Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Fear of Missing Out!

princessesDisney_0 (2)         Or as I’m hearing a lot lately – “FOMO”.

My friends are talking about it in relation to their teenage kids. I’m not sure that it applies to my boys – they seem to march to the beat of their own drum – and I know that I’m more than happy at home in my PJs but at this time of the year I must admit to a little bit of FOMO.

Everyone in the romance writing world is heading off to conferences. First is the RWAmerica conference which starts this week in Orlando and the annual Harlequin Pajama party is tonight – BTW I’m perfectly dressed for this with nowhere to go! – then the RWAustralia conference is on in Brisbane and this is followed by New Zealand. Exhausting but loads of fun and I won’t be at any of them this year.

If anyone else out there fears they are missing out too I hope I can cheer you up. I have a few new releases which might help you pass the time and help you to forget what you’re missing.

Love Me Again and Love Me Forever are ebook exclusives available in the USA and Canada (am I contributing to FOMO?).

There is a Giveaway running  for readers in the USA to win a copy of Love Me Again

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Love Me Again (The Flying Doctors Book 1) (Kindle Edition). https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/d93d9e83bbd0c5a7 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Aug 9, 2017 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.

Tempted and Tamed, AUS, Aug17And for readers in Australia if you haven’t read my Anderson sisters trilogy, “Tempted & Tamed” is out now.

If you’re suffering from FOMO ATM let me know – we can console each other!

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life

Moving and Cornfields and…Snakes? Oh My!

We are in the process of moving into a new house in the country. On five glorious acres. Okay, so it’s not a vast estate by most standards, but when your old house has a garden the size of a postage stamp, it seems huge. And exciting. And like a scene out of The Sound of Music.

So a funny thing happened on my way to the country. This girl didn’t think things through completely. I mean, I am so thrilled to be able to have real egg-laying chickens. But then a friend cautioned me to make sure the chicken coop was secure against predators.

Okay sure. Predators. Like foxes and raccoons and other poultry-loving critters, right? No big deal.

But there are a few other creatures that evidently like to munch on eggs. I mean, they really like eggs. So if you know me, you know that I am not afraid of most animals and insects. I mean a grizzly bear might stop me in my tracks, but spiders? Or bees? Nope. Not afraid.

Until someone said the word sssssssssssnnnnnaaaa… <clears throat> Okay, let’s try that again. Until someone said the word sn…sn…sna… Snake! There, I said it.

I am terrified of things that squirm around on their bellies and lie in wait behind logs. Our new house has a huge barn (for the horses, right?). And it’s surrounded by acres and acres of the most beautiful cornfields imaginable. When this friend first used the dreaded “s” word (which I won’t attempt to say again), it was in reference to those cornfields. Because my husband mentioned wanting a pool. And this dear friend warned him that we might find things floating in the pool. Because of the cornfields, which you can see in the picture below.

back of house
The back of the house with its adjacent cornfield

Snakes. Why didn’t I think of this possibility before we signed on the dotted line? Because the place is beautiful and private, with a long gravel lane leading to the house. And green pastures on either side of it. So I will do my best to remember that those belly surfers are more afraid of me than I am of them. Oh wait. That’s not true. Because the very thought of them paralyzes me.

So that’s my sad tale. Don’t get me wrong, this house is a dream come true. Really, I can’t wait to move in and make it home. Every dream has its hiccup, right? So that’s my hiccup. Is there something that scares the bejeebers out of you? Sharks? Slugs? Things that go bump in the night? I’d love to hear what makes you squirm and shudder. Just so I know I’m not alone!

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations

Excerpt–The Doctor’s Sleigh Bell Proposal

 

 

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CHAPTER ONE

Screeching vehicle brakes caught Dr. Chance Freeman’s attention. That would be his three new staff members arriving. They should have been here last night but bad weather had delayed them. He’d needed them desperately. His other team had left that morning and today’s clinic had been shorthanded and almost impossible to manage.

Chance glanced up from the Honduran baby boy he was examining and out the entrance of the canvas tent located in a clearing near a village. Beyond the long line of waiting patients, he saw a tall, twentyish woman jump down from the rear of the army surplus truck. She wore a tight green t-shirt, a bright yellow bandana round her neck and tan cargo pants that clung to her curves.

Great. High jungle fashion. He’d seen that before.

Shoulders hunched, he drew his lips into a tight line stopping a long suffering sound from escaping. Years ago he’d helped Alissa out of a jeep. She believed in being well dress in any environment as well. They had been newlyweds at the time. That had only lasted months.

Everything about this new staff member’s regal bearing screamed she didn’t belong in the stifling heat of a rainforest in Central American. He bet she wouldn’t last long. In his years of doing medical aide work he’d learned to recognize those who would stick out the tough conditions and long hours. His guess was that she wasn’t one of them. Everything about her screamed upper-crust, big city. Pampered.

When had he become so cynical? He hadn’t met her yet and he was already putting her in a slot. It wasn’t fair not to give her a chance just because she reminded him of his ex-wife. Still he didn’t have the time, energy or inclination to coddle anyone, even if he desperately needed the help.

From under her loose-brimmed hat she scanned the area, her gaze coming around to lock with his. She titled her head shielding her eyes with a hand against the noon day sun. One of her two companions said something and she turned away.

Shaking off the spell, Chance returned to the child. He’d hardly looked down when there was a commotion outside. People were screaming and running. What was going on?

He didn’t have to wait long to find out. Two men carried another man into the tent who was bleeding profusely around the face and neck area and down one arm. Quickly handing the baby to his mother, Chance cleared the exam table with his arm.

“Put him here. What happened?”

The men lifted the injured man to the table. Despite Chance’s excellent Spanish they were talking so fast he was having to work to understand them. Apparently, the man had been attacked by a Jaguar while trying to save one of his goats.

A feminine voice asked from the end of the table, “What can I do to help?”

A fragrant scent floated in the air. He was tempted to lean forward and inhale. There was a marked difference between the feminine whiff and the odor of the sweaty bodies around him. Unfortunately, he would need to warn her not to wear perfume in this part of the world because it attracted unwanted insects.

Chance looked up into clear blue eyes that made him think of the pool of water at the bottom of his favorite waterfall. The woman he’d just seen climbing off the truck waited. She’d removed her hat and now he could clearly see a long blond braid falling over a shoulder. With her fair coloring she would burn in no time in the hot Honduras sun.

“Start with cutting away the clothing.”

She stepped to the table. The paper on the table was soaked with blood. He glanced up to see her face blanch as she viewed the man who would be disfigured for life from the deep lacerations.

“Don’t faint on me,” he said through clenched teeth. “Michael, get over here.” He nodded toward the other table. “Go help there. Michael and I’ll handle this.”

She moved off to see about the case Michael was working on. Chance didn’t have time to ponder why someone in the medical profession couldn’t handle this type of injury.

He and Michael worked to piece the Honduran man back together. It may have been the largest number of stitches he’d ever put into a person. There would a long recovery time.

“We need some help here.” Michael called as he finished suturing an area.

The woman stepped to the table again.

Chance glared at her. “I thought I told you—”

She gave him a determined and unwavering look. “I’ve got this.” She turned to Michael. “What do you need?”

“Bandage this hand,” he said.

“I’ll take care of it.” The words were full of confidence as fingers tipped in hot pink picked up the saline and 4x4s sitting on the table and began cleaning around the area.

Chance had to stop himself from rolling his eyes. That manicure wouldn’t last long here and there wouldn’t be another forthcoming either. He moved on to the next laceration. As he looked at the man’s arm Chance kept a watchful eye on the new staff member. With the efficiency of few he’d seen, she’d wrapped and secured the dressing and move on the next spot.

At least she seemed to have recovered from whatever had been her earlier issue. He was used to temporary help, but he still wanted quality.

Many who came to help with the Traveling Clinic were filled with good intentions and the idealism of saving the world, but didn’t have the skills or common sense required to work in such primitive settings. The clinic served the medical issues in the small villages outside of LaCeiba. Making it even more difficult was that the locals were often hesitant about asking for help.

A jaguar attack wasn’t the clinic’s normal injury but they did see a number of severe wounds from accidents. He needed staff that could handle the unexpected and often gruesome. If Chance wasn’t such a sceptic he’d have given the new woman points for her recovery but he’d been doing this type of work for far too long. Seen staff come and go.

He was familiar with people who left. His mother had done it when he was a child. He’d been seven when she’d just not been there. His father had been a world renowned surgeon and been gone much of the time. With his mother’s absence Chance starting acting out in an effort to keep his father’s attention even to the point of stealing. That got him sent to boarding school. Even in that restrictive environment Chance pushed back.

In a stern voice the headmaster had said, “It’s time for you to decide if you’re going to amount to anything in your life. Right now I’d be surprised if you do.”

He was the one man in Chance’s life that had taken a real interest in a scared and angry boy. The grizzled and gruff headmaster had believed in him, had time to listen. Unlike his father. Chance wanted to make the headmaster proud and made a change after that conversation. He’d focused on his studies. Dedicated his life to helping others. But in the area of personal relationships he had failed miserably over and over to the point he had long ago given up. Those, apparently, he wasn’t capable of having.

Why were dark memories invading now? Maybe because the new woman reminded him so much of his ex-wife, Alissa whose defection always made him think of his mother. Two females who had rejected him. He’d moved passed all that long ago. His worry now was how to keep the clinic open. Pondering old history did nothing to help with the present problem.

He watched the new woman as he changed gloves. Her movements were confident now.  Marco, a Honduran man who served as clerk, translator, and goffer for the clinic entered

the tent with a distressed look on his face. He hurried to her and said in his heavily accented voice, “I no not where you are. Please not do not leave again without telling. Much danger here. Not get lost.”

She looked at him. “I’m sorry. I saw the emergency and thought I should come help.”

“It’s okay, Marco. I’ll explain. See to the other two,” Chance said to the short but sturdy man.

“Si, Doctor Chance.” Marco nodded and hurried out of the clinic.

Chance gave her a pointed look. “Please don’t leave the clinic area until we’ve talked.”

Her chin went down and she nodded. “I understand. By the way my name is Cox. Dr. Ellen Cox. Like Bond. James Bond.” She flashed him a grin.

She was a cheeky little thing. He wasn’t certain he appreciated that.

 

He finished up with the attacked man and sent him off in a truck to the hospital in

LaCeiba. He would check in on him when they got back to town. Chance cleaned up and moved on to his next patient who was an older woman with an infected bug bite. It would be necessary to drain it.

Before starting the procedure, he stepped to the table next to his where a five-year-old girl sat. Digging into his pants’ pocket he pulled out a peppermint and handed the piece of candy to her. She removed the clear plastic cover and plopped it into her mouth, giving Chance a wide toothy grin. He’d given a child a second of happiness. He just wished he could make more of a difference. What he did wasn’t enough.

As Chance returned to his patient, Ellen joined him.

Since she was so enthusiastic he’d let her see to the woman as he watched. “We’re going to need a suture kit, a box of 4x4s and bandage. Supplies are in the van.” He gestured toward the beat-up vehicle that had been parked partially under the tent so that the backend was protected from the daily afternoon rain and could function as a portable storage room. Chance waited as she hurried after the supplies.

Returning to his side she placed the kit on the bed and a bottle of saline water as well. “I’ll get a pan.” She was gone again.

Chance spoke to his patient in Spanish, reassuring her that she would be fine and that what he was going to do wouldn’t take too long. A few moments later Ellen was back with the pan and plastic gloves for herself.

He helped the older woman lay back on the table.

Ellen gave the patient a reassuring pat on the shoulder and then turned her attention to opening the suture kit placing it where he could easily reach the contents. Taking the plastic gloves off the top, he pulled them on. She did the same with hers. Removing the blue sterile paper sheets, she placed them on her patient’s leg around and under the inflamed area.

Chance handed her the scalpel. She took it without question.

Michael called, “Chance, you got a second to look at this?”

“Go ahead. I can handle this,” Ellen said.

Chance hesitated then nodded. He liked to oversee the new staff for a week or so just to make sure they understood the locals and the type of work they were doing but she should be able to handle a simple case.

The patient eyes had grown wide went he left. Ellen moved to his side of the table and began speaking to her in an elementary mix that was more English than Spanish. As she distracting the woman by having her pay attention to what she was saying instead of what Ellen was doing the woman calmed down to the point of smiling a few times.

He glanced Ellen’s way a few times to see how she was doing. By the time he returned the patient was bandaged and ready to leave. Ellen had done a good job.

Chance moved on to the next person waiting. She assisted him with the next patient. They were just finishing when Marco returned with the two other new staff members. He introduced the man as Pete Ortiz and the woman as Karen Johnson. Both nurses. Ellen moved off across the short aisle of tables to help Chance’s colleague, Michael Lange. Because Pete spoke fluent Spanish, Chance sent him to do triage and Karen stayed to help him.

Working in Honduras on and off for eight years had only made Chance see the needs there grow. There was a time he thought he might really make a difference. The people needed real clinics. Brick and mortar buildings with dedicated doctors, not just a few coming in and out every few weeks.

He loved this country. The weather which he much preferred to the cold of the north, the coast. Scuba diving was one of his greatest day-off hobbies. Walking through a rainforest and being surprise by a waterfall was amazing. But most of all he like the open generous smiles of the people. In Honduras he had found home.

The Traveling Clinic had been his idea years ago and he’d worked long and hard to gain funding for the idea. The clinic was a successful concept but money was forever a problem. Again tomorrow the clinic would be stopping at different villages and the locals would line up. Some would wait all day for care. The day would start just as this one had. Never enough, and more left to do.

A couple of times during the afternoon hours the sound of laughter reached his ears. Michael and the new doctor seemed to enjoy working together. That was what he’d thought when his wife had spent so much time helping his clinic partner, Robert. They had gotten along so well she’d gone home with him.

The sun touched the top of the trees by the time Chance saw his last patient. Michael was finishing up with his as well. Now all that was left was to break down the clinic, load the trucks, and head for a hot shower. He leaned up against the nearest exam table finishing a note on his patient’s chart.

“Doctor, if you’ll excuse me I need to fold this exam table.” Ellen gave him a pointed look as she flipped her hair back implying he needed to move.

She reminded him of a teenager. Looked no older than a fresh out of high school girl even though she must be at least twenty-eight, to his tired forty-one-year-old eyes. Breaking down the clinic was Marco and the local men he’d hired to help him. As much as Chance was amazed by her zeal she needed to understand a few things about the culture and dangers here. “Marco and his men will take care of that.”

“I can get—”

He lowered his voice. “I’m sure you can but they take their jobs and positions seriously. I don’t want them insulted.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize.” She stopped what she was doing.

“Now you do. You need to tread more carefully, Doctor Cox. There are cultural and safety issues you should be aware of before you go off willy-nelly. Don’t reckless. This isn’t Los Angeles, New York or wherever you are from.”

A flash of something in her eyes he couldn’t put a name came and went before she said,  “New York.”

He looked at her a second. “There’re not only animals in the jungle that could hurt you, as you saw today, but there’s a major issue with drug traders. Neither play around nor allow second chances. You should never go out alone. Even in the villages or clinic compound always have someone with you.”

“Are you trying to scare me?”

Did she think this was some exotic vacation spot? “No, I’m trying to keep you out of harm’s way.” He looked straight at her. “If you don’t follow the rules, you don’t stay around here long.”

Her lips tightened as she glanced toward the men working to breakdown the clinic. “I’m sorry I upset Marco. I saw the amount of people waiting and thought I should get to work.”

“You would be no good to them if you get hurt.”

“Your point is taken.”

“Chance.” Michael called.

“Just remember what I said.” He walked away to join Michael beside the supply van.

Half an hour later the tent was down and everything stowed in the vehicles. Now their party was bumping along the narrow dirt road toward the coast. Chance rode in the supply van with one of the locals driving while Michael was a passenger in the truck. The others rode in the rear of it. The hour trip to the resort might be the toughest part of the day. As the bird flew the distance wasn’t far however the roads were so rough and winding it seemed to take forever to make the return drive. Chance usually tried to sleep.

For some reason his thoughts went to the young doctor traveling in the truck behind him. She’d worked hard, doing her share and some more. There was no way she was napping while sitting on that hard metal bench. If she complained, he would point out that the ride was just part of doing this type of medical work. Anyone who stayed with it learned to accept the hardship.

 

Ellen’s head bumped against one of the support frames running around the bed of the truck. Taking a nap was almost impossible. She pulled a jacket out of her duffle bag and folded it up before stuffing it between her head and the unforgiving metal.

Looking out the slats, she watched the fascinating countryside go by. The vegetation grew rich and huge. Some of the leaves were the size of an umbrella. And so green. It looked impossible to walk through. She’d never seen anything like it. The flowers were such vivid colors. A pink hibiscus always caught her attention.

As the plane was coming in that morning she’d looked down on the coastline of the county. The pristine white sand against the blue-green of the water made her want to experience it for herself. It was a beautiful country. She already love it.

Completely different from New York. The land of buildings and lights. She’d worked at an inner city clinic that saw pregnant teenagers and babies with colds. It was nothing compared to the type of patients and conditions she’d experienced today. It had been exhilarating. Except for that one moment when she looked at that man and all the memories of her mother caught in the car had come flooding back.

The Traveling Clinic cared for people who truly need it. These people had no other way of getting medical care. They hadn’t made poor life choices like the drug addicts and drunks in the city. Here they had nothing, and the clinic offered them something they desperately needed. Still they had a bright smile to share.

The type of work she’d done today was why she’d become a doctor. As a child a car accident had killed her mother and left Ellen in the hospital for weeks. There she’d learned the importance of good medical care. The staff had loved and given special attention to the little girl who had lost so much. Ellen had determined then that she wanted to work in the medical field. Do for people what had been done for her.

The only sticking point had been her father. As a Manhattan socialite, and the only child of an over-protective father she’d worked at being taken seriously when she announced she was going to medical school. Ellen wanted to do more than chair committees and plan fancy fundraisers. She wanted to personally make a difference, get to know the people she was helping.

When Ellen had started working at the intercity clinic her father had pitched a fit. It was too risky. He didn’t want her to work there.

“You’re acting like your mother. She all went in head first and then thought,” he said more than once to her growing up.

Ellen told him he had no choice. A number of times she’d noticed a man watching when she came and went from the clinic. Some days later she found out he had been hired by her father to watch over her because he was concerned about her safety.

A few weeks later she heard Dr. Freeman speak with such passion about his work in Honduras and she was hooked. She wanted to make that kind of difference, offer that kind of care. The next day she’d applied to join his staff. It had taken her six months, but she was finally here.

After her decision to come to Honduras, she’d thought of not telling her father but she loved him too much to just disappear. Instead, she told him she was going to Honduras not specifically where she would be fearing he’d send someone to watch over her again. Again he accused her of not thinking it through. She assured him she had. For once she wanted to do something on her own, free from her father’s influence.

Her head bounced again. The picture of Dr. Freeman’s displeased look when she’d frozen came to mind. Her lips formed a wry smile. Later she had seen a small measure of respect in his eyes.

The wheels squealed to a painful halt. Ellen looked out the end of the truck to see a beautifully groomed foliaged area. Where were they? The others filed off and she brought up the rear. With her feet on the ground, she looked around. It appeared as if they were in the back parking lot of a resort.

A couple of Honduran helpers pulled her bag along with Pete’s and Karen’s down from the truck. Her fellow staff members she hadn’t met until time to board the flight to Honduras. Pete was a nice guy, who was looking for a change after a bad marriage and Karen was a middle age woman who thought working with the clinic would be a nice way to see a new country. Ellen had liked them both right away.

Their group was joined by the two doctors. She’d enjoyed working with Michael Lange. He seemed fun and laid back. The same couldn’t be said about Dr. Freeman. From what she could tell he was an excellent doctor. Everything she’d heard about him had been glowing. But on the Mr. Congeniality scale he was pretty low. He could work on his warm welcomes. He hadn’t even taken the time to offer his name.

After hearing him speak Ellen had expected him to have less of a crusty personality. He acted as if he’d seen too much and couldn’t leave it behind. He was as strikingly handsome as she remembered. With thick, dark wavy hair with a touch of white at the temples that gave him an air of authority, he was someone who held her attention. Even when she hadn’t been working directly with him she was conscious of where he was in the tent. She generally didn’t have this type of reaction to a man.

“I’ll show Ellen to her hut,” Michael said.

“No, she’s next to me,” Chance said. “You see to uh, Pete and…” He looked at the other nurse. “It’s Karen, isn’t it?”

“That’s correct.” Karen picked up her bag.

“Okay. Dinner is at seven in the private dining room behind the main one.” Dr. Freeman headed toward a dirt path between two low palmetto plants. There was a small wooden sign there giving arrow directions to different areas of the resort. “Coming, Dr. Cox? I’ve got a call to make to the States before it gets too late.”

He’d not offered to carry her bag. If he thought she couldn’t or wouldn’t carry her own bag, he had another thought coming. Grabbing her duffle, pulled the strap over her shoulder, Ellen hurried after him. The man really was egotistical.

She followed him along a curving path through groomed vegetation beneath trees filled with blue and yellow macaws chattering. She lagged behind when she became caught up in her surroundings. The place was jaw-dropping beautiful. Completely different from any place she’d ever seen.

“Dr. Cox.” The exasperation in the doctor’s voice reminded her of a father talking to a distracted child. She didn’t like it.

“It’s Ellen.”

“Come along, Ellen. I still have work to do tonight.” He took long strides forward.

From what she could tell he had more than put in a days’ worth of work. What could he possibly need to do tonight? “Coming, sir.”

He stopped and glared down his nose at her. “The sir isn’t necessary.”

“I just thought that since you were acting like a general I should speak to you as such.”

“Ellen, you’ll find I’m not known for my sense of humor.” He continued on down the path as if he didn’t care if she followed him or not.

“I’m sure you’re not,” she murmured. Hefting her bag strap more securely over her shoulder, she focused on catching up. They moved farther into the landscape until they came out in a small grassy opening where two huts stood with only a huge Banyan tree separating them. Each had a thatched roof, dark stained wooden porch with what looked like comfortable chairs with bright floral pillows.

The space was perfect as a romantic getaway. “This is amazing. I expected to live in a tent and have to use a bathhouse.”

“You have a top of the line bath. We work hard and the board believes the least it can do is provide a nice place to stay. The resort gives us a deal.” Dr. Freeman pointed to the structure on the left. “That hut is yours. Follow the signs around to the dining room. Need something, call 0 on the phone.” With that he headed toward the other one.

Well, she wouldn’t be counting on him to be the perfect neighbor.

Ellen climbed the three steps to the main door. There was a hammock hanging from one post to another. The living arrangements weren’t what she expected but she wasn’t going to complain.

She swung the door open and entered. Her eyes widened. She sucked in a breath of pleasure. Talk about going from one extreme to another. As rough as the working conditions were the living quarters were luxurious. She lived well in New York but even by those standards this was a nice living space.

The floor plan consisted of an open room with a sitting area on one side and the bed on the other. The ceiling was high with a slow moving fan that encouraged a breeze through the slated windows. A gleaming wood floor stretched the length of the room. The only area of it that was covered was in the sitting area where two chairs and a settee created a cozy group. A large bright rug of  red, greens and yellows punctuated the space.

But it was the bedroom side that made the biggest impression. A large square canopy bed made of mahogany with identical twists carved into each of the four posts set there. If she was going to spend a honeymoon somewhere this would be her choice.

She’d come close to a wedding a couple of times but it seemed like her father stepped in and changed her mind just as she was getting serious. It was as if he couldn’t trust her to know who and what she wanted. That was one of the reasons she’d come to Honduras. At least here she could make her own decisions.

The open air shower blinded from any onlookers by plank walls was a new experience. At first she’d found it intimidating but as the warm water hit her shoulders Ellen eased into the enjoyment of the birds in the trees chirping at her. She was officially enchanted.

Half an hour later, Ellen headed down the plant-lined walk in the direction of what she hoped was the dining area. She turned a curve and a crystal blue swimming pool that resembled a fern encircled grotto came into view. The resort was truly amazing.

Beside it Dr. Freeman sat on a lounger talking on the phone. He wore a t-shirt, cargo shorts and leather thong shoes. His legs were crossed at the ankles. He appeared relaxed but the tone of his voice said that was far from the case. She wasn’t surprised. Her impression had been he didn’t unwind often.

“Look, we need those supplies. We have to raise the money.” He paused. “I can’t be in two places at once. You’ll have to handle it. And about the staff you’re sending me, I’ve got to have people who’ll stay longer than six weeks. No more short term. The people of rural Honduras need a standing clinic.” He glanced her direction.

Ellen continued toward a tall open air building hoping it was where she should go. Footfalls followed her.

“Ease dropping, Dr. Cox?”

She looked back at him. “I wasn’t. I was just on my way to dinner. And I told you I prefer Ellen. When you say Dr. Cox it sounds so condescending.”

“I’m sorry. Ellen.”

She now wished she hadn’t insisted he call her by her first name. His slight accent gave it an exotic note that sent a shiver up her spine. Not wanting to give that reaction anymore analysis she said, “I’m hungry.”

“The dining room is this way.” He started up the steps to the building and she joined him.

They entered the large completely open space with a thatched roof supported by huge poles. A wooden desk with a local man standing behind it was located off to one side. He waved in their direction as they cross the gleaming wooden floor. Ellen follow him around one of three groupings of wicker furniture toward a shuttered doorway that stood open. Inside were tables with white clothes over them and low lighting. Dr. Freeman kept moving then stopped at a single door and opened it.

“Close the door behind you,” he instructed.

Ellen did as he asked. They were now in a small room where a long table was set in the middle and a buffet area along one wall. The other members of their group were already there talking among themselves. They grew quiet as she and Dr. Freeman joined them.

“I thought you guys would already be eating.”

“Not without you, Boss,” Michael said with a grin.

“You know better than that. Well, if no one else is going to start then I am.” Dr. Freeman picked up a plate off the stack on the buffet table. Everyone else followed his lead and lined up. Unsure of the protocol or the sitting arrangement, Ellen move to the back of the line. With her plate full of chicken and tropical fruit, she considered which chair to take.

“Come sit beside me,” Michael offered.

With a smile Ellen took the open seat. She glanced a Chance. His eyes narrowed as he looked in their direction.

She and Michael discussed where she was from and what she thought of her hut then he asked, “So Ellen, what brings you to our little slice of the world?” Michael asked.

She shrugged. “I wanted to work where I could make a difference.”

“You weren’t doing that where you were?” Dr. Freeman asked.

She hadn’t realized he’d been listening to their conversation.

“Yes, but these people really need someone here. I was seeing young mothers and babies. I found my job necessary and rewarding but there was a tug to do something more. Others were there to help those girls but not enough here to help these. I wanted to come here.”

“How did you find out about us?” Michael asked.

“I heard Dr. Freeman speak. I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

“Well, Chance. You made a convert.”

Dr. Freeman shrugged and went back to eating.

“So, what did you think about the work today?” Michael asked.

“It was different, I have to give you that. But I loved it.” She glanced to the end of the table where Dr. Freeman was sitting.

“You might feel differently after a few days of hot, unending work,” Dr. Freeman drawled.

“Aw, come on Chance, don’t scare her.” Michael smiled at her. “Don’t worry about him. The great Chance Freeman has seen so many people come and go here he’s a little cynical about all the new people. Many don’t stay the full six weeks. Some haven’t lasted but days. It’s made him a little jaded.”

“That’s enough, Michael.”

The doctor’s snap didn’t seem to faze Michael. He just grinned. Ellen looked at Dr. Freeman. “I don’t plan to be leaving anytime soon.”

“Dr. Freeman?” Michael chuckled. “We’re a casual bunch around here. First names work just fine. Especially after hours. Isn’t that right, Chance?”

He leaned back in his chair. “Sure.”

After that Michael turned his attention to Pete and Karen asking them about themselves.

Ellen concentrated on her dinner and was glad to have Dr. Freeman…uh Chance’s, attention off her. When everyone had finished laughing at a story Michael told, Chance tapped on the table with the back of his fork gaining their attention.

“Okay, we need to talk about tomorrow. We’ll be in the Tooca area. Near the River. This is our first time there so let’s be on our toes. We’ll need to be at the trucks at 4AM ready to roll. Get some sleep and be ready for a really long day.”

Ellen shuffled out of the dining room with the rest of the group. It turned out that Karen was housed not far from her so they walked back toward their huts together. After leaving Karen, Ellen continued along the path lit only by lights in the vegetation. Thankfully the porch lights were on at her and Chance’s huts. One of the staff at the resort must have come by while she was at dinner.

Ellen had just crawled under the covers when the light flicked on inside Chance’s hut. His silhouette crossed in front of the window. His passion for what he did was a major factor in why she’d came to Honduras. It was obvious he needed nurses and doctors to help him. So what was his problem with welcoming her?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Celebrating 80—A Family Affair

12219538_1084862081523853_2512707319169725415_nThis month my mother celebrated her 80th birthday. I told her I was going to give her a party and asked her what she would like to have. She wanted lunch with the family and a few friends after church on the Sunday before her birthday. That group turned out to be 65 people. Some of the attendees came from as far away as Florida which is a six hour drive one way.

The event was held at a park activity center. Because there was no kitchen available my nephew in law hulled his food trailer there to use as the cooking space. Thankfully, I have a niece with a culinary degree who teaches at a high school. She catered the event. Her students did much of the preparation for the meal. My niece planned a menu of citrus glazed pork loin, roasted potatoes, green beans with bacon, Waldrof salad and rolls. And of course, cake and ice cream.

I handled all the decorations. I made a six foot 80 in 3-D which I painted orange. Happy Birthday was strung across it. Without my mother knowing it, I had gone through her pictures. I found ones of her when she graduated from high school and college. Pictures of my family when I was growing up and some just ten years ago. I had them enlarged to poster size. With the help of my daughter, daughter in law, sister in law and nieces I stationed the pictures and decorations around the room. I also did a table of what had happened in 1935. My mother is the same age as Micky Mouse and the game of Monopoly.

My mother wore a tiara and was the princess of the party. We spent time sharing stories about her and taking family pictures. Mom enjoyed herself and couldn’t say enough about how pleased she was with everything.

I have a Christmas book out this month so I thought I’d share.

one night before Christmas 300

Unwrapping Dr. Reynolds… 

Sports physician Dr. Melanie Hyde is used to being treated as one of the guys—but just sometimes it would be nice to be treated like a woman… 

So when hotshot orthopedic doctor Dalton Reynolds flies in to Niagara Falls, his brooding good looks ignite feelings Mel never even knew existed! 

Dalton’s flight leaves in a few days, and yet after their short but steamy time together Mel knows that she’s already fallen for him. Can she melt Dalton’s heart and convince him to stay…just in time for Christmas?

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

What are you thankful for?

thanksgiving2by Susan Carlisle

It is Thanksgiving time in my part of the world. It’s a time of leaves turning and falling, there’s a fire in the fireplace, and most people are thinking about what to serve on Thanksgiving Day. For us it is an important day because we celebrate the survival of the first settlement in the new land that would become the USA. These brave forefathers are called pilgrims. Over 200 years ago these people had a lot to be thankful for and so do I.

Things I’m thankful for:

My family, mother, husband, children, grandchildren, and extended family

The country I live in

The fact I have a roof over my head and food on the tablethanksgiving

My health

My friends

The fact I can choose what I do

My heritage

That I can write stories

That I don’t have to walk to the store which is three miles away

These are just a few things I’m thankful for. What are you thankfully for?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations

You’re invited to a Party!

Image

The Medical Authors are partying at Harlequin’s Open House today (Dec 13) and you’re all invited to join us.

I know it’s a really busy time of year but there are no excuses – you don’t have to put on make-up or do your hair, you don’t even have to get dressed up, but you do have be prepared to celebrate the festive season and share some stories. We even have presents for some lucky party-goers (yes, that means free books!!) so please call in. I’ve posted the link below.

http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/881-Heartfelt-Holiday-Traditions-with-Medical-Romance-Authors

It won’t be live until about 4pm Australian EST for those of you who are also in the Southern Hemisphere (midnight in New York) but we’d love a big party.  We will be talking about our holiday traditions and sharing photos of our decorations. I’ll have Bing Crosby singing in the background as I welcome guests – right after I straighten the star on the top of my tree. I didn’t realise it was wonky until i saw the photo 🙂

Hope to see you there,OpenHouse2012_620x112

Emily

Breaking The Playboy's Rules, Aust Jan 2013