A Cocky Hero Club Novel
Magnetic Medic is Book 1 in a series inspired by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s British Bedmate. It is published as part of the Cocky Hero Club world, a series of original works, written by various authors, and inspired by Keeland and Ward’s New York Times bestselling series.
To find out more about all the Cocky Hero Club World books and authors, visit: www.cockyheroclub.com.
A sexy, new brother’s best friend romance from USA Today bestselling author Alexa Padgett.
He’s my brother’s childhood friend. I’m pregnant with another man’s baby. What a time to fall in love…
Coming home seemed like a good idea at the time. My ex-fiancé split, I was almost done with my master’s degree, and I was already working at the family architecture firm. When I move in next door to pediatrician Ryder Mackay, I’m not expecting the connection—or the passion in his eyes that I feel deep in my soul. He’s the best doctor for my baby, but he’s not the guy I need.
Still, the way Ryder looks snuggling my puppy—and my infant daughter—to his rock-hard chest makes me wish this sexy, smart, compassionate man was mine.
Maybe, it’s pregnancy hormones. Or…maybe this magnetic pull is forever.
I continued to whisk my sauce, unwilling to make a bigger deal about his staying. Ryder seemed a little shy and definitely off-kilter around me. While I’d been looking forward to a quiet evening alone, now that he was here, I wanted him to stay. I wanted to learn more about him, just as he seemed interested in me.
“I’m sorry that happened to you,” Ryder said, his tone soft.
“Yeah, me, too. Well, sort of. I mean, if he couldn’t handle the idea of fatherhood, how much worse would the situation get when he was actually a father?”
“Was he an architect, too?”
I shook my head. “Jeff’s an aerial pilot with the forest service. That means he flies the planes that drop water or chemicals on large fires.”
“Ah. We don’t have many of those here, thankfully.”
I flashed him a small grin. “Too right.”
We were quiet, the sizzle of the vegetables in the pan a nice background to the silence. Finally, I blurted, “He was called out the day I told him about the baby, and, as far as I know, he still hasn’t returned to the apartment we shared even though I told his sister when I moved out.”
Jeff hopped from one fire to the next, offering to help in the huge Australian wildfires rather than return home to me. His sister sent me screenshots from a private group that showed just how Jeff was passing his time—and apparently he wasn’t shy about public displays of affection with other women.
“Terrible.” I sighed. “Clearly, I have terrible taste in men.”
My gaze flashed up to Ryder’s. “What?”
“You had terrible taste in men, but you’ve learned from your mistakes.”
I tilted my head and considered his statement. I smiled. “Right. I had terrible taste in my partner.”
After a long moment in which I began to wonder if he felt the tingle of awareness that caused my heart to patter faster, he cleared his throat, looking at the pan.
“You sure I can’t help with dinner?”
“Nope. I like to cook. But thanks for offering. My brothers wouldn’t.” I shot him an impish grin. “Just like I never offer to help clean up the messes I make in the kitchen.”
He chuckled. “I see how you are. Lure us in with tasty treats then beat a hasty retreat when the real work comes.”
“You know it,” I said.
My smile returned. “Thanks for dropping the topic.”
Laughter lightened Ryder’s eyes and made some faint crinkles at the corner.
“I will, once you stop bringing it up.”
I placed the chicken in the skillet where it sizzled merrily.
“Mmm,” I said, meeting his gaze across the pan. “Doesn’t that smell good.”
This time, he threw his head back and laughed.
I continued to blend my sauce, grinning.
“You have a pretty smile,” Ryder said.
I rolled my eyes. “That sounds like a pickup line. Like one someone would throw out in a bar.”
He shook his head. “I was being sincere, but I work with a guy who drops those corny lines on all the women he meets.”
“Oh? Let’s hear one,” I said.
He pondered me for a minute. “You’re not a pickup-line woman, Aidy. You’re too self-possessed, too confident to fall for those.”
“Now I want to hear them even more,” I said, grinning.
He cleared his throat. “I know a guy who says the best women have apple bottoms.”
“Apple…what? Who has an apple bottom?”
He widened his eyes. “You, of course.”
I giggled. “That’s terrible.” And super cute. He was cute. And he cuddled babies.
I threw the pasta in with the veggies, coating it, then added the chicken, needing something to do so I stopped staring at his chest and imagining my baby cuddled there.
“We’re ready,” I said. I heaped a plate of pasta, chicken, and veggies, and Ryder sniffed, making appreciative sounds as he headed toward the French farmhouse table I’d picked up at a flea market in Newport. At first, I’d worried it was too big for the space since it seated eight, but with the clean white lines of the kitchen, and my decision to use one couch and two armchairs around the low coffee table, I’d been able to use the large table as an anchor. It gleamed now that I’d sanded and waxed it.
I followed after him, a warm glow of happiness settling over me. Ryder waited to sit until I had.
“Dig in,” I said, grabbing my fork. He bit into one of the tender pieces of asparagus, his eyes widening.
“What is this?” Ryder asked as soon as he swallowed.
I shrugged. “A lighter version of an Alfredo sauce.” I frowned. “Can it be Alfredo without cheese in it?”
“Dunno. Still, it’s great.”
I smiled. “I’m glad you’re enjoying it.” I paused. “I’m glad you chose to stay.”
My cheeks bloomed with color. Ryder cleared his throat, gaze dropping back to his plate. What was it about his slight discomfiture that made me want to sit in his lap and wrap my arms around him? And if I did so, would I be comforting him or would he be comforting me?
I took another bite, pondering the question to which I had no answer. Just that he affected me, and I…I liked it.
“So…ah…how long have you been working at the family firm?” He met my gaze, and I was struck again by the beauty of his eyes. The silvery-green popped against his tanned skin.
At my questioning look, he said, “Your brothers said you all worked there.”
I nodded as I picked up my napkin. I dabbed at my mouth and set the square of cotton back in my lap.
“You’re the only person I know who uses cloth napkins,” Ryder said.
His gaze swept over my dining and living area.
“And this place is definitely a cohesively designed space. What would you call it?”
I darted him a glance. “My professors would say something like, ‘a seemingly effortless and comfortable use of texture and furniture to create sophisticated feminine decor’.” I wrinkled my nose. “Sounds stuffy and pretentious.”
He settled back in his chair, his palms resting on his taut abdomen. While all the ladder back chairs were distressed, his was red. Mine was turquoise. I also had a yellow, green, blue, and purple one. Nico didn’t like them, but I did. Plus, people could pick a color that suited their mood. Of course Ryder chose red—the bold color of power…or passion. Not that he’d been overly passionate. He’d been a gentleman. And I wasn’t interested in passion or love. We’d just discussed my fiancé dumping my ass for hotter pastures…with willing wildlife. I sighed at my shitty metaphor, which seemed an extension of my shitty life choices.
I straightened my spine. That was the old Aidy’s thinking. I was present, focused, organized, and ready to kick ass—at my job, at parenting. At life.
And this new Aidy was glad for a nice evening with a good looking guy. Of course, New Aidy wasn’t interested in a relationship because men failed her. No, New Aidy understood her brothers put Ryder up to tonight, and she’d make sure Ryder told Nico and Knox she was sparkly and capable. New Aidy might even test drive Ryder…as a possible pediatrician.
There was nothing else—would be nothing else—between them. New Aidy didn’t have an interest in jumping back into dating until she was positive she’d left her poor romantic choices far, far behind.
And she wasn’t sure just yet. So, she’d follow her plan—complete her thesis, prepare for her daughter’s arrival.
“This is way better than my place with its overstuffed leather sofas and a scarred coffee table I bummed off my aunt,” Ryder said, bringing me back into the present. “I didn’t bother with a dining table because I am rarely home for dinner.”
He met my gaze, and I studied his, fascinated by the alternating flecks of green and gray that swirled around his pupils. Remember the plan, Aidy. Be charming. Show your kickass adulting but do not get caught up in possible romance—you’re not interested.
“I’m an architect who specializes in eco-friendly interiors. This…” I waved my hand, “represents my taste but also my philosophy.”
A slight confusion drifted over his face, but he nodded. “So, how long have you been back?”
“I moved back into Nico’s place in September—the week after Labor Day.”
“And Knox said something about a thesis?”
My brothers sure were chatty about my life with others. We’d need to discuss the idea of privacy.
“That’s the last of my coursework for my master’s degree,” I said.
He glanced back at my midsection as if trying to calculate how far along I was. I dropped my hands over my belly in reflex. He raised his gaze to mine. Frustration seemed to mar his brow before he smoothed it out.
“I’m eighteen weeks pregnant.”
His eyes widened, the green flaring brighter. “And you’re working full-time and planning to complete a thesis before the baby comes?”
“That way I’m fully certified as the firm’s resident interior architect.”
“I thought your degree was in design,” he said.
I shook my head. “No, still architecture but I prefer to work in the interior whereas Nico, especially, likes to create the lines of the exterior. But, to me, a home is about comfort and that comes from what you put in it.”
I smirked. “I bet it’s like me trying to understand medical jargon.”
His face eased and he smiled. “Probably.”
No one really understood my passion for interior spaces, but at least Nico and Knox respected my interest and talent, especially because it dovetailed well into their skill sets. “Clean living—healthy living—starts with a healthy home,” I said.
Energy surged through me. I loved talking about this. “My father designed buildings and houses, but my mother instilled the importance of natural fibers and reusing or recycling materials. Remember our kitchen?”
He squinted, but then nodded. “I always thought those open shelves with your mom’s dishes were really cool. So easy to grab a plate or a glass.”
“Exactly,” I said. My lips turned up as I remembered the comfort of her kitchen. “She asked my dad to reuse her old cabinets when they redid the space. But the cabinet doors weren’t in great shape. Instead of tossing them into a landfill, she sanded them all down and then smoothed on an eco-friendly wood treatment. The rest of the house followed, over time. We had organic mattresses and bamboo sheets before they were really a known thing.”
I sucked my lower lip into my mouth. “Sorry. I can rev up and get going on this topic.”
He touched the edge of his glass, sliding his finger through the condensation. “You’re passionate. That makes you spectacular at what you do.”
He met my gaze, his face earnest. “I’m glad you found your passion.”
Oh, no. No. New Aidy wasn’t interested in men. Not even handsome ones who showed genuine interest in her. That meant tonight was to show Ryder, and by extension, her brothers that she was a capable professional. Time to refocus this conversation.
I chewed a bite.
“So, Mr. Pediatrician, you really would be able to help me with my daughter’s medical needs?”
“You’re having a girl?” he asked.
I smiled, and this one felt like it might split my face. “She’s right on track. Dr. Yao says everything looks great.”
“I know Dr. Yao. She refers many of her patients to us. We both have admitting privileges,” he said.
“So, I should add you to my list of potential doctors to interview?” I asked. I meant it as a joke, but Ryder’s gaze slid to my belly and back up to my face. The faint frown added to his conflicted look.
“I’d be honored to help out a Wright.”
Ah. The family connection. Maybe he was surprised I was the first of my siblings to have a child. He’d been too polite to say so, but I’d be a mom at twenty-five. That was young. New Aidy decided not to let Ryder’s possible opinions worry her. After all, New Aidy’s life choices were no one’s business but her own.
“You’re smart to interview multiple doctors. You want to be sure you trust that person with her well-being.”
And I realized I was beginning to. During the time we’d spent together tonight, I’d had a meaningful conversation with Ryder, felt like we’d connected. He was a bit stiff, a little hard to get to know, but he obviously cared about the well-being of my child, and he seemed genuinely interested in my career, in me, as a person. That felt…freeing.
That I could trust a man who wasn’t my brother was a huge step forward in healing my heart—and my confidence in myself. My baby deserved a tight-knit family who supported her. Maybe this move home, meeting Ryder, was supposed to happen. Maybe he was the right doctor for her—and a confidant for me. That was something I hadn’t realized I’d needed so much, but this dinner reminded me that closeness wasn’t to be feared.
I’d made a friend in Ryder, and I could develop other relationships with people who would care about both my baby and me. I deserved that.
I bit back a smile as I rose, picking up my plate.
Maybe I was finally on the right track.