Falling for him was never part of the plan, but neither was getting kidnapped.
Ravi Singh is a homeless veteran haunted by memories of his time in the Marine Corps. Thanks to his attempts to get a group of teenaged gang members to leave the life of crime they’ve chosen, he got shot. Now the wound is infected, and he’s too sick to move. When the teens bring his favorite nurse practitioner to him, he’s torn between anger that they kidnapped her and gratitude that they cared enough to get him help.
As Emma Johnston works to treat Ravi, searches for a way to escape, and attempts to figure out just what his relationship to the gang is, she meets the young orphan boy dubbed Twitch. The child brings out the best in Ravi and helps Emma see a side of the gang members she never expected. The more she learns about Ravi’s unconventional life, the better she understands him and the more she wishes he would quit stubbornly refusing to seek psychiatric treatment. Falling for him was never part of the plan, but neither was getting kidnapped.
Can their budding relationship survive such challenging circumstances, or will it end in devastation?
“Bring her,” her kidnapper ordered, and the hand on her arm urged her to move.
They crossed a large echoing expanse and went up a short flight of metal stairs. After passing through a creaking door, they took her forward several yards before turning and going through another door with squeaky hinges. The air inside this room held the overpowering stench of body odor. Apparently, the old man rarely bathed, if he was even in there. Someone desperately needed a shower, anyway.
Someone untied the bandanna covering Emma’s eyes and removed it. The sudden brightness temporarily blinded her. She blinked a few times to help her eyes adjust to the fluorescent lights as her kidnapper spoke beside her.
“The old man’s over there. Let me know what you need to treat him.”
She followed the wave of his hand and spotted the man lying on a cot against a plain white wall. The “old man” appeared to be about thirty and in desperate need of a shave and a haircut as well as a shower. Emma’s compassion came out at the pathetic sight, and she moved to his side as he moaned. He shifted under the blanket, and it slipped down to reveal a bare mahogany shoulder with a vaguely familiar tattoo of an eagle, anchor, and globe. Sweat soaked his shaggy black hair, and she prayed whatever he had wasn’t contagious. With the serious lack of hygiene, it wouldn’t surprise her if he had several bacterial and fungal infections and maybe a parasite or two.
She knelt by the cot and spoke soothingly as she brushed the hair off of his forehead. His skin was hot to the touch. “It’s okay. I’m here to help you.”
He groaned and shifted again. “My wound… it’s bad.”
She gasped as he opened his dark eyes and looked at her. She knew this man. He was one of the homeless veterans who came in from time to time, and he was one of her assigned patients. “Ravi Singh?”
His glazed expression clouded with confusion. “Nurse Johnston? They took me to the VA?”
“No, they brought me to you.” She lifted the blanket to find his wrist and checked his pulse. Fast but strong. “They said you’re sick. Aside from fever, what are your symptoms?”
“Pain. Lots of pain.” He pulled down the blanket to reveal a lean upper body with a bandaged abdomen. “I think it’s infected.”
“What is infected?” What had happened to this poor man?
“The gunshot wound.”
Had her kidnappers shot him? She tossed a glance over her shoulder and found a handful of male teenagers watching her every move. Were they all armed? Would they shoot her too?
E.A. West, award-winning author of sweet and inspirational romance, is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.