A failed murder attempt felt crappier than a failed orgasm, especially when you were the one getting shot.
In a private suite in the south wing of the Prestons of Chicago’s medical center, Luke Preston made a mental list of all the things he hated about hospitals. Even his own.
The stupid robes.
The fact that the nurses looked at you with virginal mercy rather than intense lust, which were the looks he was most accustomed to.
The fact that he did not rule here, as lord and master, but his doctors did.
And the fact that everyone saw fit to visit uninvited and give him a little bit of shitty advice.
Like his friends, who now surrounded his bed with consternated faces because eleven days ago, Luke had been shot and the bullet barely missed slicing into the top chambers of his heart.
Now they were showing him blog posts and articles that referred to him as the “Walking Miracle” because had the bullet been a hair closer to the right, he would’ve died. Yeah, right, that was Luke, the Walking Miracle.
But what happened eleven days ago wasn’t a miracle. Miracle if the fucking man had missed. But oh no, being shot and lying in a hospital bed didn’t constitute a miracle to Luke, who’d never even had a sprain his whole life. Plus everyone knew he was a cad—clearly, the heart in his chest was just for pumping blood to his cock. Not for feelings and shit.
Hell, he could probably still live without one.
And yet here he was now, in a private suite, eating the same crappy food all the other people in the hospital ate, and so far, not one nurse had given him a blow job. That was not the way to treat one of the owners of the hospital, as far as he was concerned.
He was a sexy man. Everybody wanted him. His famed and acclaimed advertisements for one of his own male underwear companies were fit for a Playgirl cover; he was every woman’s wet dream and they went wild for his big, thick cock perfectly delineated under those damned white briefs—hell, his dick and balls could barely fit inside, he was so well endowed.
But it seemed that when you were in a hospital, your sex appeal considerably diminished once you donned those stupid robes and were hooked up to an IV and shit.
He was angry from sex withdrawal. Eleven days.He’d never gone without it for so long. Even his fat, elderly, nighttime nurse was starting to look good. Hell, the most arousing thing he’d had all day was getting his bandage changed.
“You sure you didn’t see his face, Luke?” Daniel Lexington demanded.
Daniel stood next to his sister, Chloe, and another one of Luke’s good friends, Graves Buchanan, who’d been exclusively banging the luscious Chloe for over a month—the lucky pig. Luke’s other good friend, Cade West, stood alone by the window. He was actually a very moody motherfucker, one who rarely spoke and when he did, it was usually to piss on somebody, like the world was to blame for his young wife’s death years ago.
“No, asshole,” Luke told Daniel. “I didn’t see the bastard’s face, I was too busy getting murdered.”
“Come on, man, you had to have seen something. It’ll help the authorities nail the bastard if you get your head out of your ass and give them some useful information.”
“I might have seen him if I hadn’t been too damned occupied trying not to die.”
And when his would-be killer had arrived, Luke had been too busy screwing the brains out of the woman he’d placed doggy style on the bed to even realize they had a visitor until a jarring sound exploded in the room and Luke had felt as though a chunk of his chest had been torn off.
When he’d rolled off to the side in a bemused bleeding-to-death state and with a wilting hard-on, Luke hadn’t had the presence of mind to see who the hell the bastard was who’d barged in, gun aimed, and shot him. All he knew was that he, Luke Preston, billionaire playboy, charming, intelligent man loved by many and with no enemies until now, had just been shot and was losing a shithole of blood and he should probably call someone fast and start thinking of some smart words to be remembered by.
Bad news was, he hadn’t been able to come up with any witty last words.
His brain hadn’t been at optimal function.
Hell, even after the three blood transfusions they’d jacked him up with when he got here, he still wasn’t . . . good.
He groaned and shifted in the bed, his tailbone aching like an old lady’s. Due to the sideways angle from where he’d been shot, the bullet had both entered muscle and immediately come out—and thank God, it hadn’t touched the woman—but the stitches from the deep, painful “flesh wound” had not been fun, and the left side of his chest still hurt like a motherfucker. It hurt to breathe, to think, to lie here like an imbecile.
“Ah, crap,” he grumbled. “I feel like the bug squished by the dog who just shit on it.”
“Aw, you poor thing,” Chloe said, but she didn’t leave Graves’s side to come and pamper Luke like he deserved. Graves was like the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man, and even now that Chloe had given him a heart, he still wore that graveyard face he’d been born with.
“You’re just pissed they haven’t given you a suppository yet,” Graves said in his usual flat tones.
Daniel laughed, then quickly sobered when Luke scowled. “Luke, seriously, you need to be a little more discriminating with your sex partners,” he said, crossing his arms.
“The woman wanted a fuck, man. What was I supposed to say? No?”
“Yes, asshole. What if Cade’s dog wants to hump, are you going to stick it to him, too?”
Luke glowered at Graves for that last one, but Chloe still gazed up adoringly at the man. Luke shook his head in complete disbelief. “Graves and Chloe? You disgust me, seriously.”
Chloe laughed and held onto her man, all gooey like bubblegum. “Eat your heart out, Luke!”
“Graves, you look like a puppy. Where’s your dignity, man?”
“Look,” Daniel interrupted. “Unless you want to look like swiss cheese with holes all over your person, you should lay low until the police catch the bastard.”
“Or at least hire some bodyguards,” Chloe suggested.
“Bodyguards?” Luke blinked at the notion. “And hand over my privacy and freedom? Hell fucking no.”
Glowering at the thought of being trailed by a pack of gorillas, Luke turned quizzically in Cade’s direction, who just stood there, engaged in his competition with the wall for who was chattiest today. “You know what? I’ll do whatever Cade suggests,” he taunted.
It seems Cade had taken a trip to India and got mistaken for a woman and had his tongue cut off. But sometimes he could still gurgle out a word or two when prompted.
“Cade says to eat his shit,” Graves offered.
“Yeah, Luke,” Cade growled.
One of his daytime nurses slipped her white-capped head into the room just then, and Luke perked up at the sight of a pretty young female’s face. “Everything all right here, Mr. Preston? Do you need anything?”
Luke shot her his best smile. “Just you, babe.”
She giggled in an enchanting way, but rather than coming to him, she disappeared into the hallway.
“Sheesh, you’re incorrigible.” Daniel pointed at his chest bandage, a two-inch square securely taped to one side of his left nipple. “Man, look at you. You won’t let up on the ladies even for a second.”
“Because, FYI, I wasn’t shot in the balls and everything is working perfectly down there.”
“You’re unbelievable, Luke,” Chloe said as she came closer. She rumpled his hair like she always did, and Luke considered playfully grabbing her fanny and pulling her up onto the bed with him, but then he was certain that Graves would finish what Luke’s shooter had started.
And Luke was at a slight disadvantage with a needle up his arm.
Propping her little butt at the side of the bed anyway, Chloe went somber, her voice dropping. “When they called and said you’d been shot . . .” She shook her blond head, her green eyes clouded with worry. “Luke, this is really serious. We think you need to stay away from Chicago until this bastard is caught.”
“I agree, man, you need to relax and recuperate, tone down the sex, get out of the city for a while,” Daniel said.
“Tone down the sex? Daniel, you probably have someone locked in your bedroom as we speak, waiting for you to come back and do the hell out of her.”
Daniel ignored him, which just made Luke jealous that his friend could be enjoying sex while he was lying here, inspiring pity. “The Prince of the Windy City” just stood there, a living, breathing Adonis with those perfect Lexington genes, perfectly healthy and perfectly able to fuck. He was Chicago’s very own JFK Jr. and had he been shot, Luke was certain the entire city would be out with baseball bats and kitchen utensils while searching for the culprit.
“I really think you’d better lay off your vices for a while,” Daniel insisted, because clearly he was getting a lot of what Luke wasn’t. “Your lifestyle is going to be the end of you just like it was the end of the Romans. All that sex, booze, and partying can’t be good.”
“Hell, man, you’re a worse womanizer as I am, don’t even deny it,” Luke shot back.
“I’m just a little more discreet, buddy,” Daniel said easily.
“Guys, come on!” Chloe said, already up on her feet and quickly settling back onto Graves’s lap when he possessively hauled her to him. “What matters here, Luke, is that you’re worth to us. You have incredible wealth and power and could do something more with your life other than getting drunk and laid. You deserve more than that—even the women you sleep with deserve more than that.”
“Chloe, I’m like the fucking holy pope of sex. A night with me is the pinnacle of a lot of these women’s sexual lives.”
Chloe threw her head back and laughed. “All right, I won’t argue that,” she said, but she was so crazy for Graves and Graves was so completely mad about her that he might as well have been invisible. “All my friends are in love with you and keep asking when you’re going to call them again, so I can’t say they don’t like your style, mister, but what about you, Luke? Every year you party harder . . . Clearly there’s something missing and you could use some one-on-one time with Luke.”
He signaled toward the door with a disgusted face. “When I leave through that door, Chlo, it’s not going to be to hide like some chicken-shit.”
“It won’t be hiding. Come on! Just take a vacation. You’re in real danger here and the police were very concerned about the possibility of him trying once more. We can’t just allow you to be a walking target around town, and you’ve always been too loose with your security, Luke.”
Luke sighed and rubbed his temples. “If I say yes, will you shut the hell up? You, too, Cade.”
“Ah, blow me,” Cade snarled. “And take care of yourself for a change, Preston.”
Daniel rubbed the back of his neck in exasperation. “Luke, we all think—and this includes the police—the bastard might try again, and his aim might just hit the spot next time. So why not take a break and relax, go to a beach, get a beer, have some downtime?”
Graves came over to slap the side of his head. “In plain English, it means you should stay the fuck away from trouble and keep your dick in your pants, if that’s even possible.”
Luke laughed. “Of course it’s possible.”
“Do you promise, Luke?” Chloe said. “Will you lay low for a while?”
“Do I have a choice? You’re basically browbeating me.”
“Good, so it’s settled then. And before I forget . . .” She reached into her purse and retrieved an envelope. “Your gay neighbor who has a crush on you brought you this. Gregg or something?”
“It starts with a damned G is all I remember,” Luke grumbled. Then he saw it was a get-well note with a heart and a message.
Luke stared up at the ceiling when they left, feeling sorry for himself. He’d screwed half the city and the only person apparently worried whether he’d make it was one of the precious few he hadn’t fucked—because he just didn’t swing in that direction.
But if something happened to Graves, Luke was certain Chloe would want to die. Hell, if something happened to Chloe, Graves would kill himself. Even Cade, the unfeeling bastard, was still a little dead inside because of his wife’s death, even if they’d only been married two months and it happened like a century ago.
And all Luke really had to show for thirty-four years was a get-well card from a gay man. Damn it.
He needed a martini. Hell, maybe his friends weren’t too far off the mark. A beach would at least get him to stop feeling like shit. Lying under the blazing sun instead of boxed within four white walls, holding a martini in his hand, maybe even enjoying some windsurfing. That was just the ticket to get his game back on.
Down at the beach, Luke could forget he’d been shot and almost murdered, and most importantly, the Walking Miracle would be out of the hospital. He’d come back to Chicago with a vengeance—and with the devil on his shoulder.
Just like he damn well liked it.