Hello again and Happy Autumn! 😊🍁🍂
Spring and Fall are my favorite times of the year. Not too hot, not to cold, beautiful colors everywhere. Though I will say for me, since about mid-September and through to Oct. 22nd has been and will be a blur. Lots of stuff has happened–good and bad.
On the good side, I turned in my 11th book for the Medicals line, Island Reunion for the Single Dad, on August 27th. I also hit an author milestone this month with the release of my 10th book with the Medicals line, Costa Rican Fling with the Doc, on Oct. 26th, and I’m getting new author photos taken on 10/22—like hair, makeup, the whole “top model” treatment—and I’m both excited and nervous. LOL. 😂 And I celebrated another birthday.
On the bad side, after turning in the Aug book, I received two-weeks worth of edits on it in mid-September. Around the same time, my beloved 15 y.o. dog, Clara, passed away, on 9/22. And I was also busy writing book #12 with the line, which is due 10/15. So yeah. A LOT. But I’ve learned over the years to keep persevering, to keep my head down and focus on just that moment, just that hour, just that day, and keep moving forward. Eventually things get done, plates get cleared. And the sun shines again and we write on. ❤️
But, needless to say, I haven’t gotten to do nearly the amount of cheerleading for my upcoming release later this month that I usually do, so I thought I’d share an exclusive snippet with y’all today to hopefully pique your interest.
In this scene below, my hero Gabe and heroine Sara have finished up a difficult birth for a patient in the village nearly, and are strolling back to the field hospital together that night, still too buzzed to sleep and too aware of each other to want to part ways just yet. Enjoy…🤓📚❤️
As they walked back to the clinic, Sara marveled at the lush foliage. Everything seemed bigger now, brighter now, since the birth. She still couldn’t quite believe she’d done that. Working in the PICU, she cared for tiny infants all the time. But bringing them into the world? Now that was something.
The late-afternoon sun filtered through the trees, its rays still prickling Sara’s sunburned skin as they passed a bar, a crowded convenience store and a school painted in primary colors in the village. Gabe pointed toward a tiny house to their left. He looked rumpled but perfect, a tiny, infant-size handprint staining the front of his scrub shirt. “That’s where to go for the best tortillas in Costa Rica.”
“Really?” Sara smiled. “I’ll have to remember that. Thanks for letting me help out today.”
“Thank you for being there,” he said, the solemnity in his green eyes making her think they were talking about more than the breech birth.
Before Sara could ask more, however, they reached to compound and walked back to the clinic tent to drop off their supplies. At the entrance, an older woman waited, her gray bun perched precariously atop her head and her blue cotton dress neat but faded a bit around the edges.
“Hola,” Gabe said, waving. “What can I do for you?”
The woman smiled, then spoke in rapid Spanish.
“Anything I can help with?” Sara asked him, setting her supply bag on the table inside the tent.
“Sí.” Gabe grinned, walking past her to his exam area to drop off his stuff. “She’s inviting our team to dinner tomorrow.”
“Oh.” Sara straightened. “That’s very nice.”
“It is.” He chuckled. “She’s an old friend and a patient here at the clinic. She feels it’s her duty to feed us while we’re here.”
The woman, still waiting at the entrance, nodded. She spoke to Gabe once more, too fast for Sara to keep up. Maybe something about a horse? Or hair? She could never keep those two words straight. Gabe moved in beside Sara then, and maybe it was the adrenaline from earlier still sizzling through her veins, or the joy of bringing new life into the world. Whatever it was, she suddenly couldn’t help being aware of how close he was standing behind her and how if she leaned back just slightly, his chest would rest against her back, all warm and solid and…
Gabe promised the woman they’d all be there for dinner the next evening, and the woman walked away, leaving the two of them alone again. Inside the tent, long shadows increased the intimate feel of the moment.
“Thanks again for your help with Angela,” he said, leaning in to rest his free hand on the desk behind her back. Her body buzzed, hyperaware of his every move even though there was still a good foot of space between them. He lowered his head and stared at the ground. “There were moments during the delivery when I thought…” His dark brows drew together.
Cicadas sang their nightly song outside the tent, but inside it was just the two of them. Sara hesitated, then asked the question that had been on her mind since she’d arrived and first met Gabe. “What happened to them? Your family?”
He swallowed hard and straightened, and for an awful second, she thought he might shut her out again, but then he took a deep breath and said quietly, “They died. When our apartment in Croatia was bombed during the war. I lost my family, everything I cared about within a matter of hours.”
“Oh, God.” Sara’s own heart broke at the eviscerating agony in his voice. “I’m so sorry, Gabe.”
She tried to put her hand on his arm, but he took a step back, reaching into the back pocket of his scrub pants for his wallet. “I have a picture of them. Would you like to see?”
Sara nodded, trusting herself not to cry.
The photo he pulled out was a bit crinkled and bent at the edges, as if handled a lot. He moved closer to Sara again, handing her the picture, then pointing at the pretty woman smiling in it. “Her name was Marija. We were married almost two years when this was taken. She’s holding our son, Karlo.”
Blinking back tears, Sara smiled. “She’s lovely. And Karlo is precious.”
“Thank you.” He took the photo from her, staring down at it reverently. “He was our everything. We couldn’t wait to move from Vukovar to Prague and start a new life there, but I had to finish medical school first. Marija and I used to fight about it, but she let me win.” He gave a sad little snort. “I was so young and stupid back then. I thought we’d have all the time in the world.”
“You couldn’t have known this would happen,” Sara said, touching him now to emphasize her point. “No one knows what the future holds.”
“I should have.” His expression darkened to a scowl, and he put the photo away, those damned walls of his crashing down hard again. “Anyway, I apologize if I seemed distracted during the delivery earlier.”
It took a moment for his words to penetrate the emotional fog in Sara’s brain. “You weren’t distracted. I thought you were brilliant today. You saved them both, Angela and her baby.”
“No, you did.” Gabe smiled again, and it felt like a million stars shining to Sara, that dimple of his making her slightly dizzy with yearning. “Without your small hands, all would have been lost.”
Sara held her hands up as she shrugged. “Genetics, I guess.”
The low whirr of the generators kicking on outside reinforced the fact that she and Gabe were still alone out here in the tent, standing in the shadows, so close that the heat radiating from his skin penetrated the thin cotton of her scrubs, sending her pulse skyrocketing.
“We should probably go into the dorms,” she murmured past her taut vocal cords.
“We probably should,” he agreed.
Neither of them moved.
Finally, Gabe reached into one of the drawers of the nearest table and handed her something.
“What’s this?” she asked, staring down at the chunk of cellophane-wrapped white in her palm.
“Sweets for the sweet. Dulce de coco,” he said, his teeth even and white as he smiled in the darkness. “Coconut candy. I get tired of eating beans and rice.”
She sniffed the stuff. “Wow. Smells amazing.”
“It’s very good.” Gabe stood there a moment, staring down at her, then sighed and turned away. “Well…uh… I guess this is good night, then.” He started to leave, but Sara placed a hand on his forearm, her fingertips tingling from the touch. Gabe froze, looking back at her, his green eyes flicking from her eyes to her mouth, then back again. Her name emerged low and rough, and she felt it like a physical caress. “Sara?”
Silence stretched for eons. Finally, he stepped closer once more, his fingers trailing down her arm, firm but tentative. Gentle but wanting. “I want to kiss you, but I know I shouldn’t.”
He was probably right—she knew that. With his past and her future waiting back in Chicago, getting involved, even temporarily, made no sense. And yet, at that moment, Sara wanted to kiss him more than she wanted her next breath. Taking the initiative, she closed the small distance between them and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down until their lips met. She put all of her whirling emotions into it—the sweetness of the birth, the sadness of his picture, the need and want she’d felt for him since the first day she’d met him. Gabe seemed taken aback at first, holding back, but then her tongue traced his lips, and he gave in with a grunt, pulling her tight against him as he deepened the kiss. His mouth was perfect against hers, mirroring the soft eagerness of his touch. She couldn’t help giving a desperate whimper.
More. I need more.
The sound of footsteps outside the tent finally jarred them back to reality.
Sara inched away, breathless and light-headed.
Gabe’s warm breath fanned her face, stirring the tiny hairs near her temple. He gave a short sigh full of frustrated need, then kissed her forehead. “Tomorrow we talk, yes?”
“Yes,” she whispered, savoring the feel of him against her while she could.
“Good.” Then he brushed his lips across her forehead and started for the exit again. “Sleep well.”
She waited a moment, catching her breath and calming her racing heart, then headed for the dorms herself. Sara wasn’t sure about a lot of things but having a restful night after a kiss like that would be impossible—of that she was certain.
Until next time, Happy Reading! 😊
The road to happily-ever-after starts in Costa Rica in this passionate romance by USA TODAY bestselling author Traci Douglass.
Sometimes the future…
…is just a fling away!
For single mom Sara, life has been all about raising her now adult son. But volunteering for a medical charity in Costa Rica is finally the nurse’s chance to focus on her passions. Only, her guarded new boss, Gabe, stirs something deep in her that she’d thought long forgotten… And as the devastatingly handsome doctor sends all her senses into overdrive, for once sensible Sara can’t help wondering—what if they didn’t resist temptation?