All He Desires - Nate & Eliza (Crossroads #12)(6)

By: Melanie Shawn

“I’ll be right there, Nana.”

He disconnected the call and shut down his computer. His screen went blank but his mind was still working out the issues that he was trying to solve as he left his office and made his way out the back to his truck. Whenever he got engrossed in a project, especially one as high stakes as what he was currently working on, he’d lose time. It was like he was submerged into an alternate world and when he reemerged, time would have lapsed. Hours. Days. Weeks. Even months.

But at least when he was working on a cyber job he was still available for things like dentist appointments. The other aspect of his job took him away physically for days, weeks, even months. A large part of why he was an asset to Elite Security was that his Ranger training qualified him for bodyguard work and his computer and tech abilities qualified him for cyber security work.

The few people in his life that were close to him had always complained that he let his work consume him. They weren’t wrong. He did.

Being gone for long stretches of time was just part of the job. And getting engulfed in his work wasn’t a conscious choice, or going into “work mode” as his family referred to it, it was just how he was programmed. Which was probably why there were only a few people in his life that he was close to, and also why the relationship, or more accurately arrangement, that he was in currently worked so well. The woman he’d been seeing off and on for the past two years was even more of a workaholic than he was.

Bailey Rossum was a pediatric surgeon who had no fantasies of romance and happily ever after. They were two adults that were attracted to each other, were physically compatible and were each other’s plus one when they were available. He’d attended several hospital charity functions, weddings and holidays with her and she’d accompanied him to multiple fundraisers and formal family functions.

Bailey was smart, funny and gorgeous. It was no hardship to spend time with her in or out of the bedroom. But he never missed her. They’d go months without seeing or contacting each other and she wouldn’t even cross his mind, and he doubted that he crossed hers.

She was the only woman he’d ever been with that had not just accepted his ways but mirrored them and had never taken his lack of interest personally. No other woman had understood that particular trait and he didn’t blame them. They wanted his attention, and although he never ignored them intentionally, it still didn’t change the fact that when his brain was engaged in problem-solving mode, there was no room for it to hold any other data. Like remembering dates, calling or texting.

Of course, Nana Holmes had an opinion about that phenomenon, just like she had an opinion about everything. She maintained that “the right girl” would break through those barriers. The right girl would take the lead in his priorities. The right girl would inspire him to make time. The right girl would captivate his interest even more than breaking codes or finding the right algorithm or finding pattern disturbances.

A vivid image of long brown hair, emerald green eyes and a smile that could bring even the strongest man to his knees immediately flashed in his mind’s eye.

There was one girl that had done all of those things.

He’d met her on the first day of school freshman year in Mr. Hawkins’ human physiology class. They’d been assigned as lab partners and that was the one and only class in his entire scholastic career that he’d ever gotten less than a ninety percent in. The second she’d walked into the class, wearing jeans and a sleeveless baby blue turtleneck, his brain had short-circuited.

When she’d stepped up to the table and introduced herself as his lab partner he hadn’t been able to say anything. The wind was knocked right out of him and time had stood still. In that instant, he’d lost the ability to think, to speak and even to breathe.

The class had started and he hadn’t heard a thing the teacher said. His entire world shrunk to her presence. It was as if her body was radio waves and he was tuned to her channel. It’d taken almost a month before he’d been able to hold a normal, well normalish conversation with her. But even then he had to put all of his energy and brainpower into doing so. Which meant he didn’t have anything left to put towards the actual class work.

He’d worked for months and months trying to build up the courage to tell her how he felt. Unfortunately, that had never happened. In a sick twist of fate, his brother had beaten him to it. And he got a front row seat to her relationship with his twin brother.

It’d changed the trajectory of his life.

Once the girl he’d loved from afar had started showing up at his house for dinners and he’d had to watch his brother kiss, hug and touch her, instead of finishing high school in the normal four year time frame he’d planned on, he’d fast-tracked his education and graduated after sophomore year. He’d left to go to college two years early just to get away from her. Well, her and Neil.