Authors: Janet Lane-Walters
Seducing the Doctor
At First Sight
By Janet Lane-Walters
Copyright 2016 by Janet Lane Walters
Cover Art 2016 by Jasmin Attalla
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
* * *
Matt Blakefield choked on the piece of wedding cake he’d been about to swallow. “Not in a million years. Why don’t you pick on one of our unmarried friends like Tony or Jules?”
“They aren’t here,” his sister Allie said.
Matt’s gaze slid around the long table in the inn’s dining room spearing each couple with a glare. Friends and family had gathered to celebrate this morning’s wedding of his brother to the mother of his nine year old son.
“I have a friend who you would like,” Allie said.
Meg grinned. “She would be perfect.”
Matt pretended to shoot his sisters. “No sale.” He dropped his napkin on the table.
“Remember the curse.” Mark’s sly smile teased. “None of us has escaped. Maybe there’s a woman from your past you can’t forget.”
Was there? Yes. But the reason he couldn’t forget her showed him in a bad way.
Time to hit the road.
With this decision made he wondered how he could flee before his sisters set up a date. As if in answer to his wishes his cell vibrated.
“Matt here. Sorry you missed the wedding…I’ll tell him.” He looked up. “Jules said congrats. Sorry he was on a hunt and couldn’t book a flight in time… So what did you learn?”
His friend and investigator’s news was all Matt wanted to hear. “I’m on my way. Yes, today.”
As if he’d stay here where plans he wanted no part of were being laid. He’d been present for the important event. He had no reason to linger and a huge need to escape. Although he wasn’t to meet Jules until Monday morning the opportunity was perfect.
He rose. “Have to leave. Jules has info I need on this year’s makeover house.”
“On the weekend?” His father, CEO of the Good Magazine Group and recently married to his teenage love arched an eyebrow.
“Yeah, it’s the Smiton house. You know the one I’ve always been interested in. I want to use this as the project for converting a house from energy sucking to energy efficient. Jules has a line on the owner’s location. I want the contract signed so we can start work soon.” He didn’t mention how his mother had loved the house and talked about the mystery of the heir’s disappearance. There’d been no thought of the man’s death, just that he had gone to Europe to live.
His father’s forehead wrinkled. “If there’s a problem, find another house. Who knows what condition the Smiton house is in. No one has lived there for more than twenty five years.”
“I’ve checked. The house is solid.”
“Find one with the owners in residence. They’ll appreciate the free upgrade.”
Matt groaned. “And spend hours suggesting changes that won’t work or constantly complain about the inconvenience. Not on a bet.” Matt rose. Another thing he failed to mention was his plan to live in the house.
He kissed his new sister-in-law’s cheek. “Let Mark spoil you and Davy. My brother has a few years of presents to bestow.” He made his way around the table kissing the women and clasping hands with the men.
Matt strode to the cloakroom to retrieve his leather jacket and helmet. He’d planned to hang out in one of the cottages until tomorrow but not with the schemes buzzing with the ladies. He leaned over the counter, kissed the middle-aged woman’s cheek and dropped a ten spot in the tip tray.
He dashed out the door and down the steps to the parking lot and his bike. As the engine roared to life the relatives gathered and the protests began.
So much for a quick getaway.
He braced for arguments.
“Stay,” his new sister-in-law called. “You have one of the cabins to yourself.”
“We won’t bother you, I promise,” his step-mother said.
She wouldn’t but the we didn’t include his sisters. “Another time.”
“Matt, it’s going to rain.” The voices of four females rose in a chorus.
“I won’t melt.” He slapped his helmet on his head. With a spray of gravel he headed to the road.
Exit Matt fleeing a gaggle of women intent on ending his bachelor state.
“You’re next.” Had someone shouted that or was his imagination playing trips. Next wasn’t on his agenda.
He waved. “Not today. Not this year. Maybe never.” The engine’s roar drowned any comments.
Visions of being followed by a parade of match-makers populated his thoughts. Instead of heading for the interstate he decided to cross from Vermont into upstate New York. Exploring new territory was the perfect ending to his great escape.
Once they’d found the perfect mate why did happy couples believe every bachelor should be part of a twosome? He wasn’t ready to take a wife or enter into a long term situation. He enjoyed his single state and found pleasure with a variety of women. Granted there’d been a dry spell lately…not his fault. He hadn’t met a woman since high school who had tempted him for more than a night or two. Even the vanished woman had been a fool’s dream.
As he sped along the serpentine road a misting rain began. Moments after crossing into New York the storm turned earnest. Water fell in wind-driven gales. Thunder rumbled like a mad drummer slamming a kettle drum. Lightning streaked across the sky in a brilliant display. Although the time was late afternoon the darkness spoke of night.
Time to find a motel, bed and breakfast or a rustic inn with a room for the night.
He reached a crossroads and paused to read the signs. The nearest town was forty miles away. He dug out his smart phone.
With a groan he wiped the face plate of his helmet and chose a road. The headlights cast a tunnel through the gloom. Shadows impinged on the narrow band of light. He shot down the road, off on an adventure hopefully with a dry room at the end of the road.
* * *
Cassie Moore stared at the bubbles rising in the flute of champagne. The ephemeral globules vanished like yesterday’s dreams. Rain pounded on the roof of the cabin in upstate New York. She’d borrowed the refuge from the senior partner of the cardiology group. The secluded area offered an escape from the second most humiliating day of her life. Memories of the first emerged and resisted her attempts to cram them into a box labeled “gone but not forgotten.” Dark streaks from that day stained her thoughts.
Thunder rumbled. Lightning cracked. The gloomy atmosphere matched her mood. Emotions roiled and changed with every sound. She refused to release the tears hovering on the threshold. The snap of wood in the fireplace threatened to spark the anger she held inside.
She raised the glass. “Here’s to how a long engagement made sense. Let’s drink to waiting until the residencies are completed. A toast to being established in the medical practice before marriage. Here’s to tonight’s bridal shower and the absent bride-who-won’t-be. Raise your glass to the fiancé who married the office nurse on his regular Thursday off.”
In a single swallow she drained the glass and tossed the flute engraved with his name into the flames. A flare of color and a loud crack made her chuckle.
So much for melodrama.
The buzz from the champagne failed to raise her flagging spirits, or elevate her self-esteem. What was wrong with her? Thoughts tumbled over each other. A father who hadn’t wanted her or her mother, a first love turned into a teenage prank, a fiancé who chose another woman. Had she loved Tim or had he been a habit she hadn’t tried to break? She’d never said the L word to him. She hadn’t heard the sentiment from him either. Had being married ruled her choice?
Cassie turned from the fire. She sliced the negative thoughts and pushed them into that box.
Shower, comfy clothes, chocolate and a movie chosen to provide an excuse for tears were next on the agenda.
She hurried to the bathroom, turned on the shower, undressed and stepped beneath the spray. A short steam-filled time later with a towel wrapped around her body she scooted to the bedroom she’d chosen for her stay. She opened the suitcase she’d grabbed on her way out of the apartment.
“No!” A groan rolled from her lips. She’d brought the bag she’d packed for the wedding night, the plane trip to Hawaii and for the first day on the island.
With a shrug she slipped on the sheer nightgown and a short silk robe and wished for her fleecy one. At least the slacks and sweater from today could be worn tomorrow while she searched for a store to buy a few things. She lifted a white lace bra and bikini and a red satin set. She had underwear. For tonight the green afghan on the couch would provide warmth.
When Cassie reached the main room she popped the movie disc in place, filled the second flute with champagne and selected a truffle. As she savored the rich chocolate she draped the afghan over her shoulders and reached for the remote.
A rumble of thunder drowned the opening music of the movie. A loud crash made her jump. Had lightning struck nearby? She crossed to the window and turned on the yard lights.
A heap on the ground near the end of the driveway caught her attention. A movement made her realize she saw a body. She grabbed a yellow slicker from a hook near the door, slipped on her sneakers and opened the door.
Moments later she clattered down the steps. Rain pelted her. She raced to the figure. As she drew closer she saw a man wearing a helmet and leather jacket. A motorcycle rested against the lone pine tree beside the drive.
Cassie crouched and felt for a carotid pulse. The steady beat against her fingers reassured her. When she grasped his shoulder he groaned. Her breath escaped on a sigh. She needed to see if any bones had been broken and get him out of the storm. While she was a doctor, hearts not bones were her specialty.
“Where do you hurt?”
He groaned. “Everywhere.”
“Can you move your arms and legs?”
He complied. This time his groan emerged louder and deeper.
“Try to sit up.”
Slowly he eased into a sitting position. “My bike?”
Cassie choked back a laugh.
How like a man.
“Before you worry about your wheels you need to get out of the rain and be checked for other injuries. Can you stand?”
With her help he stood and swayed. He clutched Cassie’s shoulders. They nearly fell but she steadied him.
“Easy.” She put an arm around his waist. “Did you lose consciousness?”
“Don’t think so. Had the breath knocked out. Stunned a bit.” He drew a breath. “Must have been a deer.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The thing on the road. Big. Dark. Saw the creature in a flash of lightning. Couldn’t stop.”
Cassie peered toward the road. If he’d broadsided a deer the animal would be on the road either dead or badly injured. She saw no sign of one. The motorcycle had crashed into the tree where the road curved. Had he been more than stunned? Was he drunk? Was she a fool for taking a stranger into the cabin?
She could leave him at her car and run inside for her keys. They could drive to town. Except she wasn’t dressed for going to town or for entertaining a guest.
“Where are we going?”
“To the cabin so I can check you for injuries.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
His deep voice held a quality that sent heat rushing through her veins. She faltered. Why the reaction? With all the recent developments she should avoid thinking of any man as attractive until she recovered from the pain of Tim’s rejection.
She helped the stranger through the wind driven rain to the roofed porch. The protection from the steady downpour was welcome. She opened the door and they stepped inside. Water beaded on her yellow slicker and his leather jacket. Pools collected on the slate foyer floor.
She shivered. “Cold.”
“Makes two of us.”
Cassie released her hold on him and dragged a metal kitchen chair with a padded seat and back into the entrance. She wished for her medical bag so she could do a complete assessment but the bag was at her apartment. While she couldn’t check his blood pressure or listen to his heart his pulse beat strong and steady. For the rest of the exam she could improvise.
“What year is it?” She asked the first question to check his mental status.
He answered with month, day and year.
“Where are you?”
“Who knows. In a cabin in the woods with a nosy woman. Why the grilling?”
“To make sure you don’t have a concussion.”
“Are you a doctor?” She strode to the kitchen and returned with a flashlight. “Take the helmet off. I need to check your eyes.”
“Are you a nurse?”
While she clicked the flashlight to make sure it worked he removed his helmet and jacket. Her mouth gaped. A moment of recognition stunned her.
Couldn’t be him. But he was. Blond hair, blue eyes, handsome. The class jock. Her first crush.
Cassis gulped a breath. So much for a complete physical. There was no way she could touch his skin and not fall into those memories of yearning and humiliation. She shone the light into one eye and then the other. “Pupils equal and reactive. That’s good. You’ve escaped a concussion. You’ll be sore and develop a collection of bruises. You were lucky to escape serious injury.”