Authors: Dianne Drake
“Eric's sister has that boutique in townâHandmade for Baby. Everything guaranteed to be nonallergenic and eco-friendly.”
“But so many? There must be tenâ”
“Eleven,” he interrupted. “Couldn't choose between them, so I bought them all. Figured Sarah would decide which ones she likes, and the rest I'll donate to the hospital.” He set Sarah down among the stuffed bunnies and giraffes.
“I think my daughter is going to like all of them.”
Mark didn't answer for a moment. Just stood there and stared at Sarah, sitting in the stack of animals, looking wide-eyed at them. “I hope she does,” he said, his voice a little gravelly. He cleared his throat, then faced Angela. “A young lady can never have too many stuffed animals, can she?”
“You're a real softy, you know that?” So much so, she was tempted to kiss him.
It is such a privilege to be back with this last book of my Mountain Village Hospital series. I've loved being able to develop continuing characters across these stories. I've especially loved writing this last book because it touches on a subject that's near to my heartâjuvenile diabetes.
The Baby Who Stole the Doctor's Heart
is a romance in the truest senseâit brings together two people who desperately need second chances at love and unites them as a family. But it also allows Angela, previously a chef at the lodge, to find her true passion. By becoming a hospital dietitian, she creates a situation that teaches children and empowers them to take care of themselves. My hero, Dr. Mark Anderson, is drawn to that strength and conviction in her. He doesn't want to be, but one confrontation with Angela and there's no turning back.
There's no turning back from diabetes, either. But the fight goes on, and one of the great crusaders is Brenda Novak, a fellow Harlequin author. Her son was diagnosed with the disease when he was young, and she's been fighting the battle ever since. Every May, Brenda hosts an online auction from which all proceeds go to diabetes research. Harlequin is one of her biggest supporters. (Thanks, Harlequin!) In 2010 she topped an accumulated $1 million mark! This year, spend a moment checking out her auction on www.BrendaNovak.com, buy an object or make a donation. You can take a peek at my donations, too. As you'll see, I love antique jewelry.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy
The Baby Who Stole the Doctor's Heart.
Wishing you health & happiness!
In this story I've dealt with diabetesâan illness that has touched my life in so many ways. I would like to dedicate this book to Marguerite Holmes, my mother, William White, my uncle, and Keith Kreider, one of the first heroes of my heartâall people I've loved and lost to diabetes. And I would also like to dedicate this book to my friend and fellow author Brenda Novak, whose efforts to raise money for diabetes research will save lives.
took one more look at the application in his hand, laid it on the desk, facedown, and took off his glasses. “It's not going to be easy, because I like her, but I can't let her into my program. She doesn't fit the criteria, doesn't even come close to the credentials I'm seeing in the other applicants I've looked at.”
Drs. Neil Ranard and Eric Ramsey glanced at each other, both of them with expressions on their faces that reflected their support of the decision, mixed with disappointment. “Naturally, we're disappointed, but it's your choice and we support that,” Eric said.
“She's your sister-in-law, Eric. And, Neil, she's your wife's best friend. I'm feeling pressured here.” Being in White Elk was pressure, staying in medicine was pressure. Everything was pressure these days, and he was already counting down the days until he was done with all of it. Medicine, old life, friends. Everything! Eighteen months to go, and he couldn't wait. But for now he was here, trying to make the best of it because he owed Eric and Neil. They were friends. In better days, best friends. And when they'd asked him to help them start a school to train advanced medical rescue teams, he'd seen it as his chance to pay back all the favors, all the support. After that, though, he was done.
Eric shrugged. “No pressure. Angela's a great dietician.
She has a natural talent for seeing all the connections between health and nutrition. And she's taking on the juvenile diabetes project here at the hospital. But we understand that she doesn't have the kind of medical training you're after. She's eager to learn, but if she doesn't qualify, she doesn't qualify.”
“Well, I'm not feeling great about the decision, but I don't want to be saddled with someone who'll hold the program back, and that's what she'll do.”
“Saddled?” Neil questioned, arching his eyebrows in surprise. “I wouldn't exactly call being involved with Angela in any way being saddled.”
Mark sighed. Angela was a looker, in a cute, pixie sort of way. He did have to admit that. Short, with cropped brown hair, amazing dark brown eyes. And so much sparkle to her. Cute, sexy. Girl-next-door in a most kissable fashion, if he had been inclined to kiss anymore. Which he wasn't. “You know what I mean,” he grumbled, shaking her image out of his head.
“Don't envy you the task of rejecting her,” Neil said, standing, followed by Eric.
Mark cringed at the thought. “I don't envy myself the task either.” He hated rejection. Went out of his way not to be involved in it. But this was one he couldn't help. He didn't have a place for her in his program and he couldn't make a place for her. He had eighteen months to accomplish what should, logically, take two years, and Angela would slow him down. His hands were tied, even though he was the one tying them. “And let me tell you now, this isn't what I bargained for when I came here. I wanted to teach and train, not do the paperwork.”
Eric chuckled. “Trust me. Angela is more than paperwork.” On that note, the doctors left Mark's office, left him
wondering why he'd agreed to this, why he hadn't followed his first impulse and simply walked away.
Truthfully, he didn't know. Didn't want to examine it either, for fear of what he'd find. He'd made his choices, made his decisions, and he wasn't going to change. Sure, he had a detour for the next year and a half, but after thatâ¦
Sarah's photo didn't dominate her desk by any means, but Angela's gaze was drawn to it a dozen times an hour. Maybe two dozen times. She'd never known anything or anyone that could fill her heart the way her daughter did. Coming up on Sarah's first birthday, that was all Angela could think aboutâthe last twenty or so tumultuous months, learning she was pregnant, discovering that her husband didn't want a baby or a wife, seeing him flaunt his various affairs on international television. Still, it had been a good time in spite of all that, because of Sarah. “We're doing quite well for ourselves,” she said to the photo, then refocused on the meal plan she was devising for Scotty Baxter.
He was seven, with uncontrolled diabetes, and she was worried because he didn't have the home support he needed. His mother rewarded him with snacks, never refused his demands, and most of the time Scotty demanded sweets and foods that weren't good for him. Helen Baxter loved her son the way Angela loved her daughter, but Helen's definition of love was overindulgence, maybe because she was a single mother who was trying to compensate for the lack of a father in Scotty's life. She totally sympathized with Helen, and in some ways she could see that in herselfâ¦overindulging Sarah because Sarah's father had walked out. But not overindulgence to the point of harming her, and that's where Scotty and his mother stood right now.
It wasn't a good situation, and she was worried because, so far, she hadn't gotten through. Not to Scotty, not to his
mother. She was working on it, though, hoping the camp she was creatingâa camp for kids like Scottyâwould help. It was coming together, and she was excited by the prospect. One more hurdle, taking the finalized plans to the hospital board, and she'd be set.
Right now, though, she had to concentrate on Scotty's meal plan. “First things first,” she said to Sarah's photo, forcing her attention to the computer screen and the list of low glycemic index foods popping up there.
A knock on the door startled her.
“Can I come in?” Mark asked, as he pushed the door open a crack.
Suddenly, she was on tenterhooks. She'd applied to his program. Wanted desperately to be part of the White Elk Mountain Rescue Team, like her sister was. Like all her friends were. She wanted to proveâ¦well, her worth, for one thing. “Sure,” she said, saving Scotty's file.
Mark Anderson. Larger than life, filling every inch of her door frame and handsome in a way that defied description. Definitely a man who could make her heart go pitter-patter, if she had a mind to let it. Which she didn't, even though her divorce wasn't stinging so much these days. Truthfully, she didn't have men on her mind, didn't date, didn't want to. Not now. This part of her life was about improvement, about doing the things she'd been deprived of all those years with Brad. About making sure she was in a place where
controlled her destiny. It was also about Sarahâ¦Sarah, who always brought a smile to her face. Her life was a good place now, and although she wasn't very far into it yet, she surely did like her direction.
So, no rocking it with someone like Dr. Mark Anderson, even though another time, another placeâ¦ Fantasies like that allowed, realties forbidden. Besides, in her limited contact with him since he'd helped her and Sarah from the train that
had been trapped in an avalanche he'd seemed so standoffish, maybe even grumpy. She wasn't sure why, wasn't inclined to find out. But he held her future in his hand, so to speak, and she did want this opportunity. It was one of so many things she wanted to do and as he strode toward her desk she couldn't wait for him to start. “What did you decide?” she blurted out, too anxious to wait.
“No,” he said, quite bluntly.
“No?” Blinking, it took a moment to digest his words. “Did you say no?”
“That's correct. No.”
“Meaning you didn't accept me into your program?”
“Meaning I'm looking for people who have more medical training than you do. I'm sorry, but you don't fit my criteria.”
He didn't look sorry. In fact, he looked rather bland on the whole subject. “My being a clinical dietician doesn't count for anything? Or the fact that I'm heading up the juvenile diabetes project at the hospital? Or that I'm probably better on skis than most of the instructors at the lodges here?”
“Those are important, even impressive in their own way, Mrs. Blanchard. I'm not diminishing what you're doing here, not trying to belittle your abilities either, but your qualifications are lacking, and I'm not accepting anyone into my program who doesn't meet a certain basic level of medical training. Which you don't. For what it's worth, I knew how much you wanted this, so I went over your application a couple of times, trying to figure out if there was a way I could deviate from the standards I've set for the other students I'll take on. But I couldn't, because if I made an exception for you, I might have to make it for someone else, and pretty soon the whole program would beâ¦diluted.”
“Diluted?” She rose from her desk, leaned over it, palms flat on the surface. “You think I'd dilute your program?”
“OK, so maybe that's not the best choice of words. But I think it conveys my intent. I know the kind of background I want in my students, and you don't have it. I'm sorry, but that's my decision. And, to be honest, with all the new programs you're involved with already, I'm not even sure why you'd want to take on something else. Wouldn't that be spreading yourself too thin?”
She steadied her nerves with a deep breath.
was none of his business. He hadn't known Brad, hadn't seen the way Brad had put her down every time she'd tried stepping outside herself and doing something worthwhile. Hadn't been there the day they'd come across a skiing accident, found a man who'd crashed into a tree, who had literally been dying before their eyes. She'd tried to help, but Brad had rubbished her attempts and told her the only thing she was good for was calling the ski patrol. Young and frightened, she'd believed him, but still she'd stayed with the man and tried to keep him conscious and talking while Brad had called for help. Unfortunately the man had died on his way to hospital, and she'd always wondered if she could have done something more.
No, none of that was Mark Anderson's business. Neither was the fact that Sarah changed everything. For Sarah, she had to be better, had to know more. For Sarah, she couldn't have doubts.
So, fighting with this man wasn't the answer. She wanted to be in his class, and cool, calm reasoning was the only way she was going to get there. Gathering her wits, Angela decided to resist the battle. “And you don't think hard work and study will overcome what you say are my deficiencies? Because I'll work harder and study more than anybody else you'll have in your class.”
“I'm sure you will. But you'd be the only one who wouldn't know the basics on the first day. Basics like how to take a
patient's vital signs. Or how to assess pupillary reaction or start an IV. I'd have to waste precious time teaching you how to take a blood-pressure reading when everybody else is way past that.” He exhaled a sharp breath. “What I want, Mrs. Blanchard, is to teach advanced field work, and you're not ready for it. I'm sorry.”
OK, so he had her there. He was right. She didn't know the basics. Not yet. But not knowing didn't mean she couldn't learn. And learn quickly. “Everybody has to start somewhere, Dr. Anderson. Even
attended classes in medical school where you knew nothing.”
“Classes designed to teach beginners. Which is not what
class is designed to teach. And like I said, I'm sorry. I know you're going to do some amazing things with your diabetes program, and I wish you well in that. And who knows? I'll be gone in eighteen months. Maybe the person hired to take over for me will have a different set of criteria for his or her classes.” To his credit, Mark actually struggled with a sympathetic smile as he turned and walked toward the door.
But Angela wasn't ready to let him leave. In fact, she beat him to the door. Flew out from behind her desk and practically threw herself in front of Mark. She wanted this! She wasn't about to take another rejection quite as easily as she had her ex-husband's. “So, tell me what I can do to make you change your mind.”
Mark's eyebrows shot up in surprise. “What didn't you understand about me saying no?”
“Trust me, I understand rejection. But I want this and there has to be something I can do to get myself into your class. Take some outside courses somewhere, read some books, take a test. I'm sure my sister will help meâ¦”
Before he answered, he paused, and actually chuckled. Then looked her square in the eyes. “I admire your
determination, and I only hope the students I do choose will have that same determination in them. But classes start in just over a month, Mrs. Blanchard. What you need to know can't be learned in that time. I'm sorry, but my decision is final. Now, if you'll excuse meâ¦”
He laid his hand on the doorknob, tried turning it. Then stopped, like he was waiting for her next round of arguments. Which came immediately. “Is there anything to stop me from auditing your classes?” she asked.
“Sitting in, taking notes, learning what the other students are learning?” It wouldn't get her the certificate she needed, but if the instructor who took over the school eighteen months from now was as difficult as Dr. Anderson, at least she'd be prepared. And if waiting for a year and a half was what it took, that's what she'd do. After all, she had time. Plenty of it. “Would you stop me from doing that?”
“I won't certify you at the end.”
“I'm aware of that.”
“And I won't allow you to participate, as in raising your hand and asking questions or taking part in discussions. You'll sit in the back of the room and take notes, nothing else.”
“I'm aware of that, too.”
“You won't be allowed to come along on field exercises. Or train on any of the equipment we use.”
“And you won't get progress reports telling you how well, or badly, you're doing.”
“Fine, too.” It wasn't the way she wanted it, but if this was the only way in for her, she'd take it.
“Well, then, if you want to waste all that time for what's going to amount to nothing, I won't stop you from auditing the classes.”