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Christmas with the Best Man

By Susan Carlisle

I hope this is a little early Christmas cheer.

This is an taste of my last book Christmas with the Best Man which is out on December 1. It is a part of the Manhattan Mercy continuity that joins my fellow medical authors: Amy Ruttan, Robin Gianna, Janice Lynn, Alison Roberts, Amalie Berlin. You don’t want to miss theirs either. 

Christmas with the Best man 300

Dr. Helena Tate knew what a mad house the ER could be like during and after a major nor’eastern but to experience it first hand was always a draining experience. Not only was snow piled everywhere, the wind was howling and the temperature teeth clatteringly cold.

Injured people filled the chairs and any extra space in Manhattan Mercy Hospital’s Emergency Department in New York City. Even though the department might be the most modern and efficient ER in the world, it had still been all-hands-on deck for the last couple of days. Inside was at least warm and cheerful. Being a week before Christmas and the nurses had banded together to decorate the department. Garland hung around the unit desk, wreaths adorned each trauma room door, and there was even a Christmas tree in the corner of the waiting room.

Despite the festive time of the year the sick and injured just kept coming. Thankfully the flow had started to ease. She must be out of here in an hour if she had any hope of making Grace and Charles’s wedding on time. A must, since she was the maid of honor.

Grace and she had been friends and roommates during medical school and had stayed in touch. When Grace had mentioned needing a change from her overseas work, Helena had told Grace about a position becoming available in the ER and had offered her the extra bedroom. Grace soon learned Charles Davenport would be her boss and talked of cancelling the interview. Helena had encouraged her to come on anyway having no idea there had been something between Grace and Charles during their medical school years.

Helena smiled then sighed. Now, they were getting married just a couple of weeks before Christmas. She was thrilled for them.

Finishing with her latest patient, Helena headed to the ER doctor’s on-call room to shower and change. It wasn’t the perfect place to dress for a formal event but unusual circumstances called for flexibility. If anything, she’d learned long ago as an unwed pregnant teen to adjust to what life threw her and move on.

The pain of finding out that her boyfriend wanted nothing more to do with her, and especially the baby, had been horrible. More devastating had been the loss of the child. Seventeen was too young to become a mother, but the guilt she carried over not wanting the baby was what had stayed with her all these years.

She had survived with the love and support of her family. That’s what mattered now. The part of her personality that made her think positive had made being a ER doctor a good fit professionally for her. Days like the last few only proved it. How she was holding her love close. She wanted a man who wanted her forever. Some might think she was too old to believe in happily ever after but she was still going to hold out for it. Grace and Charles were proving it could be had and Helena had to believe Prince Charming was somewhere out there for her as well.

She stepped out of the examination room and was sideswiped by a blur of white. “Ho.”

Dr. Elijah Davenport, Charles’ twin, glanced over his shoulder. “Hey Helena, can you give me a hand in Trauma Four? A kid just came in with a broken leg and the father’s having trouble breathing.”

She hurried to keep up with him. “Is Jim seeing them? I saw him coming in a few minutes ago. You’re off the clock. Shouldn’t you be thinking about getting ready for the wedding? After all you’re the best man.”

“Yeah, but there’re also patients to see. When Charles left me in charge I promised not to let the place fall apart.”

Like Elijah would ever do that. He might be the quintessential playboy doctor but Helena never doubted he was a dedicated physician. Truth be known, she thought him the best doctor in the department. But no way would she tell him that. His head was already big enough where women were concerned. It would only add to his already over-the-top ego.

Still he had earned it. Elijah was beyond good-looking. From his dark brown hair, charmingly out of place most of the time, to his tall, buff beach boy physique and his ‘Davenport blues’ that sparkled when he laughed, Helena easily understood why women were agog over him. She might be as well but she wasn’t interested in anyone who worked their way through the nurses. Nor in the heartache he would cause if she lost her heart to him. She wouldn’t accept anything but true love.

Helena’s attention went to Elijah who had paused at the door to the patient’s room. “I’ll take the kid and you see the father.”

“Okay.”

She covered it well but no matter how much time had passed since she’d lost her baby the young patients still got to her on occasion. Sometimes a look or a laugh from a child triggered something in her that sent her emotions spinning out of control. During those moments, the pain was so harsh her chest felt like it might explode. The what questions came flooding in. What would she have looked like? Would her child be acting the same as this one? The list and the pain went on. Thank goodness it didn’t happen often. But when it did…

“Done.” Elijah walked into the room.

A boy of about eight lay on the exam table with his face contorted in pain while a tight-lipped father holding his side paced beside him.

“Mr.,” Elijah looked at the clipboard he held, “Kakasides, I’m Dr. Davenport and this,” he nodded his head toward her, “is Dr. Tate. Why don’t you have a seat and tell us what happened.”

“I’d rather stand. It hurts worse when I sit. We were sledding in the park. Like an idiot, I tried to catch Louis when he came by me going too fast. I fell on him. I think I’ve broken his leg. I hit the edge of the sled and messed up my side.”

Elijah glanced at her with a ‘are you believing this look’ and then said to the father, “I’m going to check out your son while Dr. Tate does the same for you, okay?”

“Why don’t we step right over here?” Helena indicated an area off to the side.

The father glanced at his son, nodded. “Louis, I’m not going far. Hang in there, buddy.”

“Before I have a look at your side I need to listen to your heart and check a few more things.”

Again, the father dipped his head but his attention remained on his son.

With vitals completed she said, “I know this is going to hurt but I need for you to take a deep breath.”

The father winced but did as she asked.

“Now Mr. Kakasides, I have to look under your shirt. Can you raise your arm?”

He hissed as he brought his arm up. Moving the shirt away Helena could see a dark blue hematoma spreading out along his left side. The fall had defiantly been hard.

“I’m going to need to step out and have a look at your chest X-ray,” she announced. “At the least you’ve broken a few ribs but I need to make sure there isn’t more. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do for broken ribs. They’ll have to heal on their own. You can take an anti-inflammatory for the pain.”

They rejoined Elijah as he was saying, “Okay Louis, I need to have a look at your leg. I see the nurse has already done her worse with your pants.”

The material had been cut away so that it flapped back exposing the leg. There was a large bump with redness and bluing around it.

“Yep, that looks like a broken leg. You and your father sure know how to have a good time in the snow.”

The boy gave Elijah a weak smile. “He fell on me but I know he didn’t mean to.”

Elijah patted him on the shoulder and a wink. “I’m sure he didn’t. Maybe next time you can save him.”

The boys smile was brighter this time.

Good with kids, Elijah would make a great father. But he was also ‘good’ with women which would not make him a great husband. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue. He’d never approached her and that suited her fine. Just watching him in action with the other female staff was enough for her to know he wasn’t what she was looking for in a man.

Elijah gave a reassuring smile to the boy’s father. “Radiology should have sent the pictures over by now. Let us review them. Dr. Tate and I’ll be back in soon.”

“Thanks.” The father looked at her and then at Elijah. “To both of you.”

On their way back to the ER desk Elijah was stopped by one of the nurses with a question. Helena didn’t wait on him. At the desk, she pulled up the X-ray for Mr. Kakasides. His eight, nine and tenth ribs were cracked. He would be in pain for a few weeks but would recover. She had the x-ray Elijah needed to review up on the screen by the time he arrived. He slid into the chair beside her.

“Thanks Helena.”

“No problem. As Maid of Honor, I think it’s part of my duty to remind the best man he needs to get out of here as soon as possible.”

He studied the computer screen. “Well, Joe has a break to his femur.”

“His father is going to take it hard. He feels bad enough as it is.” Helena stood and checked her watch. “I’m going to give him instructions about his ribs and get ready for a wedding. You need to do the same.”

Elijah rolled back his chair. “Yes, doctor. I’m right behind you. First, I need to call Lloyd up in ped ortho and have him come in on the case. The boy will need surgery to put a rod in.”

“Then I’ll let the father know you’ll be in to speak to him. I’ll see you in the Park.”

“Yeah, in the Park.” There was a dry note in Elijah voice.

“Don’t sound so excited.” Helena grinned back at him as she circled the desk and headed down the hall. “Remember weddings aren’t contagious.”

 

Elijah sure hope they weren’t. He wanted nothing to do with one.

Forty-five minutes later, he left the ER station desk and headed down the hall toward the doctor-on-call room. There a shower and his tux waited. He had plenty of time to get dressed and make it to the park. At least the hospital was just across the street, but Central Park was a huge space. Just to walk to the Shakespeare Garden would take time.

Charles would never let him forget it if he was late to the ceremony. Grace would be in tears and nothing Elijah said would make that okay in Charles’s eyes. The ER had been so busy Elijah had seen two more patients before he felt he could call his shift done. It then took another fifteen minutes to bring the doctor taking over for him up to speed on the patients being seen.

Elijah admitted to himself that he was dragging his feet about the whole wedding thing. It wasn’t he didn’t want to be there for Charles or that he didn’t like Grace. He did. He wished them both the best. Was truly happy for them. It was just that the ‘wedded bliss’ idea didn’t appeal to him much. He’d seen little of that in his parents’ marriage. Knew he wouldn’t be good at it.

He was halfway down the hall when one of the two swinging doors at the end opened. Helena came toward him. Elijah stopped dead in his tracks. She was a vision of loveliness like he’d never seen. Her curly, shoulder-length, auburn colored hair was now pinned up, the waves flowing randomly about her head. A red poinsettia bloom was fixed behind her right ear. She wore a long forest green dress that hugged womanly curves usually hidden by loose scrub shirts. The top of the dress dipped, giving him a hint of cleavage that only made him want to see more. Small short sleeves cupped her creamy shoulders. The skirt swirled about her legs as she came toward him drawing his attention to her hips.

His heart picked up a beat. Not to mention the stirring south of his beltline. Heaven help him, Helena was breathtaking. Why hadn’t he noticed before?

They had been working together for a couple of years. More than once she and a few other of the staff had gone out to eat as a group after a shift but he’d never thought of her in any way except as a colleague. She’d always been pleasant but seemed closed off somehow. She gave off the vibe that she wasn’t someone who played around. With her wholesome southern drawl and gentle smile, she wasn’t one of those women who gave him a come-hither look he had no trouble obeying. Everything about her said serious, down to earth, love me forever. That was the type he stayed clear of. Maybe that’s why it never registered Helena could be so completely stunning.

Whatever the cause it had been lifted from his eyes. He was noticing her now. Big time.

He needed to snap out of it. Had Helena said something to him? He blinked.

“Elijah, are you just now going to get dressed? You have less than an hour before we’re supposed to be walking down the aisle. Grace is going to have your hide.” She stepped closer.

Her wonderful aroma filled his nostrils. Nothing like the antiseptic smell of the hospital but something warm and earthy, intriguing. He was acting like a fool. Working to get a grip on himself, he grinned. He focused on a point just over her shoulder to get beyond how enchanting she looked. “It’s a good thing you’re a doctor. At least you’ll be able to patch me up.”

She lowered her chin and gave him a speculative look. “I don’t think I have enough medical training to save you from Grace’s wrath if you’re not there on time.”

He laughed. Helena did too. It had a sincere ring that sounded as if it came from her heart. He’d always liked that about her. She had a sense of humor. “Then I guess I need to get moving.” He started down the hall.

“That would be my suggestion.” She headed the other way.

Elijah stopped and looked back, his attention drawn to her hips. It was a shame her scrubs had been disguising those full curves for so long.

Minutes later he was under a hot shower. He was surprised he hadn’t needed a cold one after seeing Helena. How spectacular she looked still amazed him. At least he’d managed not to make a fool of himself. This sudden interest, no, infatuation, with Helena was crazy. He’d seen many woman in formal clothing yet had not reacted this way.

It was probably being overtired from covering for Charles when the ER was impossibly busy. Or maybe it was due to the wedding hoopla he normally stayed clear of. There was something out of cynic with the universe for him to have had such an intense reaction to Helena. Especially when she was clearly not his type.

Half an hour later he shrugged into his black overcoat adjusting it over his tuxedo. Wrapping his groomsman’s gift, a scarlet red scarf securely around his neck, he popped a short black top hat on his head. It might be the silliest thing he’d ever worn if it wasn’t for the fact that it was so cold and not wearing a hat was even more ridiculous.

He received more than one interested look and a few grins as he made his way through the older part of the building to the lobby and out the front entrance of the hospital. His idea of dressing up was putting on a pair of slacks and a collared shirt. Causal was his style, less dog and pony show. He worked hard and liked to relax and have fun when he was off. Only when he couldn’t avoid it did he put on a suit for a medical meeting. To be wearing a tuxedo was taxing. The only reason he was doing so was because he loved his brother. Elijah wished him well. It had been hard on Charles when he lost his wife and was left with two small sons to raise. Elijah was glad his brother had found love again, happiness.

Elijah pulled on his black gloves as he went down the stone steps to the street to catch a cab. It would get him to the closest park entrance nearest Shakespeare Garden and then he would have to walk from there. Just as Helena told him more than once, he’d be cutting it close on time.

The taxi driver put him out at the curb and he hurried down the path. Thankfully having grown up in New York he knew Central Park well. He’d heard of people getting lost in the massive acreage. As a child, he and his brothers and sister had played there. More than once they had picnicked in the Shakespeare Garden area among the trees and large foliage. Those were sunnier days both literally and figuratively. Ones from a long time ago.

He hurried up a slope and made a left turn at a sign reading ‘Grace and Charles’ with a large red bow on it. Up another rise he followed another path into an open area surrounded by snow-tipped trees. Smaller trees in the area were decorated in white lights that were shining bright in the diming light.

An arch made of red poinsettias blooms and more white lights were at one end of the field. Facing it were rows of white chairs with red bows tied to the ones closest to the aisle. A few people were already taking their seats. Tall portable heaters were stationed around the ceremony area. At the other end of the field was a huge enclosed tent with four low round fires pits that glowed. His family was standing around them.

Elijah took a deep breath to fortify himself for what was coming.

As he approached Charles left the group and walked toward him. “I thought I’d have to send Zac after you.”

“I told you I’d be here.” Elijah grinned at his brother. As twins, they had always been close. It wasn’t until they were eighteen that they’d had secrets between them. Elijah carried that guilt and regret to this day.

“Yeah, but I know better than most that you’re always five minutes behind.”

Elijah gave him a wry smile. “Funny big brother. I’ve heard it all before. Just because you were born before me doesn’t mean I’m one step behind you.”

“About following in my footsteps, how’re things at the hospital?” Charles asked as they continued toward the tent.

“Under control. We managed to get the patients waiting down to a reasonable headcount before I left.” Elijah couldn’t fault Charles for his dedication to his job even on his wedding day. “What you need to be worrying about is that beautiful bride of yours. I’ve got the ER covered. Enjoy the day, your honeymoon and let me handle the rest.”

“I’m trying. I guess most of my worrying has to do with nerves.”

Elijah didn’t doubt that. The thought of a wedding made him edgy as well and he wasn’t the one getting married. He looked around. “So where are the Rugrats?”

“Max and Cameron are with Grace. They’ll be coming down the aisle ahead of her.”

Elijah gave him a brotherly pat on the back. “I hope you have them bundled up. It’s cold out here.”

Charles laughed. “I know. But this is what Grace wanted. I love her so that’s what we’re having.”

That kind of love Elijah didn’t comprehend. He’d never felt that for a woman. Didn’t think he ever would. He understood wanting, enjoying, appreciating a female but loving one the way his brother did Grace wasn’t something he’d experienced. More than that, Charles had been able to find it twice. Elijah didn’t plan to have it even once.

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Little Teaser from: Stolen Kiss with Her Boss

By Susan Carlisle

The book is out on August 1.

Stolen Kisses with her Boss

 

Cynthia Marcum tapped the mouse of her laptop. Her emails came into view. Scanning them, she paused when she saw one from Dr. Sean Donavon. Her body tingled in anticipation. Why would he be emailing her? Her interactions had always been with his staff. Had she done something wrong?

She had been doing Dr. Donavon’s transcription for just over a month now. He was an otolaryngologist and one of five surgeons she typed dictation for in the metropolitan Birmingham, Alabama area. The pay was so good she’d added him to her client list despite already having a full load. She could use the money. Her brothers, Mark and Rick were always in need of something costing at least a hundred dollars.

The money wasn’t the only thing she enjoyed about working for the mystery doctor. She loved the sound of his voice. It drew her in. She always saved his tapes for last. His deep resonating tone was smooth and silky like warm chocolate. It brought to mind a cool night with rain tapping against a tin roof and him pulling her close.

Her imagination worked over time where Dr. Donovan was concerned. She couldn’t get enough of listening to him, often playing his tapes back more than once. Even all the medical-ezes sounded erotic when he uttered them.

She often wondered if he looked like he sounded. All dark and sexy.

A ‘humph’ escaped her. Yeah, more like short and bald. That had happened one time when she had met a radio DJ. Based on his voice she’d built him up into this young, buff guy who every woman would want. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a short, middle-aged man with a gray ponytail. To say she had been disappointed was an understatement.

Listening to Dr. Donavan, had become her romantic outlet. Since she currently had no one special in her life, hearing his voice had filled that void. She’d been in a relationship when her parents died. Wedding bells with Dave didn’t seem too far off, then life happened. Her parents’ estate issues, the needs of her brothers and everything in between worked against the commitment continuing.

Dave soon began complaining that she wasn’t spending enough time with him. It then went into, “I didn’t sign on to help raise two teenage boys.” Finally, he told her he had found someone else. In a way Cynthia was relieved. He just didn’t share her mind set about the importance of family. He didn’t understand her or the necessity of keeping her family together at all cost.

After they broke up, she didn’t try to have another solid relationship. She dated a few times but never let the guys close enough to matter. Usually, when they found out she was responsible for her brothers, they quickly backed away. Now wasn’t the time for a man and she’d accepted that. Sadly, until the boys were situated in life she would just have to get her thrills from listening to Dr. Donovan. And he was well worth listening to.

Her finger hovered over the computer mouse. Would his emails be just as amazing? Yeah right. She’d been without a man far too long when fantasy started overtaking reality. She clicked the email, opening it.

The black words against the white screen read:

HELLO MS. MARCUM. MY OFFICE MANAGER GAVE ME YOUR NAME AS THE PERSON WHO HAS BEEN PREPARING MY TRANSCRIPTION. I’M IMPRESSED WITH YOUR WORK. THE REASON I’M CONTACTING YOU IS THAT I AM CURRENTLY IN THE MIDDLE OF PUTTING TOGETHER A GRANT PROPOSAL AND NEED TO HAVE SOME EXTRA REPORTS TRANSCRIBED OVER THE NEXT THREE WEEKS. I WANTED TO KNOW IF YOU WOULD BE WILLING TO TAKE ON THE ADDITIONAL WORK. OF COURSE  I WILL COMPENSIATE YOU FOR YOUR TIME. I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR HELP.

REGARDS,

  1. DONAVON

Nope. Nothing sexy there. But he sounded nice. Considerate. In her mind she could almost hear him say the words. Cynthia reread the message. There wasn’t much time in her days. Taking on more work might be difficult. This was Rick’s senior year in high school so what extra hours she had were spent going to his activities. Yet the extra money Dr. Donavon offered would help pay for Mark’s college tuition that was coming due soon.

Plus, she liked to keep her clients happy. Took pride in her work. So far that hadn’t been a problem with any of her employers. And she would get to listen to his voice more often. But if she didn’t agree to Dr. Donavon request would he take all his work elsewhere? She couldn’t afford to let that happen.

Moving the cursor to the reply button, she clicked and typed:

  1. DONAVON,

I’M GLAD YOU’RE PLEASED WITH MY WORK. MY TIME IS TIGHT AT PRESENT BUT I’LL DO MY BEST TO FIT IN ANY EXTRA REPORTS YOU SEND. I DON’T KNOW HOW QUICK OF A TURNAROUND TIME I CAN PROMISE YOU BUT I WILL MAKE IT AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE.

CYNTHIA

Scanning the message, she made sure she had used the correct tone then clicked send. She didn’t want to lose his business but couldn’t overextend herself either. Her brothers, her family, took priority-always. The up side was if there was enough money from the extra work maybe she could start looking for a new car. Hers was on its last leg. She grinned. More like last tire.

Since she had left nursing school to become a fulltime transcriptionist she’d gained a reputation as being competent and professional. It had been difficult to build a client list. She’d been tickled to add Dr. Donavon. As a surgeon, he produced plenty of work to keep her busy. He also paid better than her other clients. Getting to enjoy his voice almost daily was an added perk.

“Hey Cyn,” Rick called. His tall lanky body appeared in the doorway of the small front room of their house she used as an office. He wore his usual uniform of jeans and well-worn t-shirt. “I’m going over to Joey’s house.”

Cynthia swiveled in the chair to face him. “Do you have that project done?”

“Almost.” He put up a hand stopping her from saying more. “I’ll have it finished tomorrow and it isn’t due for another week. Don’t worry I have all As.”

“Yeah, but you don’t want that to slip. That scholarship you’re after depends on it.”

Rick waved a hand at her. “You worry too much. See ya.”

Seconds later the back door squeaked open and slammed closed.

She did worry. That had been her full-time job since her parents had died in that devastating car accident. She’d become sole guardian of her two teenage brothers when she was only a few years older than them. It hadn’t been easy for any of them but they were making it.

Her father had told her more than once, “Cynthia, family is everything. You have to support your family.” She lived by that motto. She would honor her parents by seeing that her brothers had a good start in the world. Once they were settled, she would go back to school and think about her own future. She missed that carefree time when she’d been on her own. The times she hadn’t had to considered her brothers before she did something as simple as go out for the night.

The three of them had inherited the house, but there was still day to day expenses. Those came out of her paycheck. Her parents had left some money but it wouldn’t last long if she tapped into it. What her parents had left them was for the boy’s higher education or to help them buy their own place.

Enough pondering. She had work to finish. Glancing at her email list one last time, she saw that there was a new note from Dr. Donavon. She opened it.

I CAN’T SAY THANK YOU ENOUGH. I’LL ELCTRONICAL SEND OVER THE DICATON THIS AFTERNOON. I WILL NEED THESE BY MONDAY MORNING. IS THAT DOABLE? IF YOU CAN GET THEM DONE BY THEN I WILL OWE YOU BIG TIME.

  1. DONAVON

She could imagine the smile on his face when he read her email. She liked that she’d made him happy. But work so soon. This weekend. He really must be in a hurry. Well, she knew what her plans were for tonight and tomorrow morning.

  1. DONAVON,

I WILL DO MY BEST TO HAVE THEM READY BY MONDAY.

CYNTHIA

Seconds later came back:

YOU’RE A LIFE SAVER.

  1. DONAVON

Cynthia wasn’t sure she could be anyone else’s life saver. She was already taking care of more people than she could manage now. Taking on someone else might sink her boat. What would it be like to have someone take care of her for a change?

The kitchen door opened and slammed shut. “Cyn?” Mark, who was just six years younger than her called.

“In here.”

He flopped into the cushion chair beside her desk and flung a leg over the arm.

“So how did it go today?” Cynthia asked.

“I’m going to quit.”

His blunt statement wasn’t unexpected. She leaned toward him, gripping the arms of her chair. Her parents had wanted them all to get a college education. She been fighting Mark’s apathy about doing that for months now. The weight of doing so was starting to get to her. “Why?”

“College doesn’t get you anywhere.” Mark spoke to the floor instead of her.

This was one of those times when she wished she had some backup, someone to turn to. She refused to let her voice rise. “You know Mom and Dad wouldn’t like that.”

“Yeah. But it’s not for me.”

Cynthia moved the chair to face him more directly. “Then what’re you going to do?”

He shrugged and continued to looked at that floor. “I don’t know.”

That wasn’t a good plan. “Well, you’re going to have to figure something out.”

Mark jumped to his feet. “Get off my back. You’re not my parent. We can’t all be Rick.” He stomped from the room.

She sighed. Could the day get any better? Mark’s statement hurt on a number of levels. Cynthia missed her parents too. That was why she took her guardianship responsibilities seriously. Wanted to do the best by them. And no, she was not Mark’s parent. If the situation was different she would prefer just being his sister.

His dictation arrived in her transcription systems’ end box right before dinner. The work could wait until after dinner. Her parents had made the evening meal time important and she continued the practice. Her brothers knew that if possible they were expected at home at six during the week so they could spend some time together.

Two hours later she pulled her chair up to her desk. This wasn’t the way she’d planned to spend Friday night, but she would get over it. Doing what had must be done had become a part of her life. She’d have Dr. Donavon’s work to him Monday morning hoping to impress.

She clicked the dictation inbox and Dr. Donavon’s voice filled her ears. It didn’t take long for her to forget about how tired she was or the amount of house work that needed doing and start enjoying the rich deepness of his voice. If she had to work on Friday night, there were worse jobs to have than one that involve having the sound of a sexy voice in her ear.

 

After lunch Monday, Sean settled in behind his desk at his clinic office. Pushing his chair back and putting his feet on his desk, he crossed his ankles and got comfortable. He didn’t usually reread all his reports but in this instance, he couldn’t afford not to. The grant was too important.

His future depended on it. Not to mention the quality of life for his patients, for the vast number of patients who would have their hearing improved and those of other ears, nose and throat doctors as well. With the grant he could continue his research and make that difference.

With the success of his procedure and the patent of a new instrument he would also be financially set for life. He knew too well what it was like being without and he’d vowed never to feel that way again. He’d heard some people call it the Scarlet O’Hara syndrome. He just called it smart.

Long ago he’d hired a financial planner. He was determined not to live paycheck to paycheck as his parents had, wondering if there would be enough cash to pay the bills or buy food. While growing up, more than once he’d been unable to participate with his friends in an activity because there hadn’t been funds. His parents had been and still were the types to fall in with the next big money making scheme which always cost them money instead of making them rich as they claimed they one day would be. There had been multi-level marketing, investing in commercial ventures or selling the next great vitamin product. Nothing seemed to work but they were always ‘in’ for the chance it might.

Sean hated any part of that way of life. Money shouldn’t be squandered. Instead it should be saved and invested. He was determined to do just that. Their attitude toward paying their bills and handling finances embarrassed him. Their philosophy about life was so different from his that they found little in common. Because of that he’d not seen them in almost a year. Even then visits had been short. He wasn’t interested in hearing about the next get rich plan.

The one thing about his new breakthrough was that it would allow him to put away enough money to support his parents in their old age. He was confident that they would need his help. Despite his bitter feelings about his childhood he would take care of them. No matter what, they were his parents.

Now he only had to get the grant documentation in order. The submission must be flawless. The competition was tight, right down to the written documents. Even the smallest element could make a difference between him or someone else receiving the grant.

Picking up his iPad, he pulled up his most recent reports and started reading. Halfway through the first one he was pleased to find not a single mistake. Not that he really expected one but he couldn’t be too careful. Ms. Marcum had done a superb job and certainly in a timely manner. He should tell her so.

When his last transcriptionist had taken another position she’d given his office manager Ms. Marcum’s name along with a glowing reference. Because he didn’t have time to waste completing the grant he’d told his office manager to hire her without further question. He wasn’t known for making snap decisions. Thankfully that one had been a smart one. He didn’t know what would have happened to his grant submission if she hadn’t been willing to take on the additional work.

Now he needed to make sure he kept her. He couldn’t have her quitting just when he needed her the most. He didn’t have time to waste hiring another especially when there was no guarantee that the next person would be any good. His manager had already said they were lucky to get this one. He needed his dictation done in a timely manner and she had proven she could do that.

Pulling up his email he entered Cynthia Marcum’s address. Her name made her sound like a middle age matron. It didn’t matter what she looked like. What concerned him was the quality of his papers and keeping her typing them.

MARCUM,

I HAVE REVIEWED YOUR REPORTS AND I’M VERY PLEASE WITH YOUR WORK. THANK YOU ALSO FOR GETTING THEM TO ME IN SUCH A TIMELY MANNER. I WAS PLEASANTLY SURPRISED TO LEARN THEY WERE WAITING ON ME WHEN I RETURNED TO MY OFFICE AFTER COMING OUT OF SURGERY TODAY. I CAN’T SAY ENOUGH ABOUT HOW MUCH I APPRECIATE YOUR EFFORTS. I HOPE IT’S STILL OKAY TO SEND YOU ADDITIONAL WORK.

VERY GRATEFUL,

DONAVON

Without hesitation he clicked the send button.

***

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Merry Month of May

By Susan Carlisle

I had a very busy four weeks in May. A number of great things happen. I thought I’d share them with you.

First off,  was the week long RT Convention in Atlanta. It was exciting and busy, but I do love interacting with readers. And boy there were readers. About 2,000 of them.

My obviously having a good time with one of the cover models. My Norwegian blood enjoys a good Viking.

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A group of authors wrote 20 related novellas and hosted a country fair. A lot of work but well worth it. So much fun.

 

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The next week I had new carpet put in five rooms of the house and new flooring in my office which is in the basement. The only room out of three floors worth not affected was the kitchen. My house was a mess for days but I dearly love my new flooring. I still have work to do to get some rooms back in order.

The highlight of the month was the birth of my new grand son. He is too cute and a good baby. When he was only a week old my husband and I headed to Maine for ten days.

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The view from the house we rented in Eastport, Maine. Not bad is it? That’s Canada in the distance.

Canda

lost count of the number of lighthouses we saw.lighthouset

 

We made a day trip to St. Andrews by the sea. Beautiful place. Well worth the trip.

St. Andrews

We spent one night at the Mountain Grand View in New Hampshire. It is a historical hotel with all the old world feel. I loved the place.

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And I came home to a box of my latest release. A nice end to a wonderful month.

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From matchmaker…to perfect match?

Whitney Thomason prides herself on being able to find the perfect partner for anyone, but heart surgeon Tanner Locke is a real challenge! He wants to settle down, but he’s adamant there’ll be no falling in love…

When Whitney’s candidate falls through, it’s up to her to be the girlfriend Tanner needs for his weekend business getaway, but two days in close proximity proves torturous. They know giving in to temptation is a bad idea, but desire is more powerful than reason…

Have you ever packed too much fun into a mouth?

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Southern Secrets

By Susan Carlisle

I’m doing a little horn tooting today. I hope you’ll indulge my pride.

My first Indy published book will be out tomorrow. I was invited to join 19 other authors to put out a novella a day for the twenty days before the RT Convention in Atlanta in May. Ten of us wrote sweet books while the other ten wrote books with sizzle in them. Mine is a sizzler.

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The only thing required was that the book take place in Atlanta. Not hard for me since I live only about an hour away.

Facebook pic

I must admit that doing a novella was a challenge for me. Writing shorter isn’t my cup of tea but after a good editing and a little more direction I came away with a product I’m proud to call all mine.

Below is a little snippet from Southern Secrets. I hope you enjoy.

Carrie Rodgers headed on unsteady heels across the floor of her Atlanta apartment to answer the door. As an elementary school teacher, she spent most of her days in flat shoes. Even scarier than her evening footwear was the fact she was replacing her twin sister on a date without the man knowing. She wasn’t sure which she might regret more, letting Cathie talk her into the date or the heels.

With a flutter of her heart and her hands trembling, Carrie reached for the door knob. This date was a bad idea on several levels, yet she’d agreed to help Cathie out of a jam. She wouldn’t let her down. Never had and wouldn’t start now. That’s what sisters did. Or at least that was what her mother had told her over and over when Cathie had been so sick. Besides, it was too late to back out.

Taking a deep breath, Carrie let it out slowly. She didn’t know this guy. Hadn’t even laid eyes on him and was expected to act as if they were acquainted. The chime sounded again. Apparently, Rick Marshall was an impatient man. The big question was how perceptive was he? Would he realize she wasn’t Cathie?

For most of their lives, Carrie had been the level-headed, studious sister who stayed in the background while Cathie had been the fashion plate, flighty, look-at-me one.

Much of that started when Cathie developed childhood asthma. After she was hospitalized a couple of times, their parents’ worries focused on Cathie. From then on Carrie heard, “be careful with Cathie, don’t let her run too much, watch out for her.” Carrie became more self-sufficient and dependable, always the person who took care of her sister. As they grew older Cathie continued turning to Carrie to fix things.  

She didn’t mind. She loved Cathie. And Cathie loved the attention. She was so fond of it she made the most of the spotlight even into adulthood.

They might have been different in personalities but they were similar in looks. More than once Carrie had gotten Cathie out of a scrap by pretending she was her. Now Carrie had been pulled into doing it again.  

“Cath, I’m not doing it!” Carrie had told her hours earlier. “High school is long gone. We’ve out grown the changing places game.”

Her sister put on her puppy-dog pleading look, dropped a shoulder and said in a whinny tone, “Aw, come on Care Bear, just this once. Rock finally asked me to go away with him for a weekend. I’ve been hoping for this forever.”

“You do know the right thing to do is to tell Rock you can’t go or as least be up front with the other guy.” Carrie couldn’t believe her twin’s rudeness.

“I can’t break the date. Rick is my boss’s biggest client. It’s too late for that.”

At least she was showing some concern for the guy. Yet, this idea was so Cathie. She liked getting her way with no concern for how it might affect others’ lives. “Why did you even agree to go in the first place?”

Cathie shrugged. “What’s not fun about dressing up and going to a party?”

“Cathie, what if this guy really likes you?” Carrie couldn’t believe how callous Cathie was about someone’s feelings.    

“He’s an alright guy, but he’s not Rock. You don’t want to stand in the way of true love, do you?”

Carrie didn’t even try to stop the roll of her eyes. Like she understood love. After what had happened between her and Brian, Carrie wasn’t sure she’d ever really known anything about it. In any case, she and Cathie had different ideas about love. At least Cathie had a love life. Carrie didn’t. Her sister went out regularly but rarely with the same man twice. Carrie was more careful. She was holding out for Mr. Right. For a time, she had believed Brian was him. Too bad he hadn’t thought the same.

“Come on, Care. This gala at the Georgia Governor’s Mansion is to raise money for the children’s hospital. It’s right up your alley.”

It was. Cathie knew all the right buttons to push. Being employed in a private disabilities school, Carrie was easily persuaded where children were concerned. Still she balked. “I don’t have any money to donate. So what difference would it make if I went or not?”

“If this guy doesn’t have a date, he might not attend. He has big bucks so the hospital could miss out on his contribution, you wouldn’t want that, would you?” Cathie gave her the ‘look’. The one that always made Carrie agree to what Cathie wanted.

This argument was getting more twisted by the minute. Carrie stood.

“Come on, Carrie.” Cathie put her arms out in a pleading manner. “Help me out just this one time. I’ll never ask again.” She’d taken Carrie’s hands, looking earnestly into her eyes. “Please. For once in your life take a risk. Live a little, all while helping out your sister.” Her smile was like a used car salesman’s closing a deal.

Carrie couldn’t resist Cathie. Helping her out was too ingrained in her. Maybe Carrie had been too careful in life. After all, Brian had broken up with her because he said she wasn’t bold enough, too set in her ways. This was a chance to have an adventure, to prove to herself that Brian was wrong. She could let go. It would only be for a couple of hours. What could go wrong? She’d go, have a good time and never see the man again. Cathie would get what she wanted: her weekend with Rock and Carrie would have an adventure. “Okay, but I want your word that you’ll never ask me to do this again.”

Cathie hugged her tight. “Great. Now let’s get you dressed to kill.”

Each time Carrie had taken Cathie’s place she’d put away her simple classic style to take on the more flamboyant appearance of her sister. Tonight, was no exception. She wore eye makeup, which Carrie rarely did, including false eyelashes that had her working to lift her eyelids. Her hair, normally worn in a simple ponytail or down, was pulled back into an up do where it was teased in front, gathered, and pulled to the side so that a long curl fell over her shoulder.

Carrie might admire a dress her sister had chosen but would never dare wear it.  Cathie had insisted she did. It was made of aqua chiffon and dipped in a V almost as far down in the front as it did in the back. Carrie couldn’t remember feeling more exposed. At the waist, it was pleated so it flowed around her legs and skimmed the floor. 

So here she stood dressed for a fancy party with her nerves strung tight as a child’s rope during a tug-of-war. Surely she could be Cinderella for a perfect stranger, for a few hours, couldn’t she?              

Opening the door, Carrie had to control the urge to gasp. The sketchy facts Cathie had given her about her date flew out of her head. Before Carrie stood the most handsome man she had ever seen.

Her mouth went dry. So this was uh…Rick Marshall.

Why in the world would Cathie want to spend the weekend with that muscle bound, idiot Rock when she could enjoy an evening with this guy?

Rick’s short, black hair was cut into the latest fashion. He had high cheekbones and a closely shorn beard covering a strong jaw that gave him a devilish look. A twinkle of a dare shown in his brown eyes. A shiver ran down her spine. She might be in over her head.

Standing at least a foot taller than her five-foot-two and with broad shoulders, he filled the door frame. The tuxedo he wore fit as if tailored for him. All in all, he was an overwhelming package.

His gaze remained on her. Was he seeing more than she wanted him to? There was an air about him that made her believe she’d have to work harder than ever before to convince him she was Cathie. His full lips formed a smile that made her middle ebb and flow as if a storm was coming.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Help for Little Hearts

chd-valentine

February is not only the month of romance but also heart month. The pumping blood kind. With that in mind, we wanted to share a little different story.

Each year Harlequin conducts a contest called “More Than Words” where their authors are asked to nominate someone they know who is making a difference in others’ lives. In 2016, Susan Carlisle, one of our medicals authors,  nominated Jodi Lemarks, who works at Mended Little Hearts. It is a nonprofit group that helps families who have children born with heart birth defects. Susan is the mother of a son with serious heart defects, so she easily appreciates Jodi’s efforts. Jodie was one of three winners. Because of her dedication to children, Mended Little Hearts was awarded $15,000 to continue their vital work.

Below Jodie shares in her own humble words what makes the work done at Mended Little Hearts important.

“I felt so alone” are words commonly used by people to describe how they felt after their child was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (CHD), the most common birth defect in the U.S.  Loneliness has become much more prevalent in our country even for those not facing a CHD diagnosis.  Recent studies show that despite being more connected via social media and other online venues, people feel more alone than ever, with those 35 and younger reporting feeling the most alone. Per Forbes.  This sense of isolation can be far worse for parents and family members caring for a child with a life-threatening condition and for teens and young adults with CHD who feel “different” from their peers.

The number one goal of Mended Little Hearts is connection.  Mended Little Hearts provides local and national peer-to-peer support to prevent people from feeling so alone after they hear some of the most devastating news of their lives—that their child has a heart problem.  Mended Little Hearts provides a caring support network to families in crisis and empowers them to live happier, healthier lives.

Mended Little Hearts’ support takes many forms.  Mended Little Hearts chapters throughout the nation support families in a variety of ways including local support group meetings and programs.   Mended Little Hearts also supports families locally and nationally through parent matching, accredited visiting programs, patient and family education, CHD awareness, and advocacy.  One of Mended Little Hearts signature support programs is its Bravery Bag program where families in the hospital are given bags full of toiletry items, comfort items, and some fun things as well to make their hospital stay a little easier and to let them know there is someone out there who cares.  And it works—people email and call to tell us how much the Bravery Bag meant to them and asking how they can support the Bravery Bag Program.

Most Mended Little Hearts leaders started their chapter for one of two reasons:  Either 1) they felt very alone after they found out about their child’s heart condition and there was no support group in their area, or 2) they got support from Mended Little Hearts after diagnosis or while in the hospital and want to give that same support to others.  These chapters provide their local hospitals and communities with many services that make lives better for those affected by CHD.

CHD awareness is also an essential function of Mended Little Hearts locally and nationally as most people don’t hear about CHD until after their child is diagnosed despite it affecting 40,000 babies each year.  The hope is that the more awareness we can spread, the brighter the future will be for children and adults with CHD and their families.

Mended Little Hearts local and national leaders want you to know that if you have a child with CHD or have CHD yourself and find yourself feeling scared and alone, remember, Mended Little Hearts is there.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Check out Romance Stickers

by Susan Carlisleiphone-mock-ups

I know you’re going “Say what?” So here is the deal:

Mills & Boon have created some free romance digital ‘stickers’ in time for Valentine’s Day which are now live in the App Store. They are like emojis, but only available in iMessage on iPhone or iPad.

iphone-mock-ups3Here’s how you get them.

·         The stickers are only available on Apple iPhone or iPad and you will need to have a recently updated the software on your phone

·         On your Apple iPhone, go to the App store.

·         Search on Mills & Boon.

·         Two apps will appear, the reader app and the Stickers app. Choose the Stickers app and download.

Here’s how you use them:

·         To use the stickers, choose a friend to write send an iMessage (your friend needs to also have an iPhone).

·         In the message, you will see a tab to the left of the text box. Click on this and the Mills & Boon stickers will appear.

·         Add them to your message, and ‘stick’ them onto your friend’s reply (like real stickers).

We encourage you to use and promote theses. If you could mention them on social media, and leave a review on Apple app store that would be great. Share, Share, Share

twitter-shareable

Here is how you review:

·         Find the Mills & Boon sticker app in the app store by searching ‘Mills & Boon’

·         When you find the app, click on it and you will see three tabs under the app.

·         Choose the review tab and leave a review.

·         You can leave a review even before you have downloaded the Stickers.

Which sticker do you like the best? I like the box of candy!

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Memories

by Susan Carlisle

I know it is a new year and I’m looking forward to a great one, but I wanted to take a few moments to look back at some of my favorite happenings during 2016.

I had 3 books out.

 

 

I spent a wonderful week in London where I met many of the lovely authors from this blog. In this picture I’m having an afternoon tea sundae. (The weather was hot.) Can you tell how happy I was? This was at Fortnum and Mason’s. I can highly recommend.

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Christmas with my family. All 26 of us. We have two more on the way for next year. We all had to wear an ugly sweater. Some of us were uglier that others. We had great fun together playing games even though we exchanged no presents. That is my mother in the middle.img_0015

My nonfiction book a WWII Flight Surgeon’s Story was used as a prop in a crime scene on the show NCIS: New Orleans. Mine is the blue book to the left.

 

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A trip to Pennsylvania to a WWII reenactment weekend. There is a whole world out there I knew nothing about. Great fun! My husband and I got to spend a entire week together.

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My  youngest son (27) celebrated 25 years with a heart transplant.

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All in all, 2016 was an amazing year!