First Chapter Friday: Internal Fixation

If Grey’s Anatomy makes your heart flutter . . . this trilogy is for you.
When every day is a battle between life and death, can two warring hearts find healing in each other??


Since I moved to Florida to work on the oncology wing at St. Agnes, my life has been tumultuous. The near-constant tension between Dr. Deacon Girard and me, a relationship that took an unexpected nosedive, and losing a favorite patient might have made me second-guess my decision to move to Harper Springs . . . if it wasn’t for my friends. They’re my ride or dies, my constant support, and my happy place.

When one friendship begins to grow into something more, well, maybe it’s time to move on and forget about Deacon.

If only I can . . .


I haven’t run away from a damn thing since I was a kid, but I’ll admit that’s exactly what I did after things got too intense between Emma and me. I took off for Eastern Europe, telling myself that I was there for kids who needed my brand of medical expertise. But the truth was that I had to get away from Emma . . . because what I feel for her scares the hell out of me.

I’ve been down this path before, and I know the kind of pain love brings with it. I don’t need to do this again. So even after I return to St. Agnes Hospital, I try to forget what was between us. I ignore my own heart.

For as long as I can . . .

Read the first chapter here!


“UGH! Where the hell are you?” 

The fact that the man in question didn’t answer me wasn’t his fault, since he wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity of my voice. That was part of the problem; I didn’t know where he was, and he wasn’t picking up his phone. He’d promised to be here at my little home on wheels fifteen minutes ago, and I was impatient. 

I peered out my window, frowning. My most recently cultivated garden plots were just a few feet away, and there were promising rows of happy green plants lined up in each of them. I’d decided to leave the trailer here as a resting place for when I was out working in my fields and as a reminder of how far I’d come in a little over a year. Maybe someday, I’d gut the trailer and remodel it as a guest home, but for now, I had my hands full with my new cabin, the plants I was cultivating—and my full-time job as a naturopath at St. Agnes Memorial Hospital.

Building the cabin while trying to help run the oncology wing at St. Agnes hadn’t been easy. Luckily, I’d had lots of help from my friends, both at the hospital and out here on my land. I couldn’t imagine how I would have made it happen without them. 

And speaking of those friends . . . they were probably wondering where I was. I pulled out my phone for the umpteenth time, about to click the redial button, when I heard the familiar sound of a pickup truck bumping over the dirt road, heading for my trailer. 

Happy anticipation bubbled up inside of me, and today, I didn’t even try to tamp it down. Grabbing my sunglasses, I burst out of the door and stood on the edge of my small porch, bouncing on my toes as I waited for the truck to come to a halt. 

“Happy moving day!” Noah’s grin was wide as he swung down from the driver’s seat. His easy grace and lithe movements always impressed me; he was such a big guy, all solid muscle and incredible strength. He’d told me once that part of his training included ballet and yoga, because the position he played on the football field required agility. I could totally see that. 

Circling the back of the truck, he stopped just in front of me and pulled me into a bear hug. I let myself relax against his comforting warmth. Over the past months, I’d come to accept that Noah Spencer was a tactile guy. He expressed himself through touch—whether that was a hello hug, an arm slung around the back of my chair when we ate or watched a movie, or the way he kept one hand on my back whenever we walked through a crowd. It didn’t mean anything, other than that he was a naturally handsy dude, and that was his way.

At least, this was what I told myself. Repeatedly.

“You’re late.” I pushed back from his embrace and shot him a stern glare. 

His answering wince was so adorably guilty—like a little boy caught coming in tardy to class—that I couldn’t help giggling. 

“I know.” He stepped away from me slightly, keeping his hands on my shoulders. “Sorry about that. The traffic driving in from Tampa was a killer this morning. Plus, I had to stop to pick up a few last-minute . . . necessities.” 

I cocked my head. “Noah. What did you do?” 

He feigned innocence. “Nothing. C’mon, let’s get your stuff loaded up.” He squinted at the totes and boxes I had stacked neatly to the side of my porch. “Is that it?” 

“How much did you really expect?” I threw up my hands. “Look at where I live. I promise, I haven’t been holding out on you all these months, hiding a secret basement or an attic. What you see is what you get.” 

He grinned, his gaze raking me up and down. “What I see is pretty damn special.” 

And there it was. I managed to convince myself that Noah’s touches were just how he was. I pretended that there wasn’t anything the least bit odd about his attention, our daily phone calls and running text thread, or how often he drove over here from the west coast of Florida. But every now and then, Noah said something that took me aback and shook all those notions I held onto so firmly. When it happened, my natural reaction was to ignore him. But it was getting harder and harder to do that. 

Incidentally, on the topic of harder and harder . . . Noah bent over and lifted up one entire pile of boxes, picking them up like they were a stack of pillows, and slid them into the bed of his truck. I swore he didn’t even break a sweat. But as I watched his muscle ripple and shift under his jeans and T-shirt . . . I might have been sweating just a little. 

Shaking myself from my stupor, I jumped up onto the back of the truck to help him distribute and secure the boxes, fitting them together like pieces of an enormous puzzle. The drive from here to the cabin wasn’t long, but it was over rough terrain, and I didn’t want to lose anything. 

“So—remind me who’s coming today?” Noah offered his hand to help me leap down to the ground and then slammed the lift gate on the truck. 

Pursing my lips, I cast my eyes upward and counted off on my fingers. “As far as I know, Jenny and Nico, Darcy, Alison . . . oh, and Anna and Jimmy.” 

He nodded. “Good crowd. Many hands making light work and all that.” 

“Uh-huh. And they’re probably wondering where we are, so let’s hit the road.” I curled my fingers around the handle of the passenger side door. I’d left my car over at the cabin last night—Nico and Jenny had dropped me off at the trailer after we’d finished a few last-minute touches—which was why I’d been waiting for Noah’s arrival. 

He paused, hooking his thumbs into the belt loops of his jeans. “Don’t you want to take a moment to say good-bye to this place? You know, relive the memories, thank it for sheltering you during your first year in Florida—that kind of thing?” 

I rolled my eyes. “We had our long good-bye last night, during which time I said things like, ‘Thank God my cabin has air conditioning!’ and ‘I’m sure not going to miss this composting toilet!’” I pressed my lips together. “Now that I’m moving out, I can appreciate that this wasn’t a terrible place to stay for the short-term, but not all of my memories here are exactly sunshine and rainbows.” 

A shadow passed over Noah’s face, and I could’ve bitten off my tongue. Both of us knew that many of those memories had to do with Angela and with Deacon. Angela had never been to my trailer, but I’d told her about it often enough—and this was where I’d come home during the days when she was in the hospital, as we’d treated her cancer. I’d done research into her type of leukemia at the small table or out on my porch. In my bed here, I’d wept many tears after we lost her. Like it or not, the memory of the woman who was my friend and Noah’s late wife was part of this place. 

Noah and I never shied away from talking about Ang. We both missed her, and that was what had drawn us together at first—a desire to be with another person who remembered and loved Angela. 

But we rarely mentioned Deacon’s name. In those first few months, when for me, the pain was still too new and raw, Noah had avoided talking about Deacon to spare my feelings. And then, as time went by, there was simply less reason to bring him up. The longer he was gone, the less real he seemed. Maybe that was all for the best. I’d been angry and devastated by turns after he’d taken off—or more accurately, after he’d run away. Despite the letter he’d written to me and left on my desk, the one where he claimed he was going away in order to return a better man, I held onto more than a touch of bitterness. 

I wasn’t sure Noah knew the full extent of my relationship with Deacon, and I was perfectly okay with that. He didn’t ask, I didn’t tell, and we got along fine without exploring those feelings. Still, perceptive as he was, I was sure he had a sense that some of the unhappy memories that I’d just referenced were connected with Deacon. 

“Okay, no sloppy farewells, then. Let’s hit the road.” He opened my door for me, his finger squeezing mine gently as he helped me up into the truck. I buckled my seatbelt and rolled down my window while I waited for him to come around to his side and get behind the wheel. 

We rode in companionable silence on the familiar route to the cabin. It was one of the things I loved about my friendship with Noah; we didn’t need to fill our time together with meaningless chatter and small talk. He stretched his arm over the back of the bench seat, his fingers absently rubbing over my hair now and then. His window was down, too, and he had the radio set to his favorite country music station. 

We had a running joke about his taste in music. While I didn’t mind some country, it had never been my favorite genre. I liked to tease Noah that all of the singers and songs sounded the same. 

“Okay, so this one. Is he . . . um, Willie Nelson?” I pretended not to recognize the voice on the radio. 

Noah shot me a reproachful look. “Seriously, Em. C’mon. This doesn’t sound anything like Willie.”

I laughed. “I know. He doesn’t have the same whiney twang. This one is Brad Paisley.” I sighed, grinning. “I remember him because he’s super cute, and he’s married to Kimberly Williams.” 

“I don’t know about the super cute part—” Noah imitated my intonation. “But he sings a damn good song. I’ve been listening to him since I was in high school.” One side of his mouth tipped up. “Ang loved his song about waiting on a woman.”

“I think I know that one.” I turned to gaze out the window. “He sings some really deep ballads, but I like his lighter ones, too. This one about the I in beer is good.” 

“Reminds me that I picked up a six-pack of that purple stuff you like. I figured we could christen the new place the right way.” 

I shifted uncomfortably on the seat. Christening the house could have a connotation that I wasn’t sure I could handle yet. Instead of thinking about that, I chose the understanding I preferred. 

“Perfect. Drinking Purple Haze at the end of a long moving day is a great idea.” 

Noah grunted in agreement, and then seconds later, he turned the truck onto the gravel driveway that led up to my cabin. I’d operated the grader we’d used to create this driveway myself. It was a huge source of pride and satisfaction that I’d poured so much of myself into this home.

“Oh, my God! Look. Everyone’s there already—and oh, Noah, there’re flowers in front of my porch! They’re all planted and everything.” 

“Huh. Wonder how that happened.” His pretended ignorance didn’t fool me, and I turned in my seat to face him. 

“Did you do that?” 

His arm pressed closer into my back as he shrugged. “Might have been part of it. But it was mostly Anna’s idea, so she gets the credit.” 

“They’re beautiful.” As soon as Noah came to a stop, I opened the door and jumped out of the truck to get a better look. 

“Surprise!” Standing on the porch with the rest of my friends, Jenny clapped her hands. “What do you think?” 

“I love it. It’s exactly my vision for this place.” I knelt down to sniff at a blossom. “When did you do this?” 

Leaning on the rail, Anna Girard chuckled. “We all got here early this morning. Noah hauled over the plants I’d ordered from the nursery, and we brought the ones I’ve propagated from my own cuttings—from the ones you especially liked at the farm.” 

“How did you know?” I marveled, touching a soft leaf. 

“Child, I pay attention when you talk.” Anna rolled her eyes. “And I’m not so ancient that I can’t keep track of what I hear.” 

“You’re not ancient at all.” I wrapped my arms around my middle, mostly to hold in my excitement. Noah had parked the truck in my driveway, and now he strolled over to join us. 

“Nice work, y’all,” he drawled. “Good to see that you didn’t slack off after I left.” 

Nico snorted. “You didn’t leave us that much to do. You were standing right here, pointing out to us what needed to go where. And if it wasn’t you, it was one of the women.” 

I beamed up at my friends. “Well, I appreciate all of you being here, particularly you, Nico, since it’s your day off. I know you don’t get many of those.” 

He winked at me. “Happy to help, Emma.”

“And he did more than plant flowers,” Jenny put in. “There just might be some food in your fridge and freezer that was prepared for you by the chef whom The Tampa Times called ‘fresh and exciting—making food fun again’!” She slid her hand into the crook of her boyfriend’s elbow and hugged his arm, her pride evident. 

My eyes widened. “No way—thank you so much, Nico. I’m going to eat like a queen.” For a moment, I simply let my gaze wander over my friends. When I’d arrived in Harper Springs almost eighteen months ago, I never would have dreamed that I’d have this tribe around me. I’d met Noah—my patient’s husband—and Jenny and Darcy—both nurse practitioners—on my very first day at the hospital. Nico, Jenny’s boyfriend, I’d gotten to know after he’d returned to Florida to declare his love for Jenny. 

Anna and Jimmy Girard were the grandparents of my ex . . . whatever it was that Deacon had been to me. He’d introduced me to Anna and Jimmy as his girlfriend, but we hadn’t had enough time together for me to get used to that idea. And then before I could, he’d taken off for Slovenia. 

And Alison was the newest member of our group. She was the doctor who’d taken over for Deacon after he had officially extended his leave of absence. 

“So, are we going to stand around here soaking up the ambience, or are we going to move boxes?” Jimmy rubbed his hands. “We have a full truckload of the stuff you’ve been storing in our barn, Emma. Just need to hear from you where you want it all to go.” 

“What are we waiting for?” I flipped over my hands. “Let’s get started!” 

* * *

When I’d taken the job as the staff naturopath at St. Agnes Memorial Hospital in Harper Springs, Florida, I had decided that this small town, surrounded by plentiful farmland, was the perfect place to realize my dream of living on my own property and raising my own food. In the three weeks between signing the contract and driving south, I’d contacted a real estate agent, purchased several acres of land, and then gone online to arrange to buy a mobile home to live in until I could build my own house. 

That hadn’t been my finest hour, since the infamous Bobby Lucas had sold me a dilapidated, filthy box on wheels that didn’t have a real bathroom or air conditioning. Well, to be fair, it wouldn’t have mattered if it had had air conditioning, since city-dweller me had neglected to realize that an undeveloped piece of land wouldn’t have electric, water or sewage hookups. Suffice it to say that the past eighteen months had not been the most comfortable or easiest for me. 

But little by little, I’d managed not only to survive the ordeal but to find the perfect spot for my cabin and build it. Oh, I’d had lots of professional help—I’d hired out the more arduous labor, like pouring the foundation and raising the outer walls, but all of the interior work and laying out the yard had been accomplished by this woman . . . with more than a little help from her friends. 

I’d buried myself in the beginning stages of the work in the weeks after Deacon had left, needing the distraction not only from my heartache over his absence but also from the grief over Angela Spencer’s death. Jenny had been the only one to help me at first. She and I had walked my land for hours at a time, talking about nothing but the perfect place to situate my home. Then later, as he’d had time, Nico had joined us, helping me to find dependable contractors and giving me advice on layout. 

A couple of weeks after we’d staked out the perimeter of what would eventually be the cabin, Noah Spencer had called me. I’d seen him at Angela’s funeral, ten days after she’d died, where I’d learned that apparently, Deacon had reached out to Noah before he’d left the country, apologizing for missing Angela’s service and explaining that he was going away. 

That day, I’d reminded Noah that I was still around, willing to support him in anything he needed. Privately, though, I’d doubted that I’d hear from him. The news about Angela’s illness and subsequent death had hit the media, and there had been an outpouring of grief for her loss and love for Noah in the wake of the revelation. I figured between his team, his family and his fans, Noah wouldn’t require anyone else. 

But I’d been wrong. Noah had called to check in, and when I’d filled him in on my plans to build the cabin, he’d told me that he was going crazy sitting around his house. Even though it was still the tail end of the football season, it was clear Tampa wasn’t going to make it to post-season play. Noah had said that he needed a distraction, and he’d asked if he could come see the progress. That had led to him meeting Nico and the two of them joining forces to offer what they called the manly view on everything I was trying to do. And then somehow, Noah was just . . . there, more often than he wasn’t. He’d still had to fulfill his football-related commitments, so he hadn’t had that much free time, but I’d had a hunch that he was spending all of his non-football moments with me. 

And if that had made me slightly uneasy in those days, I’d pushed the feelings aside, because I’d always liked Noah, and having him around was fun. I also told myself that I was helping him—giving him something to focus on besides his sorrow over losing his wife. I was a distraction. At least, that was how I justified our near-constant togetherness to myself. 

About three months into the project, I’d been at the hardware store, haggling with the owner over a box of slightly damaged kitchen cabinet hardware that I wanted him to sell me for a discount. I’d heard a familiar voice behind me. 

“Frank Simmons, you stop driving up the price on this poor woman. Give her the deal.” 

The owner had scowled over my shoulder. “Anna Girard, you mind your own. I’m with a customer.” 

“I know you are, and that customer happens to be a friend of mine. Just because she has a Yankee accent doesn’t mean you should try to take advantage of her.” 

Muttering under his breath, Frank had stomped off—hopefully, I’d thought, to tell his clerk to adjust the price for me. With no little bit of trepidation, I turned around to face Deacon’s grandmother. 

“Anna.” I wasn’t sure what the protocol was here. Did I hug her, or did I offer to shake her hand?

That decision was taken out of my hands a few seconds later, as Anna had opened her arms and pulled me close for a hug. “Emma. It’s so good to see you, sweetheart.” Stepping back, she’d stared into my eyes, frowning. “You okay?” 

“Um.” I didn’t know how to answer that. “I’m doing all right. How about you?” 

“Well, I’ll be honest. I’m right pissed with that grandson of mine, and if you are, too, don’t try to spare my feelings.” She shook her head. “We got a phone call from the airport in Orlando. Off to Slovenia, he says, because that group needs him, and he needs ‘space’.” Anna snorted. “Space, my ass. He was in panic mode, and so he turned tail and ran away. Plus, he had his feelings and his pride both hurt when that poor young woman died.” 

“Losing Angela was hard,” I admitted. “It was tough on all of us. I’m sure it brought back some difficult memories for Deacon.” 

“I know you’re right, but that’s no excuse for ignoring his responsibilities and running away. That wing—that’s his baby. He fought for it to be built, he worked himself to the bone to make it happen—and then he leaves it? And this time, not just for a few weeks. He’s been gone nearly four months, and from what I hear, he doesn’t have any plans to come home soon.” Anna shook her head. “Left Jimmy in the lurch, too, since he’d promised his help on the farm this past fall. He offered to pay for another man to take his spot, but of course, my husband refused. Deacon doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not the help that mattered, it was the idea of his grandson working with him.” 

I’d tried to tamp down my own mad. I’d thought a bunch of terrible things about Deacon Girard since the day I’d found his letter on my desk. In my head, I’d called him a selfish, irresponsible, thoughtless, arrogant prick. But hearing his grandmother go off on him made me feel just the slightest bit bad for all that anger. 

“I’m really sorry, Anna.” I laid my hand on her arm. “I don’t really know why Deacon did what he did. He left me a letter that kind of rambled on about his fiancée—”

“He told you about Laurel?” One of Anna’s eyebrows arched. “And he hadn’t mentioned her before that?” 

“No. Well, no specifics,” I amended. “He’d said something about being in a serious relationship in med school and at the start of his residency, but he didn’t tell me they were engaged. And he definitely didn’t share why they’d broken up.” 

“Hmmm. Doesn’t surprise me. Laurel hurt his pride, and for a while, he might have thought that he was in love with her. But the rest of us saw the situation—and the woman—for what it was.” 

“He said as much in the letter.” I thought about the pages that were still folded up in my desk at the hospital. Part of me had wanted to rip it up. Burn it. Forget every word. But I hadn’t. Not yet, anyway. 

“Well, that’s one thing, I guess.” Anna pressed her lips together. “Listen, Emma. I’ve come close to driving out to your trailer more times than I can count in the past four months. I don’t know why I didn’t, exactly . . . I supposed I just talked myself out of it. But it’s the silliest thing in the world, isn’t it?” She squeezed my hand. “I know we just met a couple of times, but I took a shine to you. Not just because you were my grandson’s girlfriend, but because you’re smart and funny and a pleasure to be around.” 

I couldn’t reply over the lump in my throat, so I merely nodded.

“Also, we’re neighbors. I don’t like to be at odds with my neighbors. I like to be friendly.” She tapped one finger on the box of kitchen hardware that was on the shelf next to us. “So tell me why you’re in here buying hardware. Everything all right at that old trailer Bobby sold you?” 

Before I knew it, I’d spilled out all the details of the cabin, my plans and its construction. By the time I’d run out of things to say, Anna’s eyes were sparkling. 

“I want to come and see what you’ve done! And more than that—Jimmy and I want to help you out, too.” 

My mouth dropped open. “Oh, but . . . I mean, please don’t feel that you have to do anything. Because of Deacon. You don’t need to try to make up for what he did. Or didn’t do.” 

“As if I would,” Anna snapped back at me, but there was warmth and humor in her tone. “This has nothing to do with my grandson, Emma. This is about being friends and good neighbors. Now, tell me exactly where you’re building your dream home, and then tell me the next time you’re planning a workday. We’ll be there with bells on.” 

She wasn’t kidding—they were. Jimmy was a little quieter than his wife about his support, but it was stalwart, just the same. When Darcy—who had joined our happy band by that time—shared with us that the Monroe family was auctioning off the contents of their late parents’ house and suggested they might have furniture and appliances I could use, it was Deacon’s grandfather who had insisted that I store anything I bought in his barn. 

And that was why Nico and Noah were currently lifting a long wooden table from the back of Jimmy’s old box truck—the one he usually used to haul produce to market. Behind them, Jimmy carried an antique rocking chair. 

“Where does this go, Emma?” he called as he maneuvered it up the porch steps. 

“The bedroom, please.” I stepped aside to let him pass. Alison rose from the corner where she had just finished cleaning up the last bits of sawdust from around the baseboards in the living room. 

“This is shaping up to be a very cozy home.” She reached back to rub her own back and then glanced at her watch. “I’d love to stay and help for the rest of the day, Em, but I need to get back over to the hospital.” She glanced around the room. “With our naturopath and both NPs here working on the house, someone’s got to keep the fires burning at St. Agnes.” 

I slipped an arm around her shoulders and gave her a side hug. “I completely understand. I appreciate you giving me any of your time today, Alison. And I don’t want to get on Mira’s bad side. It hasn’t been that long that she and I have been allies. Of sorts, anyway.” 

Alison laughed. “Well, I have both you and Mira to thank for my job here, so I’m kind of invested in not pissing off either of you.” She set down her rag and removed the latex gloves she was wearing. “You’re off the rest of the week, right? So I guess I’ll see you on Monday.” 

“Oh, I might pop in here and there, whenever I can, if things are settled in this place.” I looked around. “And judging by what I see, I think everything’s going to be picture-perfect before I know it. Noah said something about many hands making light work. You know, he might be onto something.” 

“Smart guy.” Alison nodded. “You’ve built yourself a pretty amazing clan, Emma.” 

“Yes, I have.” I grinned. “I never would have expected to have this particular group of people around me, but I’m very grateful.” 

“You should be.” She wiped her hands on her denim-covered thighs. “Okay, I’m out of here. See you later.” 

“Thanks for your help, Alison!” I called after her. Anna, who was setting up my kitchen cabinets, paused in her labor. 

“I like her.” She nodded her head toward the door that had just closed behind the doctor. “I met her a little while back, but we never really got a chance to chat until today. Tell me again how she came to be down in Florida?”

I grimaced. “I’m glad she’s in Harper Springs, but the circumstances that made her available to be here weren’t the best.” 

Six months ago, Mira had asked me to come to her office before I left for the day. Even though the head nurse and I had come to a meeting of the minds, as it were, and could now work together with civility, I still got that sense of being called to the principal’s office whenever she wanted to see me. 

Mira’s face had been grim that day. “I just heard from Deacon.” Her jaw set. “He copied me on a letter to the board, extending his temporary leave of absence and requesting that the board hire a full-time doctor to take his place, until such a time as he wants to return.” She heaved a long breath. “And before you ask it, no, he didn’t specify a time period for that return.” 

“Okay.” I’d dropped into the chair across the desk from her. “Shit. I mean . . . well, maybe this is a good thing. We’ve been limping along with all of us working extra hours and relying on help from the doctors who have privileges here. If Deacon isn’t planning to come back any time soon, then finding someone we can depend on would be the best idea.” 

“Agreed.” Mira nodded. “But the tricky part is that whoever takes the position won’t have it permanently, unless and until Deacon relinquishes the job. Or until the board gets sick of his shenanigans and tells him to get his fanny back here or else.” 

“Is that likely?” I couldn’t imagine many boards of directors tolerating behavior like Deacon’s for long. 

Mira hesitated. “They won’t kick him to the curb yet, but they won’t let this go on indefinitely, either. Deacon’s built up a ton of goodwill with the hospital, the board and the community. People are inclined to give him a pass, particularly because he’s not out on a pleasure cruise—he’s doing good work. Important work.” She quirked an eyebrow at me. “But you and I both know that what happens in this hospital is also important.” 

“No argument there.” 

“My question to you, then, is if you have any recommendations for doctors who might be interested in a short-term position at an oncology wing in the middle of Florida.” Mira shuffled papers on her desk. “I’d like your input on who we interview and ultimately hire since you’ll be working closely with that person.” 

I worried the corner of my lip between my teeth. “There is someone . . . I knew her at the medical center where I worked in Philadelphia. She was a good doctor. She’s solid and has great rapport with the patients.” 

“Perfect, but would she be open to considering something like this?” Mira tapped her desk. 

“Normally, I’d say no, but she’s had a rough couple of months. Her fiancé was killed in an accident this summer. She’s kind of at loose ends now—she might be open to a change of scenery.” 

As I related all of this to Anna, her eyes filled with sympathy. “Oh, that poor thing. To lose someone she loved so young.” 

“I know.” I sighed. “I wish better circumstances had brought her down here, but I’m definitely glad she said yes.” I reached for a dishtowel from the box Anna was emptying, and folding it, laid it in the drawer. “Don’t worry, though. Alison understands that when Deacon comes home, she’ll need to find another place to work. I just hope she can take this time to heal and start to think about what comes next for her.” 

Anna snorted. “If he didn’t have a job when he came back, it would serve him right.” She set down the next jar with a little more force than necessary. It would be accurate to say that Anna was still a bit put out with her grandson. 

Jenny, who had just wandered over to us, caught my eye and mimed horror. Despite all of us at the hospital being less than happy with our head doc’s abrupt vanishing act, none of us wanted him to stay away. The truth was that as gruff and intense as Deacon could be, he unified our team in a way no one else could. 

Now, that being said, my own feelings toward him were decidedly mixed. My heart was still bruised not only by his rapid departure but also by what had happened a few nights before that. I didn’t want to waste any thoughts there, though. When Deacon Girard sailed back into town—if in fact he did—I’d be professional. I’d work with him, but that was the end of it. I was over him. 

Or I would be. Soon.

Read the rest of the story here!


Apple Books




Peace, love and romance~

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