All in, Balls Out

All In, Balls Out Inspired Playlist:

  • Simple Man – Shinedown
  • Sin With a Grin – Shinedown
  • Gotta Be Somebody – Nickleback
  • Where The Story Ends – The Fray
  • I Never Told You – Colbie Caillat
  • What Hurts The Most – Rascall Flatts
  • Cowboy Casanova – Carrie Underwood
  • Heaven Help Me – Gretchen Wilson
  • Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo – Toby Keith
  • Da’ Dip - Freak Nasty
  • I Will Not Bow – Breaking Benjamin
  • Drive By – Train
  • Wild Ones – Flo Rida
  • Glad You Came – The Wanted
  • Fifty Ways To Say Goodbye – Train
  • King of Anything – Sara Bareilles
  • Burn It To The Ground – Nickleback
  • Something In Your Mouth – Nickleback
  • I’d Come For You – Nickleback
  • S.E.X. – Nickleback
  • Trying Not to Love You – Nickleback
  • Scars – Papa Roach
  • This Boy’s Fire – Santana
  • Whine Up – Kat DeLuna
  • Sexy and I Know It – LMFAO
  • Papi – Jennifer Lopez
  • Dynamite – Taio Cruz
  • Let’s Get It Started
  • Back To Me – 3 Doors Down
  • Second Chance – Shinedown

Excerpt from ALL IN BALLS OUT (in-progress sequel to Chasing Halos and Heroes)


I took the scenic route down the hall, stopping several times to pop in on other patients to check how they were doing. I lingered long enough to make light conversation with each one. By the time I checked my watch outside of room three, a half hour had passed. According to the check-in time on Orlando’s chart, that meant he’d been sitting in that room for over an hour with a broken hand and no pain meds to take the edge off. Not the worst time span for an urban city E.R., but he wouldn’t be a happy man.


Whistling, I knocked before I opened the door. The cubicle that fancied itself a room, seemed even smaller than usual because of the size of the man sitting on the narrow bed. Pain delayed Orlando’s reaction time to the opening of the door, so I had a few seconds to take inventory.


A far cry from my usual indiscretions, there was still no denying that the man was hot. Orlando was all hard lines and sharp angles that cut through me like butter. At least that was the excuse I made for the slightly boneless, vulnerable feeling that hit me when I saw him.


Clearing my throat both to let him know I was there and to reset my stupid libido, I closed the door behind me with a solid click. When he looked up, those arresting blue eyes of his widened, amplifying their striking contrast to his deeply tanned skin.


Built like an aging athlete, Orlando’s shoulders were massive. His midsection looked stocky, but from experience, I knew it was carved of granite hard muscle. Put together, those two attributes strained the seams of his immaculate, still crisp dress shirt. The suit’s jacket was neatly folded over the edge of the bed, but he’d kept his tie on; a tasteful pattern that didn’t say off the rack.


It was a shame we had issues, but his beautiful eyes were already narrowing. Reminding myself that this was my domain and I was the one in control, I ignored him and smiled at other man in the room.


One of my most capable nurses—and the first of my hospital conquests—Adam was an easy-going kid with a killer smile that alternated between the two of us to include Orlando into the conversation.


 “Hi, Dr. Melone. I thought Dr. Elia was coming down. Janet just paged me.”


I bet she had.


“I figured I’d take this one myself,” I said with a smile that I maintained when I turned toward Orlando.


“Hello Mr. Cruz. How are we doing today?”


It was easy to see how he was doing. Pain thinned lips I knew to be soft as a baby’s touch into a hard line. His right hand cradled the injured left, holding the ice pack he’d been given.


“Max,” he said his baritone growl deceptively pleasant. “I didn’t know you were working tonight.”


“Didn’t think you were keeping track.” I tapped my chart. “Tell me what went down to put you in my E.R. at almost three in the morning with a broken hand, and an eye that looks like you pissed off a prize fighter.”


I set the chart down and slid my palm along his jaw to turn his face toward me. Despite my intentions of being a hard-hearted badass, my hands were gentle as I tested the skin around his cheekbone. The blood vessels in his eyes were normal, and nothing in his face felt broken, but he was going to have a hell of a shiner for the next week or so. The inevitable range of healing colors from deep ruddy purple, to sickly yellow, were going to be a visual example of stupidity that would look amazing against the dark canvas of his skin.


“There was an altercation at the club when a patron got handsy with one of my staff.” he said, his breath warm against my hand, distracting me from my thoughts. “I got involved to resolve it, and things escalated.”


“I’ll say,” I snorted. “I heard that the guy at the center of that ‘escalation,’ has a concussion. Note to myself, wear headgear when going to Deseos.”


 “None of my people would ever hurt you, Max.”


The sensual rumble of surety in his tone offered more consolation than it should’ve, so I snapped in instinctual defensiveness before my brain could catch up to the tongue I wanted to swallow when inappropriate truth leaped from my mouth.


“No, they save that pleasure for their boss.”


Adam’s mouth curled into an “o” of surprise.


Whoa there, Max. What the fuck is wrong with you?


 I didn’t have an answer to my own question, so I cleared my throat, and held up my hands in mea culpa to them both. “Sorry. That shit came out wrong.”


“No, I think it came out exactly like you meant it,” Orlando said. “And I’ll be happy to hash out just why you think I did you wrong, but I’d appreciate a little pain numbing truth serum first.”


“It’s good to want things. But I can’t give you any anesthesia or morphine if you were drinking tonight. We want to be safe.”


“You know I don’t drink when I’m working, Max.”


“Actually, I don’t know anything about you,” I said, pointing at him with my chart. “I thought I did, but the guy my best friend tried to set me up with wouldn’t have dumped me in a hotel room to pick up the tab alone.”


“We both knew what would happen at that hotel. If you hadn’t been sleeping so deeply, you would’ve been out that door before I could brush my teeth and take a piss.”


That was true, but hearing it still poked at my pride.


“I wouldn’t have walked out without saying goodbye. Southern manners, they are a bitch.”


“So you’re going to make me beg for a painkiller with a broken hand, because I fucked up by believing that you’re the hard-nosed player Sam says you are?”


“You didn’t mind begging me to get your cock down my throat that night,” I said. I ignored Orlando’s snarl. His jab about Sam thinking the worst of me stung and I wanted to return the favor.


“You’ll be fine, sweet thang. I know you can handle a hard cock up your fine ass, so this will be nothing.”


 “I didn’t bounce on you.”


“Really? My cab driver says differently.”




I couldn’t control the shiver that licked along my spine. Never had a man said my name with so much dangerous promise. It had the same effect Orlando’s mouth wrapped around my dick would’ve had. My time in the military with boots on the ground had tapped my inner adrenaline junkie, and Orlando lit every one of the fuses that had been dormant since I’d been discharged.


 “Um…should I come back later, Dr. Melone?”


I’d been so busy returning Orlando’s death stare that I’d forgotten Adam was still in the room. “No, we’re fine. All friends here.”


I smiled at Adam. His ability to acclimate—spawned from alarmingly limited brain cells—allowed him to relax immediately.


“Adam here was on his college wrestling team,” I said to Orlando. “He can take a lot before he cries uncle, so feel free to grip his hand hard when we reset the broken bones.” I smiled at them both, earning another bright one from Adam, and a more menacing growl from Orlando that I ignored. That was going to be the theme tonight.


“Adam, can you get on his right side so he can reach you?”


“Sure, Dr. Melone.” Adam smiled at me, his hand casually pressing against the base of my spine briefly to keep me still when he sidled around me.


I knew the moment Orlando caught it. The narrowing of his eyes clued me in that he’d figured out the aspects of the relationship between Adam and me that went past doctor and subordinate staff. A slow hum began in my ears when he swept my nurse with a hostile look. It was subtle, but still amped my blood pressure to levels that would’ve alarmed me as a health care professional had I not been so pissed.


What. The. Fuck?


In spite of the fact that our best friends were married and invited us to the same functions, we’d managed to steer clear of one another for months. It was an impressive display of avoidance tactics I wasn’t solely responsible for, so this teenage girl in the middle of a snit act burnt my fucking bacon.


Self-centered, arrogant son of a….


 “Max…” Both Adam and I stopped to wait for a follow-up to that sentence, albeit for different reasons.


 “I’m…” Orlando paused. “I had my reasons for leaving that night,” he said before my head could explode. “And I’ll explain them. Later. But right now, I’m here as your patient, and I know you’re too good a doctor to let things go down like this. So can we please cease fire?”


I should’ve told him to fuck off and gone through with my original plan of pain and torture, but the tired petition in his voice appealed to my stupid sense of professional morality.


I sighed as I moved to the locked cabinet on the wall. I pulled out a vial of morphine and a brand new hypodermic needle, bringing both to where Orlando sat. As much as I’d have loved him to be sober for the reset, I wasn’t a true sadist, and I took my oath of not doing harm seriously, even when some pain was merited.


“Okay, hold out your arm. We’ll give this about twenty minutes to kick in, and then I’ll reset your hand and send you to get casted up.”


I’d been talking as I filled the syringe, counting out the dosage perfectly, so I didn’t see how much color Orlando had lost until I glanced up to see him concentrating intently on the needle.


“You can’t just give me a pill?”


“This is faster and works better,” I explained. “It’s just a quick prick, and then you’ll be in happy-land and won’t give a rat’s ass about what I’m doing. You’ll want that, believe me. Two broken bones is not a good time as we’d define it.”


“I prefer the pill.”


Orlando’s voice rose in pitch. His eyes closed and the remaining color blanched from his skin as a fine sheen of sweat broke out on his forehead. I recognized the signs, and moved toward him immediately.


The filled syringe dropped to the floor when I tried to grab Orlando before his head hit the floor. Every bone in my spine cracked with an unhappy sound when I caught him under the arms, and was dragged down to the floor beneath his dead weight.


Adam, God love him, didn’t waste time with questions about what he should do. Unconscious patients were something we were all familiar with, working under conditions where many of our cases came in passed out from the pain of some kind of injury. He headed out into the hall to get help, leaving me alone with two hundred plus pounds of comatose asshole in my lap.


“C’mon, Orlando, you need to come back to me,” I said, allowing his body to slump down into a position that didn’t crush me as I patted his cheeks. “We have a fight to finish, baby.”


It took a solid minute of quiet coaxing, but his eyelashes swept my thumb when I stroked it across the hard cut of his cheekbone.




“Yeah, it’s me. Shhh,” I soothed when he tried to roll up to a seated position. I was already clamping my fingers around the thick circumference of his wrist to get a handle on his pulse. “Just relax. I want to give your blood pressure a chance to go back up.”


“What the fuck are we doing on the floor?”


“You passed out. Why the hell didn’t you tell me you’re afraid of needles?”


“I’m not afraid.”


“My back would disagree. I’d thank you for the free realignment, but I don’t think you should quit your day job just yet,” I said, relieved when I felt his pulse start to slow, falling into the same steady rhythm as my heartbeat.


“You don’t have to be such a hard ass. I see patients in here all the time who hate needles. Most of them are under ten years old, but I can still track down a red lollipop for you if you ask nicely.”


He didn’t scowl at the jab. Instead those devastating blues focused on my face with a curious expression on his.


“Were you just calling me baby?”


My ears heated, but I congratulated myself for the casualness of my shrug. “I call everyone baby. It’s a Texas tick.”


“You should get that checked out. Someone might start reading into it.”


Our gazes locked when he talked, and I felt my pulse kick up a notch at the intensity of his scrutiny. The air between us was suddenly charged with the electricity of pure chemistry. Even though I’d just fucked Doctor Anthony Elia into the wall less than an hour earlier, my impartial dick broke into the conversation. With Orlando’s head in my lap, awkward wasn’t even the word.


 I knew the moment he felt the welcome of the indiscrete new arrival, because that quirk of his lips turned into a full, lazy smile off macho satisfaction. He shifted slightly, his cheek rubbing as brief as a Florida rain over my crotch. Were it anyone else, I’d have thought it was an accident, but a man as controlled as Orlando didn’t make mistakes often.


Being deliberately antagonized shouldn’t have turned me on the way it did, but when the antagonist had dimples sunk deep as moon craters into cheeks the color of coffee with heavy cream, I was fucked.


Faced with the choice to fight or take flight, I made use of the brains the good Lord had given me and moved out from under Orlando without warning. His smile slipped when his head hit the linoleum.


“I should sue you for malpractice,” he grumbled as he sat up. “That floor is hard.”


I shrugged. “I could counter-sue you for the dent you put into it with your thick skull, but I’m willing to live and let live.”


“That mouth is going to get you into trouble one day,” Orlando warned as his good hand left his head to go back to cradling the broken one.


“It gets me out of it twice as often, so I’ll take my chances.”


When the door opened, we both looked up and the sight of Adam with Dr. Elia, reduced more of my stress than a really good orgasm. I nodded to them and turned back to Orlando for a moment. “The cavalry’s arrived, so stay put. I’m going to let Dr. Elia here take care of you.”


Orlando quirked a groomed brow. “Running out on me this time?”


“I don’t run, darlin’. I stroll. And right now I need to finish my rounds. Dr. Elia is a better human being than I am anyway. He’ll fix you up good as new, so you’ll eventually have full mobility of that hand again. I don’t want your dick to get lonely without it.”


I didn’t expect the low rumble of Orlando’s laughter. White teeth gleamed at me from the duskiness of his skin. His crooked smile hitched up higher on one side than the other like it always did when he was feeling cocky—a chronic affliction for the man.  I twitched. Orlando had a deep, nearly psychic connection to my dick.


“You’re such an ass, Max.”


“It’s one of my most endearing qualities.” I handed his chart to Dr. Elia as I sidled toward the door. “You boys have fun. I’m going to check on the guy you clocked into unconsciousness.”


Though I couldn’t assertively say I knew him well, the tightening of Orlando’s lips into that harsh line again, warned me he was going to blow. Except for my interactions with Janet, I’ve always been a man who believes in self-preservation, so I felt no shame when I opened the door and strolled out of the room. I ignored the fact that my stroll had me out of breath by the time I reached the end of the hall.


Love Me if You Can

Go Big or Go Home