Hope your April is going well. For us in the Northern Hemisphere it’s Spring, my favorite time of the year. Everything’s fresh and new. The plants are blooming and growing. Flowers. New baby animals everywhere. Vaccines for COVID finally going in arms. So invigorating!
Anyway, let’s talk Medicals. My next stories with the line release June 1, 2021 and are my first duet–First Response in Florida! Take two adopted brothers who both work in the medical field (Jackson is a top paramedic and Luis is an ER doc), a Key West setting, throw in tons of sexy, romantic conflict, and one nasty hurricane and you have the basis for the First Response in Florida duet!
The last time I was on the blog, I gave you a sneak peek into Book 1 in the duet, The Vet’s Unexpected Hero–Jackson and Lucy’s story. So, today, I thought I’d share and exclusive excerpt from Book 2 in the duet, Her One-Night Secret. This is Luis and Stacy’s story and it’s full of past regrets, second-chances, and one very special surprise.
I hope you enjoy this snippet from the story, where Stacy and Luis have their first conversation since their one night together four years before. And I also hope you’ll check out the First Response in Florida duet when it releases on June 1st! If you like action, suspense, heat, and happily ever afters, these are the books for you!
Until next time, stay safe and healthy and Happy Reading!
HER FIRST IMPULSE was to feign ignorance, but from the way he’d been watching her this whole time, it was clear he’d recognized her, so what was the point? Besides, the last thing Stacy wanted to do was draw more attention to her past indiscretions, so she hiked her chin toward the other members of her fire crew to go on out into the hall, then waited until they were gone before turning back to face Luis.
“It is.” She forced a smile she didn’t feel and looked him over. Man, he was still gorgeous as ever. At first, when she’d looked back on that night, she’d figured she’d been imagining that thick, curly dark hair, those velvety caramel-colored eyes, the impossibly long eyelashes that most women would kill for. Of course, then, as luck would have it, her own son was born with those same features nine months later, so…
Stacy swallowed hard and did her best to cover her nervousness with chatter. “Didn’t think I’d see you again. How are you? You look well.”
Luis blinked at her a moment, a slight frown lining the smooth skin between his dark brows. “I wondered what happened to you after that night, if you were okay.”
That slight accent of his sent a sudden shiver of unwanted awareness through her, taking her right back to that night on the beach, the stars twinkling above, his strong arms around her, sweet endearments on his lips as he’d moved over her, in her, so careful, so tender, so…
“I’m fine. Great, actually.” She needed air, and space. The walls of the room seemed to be closing in on her with him that close, his warmth and scent surrounding her—soap and sandalwood. Stacy turned fast and pushed out into the hallway, grateful for the bright lights and noise of the other meeting members to distract her. She pointed at her badge and headed down the corridor toward the entrance to the ER. “Captain now.”
“I see that,” Luis said, keeping pace beside her, adjusting his long-legged stride to accommodate her shorter one. Funny how that worked. She was a good six inches shorter than him, but that night they’d fit perfectly together.
Stop thinking about that night. Stop it.
“Are you living in Key West now?” he asked as they passed her fire crew, who were giving her curious looks.
“I am,” she said, leaving it at that. She and Miguel had moved into a nice apartment at a local complex the previous year when she’d taken the captain’s job here after leaving her department in Miami. “And you? Are you still traveling the world on your mission trips?”
“No. Not anymore,” he said, tapping the square metal handicapped button on the wall with his elbow so the automatic doors swung open ahead of them. “I’ve taken the position as head of the emergency department here at Key West General, so I’m staying put now.”
“Good to know.” Actually, it wasn’t good. Not at all. Because if they were both staying here in Key West, that meant she needed to tell him about Miguel. Honestly, Stacy had never meant to keep it a secret from Luis for this long. It was just that once she’d found out she was pregnant, he was long gone, and she’d had no way to get a hold of him. Then she’d had the baby and had to fend for herself, and she’d been too busy working and surviving to consider another trip back down to Key West to search for Luis. Being accepted into the fire academy training program had been a godsend—good pay, good benefits, good exercise and a new, extended family she’d always wanted but never dreamed she’d have. The guys in the Miami-Dade County Fire and Rescue Department had embraced Stacy and Miguel as their own, giving her son all the attention and positive male role models he could ever want or need.
Still, having a father—his father—in his life was important for her son, at least to Stacy. So, no matter how awkward, she would tell Luis. Just maybe when the time and place were more appropriate.
“You work with Reed?” Luis asked as they stopped near the nurses’ station in the bustling ER. “The injured firefighter?”
“I do. He’s on a different crew than mine, but we’re all in the same battalion.” She swallowed hard against the lingering constriction in her throat. “It’s like a big family.”
“That’s nice,” Luis said, turning his attention to a chart the nurse behind the desk handed him. “Your colleague is in for a tough battle.”
“Is there any word on how the surgery went?” she asked, glad for a topic of discussion.
“I can’t discuss the specifics because of privacy laws, but suffice it to say that when I left the OR upstairs, he was holding his own. With luck they got the bleeding under control and we can move on to evaluating his leg injury.”
“Will he walk again?”
“I can’t give you a prognosis on that at the moment, I’m afraid.” Luis continued jotting notes in the chart he was working on. “It will be a long recovery either way. Given the extent of the initial injury, there will be nerve and tissue damage that will take time to heal. Physical therapy and bed rest are definitely in his future whether he keeps that leg or not. It will just depend on what the focus is—restoring strength and mobility or retraining him to use a prosthetic.”
“Will he be able to return to active duty as a firefighter?” Stacy asked, her heart aching for his family and what they were going through. “He’ll have his pension, but I know Reed, and he’d hate sitting behind a desk all day.”
“We won’t know until after the surgery and the ortho consult.” He glanced over at her. “But if everything works out well, I don’t see why not. They’ve made huge strides in technology and many people with prosthetics can do just as well, and in some cases better, than their counterparts without disabilities. That would be up to your department, however, and what the physical therapists have to say once they work with and evaluate him. We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, though.”
Now that Stacy had a chance to really study him as he worked, she could see tiny lines near the corners of his eyes that hadn’t been there before, and a hint of dark stubble just beneath the surface of his strong jaw. She wondered how long his shift had been, if he had someone waiting at home for him once he was done…
Not that it was any of her business. Nope. She was not looking for a relationship. She had plenty enough on her plate as it was with work and Miguel and now the hurricane heading in their general direction. It was just that if he was involved with someone else, that would add another dimension to him finding out he had a son from a previous liaison. She needed to tread carefully, since the last thing Miguel needed right now was more upset to his schedule. With his mild Asperger’s, routine was the glue that held their little world together. And most of all, she didn’t want her son hurt.
As someone who knew the struggle of being an only child, raised by a single mother, Stacy knew all too well the pain of letting someone in, only to have them walk away or disappoint you. She remembered when her own father had walked out on them. At first, she’d cried and cried, running to the window each time a car drove by their house, thinking it might be him. Then, after a while, she’d turned the pain and hurt inward, thinking it was her fault he was gone. That it must’ve been something she’d done, or if she’d only been better, somehow, her father wouldn’t have left them. Eventually she’d internalized that feeling of never being enough and translated it into constantly pushing herself to do more, be more, hoping someday it might be enough to keep those she loved from leaving.
Stacy refused to have her son experience that same trauma by exposing Miguel to a man who might just as likely disappear from their lives as quickly as he’d arrived. She’d never really explained to Miguel about where his father was, and luckily he hadn’t asked. It had always just been the two of them. Now, though, as he was getting older, she feared the questions would come and, with them, the knowledge that he’d been a surprise baby. But in the best possible way. Stacy couldn’t image her life without her son. He was her reason for being, her reason for getting up every day, her reason for everything.
There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for Miguel, including telling Luis the truth.
Soon. Just not yet.
They stood there a moment, neither knowing what to say, until finally Stacy spotted Reed’s wife and daughter in the hall and seized on her opportunity to escape. “Uh, I should get back to my crew and Reed’s family. Excuse me. It was nice seeing you again.”
“I’d like to have dinner,” Luis said as she was walking away, halting her in her tracks. “To discuss coordination of our protocols for the hurricane.”
Her heart thudded harder against her rib cage. The hurricane. Right. “Uh, I…”
“Stacy,” he said, handing the chart back to the nurse then stepping toward her, a hint of his tanned chest visible through the vee of his light green scrub shirt. She concentrated there and not on his eyes, those too-perceptive eyes that sent tingles of heat through her like fireworks and always saw way more than she wanted to reveal. Like how nervous she was around him. Like how he still affected her, even after all these years. Like how almost five years later and a lifetime of changes apart, her attraction to him burned bright as the sun. “Just dinner. That’s all. How about tonight? Say, 8:00 p.m., after my shift? Unless you have other plans already.”
There it was. Her out. She seized on it with both hands, even as she cursed herself a coward. “Actually, I do have other plans tonight. Sorry.” Namely, mac and cheese and homework with Miguel. “Maybe another time.”
She took off before he could ask any more questions, the weight of his stare prickling the back of her neck all the way down the corridor.
First Response in Florida Duet
In the midst of the hurricane…
…will she find safety in his arms?
Vet Lucy Miller is happy with her quiet, ordered life. But when a tropical storm bears down on her Florida Keys animal sanctuary, the arrival of devastatingly gorgeous, yet equally guarded, emergency medic Jackson Durand brings disorder—and desire! He’s there to rescue her, but Lucy suspects her red-hot reaction to Jackson will be much more dangerous than the storm raging overhead…
A return, a reunion…
…A shocking revelation!
Firefighter Stacy Williams knows two things about her return to Key West. Her promotion gives her the security she needs to raise her son, and it will be almost impossible to suppress the memories of her passionate night with Dr. Luis Durand. Almost…until working on the hurricane response team brings an encounter with the tall, dark and nomadic doc! And the chance to make her life-changing confession…