Stone Wilder is no less a daredevil bad boy than the rest of his brothers, especially when the thrill of a lifetime is about to arrive in a surprising package…
The Doctor Is In Deep
Wishful, California, is 3000 miles from Dr. Emma Sinclair’s last job in a New York City ER. Running her father’s clinic for a summer, Emma treats bee stings, stomach flu, and the occasional pet cat. Then there’s Stone Wilder: gorgeous, laid-back, and irritating beyond belief. Emma loathes him. Almost as much as she wants to throw him on her examining table and break every doctor-patient rule in the book…
Paging Dr. Sinclair…
“Shalvis writes with humor, heart, and sizzling heat!” —Carly Phillips
“A total original! Humor, intrigue, and scintillating sex. It doesn’t get any better!” —Suzanne Forster
Hot and bothered, and not in the good way, Dr. Emma Sinclair
switched the sign on her father’s medical clinic from
CLOSED to OPEN. It was eight a.m. sharp, and out of habit, she
braced herself to be bombarded.
Not that that was going to happen, not here in Mayberry,
Excuse her— Wishful, California. Nothing so simple as
Mayberry. Not with the coyotes and bears she knew roamed
around the property on a daily basis. She heard the coyotes in
the early mornings, their eerie howls making the hair on the
back of her neck stand straight up. Even more disconcerting,
she’d caught sight of them watching her from the woods lining
the property, their hungry eyes making her miss the streets of
New York, where the worst predators were grumpy, demanding,
She hadn’t actually seen a bear yet, but everyone who came
through her door had a bear story, so she figured with her
karma, it was only a matter of time. Not in a hurry for that, she
booted up the computer behind the front desk, remembering
with a fond sigh the hustling, bustling rush of her Manhattan
ER, where she literally ran her entire shift; bagging and defibbing,
resuscitating, whatever came her way, with sometimes
little more than caffeine in her system.
Yeah, she’d had it all in New York, a promising career with a
fantastic sublet near Central Park, a great shift in one of the
best ERs in the country . . . it didn’t get better than that.
But it certainly got worse.
A world away from her world, Emma was now on the other
side of the country, deep in the California Sierras, pining for
Starbucks and Thai take-out. Pining for crowds, traffic, and
late trains, that’s how homesick she was. She missed having a
myriad of take-out menus taped to her empty refrigerator, her
next meal a simple phone call away.
No one delivered in Wishful. Worse, there was no fast food
period, no drive-thrus, nothing unless she wanted to drive the
thirty plus miles to South Shore, Lake Tahoe—which meant
that she, a professional water burner, was in danger of starving
She missed so much about New York, but what she missed
most of all was her mom, who after being invincible and raising
Emma on her own while working her fingers to the bone
as an RN, had done the unthinkable.
She’d died of one of the few things that Emma hadn’t been
able to fix—cancer.
Throat tightening, Emma moved through the front room of
the old Victorian-turned-clinic, a place that had been decorated
in the eighties with country chic and hadn’t changed
much except for the equipment, and some of that was questionable.
She opened the country blue, duck-lined curtains,
letting in the mid-June sun. She wondered what the day
would bring. The usual bee sting? Or maybe for kicks and giggles,
a stomach flu.
The problem was people in Wishful saw her as Doc’s little girl. They acted as if she was just the key keeper, someone to
drop some gossip with, or maybe to talk about her father—her
least favorite thing to talk about.
God, what she wouldn’t give for a stroke or cardiac infarction,
something she could really sink her teeth into
When the front door opened, the silly ceramic cow chime
above it jangled, and in came a man, supporting another.
Wishful wasn’t that big, and after being here for two months,
Emma had met quite a few of the locals, including the Wilder
brothers. TJ Wilder, tall and big and broad, assisted his equally
tall and big and broad brother Stone, who was covered in mud
and blood, dripping both all over her floor.
He was limping and grimacing in pain—at least until he saw
her, at which point he swiped his face of all expression, going
testosterone stoic. “Hey,” he murmured. “What’s up, Doc?”
Ah, finally. Finally something more than a nosy neighbor
bringing a casserole and gossip while the real cases went all
the way to South Shore. Finally something more than poison
oak, something right up her alley, and she moved in to help
support Stone, pulling his arm over her shoulder, grabbing his
hand to steady him. He had big hands, tough and scarred,
much like the man himself even before whatever had happened
to him today. “First room,” she directed TJ, bypassing
the front desk, turning toward the hallway which held two examination
rooms. “What happened?”
TJ opened his mouth, but Stone beat him to it. “Just need a
“Really.” Without her and TJ’s support, he’d have slid to
the floor. But she was well used to stubborn patients, the majority
of which were always of the male persuasion. She figured
it had something to do with carrying a penis around all
the time. “So you can walk on your own then?”
Stone managed to arch a brow in her direction, though only
one because the other was slashed through, and bleeding
down his lean jaw. “Why would I do that, when having you
hold me is much more fun?” He gave her more of his weight,
which she estimated at approximately one hundred and ninety
pounds of solid muscle. “You’re softer than old Doc Sinclair,”
True, though her father was plenty soft. In fact, it was his
soft heart that had landed Emma in this situation in the first
place, and she wasn’t referring to the mild heart attack he’d
suffered two months ago—the one that had brought her here
to run his business while he recovered.
Nope, she was talking about his inability to concentrate and
focus on the things that mattered, such as billing people for
services rendered, a problem that had him shockingly near
bankruptcy. In the time she’d been in Wishful, she’d discovered
he’d not billed more often than he had billed, a mistake
she wouldn’t be making. Ever. “Well, you’re stuck with me at
the moment, soft or otherwise.”
“That’s okay.” Stone looked at her. “He always says you’re
a better doctor than him.”
“Whoa. He said that?”
“Yeah, which means you must be really good.”
Oddly touched that her father would say such a thing about
her, much less anything at all, she didn’t respond. She and her
father didn’t know each other well. Other than the matching
MDs, they had nothing in common. Her dad liked the slow,
laid-back style of doctoring in a small town, while she preferred
the busier, more interesting, fast-paced ER life. Oil and
water . . . “What happened to you, Stone? Did someone do
this to you?”
“No.” His voice was low and hoarse, as if it hurt just to talk.
Wasn’t that just a Wilder for you. Tall, built and sexy, and so
completely full of shit. Out of the three brothers, she liked
Cam and TJ best, mostly because they spent most of their
time out of town.
But Stone . . . well, he was charming and charismatic as
hell, but he was also as wild as his name implied—her least favorite
quality in a man, tough or otherwise. And Stone was as
tough and impenetrable as they came, the kind of man who
could be dropped anywhere on the planet and get on just fine.
An admirable characteristic, sure, but she preferred a quiet,
more sophisticated guy, preferably another doctor, who understood
Not that it mattered. He was a patient not a prospective
lover, and she directed him to an examination table. Not that
she could “examine” much with all the mud. “We need to get
those dirty things off,” she told TJ, and left him to it while she
pulled a gown from a drawer.
Stone lay back willingly enough when TJ pushed him down
to a prone position. “Just the Band-Aids is all ...Tell you
what, you give me a box, and in return I’ll take you on an outdoor
adventure. Name it. Anything you want.”
The Wilder brothers ran an outdoor adventure/expedition
company, which as far as Emma could tell meant that they got
paid to be ski and mountain bike bums, playing all day long in
the great outdoors.
She skied, but that was about it for the great outdoors for
her. “I don’t think so,” she said, pulling out a tray.
“Ah, come on, the fresh air’s good for you.” He sounded as
if he could barely talk. “How about a rock climb, or getting on
a mountain bike?”
She understood the appeal of the area, she really did. It was
just that in her world, which she was chomping at the bit to
get back to, she didn’t have time for such things. “Let’s focus
on your injuries.”