My last little teaser of Finding Love! It will be released on June 5th!! You can read the prologue to catch up.
“Cheers,” Melissa said, holding her beer up to Sheldon, the two of them clinking their glasses together.
“I never thought I’d get it done on time,” Sheldon said, taking a big gulp, relishing the sweet tangy taste of a cold one on a warm spring day. Exactly what she needed.
“Why did this one take so long?”
Sheldon reached for a brownie and took a bite. “It didn’t feel right. I was almost done, actually doing the final read through and then I just changed it. Changed my hero’s characteristics, which then changed the whole dynamics. I’ve never done that before.”
“Why now?” Melissa asked. “What was so different about this one?”
Sheldon shrugged, then flinched when she felt heat in her stomach and put her beer down. Maybe she shouldn’t be drinking alcohol and eating sweets on an empty stomach. She couldn’t remember the last time she ate any real food.
“He was too cynical. Then I couldn’t turn it around enough in my eyes. I needed him sweeter. Nicer. Not a pushover, but not so mean either. He ended up being mean and I don’t like writing my heroes that way.”
Which was surprising because it wasn’t as if she really believed in sweet guys. Caring guys. Lovey-dovey or anything else. Though she wrote them that way.
Actually, most of her life, all she’d ever been was cynical herself. She had no reason to believe in happy ever after. It’s not like she’d ever experienced it, or even seen it in person. Books and movies, sure. Real life? Nope. Not happening.
Maybe that was why she could write it so well. It was all make believe anyway. She’d always had a vivid imagination…might as well make a living off it.
The problem with this last book was, she made the hero too nasty. Too cynical. More like she was. She was smart enough to know not many wanted to read that. Not for the series she was writing. Not unless she could make the hero find his faults, and she couldn’t.
Love and happy ever after sold books.
Sweet, caring, strong men were desired.
Hot muscular men sought after.
Assholes, not so much. Her last hero was an asshole and there was no saving him.
“Well, it’s over with. Now you can relax for a while before you start the next one.”
“A few weeks. I need the break,” Sheldon said. “This one really wrung me out. Next time I won’t try to make my hero so rough to begin with.” Rough was fine. Was even good. Being a dick wasn’t. She wasn’t sure why she even attempted it this time.
Well, that was wrong. She knew why she attempted it. Before she started this book almost two months ago—plenty enough time to meet her deadline—she’d gotten a call from her father. She hadn’t heard from him in months. He wanted to make amends in his life. She’d brushed him off.
Then she felt guilty. But rather than call him back and find out what was going on, she decided to funnel all that pent-up anger and childhood memories into her book. Cynical men. Assholes. Pricks. Yep, her father inspired that one.
Stupid on her part to let him affect anything in her life at this point.
And thinking of her father made her stomach hurt again. Strong enough that she brought her hand down and around her stomach and ground her teeth.
“Hey,” Melissa said. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know. I noticed my stomach hurting a few weeks ago. It comes and goes. But this is the worst it’s been. Maybe it’s the alcohol.”
“When was the last time you ate something?” Melissa asked, eying her hard. Melissa was her best friend and knew her better than anyone. They’d lived on the same street for the two years since Sheldon moved to Kent Island. The bottom part of Kent Island. Not that the Island was all that big, but she liked being a little out of the way.
The development she lived in made her feel like she wasn’t so alone, but it was far enough away that she didn’t have to deal with too much interference from the outside world. Everything she needed was less than a twenty-minute drive whether it was on the island or off. Good enough for her.
“I just had a bite of that brownie,” Sheldon said, grinning, then grabbing her side again. Wow, a grin caused it to hurt. Burn. Like fire. Not good.
“Besides the brownie,” Melissa said, putting her own beer down, standing up, and walking away to look in Sheldon’s fridge. She wouldn’t find much there.
“Crackers. Maybe last night. I don’t remember.”
“How much coffee have you been drinking?” Melissa asked, opening and closing cabinets. Yeah, they were pretty bare too. It’d been what, two weeks since she went to the store.
“You want it in cups or pots?”
“Deadlines,” she reminded Melissa.
“Let’s go,” Melissa said.
“It’s just a stomachache. I’ll get some food in me and be fine.”
“It’s not just a stomachache because there’s nothing in your stomach to ache. Nothing but caffeine and probably acid.”
Sheldon glanced at the clock. “Urgent care has been closed for two hours. I’ll make some toast and it’ll be fine. If not, then I’ll call my doctor tomorrow.” But when Sheldon stood up to find some bread, she doubled over in pain. “Maybe I’ll just sit here until it passes instead.”
“Nope. We are going to Queenstown.”
“I don’t want to go to the emergency room,” she whined.
“Too bad. Maybe you should have taken better care of yourself instead of playing with your fictional characters.”
“I should teach them to cook for me. Then I’d be fine,” Sheldon said laughing, then grabbed her side again. Yeah, she wasn’t being stupid; she knew something was wrong. Time to listen to Melissa.
“Move, or I’m carrying you. And we both know then I’d need to be seen in the ER too.”
“Are you calling me fat?” Sheldon said laughing. The two of them barely weighed two-fifty combined, with Sheldon being five foot five and Melissa five foot three.
“Please. Don’t be cute. You couldn’t be fat if you wanted to be. It’s not fair you’re lighter than me and taller.”
“Five pounds and two inches. Get over it.”
“It’s probably more than five pounds now. So move it.”
“Geez. Why didn’t I know you could be this pushy,” Sheldon said, but she started walking just the same. Thankfully the burning pain had subsided enough for her to move.
This wasn’t exactly how she planned on spending her night celebrating.
“Dr. McMann, there’s an abdominal pain in three.”
“Thanks,” he said, moving away from the nurse’s station with his laptop in his hand. He scanned over the chart before he pushed the curtain aside. “So you’re having abdominal pain today?” He looked up and saw a young woman on the bed, her knees up to her chest, her feet bare. She had a pair of extremely tiny shorts on, not covering much of her toned thin legs.
“Yes,” she said, her face pale and a little sweaty.
“When did it start?”
“A few hours ago.”
The friend sitting next to her snorted. “More like weeks ago, but Sheldon keeps ignoring it.”
“You are?” he asked the woman sitting in a chair next to the bed.
“Melissa Mahoney. I’m Sheldon’s best friend. She lies. Don’t believe anything she says.”
Erik looked at his patient on the bed, frowning at her friend now. “What the heck, Melissa.”
Her friend just laughed. “Sorry, Dr….” She paused and looked at his lab coat. “Dr. McMann. Sheldon likes to play down things. I’ll be honest. Her pain has been on and off for weeks, but tonight she doubled over with it. If I didn’t all but drag her by the hair to get her here, she’d still be at home trying to eat some toast.”
“Toast?” Erik said. “Is that the last thing you ate?” The pain might be passing, because his patient’s face was turning pink rather than ghostly white.
“No,” Sheldon said. “I had a bite of Melissa’s brownie before my stomach started to hurt.” She turned her head and glared at her friend. “Maybe you caused it.”
“Ha. You wish.” Melissa turned to him. “She hasn’t had much more than crackers and coffee by the gallon for the last two weeks.”
“Hmm,” he said. He wasn’t sure what to make of these two. The friend was being honest, which was helpful. Sheldon was glaring at her like she wanted to ring her friend’s neck, yet there was something underlying too. A teasing of sorts. Not his concern right now. “Why aren’t you eating much? Are you under a lot of stress? Other abdominal issues?”
“I had a deadline to meet. It’s my own fault. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I’ll admit it. But I met my deadline and can just relax for a few weeks now. I’m sure it’s nothing. Once I get some food in me, I’ll be fine.”
“Real food,” Melissa said.
“You brought over the brownies and beer. Maybe you should have cooked me dinner.”
“So you were drinking alcohol too?” Erik asked before the two of them could go at it again.
“A sip,” Sheldon said.
“She’s telling the truth,” Melissa said.
“Okay. Lie back and let me examine you.” Sheldon stretched out on the bed as best as she could and he lifted her small T-shirt up a bit, then started to press around on her belly. When she flinched, he held his hands there. “Tender?”
He tugged her shirt back down. “Any other symptoms? Heartburn? Vomiting? Diarrhea?” He paused when both women let out a laugh. “Am I missing something here?”
“No,” Sheldon said. “Melissa is like a ten-year-old. She giggles at all bodily functions and words. I knew she would so I did too. It’s a knee jerk. And no to all of your questions. Just pain. Maybe a little bit of an acid taste. I guess that’s heartburn, but I’ve never had it before.”
He nodded his head. “I’m going to have some blood drawn, then send you for an upper GI and some X-rays.”
“What do you think it could be?” Sheldon asked.
He closed the lid on his laptop. “Well, Ms. Case, I’m not sure what type of deadline you had to meet, but my guess is your job is extremely stressful and you’ve got an ulcer. You might need to consider a new career.”
Both girls burst out laughing. What was he missing now?
“I’m self-employed, Dr. McMann. My job isn’t stressful in the least.”
He lifted an eyebrow at her. “I’d say the fact you are sitting in the ER might suggest something else.”
“Well, see what those tests say first,” Sheldon said. “But in this case, my career choice doesn’t have a lot to do with it, I’m positive.”
“And your career is?” He hadn’t seen it on her chart.
“I write romance novels. Love and happy ever after. Not a lot of stress in that.”
He wasn’t expecting her to say that. Not that he knew what a romance writer looked like, but it wasn’t her. Her chart said she was twenty-seven, but she looked younger.
Maybe he expected sophistication with a writer and not someone in jean shorts, flip flops on the floor next to the bed, a tiny T-shirt and her hair in a ponytail. Her friend didn’t look much different.
He was going to dispute her claim about stress, but figured for the moment it wasn’t his concern. He was just going to run his tests and get the results he was expecting to find.
“Well then. The nurse will show you where to go for the tests and I’ll put a rush on the results. We’ll get you as good as new so that you can get back to writing those love stories,” he added, smiling, then winking.
When he walked beyond the curtain he heard them laughing again. Did he really just say that? And wink at her?
What was wrong with him?