell you how to get there. The way I see it, this is your ballgame. I want you to do whatever you see fit to make this new patient filing system work seamlessly for the V clinic. All I ask is that you keep me updated on your progress. Money is no object. I want the best user friendly system you can create for our staff. I want you to train them of course, along with me and my partners. If you need to hire help, do it. You don’t have to ask permission.”
“Sweet deal. I can make all that happen. Do you and your partners have a tentative date for seeing this project completed at this facility?”
“Honestly, no. Asa is far too busy in Denver to worry about what’s going on with your position. Right now he’s overseeing construction there, ordering necessary equipment and supplies, hiring staff and courting a couple of vampire OB’s to move to Denver. Denver will be the next place we’ll send you when you’re finished setting up the system here, but it will be at least several months before the project there is complete.”
“I see. Noah is you’re other partner, correct?”
“Yes and as far as Noah is concerned...” He paused there and let out a soft snort. “Well, he isn’t too happy about this system overhaul. Forgive him if he isn’t overly cordial toward you.”
“Humm. Sore loser, huh? Guess there was a vote taken and he got shot down?”
Christian laughed. The girl was sharp. “That would be correct.”
She chuckled then shook her head. “Well, no worries. I ain’t got a problem with anything we’ve discussed regarding this job. Travel is cool. I’m used to deadlines. And Noah’s sour grapes won’t scare me away. I’m here for the long haul.”
He nodded and bit back a smile. She embraced her redneck roots and didn’t give a damn about grammar or high fashion. Funny. Neither did he. He’d grown up in Texas and it was still part of his heart and soul.
“All right. So where do you want me to start? Do I have an office?”
“Yes, but it’s not ready yet. I’d planned to have you work in here today. Maybe you can start shopping first.” He pulled his wallet out of his jeans, extracted a credit card, then handed it to her. “Buy what we need. Computers, software, whatever. There is no limit on this.”
She nodded. “I won’t break the bank I promise. Umm, so what’s up with this Noah, doctor? Just curious as to why he isn’t on board with this decision. Has he got something against trees?”
Christian chuckled. “He has something against many things. He’s an older vampire and a bit of a curmudgeon. All of us stay abreast of medicine as it progresses with both humans and vampires. That’s why I have so many medical degrees. We generally go back to med school about every thirty years or so. Noah gained his last degree in 1985 prior to computers being common in the workplace and he’s overdue for another round of med school. Despite his lack of knowledge regarding certain technologies that have nothing to do with a medical practice, he is a very astute caring doctor, I assure you. I’ll introduce you to him later today.”
“And Asa? What’s he like?”
Christian smiled thinking of his best friend. “You’ll get along with him famously. He loves beautiful women and likes to flirt a bit, but he has an easy going demeanor. I’d say I consider him my closest friend because we grew up together. But you, Darlin’ run a close second.”
Her expression seemed pleased by that comment. “If that’s true you must not get out much because we only hang out a few weeks a year.”
“Maybe we can change that.” She blinked at him with a bit of surprise and curiosity. He didn’t want her to overthink the comment so he pressed on, saying, “Anyway, back to business. I’m working on getting you your own office. The painters are a bit behind. They’re finishing up in there today, so everything should be ready for you by tomorrow. For now, just work in here, figure out what you need to do, make some calls, price equipment, go shopping. Do whatever you see fit.”
“Okay. Sounds like a plan.”
“I’m assuming you’ve tied up loose ends with your business?”
She nodded. “Yes, for the most part. I have a couple jobs I need to finish but they won’t interfere with this. Oh and I talked to Chelsie yesterday. She’ll be calling you sometime next week to talk about working here now that her internship at Harvard is over.”
“Wonderful. I can’t wait to bring your sister on board. We need all the doctors we can get. So do you think you can teach me, Asa and Noah to do this? None of us are computer savvy like the human staff.”
“No worries. It might take some time, but I think you’ll find the system I have in mind so much easier than you thought once you begin using the new program.”
“Right on.” He was so happy to have her on board. This attraction between them aside, Christian knew the V clinic would benefit greatly from her knowledge and skills. “And I promise I’ll behave, Darlin’. Complete professionalism within the confines of these walls.” She gave him a ‘phsst’ and wrinkled her nose. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep. And here’s a promise you can take to the bank. If you ever do anything I don’t like or approve of, I will belt you. And you know me. I fight dirty.” She winked.
There was more truth in that teasing statement than he cared to admit. Tiffany was one tough cookie. She had a passion for sports, hunting and other mostly masculine hobbies. He knew her to be country to the core and liked that about her because of his own roots. She was fiercely protective of those she loved, but force to be reckoned with if someone threatened them.
Christian would never forget the day she’d killed Isabella, a feral female of their kind, meaning an evil, insane vampire. Tiffany had grabbed one of his compound bows, a broad head arrow and ended the bitch’s life in a single shot. An amazing feat because Isabella had been a very old feral vampire with such telekinetic skills rarely seen by any vampire feral or normal.
“Where’d you just go? I was teasing you know.”
“Oh, I know. Just cringing at the thought of learning all that computer stuff I’m sure you’ll be teaching me one of these days soon. Do you have any more questions for me?”
“Not at the moment. Go do your doctoring business and leave me to this antiquated mess ya’ll created. I’ll figure something out in time, which hopefully all of you can live with. Including your partner, Vlad. Hope he really isn’t stuck in the dark ages.”
He chuckled. “He kind of is, Darlin’, but no worries. He’ll adjust. I really am glad you’re here, Tiffany.”
“I’m glad to be here.”
His gaze locked with hers and he saw something unmistakable in her rich chocolate gaze--desire mixed with a little wariness. He felt both emotions himself.
Not likely either of them were going to keep this attraction thing in the vault very long.
“I need to go, my next appointment’s waiting. Later if I have time I’ll give you a tour of the facility.”
“Sounds like a plan. Before I dig in, where do you keep the coffee?”
He smiled because he knew she loved her coffee. He made a mental note to buy her a kick ass a coffee maker and cappuccino machine for her office. “Follow me, Darlin’.”
* * *
Tiffany’s head still spun as she trailed Christian out of his office and down the hall. How the hell was she supposed to work with that way too hot vampire? Desire had been blazing in his gold eyes and they’d been shimmering with blood lust too, something she easily recognized living around vampires for so many years.
Guess she should have thought about that before she took a job that would have her in proximity to his gorgeous ass each and every day. Hell, it had been bad enough hanging out with him at her mom’s a handful of weeks a year.
Excitement and worry coursed through her with equal intensity over the predicament she’d landed herself in. Fantasizing about Christian was one thing. A safe, delicious desire hidden deep in her heart, never to be exposed, like having a thing for a movie or rock star with a one in a million chance of coming to fruition.
Unfortunately, he was everything she’d ever wanted in a man and everything she’d never allow herself to have because he wasn’t a man of her species. That thought brought her out of her romanticized orbit with the speed of an astroid on a collision course for her heart.
Her ability to trust didn’t exist outside her mom and two sisters, Chelsie and Dannie. She did trust Christian to a point. He was her friend and a good one, but he was still a guy. She’d never dare trust him on a romantic level. But some hot, steamy, bone melting sex wouldn’t be so bad. A torrid affair. Oh yeah. Just a short one. What would be the harm that?
The astroid scenario dummy.
She forgot herself and let a little groan of aggravation escape. Christian caught it immediately, paused in the hall and faced her.
“Are you okay?”
Busted. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“I don’t think so. If I did anything to upset you—well I’m sorry. It was all in fun, Darlin’.
“I said I’m fine, damn it. I need coffee. I’m grouchy when my caffeine levels get low.”
Before he could reply the blonde nurse, Katie, who she’d met along her tour to HR, ran around the corner of the hallway straight toward them, her blue eyes wide with fear.
“Dr. La Mond! It’s Mrs. Corrigan. I think she’s in labor.”