Fierce- Wyatt…Chapter One

Wyatt(1)

 

Catch up on the Prologue

Chapter One

Feel The Heat

Seven years later

“I’m Dr. Fierce, your anesthesiologist for your surgery today,” Wyatt said, moving behind the curtain for his next patient while he waited for the OR to open up. Shouldn’t be much longer. “Can you state your name and the reason you are here? I’m sure you know the routine,” he said to the woman with a big smile. She was a cancer patient coming back in for another surgery after her scan showed a spot of concern. This one on her kidney.

“Ashley Brookshire. And another Dr. Fierce is going to go in and remove some tissue from my kidney that with any luck is just some fat and not cancer.”

“That is exactly what we are all hoping for,” he said, rubbing his hand on her foot.

Most of the patients coming in for surgery were scared. They were stressed. They were emotional.

It was his job to not only make sure it was a safe and painless procedure but also to try to calm them. No doctor wanted a hysterical patient on their table.

Of course that was why there were such things as “happy” juice to calm a patient down. But if he didn’t need to do it, he wouldn’t.

Ashley seemed pretty darn calm to him.

“The other Dr. Fierce—a brother by any chance?” she asked.

“Cousin,” he said of his cousin Sam that was the surgeon performing the procedure. He was in another OR right now, just finishing up. When the room was ready, Ashley was the next patient.

“So, good genes in your family,” she said, wiggling her eyebrows. He turned when the curtain opened and saw a man walk in. “Steven, this is Dr. Fierce. Dr. Fierce, my surgeon’s cousin. Wow, it might get confusing in here.”

Wyatt laughed. “It can when we have our masks on. Don’t worry, we don’t often switch positions in the OR. I’m the one who likes to put people to sleep. Guess I’m just boring that way.”

Ashley laughed. “Something tells me you aren’t very boring. But anyway. Here we are. Waiting to find out the results. My oncologist told me since the last tumor that was removed was contained and small that I will only need radiation on my thyroid. I can handle that. Not a problem.”

“Sounds like you’ve got a great attitude.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Thyroid cancer is easily treated, but that stupid CAT scan showed something on my kidney. My other surgeon couldn’t remove it and referred me to Dr. Fierce. Your cousin. Yeah, this is confusing.”

He laughed. He was used to it. “I get it. Sam—we’ll call him that, he’s good with it, even with his patients at times—is the best there is. You’re in great hands.”

“Good to know,” Steven said. “He told us that it could be nothing, but you won’t know until you biopsy it. Just wish she could be awake for it. I hate when she has to go under.”

Wyatt flipped through her history on his computer. He already knew she’d had a few surgeries in her past. “You seem like a pro to me when it comes to being operated on.”

“I don’t know about that. No one wants to be a pro at this, but I’m kind of a klutz. Or I was in school. I seemed to get injured in every sport or activity I did.”

“Which is why she doesn’t do much of those things anymore,” Steven said. “When we were younger it was fine. We’re too old for it now.”

“Now I’m also having surgery for carpal tunnel. I’m only thirty-eight. Come on,” she said, letting out a huff.

“Society spends a lot of time on computers now,” Wyatt said, holding his laptop up. He hated every minute of it too and wished more people were interested in getting out and doing rather than watching. “While we wait for the room to be open, I’ll tell you I’m a proponent of KIS when it comes to surgery.”

“You want a kiss?” she asked. “That’s getting a little personal, but if Steven looks away, I’ll give you one on the cheek.”

“Now I know why you are so laid back.”

If only everyone was like this, but Wyatt knew that wasn’t life. He’d had plenty that he walked in and saw them in tears and it just killed him. The first time that happened he threw all the things he was taught out the window about always being serious and professional at work.

When he was ready to get to work, he could toe the line with all the weight on his shoulders, but this was about the patient. This was about relaxing them and helping them. It was called humanity in his eyes so he’d done what came naturally to him.

“There are too many things to stress about. I’m going to hold out hope it’s nothing, but I need to know. It’s better to know than guess,” Ashley said.

“I agree. And I’m afraid your husband might deck me if you gave me a kiss. KIS. Keep it simple. I’m sure you’ve heard it called happy juice before, but it’s Versed. It relaxes you and makes you forget anything before you go under. Most people are anxious and need it. You don’t seem so. So I’m asking if you want it. I’ll gladly administer it, but if you don’t need it, why take something?”

Many thought he was nuts to give that option, but why inject yourself with a drug if you truly didn’t need it? He’d had plenty of patients wide awake while they were wheeled down, remembering everything, and carrying on normal conversations with him and the team in the OR before they went under.

“I don’t think I need it,” she said. “But what if I do? I mean I normally get it and though I’m not an anxious person, what if I start to panic?”

“It works fast. If you ask you’ll get it immediately.”

“I’d like to try without it. I get nauseous and they already gave me stuff for that. Maybe I’ll wake up faster if I don’t get that.”

“It could help too,” he said. “I like to give patients the choice.”

“Let’s go without it,” she said. “Will you be in there talking to me? It could distract me.”

“She’s flirting with you,” Steven said. “I can’t believe she is doing that.” Ashley’s husband shook his head. “She’s always been a flirt. You aren’t going to steal her away from me, are you? Try to woo her in the OR?”

“I don’t think I could possibly compete with you.”

“Steven is the best husband there is. You might be a treat to look at, but something tells me you break a lot of ladies’ hearts.”

He forced a grin. He’d been told that a lot in life, but he always went in letting everyone know where he stood.

Fun. That was what he wanted. He didn’t take a lot in life seriously other than his job. This took all his focus and outside of the OR he stayed clear of commitments, stress, and headaches like the devil avoided Sunday mass.

When the curtain moved aside, he was thankful that his cousin Sam arrived. “How are you doing today, Ashley?”

“Ready to get this over with. I’ve been picking on your cousin. I just said I bet he breaks a lot of hearts, but the truth is, you probably do too.”

Sam grinned. “I might have broken a few in the past, but I’ve got a fiancée now that has stolen my own heart.”

Wyatt rolled his eyes. Everyone was falling like flies around him. First Sam, then Sam’s brother Bryce, then Wyatt’s brother Drake and over the weekend Drake’s twin, Noah, got engaged at Easter dinner in front of the whole family.

He was starting to feel the heat like never before.

Did he always think he’d want to settle down at some point? Sure.

Was he looking for it? Not really.

But with everyone falling like first-time skiers on the bunny slopes, he felt like all eyes were on him. They were even dropping in birth order too. What were the chances of that happening?

“So, we are all set?” he asked Ashley.

“Yes. I’ll bypass that drug and go with KIS.”

“Is Dr. Fierce trying to get you to kiss him?” Sam asked. “He does that with all the patients.”

Wyatt shook his head at Sam. “What can I tell you, the patients like me better than you. Just like the family. You may be the oldest, but I’m the favorite.”

“You keep telling yourself that,” Sam said.

But he didn’t need to. He knew his family loved him. His family loved everyone equally. It’d always been that way. Even if he did seem to get more attention than most.

Twenty minutes later, he was in the OR talking with Ashley, asking how her Easter went and listening to the stories of how her kids were too old for Easter baskets.

The circulating and scrub nurses were moving around the room preparing lights, setting out instruments, and getting everything ready.

Sam gave him the nod they were good to go, so he said to Ashley, “I’m going to put the oxygen mask on you now and you might feel a burn with this injection. It won’t last long if you do.”

She bobbed her head up and down and was still talking. She was almost babbling a little about her holiday, but he kept it up with her until her eyes started to roll back in her head. She was still awake, not quite ready to go out.

“You almost ready, old man?” Wyatt said to Sam.

Sam laughed behind his mask. “I’m not that much older than you.”

“No,” Wyatt said, “but the big old ball and chain is going on in less than two weeks. That smacks old to me.” He glanced back down at the vitals and his patient. Her eyes popped back open again.

“Don’t be jealous,” Sam said. “You wish you had someone as great as Dani.”

“She is pretty hot,” Wyatt said back. “It was just your luck of the draw you saw her first.”

“Get over yourself. Dani couldn’t stop flirting with me the first time we met. I know how to lay on the charm.”

“You learned it from me,” Wyatt said. “I’ve lost my ride or die partner. This is the final goodbye.” Ashley was fighting it, but she’d be out soon.

“There’s always Ryder,” Sam said back.

“No, thank you. His taste in women is horrendous.” Sam’s youngest brother, Ryder, ended up with all the nut jobs. Or as Sam liked to call them, “life suckers” where they just drain the life out of you.

“You think yours is much better?”

He looked down at Ashley and stopped talking because it was time to be serious. It was time for him to do his job that he was so good at. It was time to focus. And ignore the shot his cousin took at him with lethal precision.

Ashley was out, so he finished up what he had to do, then turned to Sam and said, “The floor is all yours.”

Fierce- Wyatt…Prologue

Wyatt(1)

Prologue

Wyatt Fierce took a seat, ready to listen to Dr. Raymond talk about the field of study he’d been wanting to do for years.

He was made for this, even if others thought he was nuts.

He didn’t care. It was his life, his career, and he was going to prove them all wrong.

He leaned over and grinned at the resident that sat two seats down from him. Monique and he had a few drinks at the bar last night before both going on their way. She was here just like him, but she was tapping her feet almost shaking his own chair.

Nerves? Yep, pretty obvious on Monique. Not him.

Steel rods, that was what his nerves were made of.

“Look around this room,” Dr. Raymond said. Wyatt did what he was told, nodding to a few other residents he’d seen in the halls in the past few years. “Some of you are going to make it; most of you won’t.”

Wyatt had known that coming in. He wasn’t worried.

“I don’t mean make it as a doctor,” Dr. Raymond said. “You might end up in primary care, you might end up riding a desk, or even working in a morgue, but not all of you are going to be an anesthesiologist.”

Wyatt had been hearing this from people for years. He knew the stats and he didn’t care. He was going to be one in this room that made it and didn’t care if the rest failed.

Fierces didn’t fail and he wouldn’t be the first.

He sat back in the chair to get comfortable, his long legs stretched out in front of him, his arms crossed in front of his chest. Might as well relax because that was how he felt when others were sweating around him.

Normally he couldn’t sit still. He was always running, always finding things to do.

Not when it came to this though. Sit in place and listen. He’d get an A every single time.

Dr. Raymond was walking about the room now, looking at each and every one of them, stopping to stare, probably to intimidate. Wyatt didn’t care. He had this covered.

“Dr. Fierce,” Dr. Raymond said. He hadn’t realized the guy knew his name, but of course he could have read it on the lab coat.

“That’s me,” he said.

“With a name like that, I’m sure you’re pretty cocky and full of yourself.”

Wyatt grinned when others in the room snickered. “I like to think of it as confidence.”

“Same thing if it’s not controlled,” Dr. Raymond said. “I know all about you.”

Shit. What did that mean? In the hospital he gave it everything he had. He followed the rules and he did his job. He stayed late and he worked hard.

But outside of the hospital—when it was playtime—he played just as hard. Call it an outlet, he wasn’t sure, but he’d never been serious about anything in life, or so most said.

He was the joker of the family. The one always out to get a laugh.

The one always being a wiseass.

But when it came time to buckle down he had the straps in his hands and was ready to settle in.

“And what is that, Dr. Raymond?”

The pacing around the room started again while Dr. Raymond made him wait. If the doctor thought he’d see Wyatt sweat, he wasn’t going to.

“I think you know what I’m talking about. There are eyes everywhere. You’re always watched in and out of the hospital.”

“Understood,” he said.

“Do you know why this discipline of medicine is so hard?” he asked, looking around the room.

“Because it pays the most,” someone said. Wyatt almost said that but knew enough to keep his mouth shut since all eyes were on him. Not the time to be a smartass, he knew.

“That’s why so many want to do it,” Dr. Raymond said. “But they fail because the money is just a little bit of consolation for the stress and pressure of what you do every day in your job. You are responsible for your patients undergoing surgery safely and comfortably. You put them to sleep. And you wake them up. Or you better damn well make sure you do.”

Textbook explanation that everyone knew.

Wyatt shifted in the chair a bit. “Dr. Fierce, do you think you have the ability to take this seriously?”

“Dead serious,” he said, getting a little sick of the attention on him. Which was funny since he normally loved attention.

“And that is what your patient is going to be if you don’t. Dead.” The silence that greeted him with that statement was almost as bad as the last nail going into a coffin. “If you can’t take it. If anyone can’t, then there is the door. I’m going to get myself a coffee and if there are fewer of you in the room when I come back, then so be it.”

Dr. Raymond left and Wyatt watched as a few let out a breath. Monique from last night stood up. “What are you doing?” he asked her.

“I can’t do this,” she said.

“What? It’s just a speech. You don’t know until you at least try it,” he argued when two more people stood up. What the hell?

“Yep,” someone else said. “And I’m sweating and shaking listening to him talk. If I’m doing it now with words, I won’t be able to handle it in the OR. There are plenty of fields for me to go in and this one isn’t going to be it,” said the guy who’d earlier stated it was for the money.

Wyatt sat there while those three left. There were only five in the room now.

When Dr. Raymond came back, he was carrying a tray with four cups. “Wow. There is one extra than I anticipated to be here. Does someone want to volunteer to go get the fifth cup?”

Wyatt wasn’t leaving his seat. A guy behind him said, “I’ll do it.”

When he was out of the room, Dr. Raymond said, “And he won’t make it either.”

“Why?” someone else asked.

“Dr. Fierce, do you know why?”

“Because you never leave the room until everything is completed and everyone is safe. We’re all safe, but you haven’t finished.”

“Correct,” Dr. Raymond said. “Maybe I’m wrong about you, but we’ll see. I’m usually never wrong.”

Fierce- Wyatt

Wyatt(1)

Dr. Wyatt Fierce has one of the more stressful and nerve wracking careers in the medical profession. He takes that job seriously but that’s all he takes in life seriously. Out for fun…that’s his motto. Looking to settle down like his parents want? Someday…if he could only find the person who understands him the best.

Adriana Lopez doesn’t mess around. She’s serious. She’s upfront and in your face. And the last thing she has time for is anyone who isn’t like her. Why? Because the one time she tried to let her guard down and fell in love it was the wrong man…making her look like a fool. Love and relationships have no part in her life now. Not even dating. She’s in a new town and is going to make a fresh start. Simple as that. Only she knew nothing is ever simple in life.

Eternal…Prologue

eternal

Prologue

 

Brina Shepard looked in the side view mirror, saw it was clear, put her blinker on and passed the car. She glanced down at the number on her dash. She was going twelve miles over the speed limit. On this stretch of Central Avenue people went even faster so she’d be fine.

And if she wasn’t fine, too damn bad. She needed to be in court in twenty minutes. It was going to take her fifteen minutes to get there. That didn’t count traffic or finding a parking spot.

Damn her for being caught up meeting her client. She should have put it off until after court, knowing she’d be sucked in like she always was. She had a bleeding heart at times and couldn’t walk away.

She was just getting ready to turn off onto Wolf Road to get to the Town of Colonie courthouse when she noticed the red lights flashing behind her. No!

Maybe they weren’t for her. She hoped. She prayed.

It didn’t help when the state trooper car got on her rear bumper and turned the siren on.

She put her blinker on again and turned on Wolf, and then pulled into the first parking lot, the trooper right behind her.

Her head dropped back against the seat. Since she was in a hurry she opened the glove box up and was pulling out her registration, while she hit the button to roll down the window.

She waited for the trooper to come to the window, knowing she was definitely going to be late now. The judge hated when people were late in his courtroom and she knew that.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” the trooper asked. She hadn’t even heard him walk up to the car and almost jumped out of her seat.

“Sorry,” she said. “I’m in a hurry to get to court. The judge doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”

“You’re a lawyer?” he asked, lifting an eyebrow.

She put a smile on her face. “I am,” she said back. She had her registration in her hand along with her license now but was hoping she wouldn’t need it.

“Then you won’t have any problem getting out of a ticket,” he said, his hand held out.

Her smile dropped when she placed the documents in his palm.

Shit, shit, shit. When would she learn? Instead of being most likely to succeed in her senior year of high school she should have been voted most likely to be late to her own funeral.

The trooper came back faster than she expected. She looked up and couldn’t really see much of his face with his sunglasses on. He was tall, at least she thought he was since she was in an SUV and he was bent over to talk to her.

He smelled good. What the heck? How could she tell that when she was in a parking lot on a summer day?

“Here you go,” he said, handing her back her registration and license and another piece of paper.

“My ticket?” she asked.

He tilted his head and, damn, if he wasn’t extremely hot too. She should be completely annoyed right now, not noticing how good-looking he was. If it weren’t against every principle she had, she’d flirt with him.

Nah, she’d said she was going to the courthouse and he didn’t care. Not that she said it to get out of the ticket because she didn’t really want to do that either.

“You broke the law,” he said. “Lawyers know all about that.”

“Yes, I do,” she said, tossing it all on the passenger seat. “Have a great day.” She wanted to add, “jerk” to it but wouldn’t. Like he’d said, she’d broken the law. She may be a lawyer but she was an honest one.

“You too,” he said, smiling…no, it was a smirk.

She rolled her window up, put the car in drive, and pulled back into traffic.

She was running into the courthouse eight minutes later and through the doors. At this point she was just shy of being ten minutes late. She supposed it could be worse.

“Counsel Shepard,” the judge said. “You’re late.”

“I am. I’m sorry. I was rushing to get here and, well, I was pulled over by a trooper. I was trying, I really was, to get here on time, but traffic is crazy today.”

The judge smirked at her like the trooper did. “Did you get a ticket?”

“Yes, sir, he gave me one.”

“Did you tell him you were an attorney?”

“I mentioned I was on the way to the courthouse and the judge didn’t like me to be late.”

“And you still got a ticket?” the judge asked, laughing this time.

“I did.”

“Can I see your ticket or is it in your car?”

She pulled it out of her briefcase where she stuffed it when she grabbed everything moments ago. “Sure,” she said, wondering what was going on. Was he going to take care of it for her? Not that she’d ask that.

“What’s the name of the officer?” he asked when she moved closer to the bench. She felt like she was the main act at the circus right now with all eyes on her.

“Trooper N. Randal.”

The judge took his pen out and wrote something down. “Good to know for future reference if he’s ever in my courtroom.”

“Why is that, Judge?”

“Because he isn’t swayed or doesn’t back down. I like men like that. It reminds me of a younger me. Now, can we please get on with your case and client?”

“Yes, sir,” she said, walking back to the desk where her client was waiting. She hoped she didn’t chip her tooth with as hard as she was grinding her teeth. The only way this day could get worse would be if she lost her case.

Eternal

eternal

Eternal love? Is that possible for two people who have sworn off romance and happy ever after?

Brina Shepard is who she is. She’s strong, independent and a do-gooder. She’s always out for the underdog and will fight for what she believes in. She won’t fall in line and she won’t conform with the majority. If it means she can’t climb the ladder in her career fast, then so be it. She feels the same way about her personal life. A man? Who needs one? Been there and done that, and it’s not worth it in her eyes.

 
Nathan Randal has a sense of justice that won’t bend for anyone. He carries around the guilt of a family tragedy on his shoulders and the destruction of his family would forever cloud his thoughts. A relationship or happy ever after hasn’t been experienced in his life and he figures at this point it never will be. Not unless he could find someone who thought the same way as he does…if she exists.

Family Bonds-Hunter & Kayla…Chapter One

H&K (1)

 

Catch up on the Prologue here.

Chapter One

To Hell And Back

 

Ten years later

“Are you kidding me, Marcy?” Hunter said to his secretary.

“Sorry. I wish I were. Patrice called when you were on the phone and she said she’d be here if she could, but her son has been throwing up since four this morning. She doesn’t want to cancel the interview because it’s the only applicant she received for the front desk position.”

“And she thinks I’d be a good fit for doing the interview in her place?” he asked. “I run this hotel and have for three years. I don’t interview lower level staff. That’s what I’ve got staff for.”

He wasn’t trying to come off like an ass, just be firm though it didn’t always come across that way. Ever since his father finally handed the reins over full time, Hunter had been making all sorts of changes to the hundred-plus-year-old hotel that his Great-great-grandfather James started and he was stretched a little thin on time.

Bond Retreat was the first hotel on Amore Island. Many more had been erected since that time, yet only Bonds owned them. But the first one was special and had been turned into a retreat and destination wedding hotel and resort while the other hotels on the island were more for family vacationers. After all, it was the island for love—amore—so why not cash in on it?

“I understand, but Carol is off today.” Carol was the assistant manager and also oversaw the front line staff.

“What about Pete?”

“Pete in accounting? No one in finance would know what to ask. It’s a completely different job than what they do.”

Hunter ran his hand through his thick black hair. “How about you?” he asked Marcy.

“I’m your assistant. I don’t interview and you know it. I don’t want Patrice on my case if I hire the person and she doesn’t work out. She wouldn’t dare say anything to you.”

“I wouldn’t bet on that,” Hunter said. Patrice had been in her position for ten years and was five years older than him. Sometimes she let him know that too, in a polite way. He didn’t consider himself a hard employer—even when he was trying to be—but he was driven and wanted everyone to work the same as him.

Some of it was because of his name. The rest was his stubbornness to maintain the family reputation that had been built up again after Great-great-grandpa James blew their line all to hell and back.

“Don’t even think of bringing up any of the other managers at the resort. None of them will want a hand in this. If you can’t do it, I’ll call Patrice back and tell her that you said to reschedule it. It might be weeks before we get someone filled at the front desk though and we are paying overtime to the current staff. They are really pressed.”

His staff knew how to pile the guilt on his shoulders and he wondered how he could be so weak.

Or maybe he knew when to cave and when to fight. Just because he hated interviewing and didn’t have the time didn’t mean it wasn’t one of those days to help Patrice out of a bind.

He let out a breath. “Fine. What time is it scheduled for?”

“Eleven. Here is her resume. I’ll have the front desk send her here when she arrives.”

“You can wipe that smirk off your face now that you and Patrice got your way. I think you two put your heads together and decided to pin this on me.” He started to flip papers around on his desk. “I’ve got to meet with the people at the conference at ten. I might be late.”

Marcy laughed. “We’d never do that. And if you’re a few minutes late, she can wait, it’s not a big deal. After all, you’re the CEO and you’re busy. We know.”

When she walked out the door still laughing he knew they did plan it exactly the way it happened.

He lifted up the resume of Kayla Rivers and looked it over. The only hotel experience she had was in housekeeping eight years ago. Looked like she was there for a year and then moved on.

She moved on with a lot of jobs by the looks of it. Lots of customer service positions, but not much more. Some labor positions too. Nothing steady either.

There wasn’t much he could do other than give Kayla an interview and hope it wasn’t a complete waste of his time.

 

***

 

Nothing ever seemed to go according to plan, Kayla thought as she sat in the waiting room outside of Hunter Bond’s office.

She was supposed to be interviewing with the manager, Patrice Martin, but when she showed up she’d been told Patrice was out with a sick kid. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kayla had almost missed her ferry.

Time had never been her friend. She wasn’t late often, but she was always there right on the dot, normally from running the last distance to get in the door on time…just like today.

The short run and fresh air at least added some color to her face and took her mind off the bumpy ferry ride that turned her stomach and face to match the color of seaweed. Having never been on a ferry before she had no idea she’d react that way.

The minute she was in the building Kayla realized she had five minutes to spare and asked the front desk where the bathroom was so she could check over her appearance.

She’d turned down a hall, figuring she was lost, and bumped into someone, stumbled and he had to reach out to steady her so she didn’t do a face plant and have to show up for her interview with a black eye. When she looked up it was a man. A hot man. One that was staring down at her with a grin on his face, his big hands on her shoulders and then dropping away faster than she’d hoped. Talk about a crazy thought.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, rambling on. “I’m here for an interview and I’m nervous and excited because this island is so beautiful, but I look like Cinderella after the coach turned back into a pumpkin thanks to that ferry ride. I thought I was going to get sick it was so windy. I asked where the bathroom was and now I think I’m lost. But I suppose I should thank you for stopping my fall or I might look like the pumpkin guts smashed into me when the coach changed over.”

The man was laughing now. Since he was dressed up and there were a lot of people walking around in business attire, she assumed he was there for the conference and here she was babbling like a fool to him. Typical.

“You’re not lost. Keep going down this hall and turn left. And don’t worry, you look fine.”
“Thank you,” she said. She took a deep breath, wrapped her hand around the star pendant on her necklace, grinned at him and dashed away.

A few minutes later on the tenth floor, the woman named Marcy said to her, “Kayla, Hunter is ready now, if you’ll follow me.”

Kayla stood up and followed Hunter’s secretary to his office. She felt so out of place with her cheap—but clean—black pants and a white shirt with a blue cardigan over it. She suspected all the executives were housed here on the tenth floor.

“Hi, Kayla,” Hunter said with his hand out, then motioning her to a chair over in a sitting area.

Yep, that black cloud that always floated over her head from the day she was born to a teenage mother that would rather party than raise her seemed to cover the island, too. Here it was again as she faced the man she’d bumped into in the hall, looking like a train wreck while she was lost in his hotel.

“Nice to meet you,” she said as calmly as she could. There wasn’t much she could do other than acknowledge what happened. “Or we meet again. I’m kind of embarrassed.”

“No reason to be. We’ve all had rough ferry rides. And I’m sure Marcy explained to you why I’m doing the interview. Normally I don’t have a hand in positions like this.”

Meaning positions that were completely beneath him, she was sure, but wasn’t stupid enough to voice that, especially after the first crazy impression she gave him. “Not a problem. This place is even nicer than it looks online.”

“You’ve never been to the island before, I take it?” he asked.

“No.”

“Well, you got here okay,” he said. “I guess the first thing I should bring up is not everyone that works on the island lives on the island, but it is much easier to reside here. The ferry almost always runs on time, though the weather does play a part. There are three different ferries that you can grab. Two from the south port and one on the north end that comes in from Boston.”

“That’s the other end of the island,” she said. “How many miles away is it?”

“The Romeo Port on the north end is about sixteen miles away. Juliet Port is the south port that I’m assuming you came in on.” She nodded her head. “You can get a ferry from Plymouth or Provincetown off of Cape Cod.”

She’d done her research on the resort and the ferry she was taking to get here and how to get from the ferry to the resort, but that was all she’d done since she’d been working, trying to make up the time for being off for this interview so she didn’t go unpaid.

“I wasn’t aware of the two different ports, just how to get here today.” She caught herself reaching for her necklace to fidget and pushed her hands back down. She should have known that information and hoped it wasn’t held against her. This morning was going from bad to worse. She should just get up and walk out. It’s not like she’d ever see him again once she got on the ferry.

“Not a problem,” he said. “And you didn’t find the ferry ride that wonderful?”

“It was bumpier than I thought. I’d had an Uber waiting for me and then had trouble finding them.” Always something, but she’d finally found the driver and then got to the resort in the nick of time and ran through the parking lots to get to the entrance.

“It can be worse. It’s a windy day out there today. If you get the job, like I said, there are three different ferries that arrive at multiple times throughout the day. The first comes in around seven in the morning; the last to depart is nine at night. The last arriving here at eight.”

“So if I missed the last one, I’m here for the night?” she asked. “What are the hours of this job?”

He grinned at her, his straight white teeth flashing like a beacon calling her forth. His blue eyes were as clear as the sky had been outside when she ran in the door and had a humorous glint to them as he gazed at her. “We would never schedule anyone where they might miss a ferry. This position would start at seven at night and end at six a.m. An hour lunch and it’s four ten-hour days. This gives you time to catch the first ferry after work and not worry about missing it if you get held up at work.”

“Does that happen often? Being held up?” she asked and wondered why she was because she knew she’d be living here if she got the position. Which was pretty much a pipe dream with the way things were going. Yet he wasn’t acting like she didn’t have a shot. Probably just being nice.

Sometimes she just didn’t think before speaking and had to shut her trap so she didn’t blow this interview.

“It can if your replacement is late or you are dealing with a guest. Though on the night shift you aren’t quite that busy.”

“That all sounds good,” she said. “But if I get the job I’ve got a place to stay on the island.”

“Good,” he said. “Then let’s talk about your experience. I see though you’ve never worked the front desk at a hotel you’ve got a lot of customer service experience. A nice well-rounded resume.”

Which was probably his polite way of saying she’d bopped around from job to job lately. “I don’t want you to think I can’t hold down a job. Some of them I was laid off when the work slowed down. Some just didn’t work out, and others I found a better job.”

“So you are always looking for a better job?” he asked.

“No,” she said. “Not really. I started working at a young age and I’ve got experience in a lot of fields as you can see. Some of it just wasn’t to my liking, but I’ve never left before a year at any of my jobs. Sometimes I have jobs that overlap if you look closely.”

He lowered his head and focused on her resume. “I see that.”

“I’m a hard worker,” she said earnestly. She didn’t want to beg, but now was the time to sell herself if she had any shot in hell at this job. “I like to learn new things. I’m trying to find a career over a job. I guess that is the best explanation.”

“And you think this would be a career for you?” he asked.

“I’d like it to be. I just want to settle down and have a normal life.”

He laughed. “Life on Amore Island is hardly normal, some would say.”

She grinned. “Is it true what they say? That most come here to find love or are hoping for it?”

“That’s what they say. An island started by lovers that even one of the biggest storms of that time couldn’t prevent them from meeting. But I’ve been on this island my whole life and it’s just home to me.”

“You’ve lived here your whole life?” she asked, surprised to hear that.

“Not entirely. I grew up in Boston but spent my weekends here working or hanging out. Later I traveled by ferry back and forth to Boston for a few years, then decided it was best to just stay here. I can go into the city anytime I want and do, but I live here now.”

“I always wanted to live on an island,” she said without thought. She couldn’t stop her lips from flapping like the wind on the ferry ride and getting off topic. He didn’t seem to mind though so that was good.

“Then I guess you’ll get your chance,” Hunter said.

“What? I’m hired?” Woohoo—wishing on her necklace worked when it never had before. Imagine that.

“You are. When can you start?”

“I have to give two week’s notice at my job and move my stuff over here. It shouldn’t be too hard.”

She didn’t think so. She was just going to pack what she had in her car and bring it over in a few trips. It’s not like she needed much since she was going to be renting a bedroom and wouldn’t need furniture. She’d sell the used stuff she had and get some extra money for it.

Hunter stood up so she did the same, noticed that he had to be at least seven inches taller than her five-foot-five-inch frame easily. She figured he was a busy man and this twenty-minute interview was probably enough for him.

Not only that, she got the job and needed to get out of there before she did or said anything else stupid and he rescinded the offer.

“If you have any questions or concerns about the job or the move, Patrice can help you. You’ve got her number, correct?”

“I do,” she said.

“I’ll let her know that I’ve hired you and she’ll be in touch.” He held his hand out for her to proceed to the door and she did so, turning to shake his hand one more time. She must be more messed up in the head because she felt a spark and heat like she had when his hands stopped her from falling.

“Thank you so much. I’m excited to start my new career.”

“That’s what sold me, you know,” he said.

“What?”

“I don’t care what the rest of your resume says. I see you’re a hard worker by the jobs you’ve held. But you don’t want a job, you want something meaningful and that means more to me than any work experience. You can be taught the rest.”

Kayla nodded her head, and when she was out the door, she reached up and clasped the silver star on her neck that she always thought was a good luck charm. The only frivolous gift she’d ever been given with words that she’d kept close to her heart. On her way here she had made a wish on it while she’d held her breath in an attempt to not toss her cookies on the ferry ride over.

As good days went in her life, this one was right up there.

 

 

 

Family Bonds- Hunter & Kayla…Prologue

H&K (1)

Prologue

Many many years ago…

In the late 1700’s when English Captain Malcolm Bond was dropping off a shipment in America, he was given the offer of a lifetime…the hand in marriage to the sole remaining heir to the Rummer’s shipping empire. All he had to do was find the island the Rummer’s owned off the East Coast. An island he hadn’t known existed. He had three days and when a storm hit throwing him off course, he knew his chances of expanding his shipping business to America were sailing away out to sea.  

After being afloat and out of control for over twenty-four hours, the sun rose on the third and final day of the offer. Land was before him, so he guided his boat to the shore. What greeted him wasn’t just success or greed, but a vision of loveliness that made his heart pound and hands sweat greater than navigating through that storm. What he faced was his destiny. His future wife. And what many would call love at first sight…fate.

Present time

“Melissa, do you have a minute?” Kayla asked. She’d been dreading this conversation, but she didn’t have a choice at this point.

She’d be eighteen in two months and she’d be graduating in three. Not only was she hoping she wouldn’t have to leave her foster home until then, but she was also praying she could convince them to let her stay just a bit longer.

“Sure, Kayla. Why don’t you help me with dinner while we talk? The other kids should be back in thirty minutes.”

Scott and Melissa Fryer’s foster home had been one of the nicest she’d been in. They were young, too young to have teenagers, but they needed the money and they did the best they could. Better than most.

Kayla knew when she turned eighteen they’d stop getting the money for her and would want another kid in her place, but she had nowhere to go.

Crashing on their couch would be the best-case scenario. Worst, the old room above the garage. She wasn’t fussy. She’d take any roof over her head she could get.

Picking up the peeler, she attacked the potatoes with the same confidence as she was forcing for this conversation.

“You know I’m turning eighteen in two months.”

Melissa turned, her brown ponytail swishing about on her head. “I do know. Don’t worry, you can stay until you graduate. Scott and I already talked about it months ago.”

That was a relief, but she needed more. “Thank you. That was part of this conversation.”

“What’s the other part?” Melissa asked.

“I’ve got a bunch of applications in for a full-time job after I graduate. College is out of the question. My grades just aren’t good enough, and well, I’ve got no money and living on campus and everything else. It just wouldn’t work.”

She wouldn’t know what to do when there were breaks. She’d have nowhere to go, no transportation, nothing. She’d be stuck.

Stuck was a pretty shitty feeling she learned a long time ago.

“I know. I’m sorry about that. I wish we could help you,” Melissa said.

“I wouldn’t ask that. I know you’ve got your hands full here. It’s not that. It’s just that I was hoping that maybe I could stay on a little longer until I can get some money put aside to secure my own place or find a roommate or something. I need a car for the job, but I’m hoping to take the bus.”

Melissa’s eyes got a little teary and Kayla thought for sure she was going to burst into the waterworks herself when she got the answer.

“I’ll talk to Scott tonight about it.”

“I can sleep in the loft above the garage. There’s a bathroom in there with a sink. That is good enough, and if you wouldn’t mind me coming over for a shower once a day, I’d be out of your hair. I could pay you rent from my part-time job and I’ll take care of all my food. It’s just…”

“You’d be on the street or in a homeless shelter if we said no. I know. That’s why I’m sad. I wish there was more I could do for you. For so many in your situation. And the garage wouldn’t work. That bathroom is nasty and hasn’t been used in years.”

“I’ll try to fix it,” Kayla said.

She didn’t want to be a nuisance or in their way and she knew she was begging, but the truth was she was desperate. She needed to know now if they weren’t going to let her stay so she could figure out other plans.

“No,” Melissa said, reaching her hand over and laying it on hers. “It’s not safe. There is no heat there or anything. It gets cold in the fall and…no. That won’t work.”

“I know you need my room for another child and my guess is you’ll get one pretty fast.” There were plenty out there looking for homes, which provided a source of income for those who wanted to foster kids. Too bad most kept the money and didn’t give much back to the kids themselves.

Kayla didn’t have a ton, but the Fryers did buy them clothes and necessities. They never went hungry; they even did some fun activities now and again like the movies or bowling. They celebrated holidays on a low scale, but at least it was a celebration of sorts.

“I’m sure we will get someone in there once we tell them we are ready. It’s probably not much, but I don’t see any reason why you can’t sleep on the couch in the basement. That space down there isn’t all that cozy or modern, but it’s warm and I can move some things out of the way. We’ve got the extra furniture there and I know you kids go down there to hang out at times.”

The basement wasn’t that bad. It was old and musty, but it was dry and warm in the winter. Warmer than the loft above the garage would be. And she’d be in the house to use the bathroom too. It was better than she could have hoped for. She’d say luck was on her side, but not many would consider her future living arrangements as lucky as she did at the moment.

“That’s good. I can do that.”

She couldn’t help it when a tear escaped down her cheek. It was one of relief and happiness, not fear or stress. Kayla hadn’t shed too many tears in her life that weren’t associated with negative actions or thoughts.

“I’m sure Scott will be fine with it,” Melissa said. “Maybe I’ll clean out that back storage room and move the couch in there to give you some privacy. You’ll need a place to put your clothes and things.”

Her things…she didn’t have much more than enough clothes to fit in one dresser. What Melissa was offering was more than she could have hoped for.

She set the peeler down and hugged Melissa. “Thank you so much. I appreciate it. And I’ll pay you rent and I’ll feed myself. Really I will. I won’t be a burden. I just don’t want to be on the streets.”

“We wouldn’t let you stay on the street. Scott and I knew one day this might happen with one of you kids. You’re the first to age out on us. I just didn’t realize it’d be so hard.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Kayla said and held onto Melissa a bit tighter.

There was no reason to tell Melissa how scared she’d been to have this conversation. Or how terrified she was that she might not find a job and that she would be on the streets at the end of the year because she wouldn’t overstay her welcome.

Kayla wasn’t looking for a handout, just a little help standing on some wobbly legs.

 

 

Family Bonds- Hunter & Kayla

H&K (1)

Hunter Bond always knew he’d take over Bond Retreat on Amore Island, the island established by his ancestors. He was the only son of an only son for generations, so it was expected he’d be the next in line. Was he tired of being reminded about the island’s legacy? Sure. Was he determined to do things his own way? Of course. Was he going to do his part to not tarnish the family reputation? Probably not.

Kayla Rivers always said she had multiple clouds over her head. Gray ones. Ominous ones. Very often black ones. When she saw an ad for a job on Amore Island—a place where people supposedly found love at first sight—she should have run in the other direction since she’d never been loved a day in her life. Instead she ran forward hoping and praying for once in her life she’d find happiness rather than disappointment.

Starting Over…Prologue

startingover(1)

Prologue

“Blair, stay out of trouble.”

“I always do, Nana,” Blair said back as she rushed out the backdoor of her grandmother’s house to play in the garden.

It wasn’t a traditional garden. Even at five years old, Blair understood that.

No, Nana had beautiful flowers that most had never seen or heard of. She had herbs and spices that she was always mixing in foods and jars, doing things she told Blair she would learn about someday. And she had food in the garden too. Lots and lots of vegetables. Blair went running over there to check on them first.

Nana told her she could pick out the vegetables for their salad tonight. Daddy was away for the night and Blair loved spending time with her Nana. Really the only woman in her life.

As she made her way through the rows of cucumbers and peppers, tomatoes and zucchini, she heard a noise.

Moving closer, she saw a bird on the dirt, just a small blue one. A blue jay it was, Nana had told her one day. Nana was the smartest woman she knew.

“It’s okay, little birdie. Are you hungry?” she asked, assuming it was looking for worms just like Blair was looking for her dinner too.

The bird looked up at her, its eyes dark and appearing almost…in pain. Blair wasn’t sure how she knew that, but she just felt it deep inside.

“Are you hurt?” she asked, glancing closer and noticing the wing seemed to be missing some feathers…and tilted at a funny angle.

“Nana will know what to do. You stay right here.” She turned and went running back to the house. “Nana! Nana!”

“What’s wrong, Blair?” her grandmother asked her as she came rushing out the kitchen door.

“My dream,” she said. “My dream. Remember I told you this morning that a bird was lying on the ground and it looked funny to me.”

“Yes,” her grandmother said. “What about it?”

“It was red in my dream, but it’s blue now.”

Her grandmother looked confused. “What bird?”

“The one in my dream,” Blair said with her hands on her hips. “I mean it was red in my dream, but it’s blue in the garden.” She grabbed her grandmother’s hand. “Follow me. It’s hurt.”

She raced back to where she’d seen the bird and noticed that it’d moved and wasn’t there where she’d left it. “Blair. I’m baking. I need to get back inside.”

“There was a bird here. I know there was. It was hurt.” She was moving around, looking. “Here. It’s right here. Look at it.”

Her grandmother looked over the bush and saw the blue jay lying on the ground and moved closer to it, only to have it lift its wings and fly away. “It doesn’t look hurt to me. I bet it was just sunning itself.”

“Like getting a tan?” Blair asked.

Her grandmother laughed. “I guess you could say that. Some birds do that. But it’s fine. You saw that.”

“Why did I dream it was hurt though?”

“Do you know it was hurt in your dream?”

“No. It was just lying on the ground, but I thought birds only sat in a nest or flew.”

“Well, now you know otherwise.”

“Okay. At least I know that not all parts of my dreams always come true like I told you. Just little bits and pieces.”

Her grandmother sighed like she had in the past. Just like her father did too when she would tell him she’d have dreams and pieces would come true.

“Blair, you really shouldn’t tell too many people about these dreams. It’s okay to say it to your father and me, but I hope you don’t tell anyone else.”

“But it’s cool when they come true. Except when they are sad. Then I don’t want them to come true.”

“Do they always?” her grandmother asked. “Or just sometimes?”

“Just sometimes. But when I wake up I know if it will come true or if it was just something funny or what I watched on TV.”

Her grandmother put her hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “Just keep them to your father and me or yourself, okay.”

“Why?” Blair asked.

“Because people will look at you funny. They will judge you. You don’t want that, do you?”

“You mean like they judge Daddy.”

Her grandmother’s shoulders dropped. “What do you hear about your father?”

“That he’s never been with a lady. That he likes men.”

Nana’s chest heaved in and out. “You’re too young for this conversation, but it’s one Daddy should have with you. All you need to know is everyone is different, but that doesn’t mean they love people any less.”

“Just like me being different because I see things in dreams and they sometimes come true?”

Her grandmother laughed. “Yes, Blair, just like that. Go pick out your vegetables for dinner. I’m sure this batch of cookies is more than burnt right now so I need to get some more in the oven.”

“Thanks, Nana.”

“For what?”

“For not saying I’m being silly. Daddy doesn’t say it either, but I’ve had other friends tell me that.”

“And now you know why you should sometimes keep those dreams of yours to yourself.”

Starting Over

startingover(1)

Can his wacky neighbor heal this single father’s broken heart?

Blair McKay has always been quirky. Her grandmother has often told her to keep things to herself so others didn’t roll their eyes. Sometimes it’s hard though. Especially when she finds a guy she cares for and wants him to know everything about her.

Philip Aire is a single father trying to make it work. His sexy neighbor is a much-needed distraction and his daughter has grown attached to Blair too. He doesn’t care that most in the neighborhood roll their eyes at her profession or wacky ways and words. All he cares about is her…that is until her words and insight start to make him wonder if she is really so far out there after all