Authors: Eva Charles
My Sweetest Sasha
By Eva Charles
My Sweetest Sasha
Copyright © 2016 by Quarry Road Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any form whatsoever without express written permission from the author or publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. All other names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, places, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Cover by Marianne Nowicki
Faith Freewoman, Editor
Formatting by CookieLynn Publishing Services
For more information, contact
To NCA and MSA—May the code that guides your lives resemble that of your father’s, one with honor and compassion prominent on every page. I wish you both long, healthy lives filled with love and romance. Eu te amo!
First and foremost, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my book! I hope you enjoy reading Cole and Alexa’s story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
My Sweetest Sasha
is part of the Meadows Shore Series, a collection of stand-alone romantic stories that encompass the love and devotion of family. Cole and Alexa’s journey begins about one month before Lily, Sophie and Max’s daughter, is born (
A Wedding at Meadows Shore
). While there is a bit of overlap between the two stories, you won’t find repetition.
My Sweetest Sasha
you’ll meet some charming new characters and get better acquainted with others you’ve met before. There will also be a few trips to small-town Minnesota—so fasten your seatbelts!
Cole and Alexa’s story is about taking a chance when the odds aren’t in your favor, and learning to be yourself, even when it would be more comfortable to be someone else. But at its core, it’s about the destructive nature of secrets and half-truths.
You won’t find just romantic love in their story, although there’s plenty of that, but it’s interspersed with love shared among siblings, cousins, grandparents, and parents, for each other, and for their children. Love so powerful it transcends even death.
If you’ve read
A Wedding at Meadows Shore
, welcome back! If you haven’t,
bem vindo à família,
welcome to the family!
Angelina DaSilva married Guilherme Sousa (d) and they had two daughters:
Maria Liliana (Mary) (d)
Maria Margarida (Margaret, Maggie) (d)
Mary married Samuel Clayton (d) and they had five daughters:
Maria Sophia (Sophie) + Max Parker = Liliana Clayton Parker (A Wedding at Meadows Shore)
Maria Natalia (Talia)
Maria Isabella (Ella)
Maria Helena (Lainey)
Maria Juliana (Ana)
Maggie married Nicholas Harrington (d) and together they had six sons:
Table of Contents
Cole Harrington strolled through the glass doors leading to the Chair of Surgery’s office with a vanilla spice latte in hand—a peace offering of sorts. Why anyone would ruin a cup of good coffee with sickening sweet syrup was beyond him, but to each their own drink.
“Good morning,” he said, handing Kim Langevin her favorite hot beverage.
She held the cup close and inhaled the spicy scent, letting the aroma of sweet vanilla, cinnamon, and cardamom waft up her nose from the tiny opening in the lid. “What’s the occasion?”
“I’m guessing your boss has been cranky. Figured you were taking the brunt of his bad mood.”
“Cranky’s what a two-year-old is after missing a nap.” She tipped her head in the direction of Tom’s office. “He’s been a bear. You might want to add a shot of bourbon to this,” she said raising the cup, “and bring it in to him.” Then she placed the coffee well out of Cole’s reach in case he decided to take her up on the idea.
“It’s going to take a lot more than a spiked latte to get me out of trouble this time.”
“He’s waiting for you,” she said turning her attention back to the computer.
Cole started toward the office knowing he was about to get an earful. Not the first time, wouldn’t be the last. Tom had taken a lot of heat for him through the years, but he hadn’t suffered silently. Cole heard about every transgression—every last one. In excruciating detail.
Kim took a sip of the latte and closed her eyes letting a blissful smile spread slowly over her delicate features. “Mmmm. Thanks, Dr. Harrington,” she called after him. “It’s exactly the way I like it.”
The door was wide open, but Cole knocked anyway.
Tom Hagel had been Chair of Surgery at Boston General for more than twenty years. A prestigious job with lots of headaches—lots. Surgeons were the bad boys of the hospital, and trauma surgeons like Cole were the baddest of all. Their work was unpredictable and demanding, requiring specialized training and nerves of steel. They were the doctors who cared for accident and fire victims, gunshot wounds, stabbings—a whole array of the unpleasant and unexpected. To say it was a highly stressful job was like saying walking across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope was an ambitious undertaking.
Not everyone was enamored with the trauma surgeons, but most agreed they were a necessary evil. At best, they were mavericks, strutting the halls with an abundance of confidence, like peacocks displaying their grand plumage—the males particularly showy. At worst, they were arrogant prima donnas with out-of-control egos, and keeping them in line was more challenging than herding cats.
It wasn’t unusual to see one walking into the hospital at five in the morning sporting a cowboy hat and boots, as though Boston was the Wild West. And while Cole didn’t own a Stetson or a pair of Luccheses, he was the undisputed king of the cowboys—never met a rule that couldn’t be bent or broken if a frontier needed conquering or a damsel was in distress. Most people would proudly follow him into battle, but others, although far fewer in number, would prefer to shoot him in the back.
“Morning. You wanted to see me?”
Even with a head of grey, thinning hair and a face etched with lines, Tom was still a badass himself, though age and experience had worn smooth most of the rough edges.
Cole sat across the desk from Tom, bracing himself for the inevitable tirade, but not especially concerned with the consequences. Much like a child who’d grown accustomed to being called to the principal’s office, he knew it would be unpleasant, but then it would be over.
“I’m not getting any younger, here. When I hired you, I envisioned you taking over the department one day. You were a rising star with gifted hands, not just a technician, but a diagnostician with good instincts. A born leader … the whole damn package.”
Tom lifted his hands to his face and closed his eyes, massaging his temples like a man trying to ward off a massive headache. “But for all the good you’ve done the department and your patients, you’ve been nothing but a huge pain in my ass.”
Tom pushed out of his chair and stood at a wall of windows, gazing out across the Boston skyline. “This could have been your view. I thought when I appointed you Chief of Trauma the extra responsibility would make you think twice before doing something stupid. It’s slowed you down, but you’re still a problem. My problem,” he added almost as an afterthought.
“I’m flattered you considered me for the job, but I could’ve saved you the trouble. I’m not cut out to be chair. Too much politics, and I’m a terrible politician. It’s why I steered clear of the family business.”
Tom chewed on the edge of his thumb, staring out over the sleepy city just beginning to come to life.
“If this is about what happened in the operating room yesterday …”
He waited for a signal from Tom before continuing, but got nothing.
After about thirty seconds of silence, he’d had enough. More than enough. He wanted to spit it out, take his lumps, and get on with his day.
“It was hot, oppressive. Everyone who stepped foot in the room complained. It’d been like that all week. The environment was unsafe for staff, and put patients at risk. Facilities checked it out a bunch of times, but couldn’t replace the system without authorization from the highest level. The suits dragged their feet. It’s a bunch of bullshit, and you know it. They’re always trying to save a few pennies at our expense.”
“I don’t disagree with you. It’s how you handled the situation that gives me heartburn.”
“Maybe it wasn’t the best way to take care of the problem, but it got their attention. I hear it’s much more comfortable in there today—fit for humans.”
Tom rested his foot on the window ledge. “I ought to fire your ass so I wouldn’t have to hear one more complaint about you … but I don’t know a better doctor. And I talked to Sue,” he added quietly.
Sue Miller ran the operating rooms, all of them, the whole kit and caboodle. She had for years. Some surgeons foolishly believed they were in charge down there, but anyone with any sense knew it was her territory. All hers. If she liked you, your surgery days went smoothly, if you were a jackass, not so much. She paid careful attention to every detail, how doctors treated patients, the staff, and their colleagues. She knew everyone who stepped foot into the vicinity of the OR, and everything that happened there. Fortunately for Cole, she adored him like the son she’d never had.
“She told me Tori fainted in the middle of a procedure, prompting your outburst.”
Cole leaned forward in the chair, resting his elbow on Tom’s desk. “Leave Tori out of this. She had nothing to do with it, and I don’t want her name mentioned. She’s not responsible in any way. This is on me. All. On. Me.” He emphasized each word in a tone most people wouldn’t dare use with Tom.
“A big pain in the ass, but always a stand-up guy,” Tom muttered, mostly to himself.
“I’m willing to pay for some portion of the damage, but the system was already down when I busted the thermostat. They can dock my pay if it makes them feel better.”
Tom shook his head. “I guess I should just be grateful some poor unsuspecting housekeeper, didn’t walk into the janitor’s closet to find a resident on her knees with your dick in her mouth. Again.”
Cole cringed at the sleazy portrayal of what had been a particularly enjoyable respite with a
talented resident. At least until the housekeeper caught them in the act and fled down the hall screaming. If she’d had come in ten minutes sooner, he’d have been the one on his knees, and that would really have freaked her out. By the time he’d found her to apologize, she was with her supervisor and a security officer, telling her story while making the sign of the cross over and over, as if asking God’s forgiveness for what she’d witnessed.
“Come on, that was years ago. I was a resident then, too. I’ve never touched anyone I supervise.”
“Didn’t stop you from touching people supervising you.”
Diana. Dead or alive, it seemed she’d always remain a part of hospital lore. He was through discussing his sex life, not that there was much to talk about these days anyway. “So what happens now?”
Tom handed him a card. “Now you talk to Risk Management.”
“Oh, God,” Cole threw his head back and groaned. “Risk Management? Please don’t force me to listen to another lecture from that twit Chet. Let me guess, they think I need an anger management course?”
“Not this time. We’re well beyond an anger management course, here. This time you get an executive coach for forty-five days. Correct ongoing problems as they occur.”
Cole felt the blood drain from his face. “What?”
“The coach will submit a report at the end of the forty-five-day period, and the powers that be will weigh the pros and cons of your continued employment here.”
Tom planted both hands on his desk and leaned forward, his face inches away from Cole’s. “Do I look like I’m fucking kidding?”
“There’s no way I’m allowing some risk management dweeb to follow me around.”
Tom sat down and turned his attention to the stack of papers in front of him, ignoring Cole’s last comment, like a parent dealing with a petulant teenager. “Every minute you’re in the hospital. Patients may be asked to sign a release … the details are still being ironed out. Their patient contact will be limited, since patient care’s never been your problem.”
“Never,” agreed Cole. His patients took precedence over everything in his life except his family. He’d learned the hard way to put them first.
“What about patient privacy?”
“The hospital has a responsibility to investigate behavior compromising staff or patient safety. HIPAA provides appropriate mechanisms.”
“This is a damn witch-hunt.”
“There’s nothing I can do this time. It’s out of my hands. But your future here depends on your cooperation.”
Cole chewed on his bottom lip, seething.
Tom looked up from his papers. “I don’t want to lose you.” His voice was lower, more empathic now. “You’re the best surgeon on staff. The best in a city crawling with them. I’d trust you to operate on my grandchildren … The hospital doesn’t want to lose you, either. You generate a lot of revenue, and money is king around here.
“Somewhere along the line, you’ve pissed off someone with the power to do this. Maybe it’s someone who doesn’t like surgeons, maybe it’s someone whose wife you screwed. Doesn’t much matter. These are the ground rules, and there’s no getting around them.”
He’d never screwed anyone’s wife, but there was no question he’d pissed off plenty of people over the years. Mostly people who shirked their responsibilities.
“Risk Management is expecting you at eight. Your morning activities have been cancelled, and your identification card’s been deactivated until you meet with them.”
“Rescheduled. And your staff’s been told to take the morning off.”
“Sons of bitches,” Cole said under his breath. He stood up and shoved the card Tom gave him into his back pocket. “I’ll let you know what I decide.” And he stormed out of the office without another word.
* * *
Alexa Petersen knocked on her boss’s door promptly at seven. He’d emailed last night asking her to come in early. Well, it hadn’t actually been a request, more like one short terse sentence demanding her presence, with no explanation. She’d slept very little, tossing and turning, going over every minute of the last few weeks, wondering if she’d made some error, a mistake big enough to get her fired.
She’d been at the hospital for less than a month, with one week spent in training. She couldn’t recall any misstep, but her probationary status allowed them to terminate her at will. It was hardly her dream job, but it paid well, and she needed the money.
“Come in,” called Chet Toomey, a smarmy man in his early forties. He was the kind of man who always looked at your breasts when he should have been looking at your face. He didn’t steal little glances when he thought you weren’t looking like most guys—no, he leered shamelessly.
“Take a seat.”
Her stomach churned as she sat down, preparing herself for the worst.
“I like your work ethic, and I’ve been impressed by your thorough analysis of complex issues. An important project has come up, and I’ve decided to give it to you.” He zeroed in on her breasts while talking, but Alexa was so relieved to still have a job that his lewd stare didn’t faze her.
She listened to Chet spew what would politely be referred to as male cow poop. She hadn’t been on the job long enough to do a thorough analysis of anything.
Beware of flattery, it can lead you down a perilous path
. One of the many warnings her mother had imparted before wrapping Alexa in a warm embrace and putting her on the bus to Boston. Not that Chet was a man you’d follow down any path, or anywhere else for that matter. Not if you had a smidgeon of common sense.
“Cole Harrington is a trauma surgeon with the hospital. He’s had a lot of problems here. Thinks he can do whatever he wants and get away with it because he’s from a powerful family. Yesterday, when the temperature in the operating room wasn’t to his liking, he willfully destroyed the thermostat. The system had to be replaced at great expense to the hospital. He’s finished, but we need to create a paper trail demonstrating an attempt to remediate his behavior before we can get rid of him.”