High school friends - nothing more.
That was our promise to each other, because let's face it, infidelity spreads like a disease.
And it's easier to remain friends than to hurt the only person you ever cared about - or so we thought.
A busy emergency room is Julia Blakely’s safe haven and it’s the last place she expects to find her high school friend. The last time she was him he disappeared from her life, leaving her with nothing more than a note.
In his true bad-boy fashion, Scar Wagner arrives on a gurney, naked and covered in paint, but he can barely remember his own name. That’s what happens when your supportive buddies dare you to dance at the strip club you own.
As Julia tends to the predicament between his legs, past’s memories flood her and she can’t get Scar out of her mind. Fortunately she has a way to find him and when she does, it feels as if no time has passed between them.
Drawn to each other, Scar and Julia quickly forget why they decided to keep their distance. As their conversation flows, old feelings awaken and a need they’ve both denied since high school, grows.
But the past and family matters aren’t as easy to erase. As Julia struggles to help her mother, and Scar fights to shake off his father’s side business dealings, they fail to see that a familiar stranger lurks not far away.
And he has a plan for them both.
Join the hot doctor and the sexy bad-boy dancer as they fight past their misconceptions about relationships and try to ignite that spark they’ve always held for each other in their hearts.Note: Suitable for mature audience. While Cheaters Anonymous is a stand alone novel, it is advisable to read its short prequel When Things Go Wrong.
★★★★★ “I loved this book because you learn so much about Scar and the other Wagner brothers. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat. I laughed, swooned, screamed and cried while reading this book.” ~ Stacy H., Reviewer
“What the hell is that?” The new patient in the ER had an erection almost the size of a man’s arm. It tented the sheet covering him, and I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t on the front lines in the triage area. I could still hear the giggles from behind a curtain.
“This one’s yours, Jules. I’m not touching that with a ten-foot pole.” My co-worker and best friend’s humor didn’t escape me. The two of us were working the graveyard shift, and from the look of it, Chris was not going to help. In fact, bringing all the nurses’ attention to the patient may have only hindered any progress. Fortunately, she decided to leave. “I’m pretty sure I have a patient who needs an enema. I think I’d rather work that end than the one you’ll be working on.”
I highly doubted that. Chris worked the male nurses better than strippers did metal poles.
“Everybody out!” I pointed my finger to the door, but no one moved. Their heads were peeking one over another, trying to catch a glimpse of the patient’s prominent injury. My mind was already running amok as I wondered what the heck was underneath that sheet. “This is not Grey’s Anatomy, people, so unless you’re helping I don’t want to see you.”
They finally scattered back to their duties. On Saturday nights, or should I say Sunday mornings, we usually got the weekend party leftovers, and most of our patients were passed out drunk, stoned, or heavily medicated. Comprehension in any of those states was minimal. This guy on the bed in front of me was totally out. His face was covered in paint – green, red, yellow, blue, you name it and it was there. What kind of a party had he gone to?
I peeled back the sheets with hesitation. The rest of his body was painted in the same mix of colors as his face. My gaze rested over his hip, where underneath the smeared paint I could make out the black lines of a tattoo, though its shape remained mysterious. I wondered whether the patient had any clothes on when he came in. I sighed and removed the sheet down to his knees. The nurse beside me had her mouth completely open and was focused on what first appeared to be a cannon – a huge cannon made of a cylinder that imprisoned the patient’s enlarged penis.
“Holy crap!” I said under my breath. How do you get your cock stuck in a pump?
I examined the contraption carefully. It took a lot of concentration to be a doctor in moments like these. I wasn’t sure whether to curl into a ball and laugh while rolling on the floor, or to smack him around for being so stupid. Yet I didn’t do either. I could tell that underneath the layers of paint this was one stunning man. As a doctor, I was already feeling guilty for ogling him, but how could I not? There wasn’t a hair on him. He was shaved or possibly even waxed. His thighs were defined, baring gorgeous, hard muscles. In the few spots where paint wasn’t covering him, his skin was slick with what I first assumed was cream, but had to be something else – it glowed too much.
I lowered my face close to his body and inhaled. A distinct smell of vanilla and some other flower aroma hit my nostrils, blending with the scent of paint. It swirled in my lungs, and I pictured him squirting massage oil over his bronzed skin. That’s why my gaze traveled north to his chest, where the mounds of muscles formed a breathtaking view. His sculpted abs and chest were crafted like art pieces. A pattern of lines, which I assumed were caused by fingernails, most likely female, streaked down his torso. For a moment I felt jealous of the lucky woman whose hands must have been on him a few hours ago.
“What’s the story on this guy?” I asked Nurse Olivia as I tried to find the best way to remove the plastic contraption without damaging him. And how the heck was he still so big when he was passed out?
“He’s a stripper. His buddies gave him a bottle to drink to ease the pain when he couldn’t get it off.”
With a cock that size, I bet he could get off quite well.
“Some good buddies he has.” I couldn’t help the sarcasm trailing in my voice. “Run a toxicology report and get it to me as soon as it’s in. I want to make sure there’s nothing else in his system we missed.”
Part of me cringed at her comment. I didn’t look or feel old enough to be called ma’am. When the staff saw me, I gloated inside at the respect given to me at this hospital. But I was still aware of my reputation as a hard-ass bitch who needed to get laid and who never left work. What they didn’t know was that I needed to be this way. Practically living at this hospital had kept me out of trouble. I’d been getting better and healthier. It had been over a year since I’d kicked the habit, and the weekly meetings, my friend to which Chris had introduced me, kept me grounded and focused. The old days of hooking up with strangers were finally behind me. I mean, the temptation was still there. After all, just because you’re a vegetarian, bacon doesn’t smell any less delicious. But I chose to concentrate on work, and that made me one hell of a good doctor. Even with a beautiful specimen lying right in front of me, my priority was to help him, not to screw him. I’d never crossed that line at work. And they got the ‘get laid’ part wrong too. I could get laid whenever I wanted to; but at this moment in my life, I chose not to. I chose to be healthy.
“Which club?” I asked, not totally sure why.
“Hounds, I think.”
From the corner of my eye, I saw her cheeks flush red. She was obviously familiar with the club.
What a fool. This fledgling had not a damn clue about men and blushed at the thought of this one dancing around a pole. He’d ruin her before she got a chance to tell him her name.
“How does this thing work?” She pointed to the contraption attached to the patient’s groin. Her naive question broke my concentration. I was tempted to roll my eyes, but I refrained. I could be professional about a beautiful cock encased in a protective cover. Something about this view made me tense my thighs, but I pushed it away.
“The vacuum over the penis encourages blood flow, which expands the tissue and gives the male a stronger temporary erection. Honestly, these rarely break. And it’s unusual for them to get stuck,” I explained, assessing whether any nerves were damaged.
I could order an ultrasound.
“That doesn’t look temporary to me.” She was still pointing at the erection as if I didn’t know what the problem was. I tried to gently wedge my finger between the entry point and the soft skin just above his sack.
“It looks like the release valve meant to decrease the pressure and ease the seal is broken. Can you get me a wooden spatula, please? I wouldn’t want to damage him.” Filled with fear, Olivia left. She was probably devastated that this hunk could possibly be limp forever. Unfortunately, not everyone got doctor humor. While what I’d said was unlikely, I’d known men who used the pump way too often, to the point where they could only rely on the machine to get hard.
Left to do my job, I worked his skin, lubricating and gently tugging, slowly easing it out, millimeter by millimeter. Geez, this thing is holding well. I’d never have thought it would be so difficult to get one off. I chuckled at my own innuendo.
I’m pretty sure it’d be wise to indulge in some me time at home.
Just as the suction gave way and pressure whizzed from underneath with a slight pop, I felt the patient’s hand on my boob. His eyes were still closed, and it looked like he was dreaming. There was something familiar about the easy expression on his face.
I just stood there with my mouth open. Part of me wanted to rip that arm off me and right out of its socket, while another part ached to remove my scrubs and my bra so that I could feel my bare breast being mangled in his palm. In fact, the temptation of putting his hand down my pants flashed through my mind, but I couldn’t even count the ways in which that would be wrong. I wasn’t sure where the thought had come from at all. It was a daydream the sick me would have had, not the healthy one. Had I just taken a step back?
“Easy there, Romeo,” I said, removing his hand. He mumbled something underneath his breath about scars. The voice, although definitely drunk, sounded familiar.
“What did you say?” I asked. He was in between dreaming and wakefulness. Or maybe he was just that drunk.
“I’m happy to meet you.” His lazy lids opened up slightly, and I gasped. Those beautiful hazel eyes took me back in time to underneath my high school bleachers, where I had spent the most amazing ten months of my life… with Scar. Then, five years later, when I met him again at a ski chalet, we’d gotten stuck in a cave. Before the rescue team arrived his fingers did the kind of magic to my entire body no one had ever been able to match since. I’d searched for that perfect orgasm over and over again with plenty of men, but never found it.
I quickly pulled out his chart and double-checked the name: Nicholas Wagner. The one and only. Or as I knew him – Scar.
Looking back at his arm, I reached for a paper towel, dipped it in a cup of water, and washed the rainbow paint on his arm away to reveal a faint resemblance to the same white mark that had been there when Scar told me he’d fallen down the stairs. Except now it was camouflaged as a thick rose stem with crying thorns. The drops of painted blood looked too real. The artwork was crafty: a blend of tears falling off rose petals, flowing downward. They were everywhere and matched the inked flowers I remembered over his hip. The design was beautiful yet sad, and extended over his shoulder and down his arm. I quickly scanned the rest of his body, wiping away a spot here and there. It was filled with sparsely scattered white marks.
Must have been all the guys beating him up after they found out their girlfriends cheated with Scar.
I pulled the stained paper over his upper lip, where the scar I remembered feeling beneath my mouth gave his a slight, sexy lift. I couldn’t help but smile and feel my insides tingle with warmth.
“I know you,” he mumbled and my breath locked in my lungs for a moment. Was it possible that he remembered insignificant me after so many years? Did he ever have any regret over leaving me with nothing more than a note after our night in the cave? Honestly, it didn’t matter now. It shouldn’t have mattered. He knew where I lived, and he never called. Besides, Scar Wagner most likely still held onto his cheating ideals, which meant that we had too much in common. As much fun as we’d probably have, I wouldn’t want to hurt him. And I wouldn’t want to get hurt either. It would be only a matter of time before one of us cheated, and I didn’t want to go down the road of instigating infidelity again – especially in my own relationship. What was I thinking? I hadn’t even had a relationship since the last time I’d seen him.
I’d been trying to get healthy for over a year now, and it was beginning to work. While it was still difficult to believe in the happily-ever-after, at least I wasn’t upset about the prospect of spending the rest of my life alone. I’d abstained from sex, substituting self-love in its place. While there was probably nothing better than a man’s strong tongue on me, or a nice thick cock inside me, I had learned to do without them.
And I wished I could take full credit for my recovery, but I couldn’t. If it weren’t for that one dreadful night that scared the living shit out of me, I wasn’t sure whether I’d ever have found the strength to seek help. It took a man’s hands around my throat in a dark alley, his pants down at his ankles, and the barrel of a cold gun pressed to my temple for me to realize how dangerous my addiction had become. The memory of him ripping my panties off from underneath my dress was still fresh. The feeling of helplessness as he pushed himself inside me would remain with me forever. Disgust and shame still overpowered my every muscle.
That night at the hospital had been a wakeup call. Luckily someone had found my near-lifeless body. The son of a bitch had decided I’d be better off dead. Bruised cheeks, blood-shot eyes, and two broken ribs later, I made a choice to heal. Thank goodness Chris had been on duty when I was admitted. She was able to keep what had happened quiet, and she vowed to kick my addiction’s ass. It was the fear I held onto that forced me to stop. The never-ending pain in my limbs overwhelmed the need to feel pleasure. That I could never forget. I concentrated on my job, took longer shifts, and lost myself to work. Dates were off limits, men were off limits, and the more time I spent at the hospital working, the better I felt. Chris was the only co-worker I told my problems to. With her help, I left Washington and moved back to New York for a fresh start – a new beginning. She had been my saving grace.
No more finding myself lying in a foreign bed in the morning beside someone I didn’t know or recognize. The last walk of shame I took was two years ago. It had taken me a while to figure out how I could have allowed my life to stray so far off its path, and the only answer I could find was Scar Wagner. For years I ached to find that pleasure he’d shown me in that cave, hoping and praying that one of the men I slept with would be it. None of them could measure up, and I never slept with any one of them more than once. My every decision trickled down to him. I didn’t blame him; that would be wrong. But it didn’t change the fact that I had let a man indirectly affect my way of living.
“You’ve had a lot to drink, Mr. Wagner.”
He cringed when I voiced his last name.
Yes, at one point Scar’s family issues had made him despise his last name. But I thought he was over that.
I picked up a blanket from the warming drawer and covered him before turning to Olivia, who was standing at the foot of the bed with the spatula in her hand, still staring at the patient’s crotch. The tented fabric seemed to have risen, and for a second I debated checking him again. But when I saw him give Olivia a crooked smile, like he knew exactly what the sight of him was doing to her body, I was pretty sure he was just excited to see her.
Same old Scar. Definitely dangerous, and inevitably not good for me. I need to keep my distance.
“He can be dismissed when he sobers up. If the toxicology report comes clean, of course,” I said to her as I lowered the bed. She typed my notes on the tablet for the next practitioner, as my shift would probably be over by the time he sobered up. “Olivia will take care of you, sir. It shouldn’t be long now.”
I moved onto patient number... well, I usually lost count after the first few. And when I finally got home and closed the door behind me, I slid my back down against it and brought my knees to my chest. At last I could let my guard down. Taking in full breaths, as if I haven’t had enough air all night, I felt dizzy. My hands trembled, and the sound of my heartbeat drummed in my ears. I hadn’t expected my feelings for him to return that quickly, and as much as I wanted to stay away, I knew it would be pointless.
Scar’s visit to the hospital kept me restless at night, with my hand between my legs, trying to find that familiar climax for which I had been aching for the last six years. I wasn’t successful.