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A nurses forgiveness, p.1

A Nurse's Forgiveness, page 1

 

A Nurse's Forgiveness
 


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A Nurse's Forgiveness


  So he was handsome, polite and charming

  Considering Evan’s ties to the person Marta didn’t want in her life, those were liabilities, not assets.

  However, when she drove to work the next morning and found a familiar black Lexus parked in the lot, she added persistent to his list of character traits. Ordinarily it would have been a point in his favor.

  She pulled her white Jeep Wrangler into the stall next to his, narrowly missing his feet as he leaned nonchalantly against the driver’s door. Because his top was down, she glared at him from her seat.

  “My answer is still no,” she warned.

  “I haven’t asked a question.”

  “Then what are you doing here?”

  Evan’s killer grin appeared far too cocky. “I’m waiting for our day to begin.”

  “What are you talking about?”

  “Joe Campbell sent me.”

  The name buzzed in her head like a swarm of bees. The situation had suddenly become too bizarre to be believed. “What?”

  “I’m your new doctor.”

  Dear Reader,

  I’m happy to introduce you to the first of the Wyman sisters, Marta, in A Nurse’s Forgiveness. During the next few months, you’ll meet the rest of the Wyman family, Rachel and Amy, along with the men who are special to them.

  As I planned this trilogy entitled NURSES WHO DARE, I wanted heroines who were not only strong women, but also were happy (more or less) with their lives until the hero bursts onto the scene. I love dealing with emotional issues and so my characters encounter problems that you and I have faced at one time or another, too. The series begins with Marta, who must allow forgiveness into her heart in order to find the inner peace and happiness she wants.

  I hope you enjoy sharing Marta’s experience, and may you always have romance in your life!

  Jessica Matthews

  A Nurse’s Forgiveness

  Jessica Matthews

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ONE

  THE photographs didn’t do her justice.

  Standing in front of the receptionist’s desk at the New Hope Clinic, Evan Gallagher mentally congratulated himself on his good luck. He’d taken a huge risk by not calling ahead and learning if she was on duty, but under the circumstances he couldn’t. Doing so would have jeopardized everything he was trying to accomplish by his unannounced visit.

  In any case, the woman he’d come to see had just appeared in the doorway with a folder in hand and a stethoscope around her neck. So far, so good.

  Now, if he could only talk to her before she realized just exactly who he was…

  “Mrs Rochoa?” Marta Wyman asked, giving Evan a brief nod and a pleasant smile which he returned before she glanced past his shoulder.

  The only other person in the waiting room, a stout lady in her mid-fifties, struggled to her feet, then slowly shuffled forward.

  Evan noticed how the smile on Marta’s face grew as she greeted her patient. He’d studied the eight-byten glossies in the private investigator’s folder and had memorized Marta’s features to the point he could easily have picked her out of a crowd.

  Her high cheekbones, hazel eyes and auburn hair didn’t come as any surprise to him, but the photos hadn’t captured the sensual slant to her mouth, the sparkle in her eyes, the proud tilt to her head, or the compassion in her heart as she grabbed Mrs Rochoa’s arm to steady her balance.

  Her concern for the woman seemed genuine, he noted critically. Then again, the investigator’s thorough report had indicated she was well liked in this town of two thousand. Obviously her kindness extended to everyone…except the man Evan represented.

  “Are you a little stiff today?” Marta asked the lady. She’d restrained her hair in a tight knot at the back of her head, although a few loose tendrils framed her face. Idly, he wondered how long her hair would be if she let it hang freely.

  Now that he stood within arm’s reach, it struck him how those photos also hadn’t prepared him for her trim form or the warmth in her husky voice. Her tone was completely different from the one he’d heard during their last, far-too-brief conversation. Now it reminded him of long evenings in front of a crackling fire, followed by even longer nights and breakfast in bed.

  Clearly, the men of New Hope didn’t recognize the jewel in their midst. According to his information, Marta Wyman had dated several men during her twenty-eight years, but those relationships had been more platonic than romantic in nature. Working on her education to become a nurse-practitioner while supporting her two younger stepsisters had occupied most, if not all, of her time.

  However, none of this explained why Marta refused to talk to anyone even remotely connected to the man who was her only surviving blood relative.

  As a result, Evan had decided to conduct his mission in person. Marta wouldn’t be able to leave him talking to dead air on the telephone like the last time. Neither could she throw him out on his ear. She might have taken a self-defense class, which was a good idea considering some of the unsavory characters he’d seen on a few street corners, but he’d learned a few tricks of his own during his childhood in rough surroundings. And at six-two, he had an eight- or nine-inch advantage over her.

  “My joints are all stoved up,” Mrs Rochoa answered ruefully. “It’s this humid weather we’re having.”

  “I understand. You’re not the only one suffering,” Marta commented.

  Watching the older woman’s stiff gait and the solicitous way Marta ushered her through the door, Evan pegged her as a lady plagued with arthritis. He sympathized. He knew what it was like for one’s wishes to war with one’s body. His recent viral infection had taught him that particular lesson. Surely by the end of his vacation he’d be fighting fit once again.

  As soon as the two disappeared behind the door, Evan faced the blonde receptionist in her mid-twenties, idly noting her wheelchair while she chatted on the phone. Her name tag read “Rosalyn”, and he forced himself not to tap the bell on the counter. His sole reason for being here was to meet Marta, and antagonizing the guardian of her time wasn’t a wise move to make.

  As if she’d read his thoughts, Rosalyn said a cheery goodbye into the receiver before she finally acknowledged his presence.

  “May I help you?” she asked.

  He flashed her a huge smile. “I’d like to see—”

  Rosalyn tapped the battered clipboard on the ledge in front of him with a short red fingernail. “Sign in.”

  Evan glanced around the waiting room. “But I’m the only one here.”

  “Everyone signs in,” she said, her smile offsetting her firm tone. “No exceptions.”

  Fine. He could play by the rules. Evan scrawled his name, using the cheap ink pen someone had affixed to the board via a long piece of string. With any luck, Rosalyn wouldn’t recognize his name.

  “I only need a few minutes…”

  She arched one light brown eyebrow. “Have you been here before?”

  “No.”

  “First visits take thirty minutes, give or take a few.”

  “I’m glad to hear she’s thorough.” Thirty uninterrupted minutes with Marta. Surely his powers of persuasion could do the job in that length of time.

  “If you’re a drug rep or a salesman you should have come before nine. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”

  Evan had purposely worn casual clothes to avoid notice and speculation. He’d visited enough small-town Americana to k
now that a man wearing a suit was either headed to a funeral or not to be trusted. He flashed her another smile, guaranteed to soften the most hard-hearted.

  “I’m not a salesman. I just want to speak to—”

  Before he could finish his statement, Marta appeared behind Rosalyn. At the same time Mrs Rochoa walked through the waiting-room door.

  Rosalyn ignored him to wave at the Hispanic woman. “See you next month,” she called out.

  “If not before,” Mrs Rochoa answered as she headed for the exit.

  Evan cleared his throat. “I thought I could see—”

  Once again, he was interrupted. This time Marta was responsible as she addressed Rosalyn in a low tone.

  “Any news from our friend?” Her emphasis on the last word suggested the person in question was anything but.

  Rosalyn shook her head. “Sorry.”

  “I swear I’m going to choke that man when he finally shows up,” she ground out, wearing an expression as dark as the sky during a summer storm. “He knows better than to pull this stunt again. And if he doesn’t, he certainly should! Talk about a useless waste of skin…”

  Her fiery indignation almost made Evan glad for the partition separating him from the two women. Even so, he noticed how Marta didn’t pay him a second glance as she vented her anger. He didn’t feel guilty for eavesdropping. After all, he’d been there first.

  Rosalyn turned her back to Evan as she answered her boss. “Don’t you mean if he shows up?”

  Marta tossed her head and waved aside the comment. “When. If. It doesn’t matter. He’s going to get a piece of my mind and so will his so-called boss. They’ll either hear it in person or on the phone. I’ve had enough of this nonsense.” She muttered something under her breath that Evan suspected was unflattering and probably unladylike.

  “What shall I do? Try to locate him?”

  Marta’s shoulders visibly slumped and her mouth formed a tight line as she considered the request. “We’ve paged him before and he hasn’t answered. We’ll give him until one-thirty. If he isn’t in the building by then, I’m taking matters into my own hands. I’ll camp on his doorstep, if I have to.”

  Turning on one heel, she stomped out of Rosalyn’s office.

  Considering the shabby appearance of New Hope’s clinic, Evan pictured the nameless “he” as a repairman who had placed Marta’s request on the bottom of his priority list.

  Rosalyn turned around to reach for the phone, then froze as soon as she saw Evan.

  Once again, he smiled at her. “I’d like to see Marta.”

  “Is this an emergency?”

  Evan wasn’t accustomed to anyone questioning his actions. Although he was one of the younger members of the internal medicine department at St Margaret’s Hospital in Dallas, he was also the one who singlehandedly raked in more donations for their facility than any other physician. Respect simply came with the territory.

  An urge to raise an eyebrow in a manner capable of cutting lofty interns and medical students down to size came over him, but he stifled the impulse. If he hadn’t wanted to maintain a low profile and slip past Marta’s defense systems, he shouldn’t have dressed the part.

  At the same time, he admired Rosalyn for guarding Marta Wyman’s time so closely. His own secretary could take a few lessons from her.

  He cleared his throat. “No, but it’s rather urgent.”

  “Are you ill?”

  Evan considered his answer, wondering if she’d noticed his pallor. After contracting hepatitis A from contaminated shellfish at a dinner party, he’d decided to turn his convalescence into an extended vacation. He was past the contagious stage and easily could have resumed his patient load, but he simply wasn’t physically or emotionally ready.

  There was nothing like a bout of serious illness to encourage one to reassess priorities, which was why he was on his way to Breckenridge, Colorado for a few more weeks of peace and quiet. His stop in New Hope was only a detour in order to perform a favor for a man he admired.

  “I’ve been ill. Yes.” Evan didn’t see the need to explain in detail. Perhaps the news would appeal to Rosalyn’s sympathies and she would usher him into Marta’s presence stat.

  Rosalyn thrust another clipboard at him. “Fill out this questionnaire, please. All six pages. Since you don’t have an appointment, she’ll work you in, but you’ll have a long wait.”

  He glanced around the waiting room. “Why? No one’s here.”

  “We’re officially closed until one-thirty for lunch.”

  Perhaps if he piqued Rosalyn’s interest… “I’m not here for Marta’s medical expertise.”

  A puzzled frown appeared on Rosalyn’s face. “I don’t understand.”

  He mentally crossed his fingers and hoped she wouldn’t recognize his name. At least, not immediately.

  “I’m Dr Evan—” He stopped as soon as he saw Rosalyn’s face blanch.

  “Oh, my. We’ve been waiting for you.”

  Now it was his turn to be surprised, but he recovered quickly. He’d only made his decision to contact Miss Wyman thirty-six hours ago and he hadn’t breathed a word to anyone.

  Rosalyn backed up her wheelchair and rolled out of her office. A moment later she reappeared in the same doorway Mrs Rochoa had recently passed through.

  “You should have spoken up sooner,” she chided as a distinctly pink hue colored her face. “With this being your first time here, I didn’t know who you were. I apologize for making you wait, Dr Evans.”

  Dr Evans. They had been waiting for a physician and not a repairman. No wonder the lioness guarding the door had turned into a lamb. After the conversation he’d overheard, damage control was in order.

  Under other circumstances, he would have done the honorable thing and corrected her false impression. However, desperate times called for desperate measures. If deceiving Rosalyn for a few minutes allowed him to carry out his personal agenda, then he could live with this white lie on his conscience.

  “No problem,” he said calmly, intent on carrying his charade as far as he could before Rosalyn deciphered his name from his scrawl on the clipboard. With any luck—and he believed one made one’s own to a certain degree—she wouldn’t notice the discrepancy until he and Marta reached an agreement.

  Rosalyn expertly reversed and headed toward a small room at the end of the hallway, her wheels whispering against the tile floor. Evan followed, noting how the hallway seemed extra-wide, as if the old building had been remodeled with Rosalyn’s disability in mind.

  She rolled to a stop near the open door and waved him inside. “This is Marta’s office. If you’ll wait here, I’ll send her in. She’ll brief you on what needs to be done.”

  He couldn’t help himself. “Should I have brought a bodyguard?”

  Rosalyn’s face turned a brighter shade of pink and she avoided his gaze. “Marta was just letting off steam. We’ve expected you for the past two Wednesdays. She’s a firm believer in the philosophy of ‘three strikes and you’re out’.”

  He filed that piece of information away, certain it would come in useful. Success often depended on using those useful bits he’d stored in his head.

  “And today would have been strike three,” he commented.

  “Yes.”

  Marta certainly wouldn’t think kindly of him for impersonating the absent Dr Evans. Then again, Dr Evans clearly wasn’t high on her list of favorite people anyway, so Evan didn’t have anything to lose.

  “Thanks for the warning,” he said dryly.

  Rosalyn shrugged. “Just thought you should know.”

  “I appreciate the tip.”

  “If you’ll excuse me?” Without waiting for his dismissal, she rolled away, leaving him to marshal his thoughts.

  Friends and colleagues claimed he had a silver tongue because of his astonishing success at coaxing the most reluctant of potential donors into digging deep in their pockets. What most people didn’t know was that his success came about because he searche
d for the individual’s weak spot, then played upon it.

  He had a good idea of Marta’s vulnerability and he intended to use his educated guess to his advantage. He owed Winston Clay a debt that couldn’t be repaid and so, no matter how poor he thought Ms Wyman’s behavior, he didn’t intend to fail.

  Between the private investigator’s report and his earlier failed mediation attempt, he knew the situation with Ms Wyman required careful handling. Considering her attitude toward the hapless Dr Evans, her mood wouldn’t improve once she learned the reason behind Evan’s spur-of-the-moment visit.

  He’d put his personal feelings of distaste for her aside, tread lightly and appeal to her nurturing nature. If that didn’t work, the prospect of money would. He hadn’t met a woman yet whose eyes didn’t light up when cash was mentioned. Once Marta heard what Winston could offer her and her stepsisters, she’d jump at the opportunity to include him in her small family circle.

  He’d experienced enough of life to know when people were trying to up the ante. Winston was a proverbial goldmine and Marta had to know it. It wouldn’t surprise Evan if she was simply being difficult in order to hold out for the most she could. If Evan had been in Winston’s shoes, he would have dismissed her from his mind after she’d refused to speak to him. She would lose the most by being stubborn, not Winston.

  However, he wasn’t in Winston’s position. The elderly man had put up a brave front in the face of Marta’s rejection, but Evan had seen how his shoulders had become more stooped, his mouth more pinched, his eyes more dull with each passing day. His loss of spirit had pained Evan and he was determined to bring the spring back to Winston’s step.

  Then, and only then, would he begin to relax, enjoy his vacation and work out his own prescription for happiness.

  Marta tugged Mrs Taylor’s medical record from its slot in the wall-to-ceiling shelving unit. One way or another, Monica Taylor would be seen by a physician today even if she had to personally drive the woman to Joe Campbell’s clinic. After all, the New Hope Clinic was a satellite of Joe’s practice in Liberal. As such, he was legally bound to oversee the care she gave the New Hope residents and make himself or one of his colleagues available for consultation. Maybe the illustrious Dr Campbell needed to be aware of his newest staff physician’s failure to fulfill their end of their agreement.

 
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