Saving dr tremaine, p.1
Saving Dr. Tremaine, page 1
Suddenly he wondered how he was going to survive her touch over the next few weeks. A clear vision of her giving him a sponge bath compounded his private ache and he groaned.
“What’s wrong?” Annie placed the glass on his right-hand bedside table, along with the remote control and cordless phone. “Do you need another pain pill?”
“I’m fine,” he said gruffly. “Just tired. And hot. Would you turn up the air-conditioning?”
“Let me pull off the sheet.” She reached for it, but he held on to it with a near-death grip.
“Leave it. Just fix the AC.”
She leaned across his body, and as her hair brushed across his chest and her arm rubbed against his, he clenched his fist to keep from pulling her on top of him. “Do you need anything else?” she asked, straightening.
You. If she only knew how badly he wanted to bury himself inside her…barring that, he’d like a cold shower, preferably Alaskan snowbank cold.
Welcome to my HOPE CITY series, where people find love as they pursue their dreams and aspirations.
The idea for this series grew out of the knowledge that we’ve all entertained hopes at one time or another. So I wanted to create a town where my characters not only give hope to others through their profession, but, for various reasons, also cling to it themselves.
Saving Dr. Tremaine starts the excitement when Annie McCall saves the man of her dreams in more ways than one! Look for some of Hope City Hospital’s other doctors—Galen Stafford, Mark Cameron and Justin St James—in future stories, where the combination of medicine and romance gives the community its name.
Saving Dr. Tremaine
“WHERE’S my patient?”
Paramedic Annie McCall stopped scribbling on her report pad to stare at Hope City’s tall, dark, and deliciously handsome ER physician, Jared Tremaine. Surprised by the fact that he’d hunted her down, although it was no secret the paramedics came to the small office steps away from the medication room to tie up the loose ends of their calls, it took a moment for his exact demand to register. If Galen Stafford had asked her this question, she would have teased him about losing people, but Jared wasn’t the easygoing Galen. Jared Tremaine was his serious, all-business counterpart.
“If you mean the fellow I just brought in—” she began.
“Of course I do,” he snapped. “Who else would I be talking about?”
Annie had seen him chew out nurses before for reasons she and her partner, Mic Haines, had never stopped to discover. Apparently she was now going to experience the sting of his wrath for herself and it wasn’t a reassuring prospect. Be patient, she cautioned herself before she spoke.
“He’s in Trauma One. Ravi was with him.” Ravi Kedar was a newly graduated registered nurse who’d only worked in Hope’s ER a few months, joining the staff about the same time Annie had moved to town. At twenty-two, he’d lived in the US nearly all his life and although his ancestors hailed from India, he was American through and through, at times to the dismay of his parents.
“‘Was’ being the operative word,” Dr Tremaine replied grimly. “The guy claimed to need the rest room, so Ravi obliged.”
“Maybe he’s still there.”
He rolled his eyes. “He isn’t.”
“Then he can’t be far,” she added. “Jack was in terrible pain with his dislocated shoulder and—”
“And you’ve been had,” he said grimly.
He nodded, his eyes alight with a gleam that Annie couldn’t quite classify. “Was he about your height, five feet seven, one-sixty pounds, blond hair, and a small birthmark right here?” He pointed to a spot on his own neck.
A sinking feeling swept over her. “Yes,” she said cautiously.
“Jack Jones. Alias John Johnson, Jonathan Jackson, and Jerry Jacks. He used to come in here all the time, hoping to catch some green newby who’d give him a fix.”
Her stomach dropped to her toes. “He was in such pain,” she murmured, remembering how they’d found him, sprawled out underneath a ladder, his shoulder bone out of place, and begging—begging—her to do something for the pain. And she’d given him exactly what he’d wanted.
Mary, St Michael and St Bride! Her grandfather’s favorite phrase in times of frustration and exasperation came to mind. She couldn’t believe the way this fellow had pulled on her heartstrings and played her like a harp.
“He probably was,” he agreed, “but it wasn’t because of his shoulder. He came in here before, but I spotted him as a fake right away.”
She didn’t know if he was bragging about his ability to spot shysters or rubbing her nose in her own failure.
“Well, I didn’t.” Although now that she mentally replayed the events, his agitation had lessened considerably as soon as he’d seen her prepare the injection. If she hadn’t been so eager to be his saving angel, she might have read the signs more accurately.
He raised one quizzical eyebrow. “Even with a name like his? How fake can a person get?”
“I’m sorry,” she retorted, her ego smarting under his scathing tone, “but some people take great pride in giving their children strange names. There are people who truly are named ‘Jones.’”
“Yes, but Jones is so common, it’s noticeable. The same goes for Smith. Would you have figured it out if he’d gone by John Doe?”
John Doe was the name typically used by the police and medical personnel in cases of anonymity, or when they simply didn’t have a definite identification.
“I’m sure I would have,” she said stiffly. “As for Mr Jones, the police will track him down. I have his address.”
“Would you care to bet that it doesn’t exist?”
She wasn’t about to concede defeat. Not yet, anyway. “Then we’ll track him down through his friend. We picked him up at his house.”
His glance fell in the category of I-can’t-believe-you’re this-naïve. “But the friend wasn’t at home, was he?” he asked dryly. “In fact, Jones managed to call you from the cellphone he fortuitously carried in his pocket.”
Her face warmed as this lofty, self-righteous fellow described the scenario and the patient in perfect detail without laying eyes on either. “Yes.”
“Don’t you receive any training for situations like this?”
“Then I suggest you brush up on it.”
“I don’t give out medications unless I think the patient needs them,” she answered in her defense. “He was extremely convincing.”
He heaved a long-suffering sigh. “Of course he was. Now that he’s learned he can fool you, he’ll try his little stunt again.”
Unfortunately, he would—until he got caught. Then he’d dream up another way to satisfy his addiction.
“I’ll tell the chief so he can pass the word along.” Annie didn’t look forward to admitting to her mistake, but it was better for her to come clean than to have her boss chide her for her error later.
“Do that.” He turned away, then stopped. “Just be sure this doesn’t happen again.”
“It won’t,” she promised. Jack Jones, or whatever name he went by, wouldn’t con her a second time.
Two days later, Annie stared at the same tall, dark, male through another open doorway, although this time she was at home and he was wonderfully underdressed in a pair of jeans that rode low on his hips. His scrub suits and lab coat had hinted at a lean form, but those hints hadn’t done justice to reality. His athletic physique was a sight that any woman wouldn’t mind seeing at seven a.m.
And speaking of seeing, she saw the letters in his hand and guessed why he’d dropped by. Her handwriting had never been stellar and when she’d first moved into Robin Estates, Apartment 3C, the vast majority of the world read her address as 3D. She hadn’t realized what had happened until Jared Tremaine, the official occupant of 3D, began delivering her mail.
However, none of that explained his strange comment.
Puzzled, she answered, “Of course I’m alive. What kind of question is that?”
“It sounded like someone was being murdered in here,” he retorted. “I wasn’t sure if I should call 911 or just buy a set of ear plugs.”
“Yeah, although, under the circumstances, I wouldn’t convict the guilty party.”
Understanding finally dawned. Her practice session hadn’t been going well this morning, but it hadn’t been that horrible either. Sure, she’d squeaked and squawked, but she’d managed to coax a few pure notes out of her chanter.
“Gee, thanks,” she said dryly.
“I’m surprised I’m the first to complain about the awful racket,” he pressed on, “but that’s not why I’m here.” He thrust several envelopes at her and she took them without looking. “Do you know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and discover your alarm didn’t go off? Or hop in the shower and find you don’t have hot water?”
She took a closer look, a look that went past the miles of bare skin, his long torso with only a faint dusting of dark hair, the pair of faded jeans that were zipped but not buttoned, and bare feet. His short dark hair appeared as if he’d run his hands through it in lieu of a comb and the shadow on his jaw showed his need for a shave. His normally cool dark eyes held the same feral gleam as her EMT partner’s did in the morning before he guzzled the sludge he called coffee.
Something had raised Jared’s dander and he clearly held her responsible.
“No,” she answered. “I usually test the water first. Look, I understand your frustration, but you do realize that alarms come with battery back-ups these days, don’t you?”
“This isn’t about my habits or my alarm clock,” he ground out. “It’s about you. March down to the power company and pay your bill so they’ll turn my electricity back on. Now.”
She winced at his tone, but it was hard to feel his barbs when such a delectable view softened the effect. There wasn’t an inch before her that wasn’t worth drooling over, which was surprising because the men in Hope’s fire service weren’t slouches in the physical fitness department. As far as she was concerned, the only flaw Jared had was that he simply took himself—and life—far too seriously. A side effect of his doctor profession, she decided as she tried to concentrate on what he was saying rather than on his body.
“You don’t have electricity?”
He rolled his eyes heavenward. “Give the lady a prize. Boy, nothing gets by you, does it?”
She ignored his sarcasm and was determined to be the voice of reason, although his assumption that she played a part in his dilemma irritated her. “Maybe something tripped your breaker switch.” Each apartment was wired separately because usage rates varied from renter to renter. What affected one apartment didn’t always affect another.
“I already checked. It’s fine.”
“I don’t see why you think I’m at fault for your electrical problems.”
“Well, gee. The overdue notice in your hand might be a clue.”
She glanced at the top envelope and grimaced as she read the words in large, bold, black letters. She was certain she’d put the check in the mail. The bill slot in her desk was empty, which meant she’d paid, didn’t it? Yet she couldn’t deny that the letter in her hand indicated otherwise. Maybe she’d been thinking of last month…with her work schedule, anything was possible. But even if she’d missed a payment, surely they wouldn’t cut her power without telling her, would they?
His power, her little voice corrected.
The letter in her hand seemed to burn her fingertips.
“The point is,” he continued, “if you want to live life on the edge and forget about your financial obligations, go right ahead. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But could you, please, straighten out the address problem once and for all so when services are shut off, they’ll shut off yours instead of mine?”
She flushed with embarrassment. Who would have thought such an innocent handwriting error would have come to this?
At first, he hadn’t seemed to mind dropping off her few letters, but as the weeks had gone by, his attitude had taken a decided turn for the worse. She couldn’t blame him. Her twenty-four-hour every-other-day schedule at the fire department meant that she was nearly impossible to catch during some weeks. He probably was tired and irritated by the inconvenience, but she had been working hard to rectify matters.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I went to the power company last month and talked to three different people. I thought I’d resolved the address issue.”
“As for my bill, I’m certain I wrote out a check.”
“But did you mail it?”
“Absolutely.” Now that she considered other scenarios, maybe he’d received a statement that he hadn’t delivered. Because he clearly wouldn’t respond well to that possibility, she purposely refrained from mentioning it. Pointing fingers would only make matters worse and, technically, she bore the greater responsibility for this mess.
“Well, you obviously didn’t. They don’t shut off the electricity on a whim.”
“I’m truly sorry,” she repeated, “and I really appreciate your patience while I straighten this out.”
His glower didn’t soften. “Hmmph.”
“I know it’s frustrating,” she continued, aware of her faltering smile, “but I can’t thank you enough for being such a good sport about everything. Anyone else would be marking my mail ‘return to sender’ or, worse, throwing it away.”
“Don’t tempt me,” he growled, his biceps flexing as he crossed his arms. The mere sight made her knees weak and she struggled to focus on the task at hand. Seeing the overdue notice stamp on the envelope with the power company’s logo helped.
“And I’ll see to it that they restore your power.”
“Today.” He spoke as if he were laying down the law but, then, as a physician, he was quite used to issuing orders and expecting them to be instantly obeyed.
“My shift starts at eight,” she told him, deciding not to mention that she wouldn’t return home until this time tomorrow, “so I can’t promise—”
If he was this demanding at the hospital, it was a wonder anyone was willing to work with him. Luckily for her, all she needed to do was drop her patients off in one of the trauma or treatment rooms, preferably alive and in one piece, then disappear.
He obviously refused to be placated and she was growing weary of trying. “I heard you the first time,” she said firmly. “All I can say is that I’ll do my best.” The power company’s office was only a few blocks from the fire station so maybe, if fate worked in her favor, she could slip away to straighten out this obvious error.
“You’d better,” he grumbled. “Something tells me I should stick around to make sure you follow through, but I’m already late. When I get home from the hospital this evening, I’ll expect everything in my apartment to work.”
“I’ll do my best,” she repeated with crossed fingers. If a very simple thing like an address record was difficult to correct, it was hard to say how long it would take to restore his power, but she held those thoughts to herse
Then, because she had been raised to be neighborly, she offered, “Would you like to use my shower? I don’t drink coffee, but you’re welcome to plug in your pot over here. It’s the least I can do.”
“The least you can do is make sure this doesn’t happen again,” he retorted, before he stomped across the hallway to his apartment’s open door.
She clutched the envelopes to her chest, remembering how he’d said the same thing about the Jones incident. “It won’t. I promise.”
He stopped on his threshold, then turned to face her. “Out of curiosity, what were you doing in your apartment?”
Her skin warmed with embarrassment. She’d winced a few times at the sounds she’d made, but no one learned to play a musical instrument without making a few odd noises. “Practicing.”
His unkempt appearance strengthened the impact of his raised eyebrow and she added ‘dangerous’ to his immediate description. “What? Squawking in pain or running your fingernails down a chalkboard?”
She squared her shoulders. “Very funny. Not every musician starts off being a virtuoso.”
“Music? You’re playing music? Really?” He crossed his arms. “What instrument?”
Here it was. The moment when he’d mirror her ex-fiancé’s shock and disbelief. No one in Hope knew of her hobby and it was a shame that the gruff Dr Tremaine would be the first.
“Bagpipes?” He sounded horrified before he closed his eyes and shook his head. “Heaven help us,” he muttered.
“I know I’m not very good yet—”
“Now, there’s an understatement.”
She ignored his interruption. “But I am practicing, so I will improve.” Emphasizing “will” was as much for her benefit as his. She didn’t intend to fail.
His expression was still pained. “Can’t you find some-place else to, um, practice? Like the basement? Or, better yet, another apartment building?”
“The basement is too dark, and with the laundry facilities down there it’s also too noisy,” she said. “As for another building, I don’t know why you’re complaining. I’ve lived here for two months and played lots of times. You’ve surely heard me before now.”
by Jessica Matthews have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes