Back for day 2! Below is an excerpt from my second Harlequin Medical Romance, Once a Good Girl… available now.
With a few adept keystrokes, 5E Head nurse Victoria Forley shot next week’s schedule off to the nursing office and closed down her computer. Today she would leave on time. She straightened her already neat desk then scanned her tiny utilitarian office to make sure everything was in its place. The memory of her son’s tear-filled eyes made her heart ache. “Why am I always the last kid picked up from afterschool program?” Jake had asked last night at dinner. “My teacher gets so mad when you’re late.”
Mad enough to put Victoria on parental probation. Three more late pick-ups and Jake would be kicked out of the program. Then what would she do?
Victoria hated that the promotion she’d fought so hard for, a bullet-point in her ten-year plan to provide her son a future filled with opportunities rather than financial constraints, significantly impacted the wide-awake hours they spent together. Although, to be honest, it wasn’t actually the job that was the problem; it was her obsessive compulsive need to achieve perfection at it. To show everyone at Madrin Memorial Hospital who thought a twenty-five-year-old wasn’t experienced enough to be the hospital’s newest head nurse that she was up to the task.
She grabbed her lab coat from the hanger hooked to the back of her door and slipped it on. A final check of her H-shaped unit and she’d be ready to go. Exiting her office, Victoria inhaled the familiar, disinfectant fresh odor of pine and scanned the white walls and floors to assure they were in pristine condition. She closed the lid on a laundry hamper and rolled two unused IV pumps into the clean utility room.
When she crossed over to the hallway of odd-numbered rooms she saw it, sitting quietly outside room 517. A shedding, allergy-inducing, pee-whenever-the-urge-hits golden retriever with a bright red bandana tied around its neck.
So, the elusive Dr. K, oncology rehabilitation specialist extraordinaire finally deigned to put in an appearance on 5E, two hours late for their scheduled meeting. Well, now he’d have to wait for her to make herself available. And she was in no hurry to listen to him spout the merits of his program and, she was sure, begin lobbying for her support to make his dog’s position permanent.
While she was all for an in-house staff member coordinating a multidisciplinary approach to the rehabilitation of cancer patients and administering daily bedside PT to chemo patients too exhausted or too immunosuppressed to attend therapy down in the department, she didn’t see why Dr. K. needed a four-legged companion to do it. Victoria walked past the animal, who didn’t budge from his position, the slight wag of his tail the only indication he’d noticed her. Ok. So it obviously wasn’t a threat to visitors. Still. She was not a fan of unsanitary animals besmirching her unit. Unless it benefited her patients, which is why she’d agreed to hold off on casting her negative vote until after the four-week trial.
“We’ll swing by tomorrow morning,” a male voice said from inside the room. The rich, deep timbre and his words ‘swing by’ caused a jolt of recognition.
Unease sauntered up her spine. It couldn’t be. She looked into the room anyway, had to catch a glimpse to be sure.
A man stood at the foot of the bed two. The blinds closed and the lights off, she could just make out was his height: Tall. Shoulders: Full. Arms: Big. Longish, dark hair curled haphazardly over the tops of his ears, reaching the collar of his lab coat in the back. As if he felt her eyes on him, he turned to face her. An unruly swag of bangs hung on an angle obscuring part of his forehead. Despite his unkempt appearance he was handsome in a rugged, untamed sort of way.
Great. He’d caught her staring.
“Victoria?” the man asked, and started to walk toward her.
That voice. His stride. Please, God. Not him. Victoria felt flash frozen in place. When he emerged from the darkened room into the well-lit hallway, her eyes, the only body part capable of movement, met his. A blue so pale they’d look almost colorless if not for an outer ring of deep ocean blue. Eyes she’d loved and hated in equal measure, familiar eyes in an unfamiliar face, a man’s face with a slightly crooked nose, obviously broken at some point, and strong cheek bones. A scar bisected his right eyebrow another spliced the center of his chin.
But she’d know him anywhere.
Before she could stop it, concern flitted across her mind. What’d happened to him in the nine years he’d been gone? She mentally slapped it back. It didn’t matter, couldn’t have been worse than what she’d been through because of his irresponsible carelessness.
“Victoria?” he asked. “What are you doing here?” He scanned the nametag clipped to the breast pocket of her lab coat. “You’re a nurse?” He hesitated, digested his discovery and with narrowed, taunting eyes asked, “What happened? Couldn’t hack it at Harvard?”
If the above excerpt leaves you with a hankering for more – like I hope it will – a continuation and links for purchase are available on my website http://WendySMarcus.com. One lucky visitor who comments today will win a copy of my book, so be sure to let me know you were here!