Hello! Bonjour! Hola! Ciao! Sdrazvouchez!
This blog is coming to you from my big trip that has visited Canada, UK, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy…where I am now. I have another few days here then a two week tour in Russia and a stopover in Shanghai. I am so very, very lucky…although it will be nice to sleep in my own bed! My husband had a well-earned sabbatical, so we took advantage, but it does mean I have sporadic access to the internet so, forgive me, I have uploaded this early and may not get to answer all your comments immediately.
I wanted to share with you my new medical romance REUNITED BY THEIR SECRET SON which is now available on wide release. The eagle-eyed ones amongst you will recognise Finn as Callum Baird’s brother in THE NURSE’S SPECIAL DELIVERY (released December 2017). So, if you remember reading about Finn’s accident that claimed his leg and almost his life and you got to wondering how he was doing, well…here’s your chance to find out.
It started with one night…
Will it end with them becoming a family?
Sophie can never forget her sizzling encounter with gorgeous stranger Finn. How can she, when her beloved little boy’s a daily reminder? And she can’t forgive Finn for disappearing without a trace afterwards. But she’s shocked to come face-to-face with him at her son’s physio appointment, and sees how much he’s changed… Could this be their chance to finally become a family?
He was late.
Finn Baird was never late—not any more. These days he always gave himself extra time to navigate the traffic, negotiate the car park and be in his clinic with plenty of minutes to spare. Mainly so he could both impress the boss and be mentally prepared for the day. But also so he could make readjustments to his leg before he started work.
He just hadn’t anticipated the readjustments would take so long today. Or hurt so damned much.
Which was more than a little irritating because now he was rushing, and the more he rushed the slower he seemed to get, not to mention the more frustrated.
Two months into his new job as paediatric physiotherapist at St Margaret’s Children’s Hospital—Maggie’s to the locals—and he’d made sure he had a reputation for having all the time in the world for his patients. Hell, they deserved it. A lot of them had challenges worse than his and most of them grinned their way through treatment. Through all the pulling and pushing and straightening and bending he made them do, through all the pain, through all the mind-numbingly repetitive exercises, he tried to make them laugh. Tried to make them believe they could achieve anything if they tried.
He definitely needed to take a leaf out of their books.
Trying to smile and hurry along the corridor while gritting his teeth against the pain, he reached the reception area at the same time his boss did. Neither of them looked at their watches. Neither of them acknowledged Finn was late.
And hell, if that was preferential treatment he didn’t want it. ‘Sorry I’m late, Ross. Won’t happen again.’
‘Good morning, Finn. Don’t worry; I know you’ll make it up.’ Ross Andrews, Head of Physiotherapy, threw a pile of paper folders onto the reception desk and looked up. ‘You always stay later than everyone else anyway.’
Because he needed to stay on top of everything. Needed this job to work out, and everything took longer these days. ‘Just want to get the job done properly.’
‘And you do. So you’re forgiven for being a few minutes behind. Great run yesterday. Feeling it a bit today? I certainly am. I think I twinged my back.’ Ross put his palms on the small of his back and stretched backwards. ‘I’ve got to fix that overpronation.’
‘You want me to take a look?’
‘Later, if we get a chance. One of the perks of being a physio, eh? Treatment on tap. I’m so impressed with your race time, Finn—you did great. Really great.’
The minutes were ticking by but Finn could hardly snap at the boss and head off to his first patient, so he took a deep breath and promised himself he’d be doubly efficient today without hurrying the littlies.
‘Let’s be honest—I ran a woeful time. I’m just glad I made it to the finish line.’ There had been a time when he’d completed the ten-mile Great Edinburgh Run in under an hour; this time he’d been lucky—and utterly exhausted and hurting on both his good leg and his gone one—to finish half the distance in the same time. He rubbed his left thigh, still sore and tight, but nowhere near as painful as just below his knee where the stitches had been and where the friction was always most intense. ‘Still, I stayed upright—that was a bonus. I’m aiming for a faster time next year.’
‘Don’t push yourself too hard—you’ll get there. You just need a little incentive…if you know what I mean. Someone to run towards.’ Ross’s eyes grew wider as he nodded.
Finn grinned, remembering seeing Ross overtake him on the home straight, having run twice the distance, right into the arms of his new wife. She’d been so proud of him even Finn hadn’t been able to stop smiling as she cheered and screamed her husband’s name as he went over the finishing line. And then there’d been the kisses; the poor man had barely been able to catch breath.
‘A special someone to cheer me on at the end, right? I’m going to be running a long, long way before that ever happens.’
His boss laughed. ‘Well, you’ll never have it if you don’t even ask a lassie out. Greta’s sister said to drop a huge hint about a double date. She’s single too—?’
Ugh. Not another date set-up. He was starting to regret getting to know his boss a little better out of work. Seemed Finn was surrounded by loved-up couples these days who wanted him to have a piece of the happiness they had. If it wasn’t Ross and Greta it was his brother Callum and his new family down in New Zealand dropping hints at every available opportunity about seeing him paired up. The thing none of them understood—or downright ignored—was the issue of his leg. Or lack of it. If he’d struggled to come to terms with it, then what chance did any woman have? How could he give them what they wanted? ‘Thanks, but no. Really, no.’
Ross shook his head, undeterred as a matchmaker. ‘I never understood why you turned down lovely Julia, the Pilates instructor. Or Molly-Rae from the café…she was definitely dropping big hints to go for a drink. Even I could see that.’
Finn dug deep to keep polite. He dredged up a smile. ‘I mean it, boss. No.’
‘Or there’s the speed dating night every Thursday at the Tavern?’ Ross shrugged. ‘A bit lame, I know. But it’s always a laugh. I went there a few times before I met Greta. As you know, we met at salsa night—oh. Well…Yes…’ He glanced at Finn’s leg and shrugged again. ‘If you can run, you can dance.’
Dancing was a whole lot more than just moving forward in a straight line. ‘Really. I’m fine. Thanks. I’m not looking for anyone. Please tell the lovely Greta I’m fine on my own.’
Even as he said it he knew it sounded hollow. But there it was. Before the accident, Finn had taken his looks and raw physicality for granted and enjoyed them, celebrated them with the best and the most beautiful women he could find. He’d paraded around like a prize chump, all cocky and sure of himself, a peacock on show. He’d had a host of women who’d wanted what he’d wanted: a night of fun and drink and mindless sex. Then his charmed life had started to unravel and the last thing he’d wanted was to attempt dating again. Couldn’t do it, but it didn’t stop them asking. Or his friends trying to set him up.
Most of those women were a blur to him now. All except one…the one who’d not got away, not exactly. The one he’d purposefully let go after he’d fallen from grace, fallen from a great bloody height and broken both his dreams and his body.
Now? He didn’t need anyone. Didn’t want anyone. Didn’t want anyone to see him like this, not after who he’d been before. Not after he’d changed so damned much he was barely recognisable inside or out. ‘If I change my mind, Ross, you’ll be the first to know.’
‘Aye, well, I was like you once—thought I was better off being a lad—but there comes a time in every man’s life when he has to settle down. Get serious.’
‘I’ve a long way before I go to those extremes.’ Finn laughed. ‘I’m pretty serious about myself these days and that’s about all I can manage for now.’ He’d had to relearn how to do pretty much everything and was still learning. He changed the subject, jumping into work as always. Because work made him focus on the possible, not the impossible, like having a woman who even liked the look of him, let alone could fall for him and see a future. ‘I’m going to be running very late, so I need to get on. Who’ve we got today?’
‘Some regular follow-ups from your predecessor and a couple of new referrals. Nothing too taxing. You’re doing just fine. Don’t rush. They’ll understand.’ Ross looked meaningfully again at Finn’s left leg.
‘I prefer it if the leg doesn’t come up in conversation.’ Finn whipped round to peer at the computer for details of his first client, twisting his leg in the prosthetic. A searing pain ran up his knee. He inhaled sharply, clenched his teeth and waited for the pain to subside. ‘Okay. Okay. Let’s go.’
‘You all right? You need a seat?’ Reaching out to steady Finn, Ross peered at him, all concern and questions.
Damn. The last thing he needed was a father figure…scratch that, a brother figure. He already had one of those and even twelve thousand miles away he still managed to be overbearing and overly concerned about Finn’s welfare. All. The. Time.
The whole point of taking this job and being this new person in a new city, putting the past well and truly behind him, was to live a normal life. He didn’t want people to keep asking if he was all right. And yes, he knew they cared and were just being nice. But he didn’t want to be treated any differently to everyone else.
He counted to ten under his breath as the pain faded. ‘Yep. I’m fine. But even after more than two years I keep forgetting.’ And it wasn’t just the physical pain that assailed him, sometimes out of nowhere. ‘Still, I’m good to go. And now I’m really late.’
Four hours later and his leg was no better, neither was his mood, although the kids always made him smile. A missed appointment meant he could catch up. All he had to do now was finish these notes and then he could lock his door, slip off his prosthesis and the silicone liner and relax for a few minutes.
As he sat in his office—the closest to Reception so he wouldn’t have to walk far, apparently—he heard a kerfuffle in the waiting area.
A woman’s voice, soft and apologetic. Breathless. ‘I’m so, so late. I’m sorry. Really sorry. Lachie had a meltdown at home which delayed things a bit…you know what it’s like…he’s hit the terrible twos six months early. Then I couldn’t get a parking space and then there was something wrong with the pushchair—I think it might be one of the front wheels; it’s wanting to go in the opposite direction to all the others.’
The talking stopped. Finn assumed it was for the woman to draw breath. He heard the receptionist sigh. Then that soft voice again. ‘I know you’re all busy. I’m so sorry. Please, if anyone could see us I’m happy to wait as long as it takes.’
Their receptionist was renowned for running a tight ship. ‘I’m sorry but we have a full list today and there’s no wriggle room to fit you in. I can make another appointment for Lachie?’
‘He really needs to be seen today. I know it’s not relevant, or shouldn’t be, but I’ve taken the day off work as holiday just so we could get here. I’m fast running out of holiday days…’ Desperation laced her words. ‘It’s his boots, you see—they’re rubbing and he hates wearing them. That was the trouble this morning—when I took them off after he’d worn them all night he threw them across the room.’ A pause. ‘Please.’
Finn stretched his left knee. Yeah, he knew all about rubbing. About the tension before you put the damned thing on because you just knew it was going to be sore. He knew how hard that was for a grown man to get his head round, never mind a…what did she say?…eighteen-month-old. He sent an urgent message to the receptionist’s screen.
I’ll see them. Just give me a few minutes to finish these notes.
A message flicked back: Thanks. The good karma fairy is looking down on you.
‘Okay. One of the physiotherapists will miss his lunch for you. Please take a seat.’
The softly spoken woman’s voice wavered. ‘Oh. That’s very kind. Thank you. Thank you. Lachie? The nice man will see you soon.’
Finn walked through to the waiting room and was just about to call out the boy’s name when he was struck completely dumb. His heart thudded against his ribcage as he watched the woman reading a story to her child. Her voice quiet and sing-song, dark hair tumbling over one shoulder, ivory skin. A gentle manner. Soft.
His brain rewound, flickering like an old film reel: dark curls on the pillow. Warm caramel eyes. A mouth that tasted so sweet. Laughter in the face of grief. One night.
A lifetime ago.
He snapped back to reality. He wasn’t that man any more; he’d do well to remember that. He cleared his throat and glanced down at the notes file in his hand to remind himself of the name. ‘Lachlan Harding?’
‘Yes. Yes—oh?’ She froze, completely taken aback. For a second he saw fear flicker across her eyes then she stood up. Fear? Why? Because he’d never called as he’d promised? ‘Finn? Is it you? It’s Finn, yes?’
There was little warmth there; her mouth was taut in a straight line. No laughter. Not at all. She was still startlingly pretty. Not a trace of make-up, but she didn’t need anything to make her any more beautiful. His gut clenched as he remembered more of that night and how good she’d made him feel.
Too bad, matey.
The fear gone, she smiled hesitantly and tugged the boy closer to her leg, her voice a little wobbly and a little less soft. ‘Wow. Finn, this is a surprise—’
‘Sophie. Hello. Yes, I’m Finn. Long time, no see.’ Glib, he knew, when there was so much he should say to explain what had happened, why he hadn’t called, but telling her his excuses during a professional consultation wasn’t the right time. Besides, she had a child now; she’d moved on from their one night together, clearly. He glanced at her left hand, the one that held her boy so close—no wedding ring. But that didn’t mean a thing these days; she could be happily unmarried and in a relationship.
And why her marital status pinged into his head he just didn’t know. He had no right to wonder after the silence he’d held for well over two years.
They were just two people who’d shared one night a long time ago. There was no professional line to cross here. He was doing her a favour by seeing her son. If things felt awkward he could always assign her to a different physiotherapist for the next appointment.
‘Yes. Wow. It’s a small world.’ He infused his manner with professionalism, choosing not to go down Memory Lane. He was a different man now. Although he couldn’t help but notice as he turned that his left leg was shaking a little more than usual. In fact, all of him was. It was surprise, that was all. His past life clashing with his present. He concentrated hard on being steady and not limping in front of her, because for some reason it mattered that she saw him as whole. ‘Right, then, so this is Lachie? Come on through.’
Good karma? No chance. Judging by the way Sophie was looking at him, the good karma fairy had gone on her lunch break.