Authors: Marie Ferrarella
She knew it, knew that it would be like this.
Knew the second she had seen the tall, dark, brooding doctor, and heard his voice.
Knew that there was trapped emotion within him that if she could only tap, would sweep her away.
And she needed to be swept away, needed to feel, just for a moment, as if every star in the universe was in the right place and that everything,
would be all right.
Anything less was unthinkable.
To Gail Chasan,
with thanks and delight
A Hero for All Seasons
A Forever Kind of Hero
Hero in the Nick of Time
Hero for Hire
An Uncommon Hero
A Hero in Her Eyes
Heart of a Hero
Caution: Baby Ahead
Mother on the Wing
Baby Times Two
The Baby of the Month Club
Baby's First Christmas
Happy New YearâBaby!
The 7lb., 2oz. Valentine
Do You Take This Child?
World's Most Eligible Bachelors
The Once and Future Father
In the Family Way
An Abundance of Babies
Like Mother, Like Daughter
One Plus One Makes Marriage
Never Too Late for Love
The Bachelors of Blair Memorial
In Graywolf's Hands
M.D. Most Wanted
Mac's Bedside Manner
The M.D.'s Surprise Family.
Two Halves of a Whole
The Baby Came C.O.D.
Desperately Seeking Twin
Serena McKee's Back in Town
Holding Out for a Hero
Heroes Great and Small
Christmas Every Day
Caitlin's Guardian Angel
The Cutlers of the Shady Lady Ranch
(Yours Truly titles)
Fiona and the Sexy Stranger
Cowboys Are for Loving
Will and the Headstrong Female
The Law and Ginny Marlow
A Match for Morgan
A Triple Threat to Bachelorhood
McClellans & Marinos
The Taming of the Teen
Babies on His Mind
The Baby beneath the Mistletoe
Wife in the Mail
Found: His Perfect Wife
The M.D. Meets His Match
Lily and the Lawman
The Bride Wore Blue Jeans
Baby in the Middle
Husband: Some Assembly Required
The Mom Squad
A Billionaire and a Baby
A Bachelor and a Baby
The Baby Mission
Beauty and the Baby
Racing Against Time
Crime and Passion
The Strong Silent Type
In Broad Daylight
Alone in the Dark
Award-winning author has written over one hundred and twenty books for Silhouette, some under the name Marie Nicole. Her romances are beloved by fans worldwide.
Bachelor #1: Lukas Graywolf + Lydia Wakefield = Together Forever IN GRAYWOLF'S HANDS (SIM #1155)
Bachelor #2: Dr. Reese Bendenetti + London Merriweather = True Love M.D. MOST WANTED (SIM #1167)
Bachelor #3: Dr. Harrison MacKenzie + Nurse Jolene DeLuca = Matrimonial Bliss MAC'S BEDSIDE MANNER (SSE #1492)
Bachelor #4: Dr. Terrance McCall + Dr. Alix Ducane = Attached at the Hip UNDERCOVER M.D. (SIM #1191)
Bachelor #5: Dr. Peter Sullivan + Raven Songbird = ??? THE M.D.'s SURPRISE FAMILY (SSE #1653)
re you God?”
The soft, somewhat high-pitched voice punctured a tiny hole into his train of thought. Seated at his desk and studying a new AMA report regarding brain surgery techniques, Dr. Peter Sullivan looked up sharply. He wasn't expecting anyone. This office was supposed to be his haven, his island away from the noise and traffic just outside his door.
His haven had been invaded.
A boy stood in his doorway. A small-boned, black-haired boy with bright blue eyes. The boy's manner was woven out of not quite a sense of entitlement, but definitely out of a sense of confidence.
He had on an Angels sweatshirt and a pair of jeans that looked baggy on his thin frame.
As the boy looked at him, his perfectly shaped eyebrows wiggled together in a puzzled expression as if, now that he'd asked the question, he had doubts about the assumption he'd made.
Served him right for not making sure his door was properly closed, Peter thought, annoyed at the intrusion. Beyond his door all manner of people wandered the halls of Blair Memorial, especially on the ground floor, where all the doctors's offices were located. But traffic wasn't supposed to leak into here.
He carefully marked his place, then gave his attention to the task of sending the boy on his way.
“Excuse me?” Peter knew his voice could be intimidating. To his surprise, the little boy looked unfazed. Peter didn't feel like being friendly, especially not this morning. He'd heard that one of his patients hadn't made it.
It wasn't supposed to matter.
He purposely distanced himself from the people he operated on, thinking of them as merely recipients of his skills, almost like objects that needed repairing. To approach what he did in any other way was just too difficult for him.
And yet, Amanda Peterson's death weighed heavily on him.
He'd learned of her passing by accident, not by
inquiry, but that didn't change the effect the news had had on him. He'd thought that he'd been properly anesthetized by the knowledge that there was only a two percent chance the woman would survive the surgery, much less the week.
Still, two percent was two percent. A number just large enough to attach the vague strands of hope around.
Damn it, why couldn't he just divorce himself from his emotions? Why couldn't he just not care anymore? Every time he thought he had that aspect of himself under control, something like this would happen and he'd feel that trickle of pain.
Rather than leave, the boy in his doorway crossed into his office, moving on the balls of his feet like a ballet dancer in training.
“Are you God?” he repeated, cocking his head as if that might help him get a clearer handle on the answer.
“No,” Peter said with the firm conviction of a neurosurgeon who'd just had God trump him on the operating table. The boy didn't move. “What makes you ask?” Peter finally ventured.
The boy, who couldn't have been more than about seven or eight, and a small seven or eight at that, pulled himself up to his full height and watched him with eyes that were old. “Because Raven told me that you can perform miracles.”
“Raven? Is that some imaginary friend?” His
daughter Becky had had an imaginary friend. Seymour. She'd been adamant that he address Seymour by name whenever he'd spoken to the air beside her. There had even been a place for Seymour at the table. And she'd insisted that he say good-night to Seymour every evening after he'd read her a bedtime story, otherwise Becky would look at him with those big brown eyes of hers, waiting.
God, he'd give anything if he could say good-night to Seymour again.
“No,” the dark-haired boy told him patiently, “Raven's my sister.”
“Well, your sister's wrong.” He wondered if he was going to have to escort the boy to the hall. “I'm not God and I don't do miracles.”
Because if he could have, if he could have just performed one miracle in his life, it would have been to save Lisa and Becky. He would have willingly and gladly given his own life to save them. But the trade hadn't been his to make.
The small invader seemed unconvinced. “Raven's never wrong.”
Peter snorted. Women never thought they were wrong, even short ones. Becky had been as headstrong as they came. He'd always laughed at what he called her “stubborn” face whenever she'd worn it. He couldn't remember the last time he'd laughed.
“First time for everything, kid.” He nodded to
ward the doorway behind the boy. “Why don't you go now and find her?”
The boy half turned. As if on cue, a woman came up to his doorway. A woman with long, shining blue-black hair and eyes the same intense color blue as the boy's. She was of medium height, slender, with alabaster skinâthe kind of woman that would have inspired one of the Grimm Brothers to pick up his pen and begin spinning a story about Snow White. The family resemblance was glaring.
As was the fact that the relieved-looking woman standing in his doorway was very possibly one of the most beautiful women ever created.
Even a man whose soul was dead could notice something like that, Peter thought vaguely.
She could have shaken him, Raven thought, her hands clasping her brother's shoulders. He'd given her a scare. Again. “Blue, what did I tell you about wandering off?”
“You were talking to that nurse, looking for Dr. Sullivan,” Blue told her matter-of-factly. He gestured toward the man at the desk. “I found him for you.”
At seven, Blue had the reading level of a twelve-year-old. He had his father's penchant for absorbing everything and his mother's ability for optimistic interpretation.
Raven pressed her lips together. There was no
arguing with Blue. Talking by the time he was a year old, Blue had been called precocious by her parents. He was their change-of-life miracle baby. Free-spirited, Rowena and Jon Songbird accepted everything that came their way, finding the very best in life and mining that vein until that was all there was.
They'd infused that talent, that view of life, within her ever since she could remember, but there were times when that ability was severely challenged.
Blue's present situation challenged her optimism to the limit.
Raven placed her hand on the boy's shoulder in a protective gesture. “I was asking that nurse directions to the office.”
“I know.” Blue looked up at her with a smile that took up half his face. “But I found him.”
It was more than apparent that he couldn't see what the problem was. Couldn't see why his sister would get upset if he went off on his own as long as he was undertaking the present mission at hand. The offspring of a neo-hippie couple, Blue marched to his own drummer and, at times, the tempo drove her crazy.
For a moment the duo seemed to be completely oblivious to Peter. Not that he minded, but he didn't
want it happening while they were taking up space within his office.
“Excuse me,” Peter interrupted the exchange. “But just why were you looking for me?”
The woman turned to give him just as radiant a smile as the boy with the improbable name of “Blue” had.
“I'm your ten o'clock appointment.” Lacing her arms around the boy she'd drawn closer in front of her, she amended, “We are your ten o'clock appointment.”
Peter glanced at his calendar. He didn't have anything scheduled until his one o'clock surgery this afternoon. He raised his eyes to her face. “I'm sorry, butâ”
Just then his phone buzzed, interrupting him. Peter yanked up the receiver and said, “Yes?” in less than a friendly tone.
“Oh, thank God you're in.” The voice on the other end of the phone breathed a sigh of relief. The voice belonged to Diane, the chief administrator's niece who, as the general secretary, was well-meaning but far less than perfect at her job. “Um, Dr. Sullivan, I think I forgot to let you know that you have a ten o'clock appointment this morning. Did they show up yet?”
“Yes, I'm looking at them right now.”
“A matter of opinion,” he informed her tersely
as he hung up. He didn't like being caught unprepared.
“You weren't expecting us?” Raven concluded.
“Not until this moment.” He looked at the boy she was holding in front of her. Children didn't belong in this office. What went on here was far too serious for their childish voices and innocent demeanors. Besides, being around children painfully reminded him that he no longer had one of his own. “Madam, people who come to see me don't usually bring their childrenâ”
The smile she gave him had a very strange, almost tranquilizing effect on him. It seemed to effortlessly enter into every pore of his body like steam.
“He's not my child, he's my brother and, since this concerns him, I thought he should have the opportunity to meet you.”
Peter's eyes narrowed. The appointment had been made without his knowledge and he certainly hadn't said whether or not he was going to take the case. “I'm on review?”
She laughed. It was a light, breezy sound that made him think, for no apparent reason, of springtime and tiny green shoots on trees.
She glanced at her brother before answering. “I suppose, in a manner of speaking.” The woman indicated the two chairs in front of his desk. “May we?”
For the moment he had no choice but to incline his head. Blue scrambled right up into the chair closest to the desk. Facing him, Blue smiled up at Peter with his sister's mouth, generous and friendly.
The young woman sat down. Rather than perch on the edge, the way he'd seen so many people in this office do, she slid back, making herself comfortable.
Almost succeeding in making him comfortable.
Peter had to pull himself back to recapture the edge he always felt, the edge that separated him from anyone who sat on the other side of the desk. The edge that kept him separate from everyone.
“I've heard you're the best.” Raven paused for half a second, in case Dr. Sullivan wanted to pretend to be modest. But when no such pretense materialized, she continued, “But I also wanted to get a feel for you myself.”
“A âfeel' for me?”
He stared at her as if she were speaking another language, had descended from another planet. What was she talking about? What went on in this office and the operating roomâif he agreed to undertake the surgeryâhad nothing to do with “feelings.” It had to do with facts, with the latest procedures and available technology.
She made him think of some latter day free spirit who had accidentally stepped across a rift in time.
She certainly looked the part with her colorful clothing and her surfboard-straight hair.
“My parents taught me that you could tell a great deal about a person by the way they behaved both on their home territory and on yours.” And then she flashed a dazzling smile at him, as if she could read the thoughts running through his mind. “Don't worry, I'm not inviting you to my house.”
“Look, Missâ” He stopped, looking to her to fill in the gap.
“Songbird,” Raven supplied. “But you might find it easier to call me Raven.”
Songbird. It figured. The woman was definitely as flighty as they came. She meandered around enough to imitate the flight pattern of a slightly dizzy bird.
“Miss Songbird, is there a point to this?” he asked impatiently, looking at his watch. He felt as if he was wasting precious time here and as he spoke, Peter began to rise from his chair. “Because if there isn't, then I have gotâ”
The woman with the mesmerizing, almond-shaped eyes reached out and placed her hand on his, staying his exit. For half a second, immobilized by surprise, Peter left his hand beneath hers. The next moment he pulled his hand back, staring at her as if she were some kind of alien creature. He was willing to concede the point without debate.
“Sorry, still getting a feel for you. You are awfully tense. Are you operating soon?”
Not a retro-hippie, he decided, but a Gypsy. All that was missing was a tambourine and a colorful scarf around her head. She already had the bright outfit. “Just who
you?” He wanted to know.
“No,” she said as if he'd asked her another question entirelyâor was about to, “I don't believe in tarot cards, or fortune-telling, but there is such a thing as an aura and I can feel yours.” She felt it prudent not to tell him about her mother's heritage. It might only served to spook him, or worse, to make him more cynical. “It's very, very uptight. Brittle, you might say,” she added.
Beyond brittle, he thought. Damn close to broken. His aura, if there was such a thing, had long since been destroyed. Lisa and Becky had been his only reason for living and now they were gone. If he was alive, it was just because he'd been going through the motions for so long, he'd forgotten how to stop.
He looked from the boy to the woman. She'd come in with a manila envelope tucked under her arm. He assumed this visit had something to do with that. “Would you like to tell me why you're here?”
“My brother's pediatrician thought we should come to see you.” This time, she did slide forward on the seat, as if what she was saying made her uneasy and she wanted to say it quickly. “Blue has
three tumors along his spinal cord. He needs to have them removed as soon as possible,” she recited as if she'd rehearsed the words for hours in her vanity mirror. “I have an X ray.” She laid the large manila envelope on his desk.
With a barely stifled impatient sigh, Peter took out the X ray she'd brought and looked at it. He was aware that the boy was leaning forward and had propped his chin on his fisted hands, staring at the same X ray.
“That's my spinal cord,” he said as if he knew exactly what a spinal chord was. “Kind of messed up, isn't it?”
Peter looked at Raven. “How old did you say he was?”
“I'm seven,” he said.