PERFECTLY ADEQUATE, an all-new must-read romantic comedy from Jewel E. Ann, is available now! Scroll down for an exclusive excerpt!
“Another brilliantly written winner. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, you will not regret it.” ~Kate Stewart, USA Today bestselling author
Dr. Elijah Hawkins needs … something.
After his wife jumps headfirst into a midlife crisis, he’s left with his young son, Roman, and a lot of unanswered questions.
That something turns out to be a someone—Dorothy Mayhem, nursing student, patient transporter, reckless driver, and emu owner.
Dorothy studies humans, the neurotypical kind, through books and television. Then she emulates their behavioral patterns to fit in with her peers.
But nothing can prepare her for Dr. Elijah Hawkins.
Brilliant pediatric oncologist.
And the sexiest doctor at the hospital.
When his failed attempts at asking her out turn into a string of playdates with his son, Dorothy finds herself unexpectedly enamored with the boy and his father.
And that’s a problem, a huge one, because Elijah’s ex-wife is a famous plastic surgeon—and Dorothy’s idol.
Perfectly Adequate is a beautiful, hilarious, and heart-felt journey along the “human” spectrum.
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“You can call me Eli.”
She swallows hard. “I don’t actually think I can.”
“Why not?” I force my gaze away from her mouth.
The second our eyes meet, she averts her attention to her feet. “Because you’re half of the Hathaway-Hawkins duo.”
This is a new one to me. “I’m divorced.”
“I know. I …” She makes an attempt to look at me, but her attention shifts to my temple then maybe my ear. “I mean you’re a brilliant doctor, and Dr. Hathaway is too—so brilliant. God, she’s just phenomenal. Like there are no words. But still … you change the lives of young children. You save them. You’re what every young person entering the medical field can only dream of becoming. You’ve earned the title. I can’t call you by your name. It’s too personal. I don’t know … almost intimate.”
She has Julie on a really high pedestal. Me? Down a few pegs. Sounds about right for my life at the moment. It’s not that Julie doesn’t deserve to be on the pedestal. No matter how much I hate her, I still love her. And her skills as a pediatric plastic surgeon are unmatched. She deserves Dorothy’s admiration.
But I don’t want to talk about medicine, accolades, and saving lives. I know … I know … how terrible of me. Sorry, but I need something for myself. Something personal and maybe a little selfish.
“I don’t need a babysitter for Roman.”
She jerks her head back, giving me her full attention, eyes squinted, gaze locked to mine. “What?”
I trap my top lip between my teeth, drowning in coconuts as my heart races, sending ample blood to all regions of my body. God … I just want—need—to kiss her.
“Oh jeez …” She shakes her head, closing her eyes for a breath. “You invited me to dinner to … flirt.” Her eyes open to their widest point.
A tiny laugh escapes me. I can’t help it. Everything about this woman feels like a rebirth. “I invited you to dinner because Roman really likes you. And I just can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve done for him. You’re so generous.”
Gah! I suck at this!
What is my problem? Yes. The answer is yes! Yes, Dorothy, I invited you over to flirt, maybe even kiss. And other things …
“Oh.” She takes a step backward, stumbling a bit as the front door catches her, and more embarrassment tints her cheeks. “Well, now I feel stupid. Yes, of course you invited me here because Roman likes me. Duh. Now I just look like an idiot for assuming you wanted to flirt with me. And really, no need to thank me. My generosity is selfish. It makes me feel good to do nice things. That’s all. And really, you’ve bought me coffee and made me dinner again. It’s like I should be thanking you again. But that’s probably weird. So … I’ll just go now.”
Really, really weird shit goes through my mind as she fidgets. Dr. Hawkins is nowhere to be found. Neither is Roman’s dad. Raging-puberty-hormones Eli Hawkins invades my head—both of them really. And I just want to kiss Dorothy. That’s the PG version of my thoughts. Most of them are R-rated. Worse than the R-rating. All I can think about are the ways Dorothy and I can be generous with each other, leading to never-ending thank-you’s that don’t involve stationary, replacement scrubs, superhero capes, pasta dinners, lunch boxes … or clothing.
“Should we call it even? No more thank-you’s,” I suggest.
“Okay.” She lifts her gaze, eyes going a little cross-eyed like her focus is centered on the bridge of my nose.
“Okay.” I release a slow breath, but it does very little to relax all of my body. “Can I ask your age?” I’m not sure why I’ve been so chicken about asking her age. I think it worries me that she’s too young, and I’ll feel like a dirty old man having really inappropriate thoughts about her.
“I’m thirty. Why?”
“You just look young.”
“I wear massive amounts of sunscreen.”
I nod slowly.
Just kiss her, you big chicken!
What if she doesn’t want to be kissed by me? Or flirt with me? I internally laugh at the memory of her comment and at myself for being just as awkward. Why does something so simple have to be so complicated?
“I have a forty-five-minute drive home.”
And school the next day. Where is my head?
Oh, that’s right …
“Of course. I’m sorry. I lost track of time.”
“Okay.” She smiles.
I love her okay’s. They feel like more than the average okay.
“I’ll walk you out.”
“Have you not closed all of your rings?” She holds up her wrist, signaling to her watch.
I chuckle. “All rings were closed hours ago.”
“We could track each other. Share our rings. Did you know that?”
Rings. Kisses. Trips to the on-call room for sex.
For the love of God … get your shit together, Elijah!
“Never mind. That’s weird.” She shakes her head, rolling her eyes at herself just before opening the door and scurrying ten steps ahead of me. Her pace gains momentum with the hill of my driveway.
My long strides catch up to her at the bottom of it. She looks both ways and bolts across the street to her car, clicks the locks, and opens her door.
“Dorothy Mayhem … you’re killing me.”
She turns just before ducking into the driver’s seat.
“What do you mean?”
Resting my hands on my hips, I drop my chin in defeat and stare at my untied gray canvas shoes. “What if I did ask you to dinner tonight to … flirt?” I glance up, digging my teeth into my bottom lip on a slight cringe.
Her body remains stoic as her eyes shift from side to side, like she’s been caught on a hidden camera. “Well … then I wore the wrong outfit.” She refuses to look me in the eye.
“I think you look amazing.”
“Yes. But this is a playdate outfit. Maybe even one I’d wear to apply for a babysitter position. It’s fun, but wholesome. Practical and safe.”
I just want to spend one day in her head. Everything about her fascinates the hell out of me. The curiosity gives me such a high.
“Tell me about your flirting outfit.”
“Well …” She clears her throat, keeping her focus on the big hill leading out of my development. And of course … her cheeks are perfectly flushed as she talks to the wind. “Since Romeo was involved, I would have chosen my red dress with white stripes. It hits just below my knees, but it’s strapless. And I would have worn my blue cardigan with it and matching blue wedge sandals with straps that tie around my ankles. Flirty … but appropriate for young eyes.”
“And if Roman wouldn’t have been here tonight?” I stare at the side of her head, wondering if she’ll look at me again before driving home.
She narrows her eyes. “I would have taken off the cardigan after you invited me into your house.”
The picture she paints in my head does all kinds of wicked things to me. Why imagining her in a striped strapless dress has such a physical effect on me is a mystery. It’s not like she suggested showing up wearing nothing but high heels and a trench coat. Dorothy Mayhem possesses her own brand of seduction, and I’m completely entangled in every part of it.
“And in this scenario, would you have kissed me after I walked you to your car?”
She turns completely red. I feel certain even her toes hidden in those blue shoes have to be red. “You’re making fun of me.”
Her comment knocks me back a good ten steps, even if my body remains right next to her. Why would she say that?
About Jewel E. Ann:
With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business.
After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing.
When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.
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