Shot in the chest, Mack Maitland is left for dead on his ranch, the Triple M. When his hands finally find him, he’s nearly knocking on the Pearly Gates. Luckily for him, Dr. Timothy McArthur has a selfish need to see Mack survive.
Tim has always felt a rush of desire every time he laid eyes on the handsome widower. Mack is straight as an arrow, and Tim had always thought himself the same, so the doctor pushes the need he feels down deep. Being one of only five doctors in a small ranching community keeps him too busy to think about having a love life.
When Mack mutters something in his post-op drugged state, it floors Tim. And makes him realize that maybe there’s a chance.
A chance that scares the hell out of him.
The nurse walked closer and placed a hand on Tim’s shoulder. “He’s healing more and more each day. I have a strong feeling your friend is going to come back to you as strong as ever. You’ll get the chance to tell him how you feel soon enough.”
Tim turned to her, stunned. “How I feel? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Her stare softened. “When a person is close to death, the truth often comes out. Whether it’s in words or in body language. It doesn’t take a mind reader to see how you feel written all over your face.”
Tim was stunned into silence.
“Maybe telling him how you feel might be healing for you both,” she said, her voice low. “Hearing how much you want him to improve might give him the will to wake up.”
Tim looked to the bed, knowing he couldn’t voice the words out loud. Mack wouldn’t want him. Yet the chance to say what was in his heart to a man who couldn’t hear him was tempting.
Mack’s nurse headed out, leaving him alone with his thoughts. After standing there, trying to decide if he should do it or not, he pulled a chair close to the bed and sat down. Gripping Mack’s large hand in his, he went for it.
Perhaps saying the words aloud and getting them off his chest would make it easier to let those feelings go.
“Mack… I know you likely don’t want to hear this from me, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I’ve always liked women, always known I was straight… until meeting you two years ago confused the hell out of me. When you walked into the clinic, I began getting excited you were there. My heart would speed up at the sight of you walking down the halls.”
Mack’s hand tightened on his, giving him the strength to continue.
“And the thought of you holding me… it comes to me at night… me in your arms… it makes me think of nothing else.”
“Come’ere,” Mack warbled, his eyes still closed.
Tim froze, wondering if Mack had just asked him to come closer. It couldn’t be, yet the opportunity for a stolen moment made him shake with need. He released Mack’s hand and rose to his feet. Careful of all the wires and leads, Tim crawled into the side of the bed and wrapped his arms around the large, muscled man.
Mack’s hand lifted and gripped Tim’s arm, holding him tightly.
“I… love you, too,” Mack said softly, his usually deep voice barely a whisper.