Family Bonds- Drew & Amanda…Chapter One

D&A

If you haven’t read the Prologue you can catch up HERE

Chapter One

Figure It Out

Fourteen years later\

“Drew, your mother is on line one.”

Drew turned to look at his secretary, Connie. “I’m not here,” he said.

His mother had been trying to call his cell phone too and he’d been avoiding her. It seemed like lately all she called for was to ask if he was seeing anyone or that she had someone she’d like him to meet. No, thank you.

“It looks like you are to me,” Connie said back.

He narrowed his eyes and went to turn into his office, but his older brother, Bode, stopped him. “She won’t give up.”

“When did you get here?” he asked.

“I came in the back door and I’m not here long. I’ve got a few other properties to check out today.”

“Anything worth investing in?” he asked. Bode oversaw all the construction and maintenance for the rental properties, Drew, the sales and negotiating, the contracts for tenants and so on. He and his older brother had taken over the real estate business a few years ago so that his father could cut back and pretty much just sit on the board and boss them around…when he wanted.

His parents had raised three boys that were all successful and it was time for them to enjoy their lives. It seemed that was what the Bonds did. Had a business that was passed down through the generations.

Or most of them at least.

“I’ve got my eye on two. Once I see the amount of work it needs I’ll have you go check it out.”

“I’m trying to figure out how you find out about these houses before me when I’m the licensed realtor and you’re the contractor.”

“Because I am the contractor. People call me for work and then when I’m there they start talking about other properties in the area or tell me they are thinking of selling. They know I’ll tell you.”

It always annoyed Drew that Bode found out things before him when it shouldn’t. Must be the sibling rivalry.

They didn’t have it with their youngest brother who chose to be a dentist. No, Coy was the smart one it seemed. Instead, Drew and Bode went into the family business and convinced his father to expand it from just real estate sales to construction and rental properties all over Massachusetts, not just a few on the island that had been in the family for years.

“Whatever.”

“Boys,” Connie said. “Your mother is still on the line.”

“I told you to tell her I wasn’t here,” Drew said, turning to look at Connie’s grin.

“I thought you were joking since you are standing in front of me.”

He rolled his eyes. Sometimes things just went over Connie’s head. Bode smirked at him knowing exactly what was going through his mind.

“Tell my mother I’m not here,” Drew said. “I’m leaving right now. If it makes you feel better then you can wait until I’m out the door.”

“Okay,” Connie said just watching him. He let out a sigh, Bode laughed, so he went to his office, got his keys and phone, and left.

He wasn’t to his car before Bode was walking out telling him to wait up. “Did she really pick up the phone when I was out the door?” he asked.

“She did. She apologized for keeping Mom waiting and said she couldn’t find you.”

“She doesn’t mind lying about that, but couldn’t say I wasn’t there?”

“Who knows what she was thinking. Where are you going?” Bode asked.

“No clue. I hadn’t planned on leaving, but I didn’t want to talk to Mom either.”

“She’s getting a little bit crazy lately with the blind dates and you. Why is that?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “She doesn’t bug you or Coy.”

“That’s because I was seeing someone so she’s probably giving me some slack. She was on my case for months before I was dating Samantha.”

“What happened with you two?” he asked. Though Bode hadn’t been dating Samantha that long, he’d seemed pretty ticked off over the split.

“The same old same old,” Bode said.

“She only wanted the name?”

“Isn’t it always that way with us? Mom has it in her head that because she fell in love with Dad in one week when she was here with friends that everyone should fall in love that way.”

Drew shook his head. “I wish she’d get over it. She’s so stuck on the myths of this island. Not everyone meets and knows right away. Things were different back then, but she won’t listen to us when we say that.”

“She’s never going to change,” Bode said. “You know she’s always been a romantic. She sees the good in everyone and always has. She’s lucky Dad was a stand-up guy and didn’t take advantage of her.”

“Which is why the three of us boys are probably so anti-romance. She should have had girls or something.”

Bode laughed. “We tried to dress Coy up as a girl when he was younger. That didn’t fly.”

“Mom was so ticked off. I don’t even remember whose dress it was. One of the cousins had it on over their bathing suit.”

“Anyway,” Bode said, “Mom doesn’t mean any harm, but she just won’t back off. Tell her you’re seeing someone.”

“Then she’d want to know who it was,” he argued.

“Make a person up.”

“And she’ll want to meet her,” he said back.

“Then make up excuses why she can’t. You’re almost as bad as Connie with not wanting to lie.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to lie, it’s just I don’t want to get tangled in something like that. I’ll figure it out.”

“I’m sure you can go back in the office now without even leaving at this point,” Bode said. “I needed to talk to you about a few things anyway.”

“We’ve been out here gabbing like two women for ten minutes. Connie won’t even realize I wasn’t gone long. Walk with me across the street for a coffee since I’m out here.”

“Only if you’re buying,” Bode said.

“You should buy since you’re older.”

“Please, the younger brother always pays.”

“Which means you never have to open your wallet for anything.”

“It’s the price of the advice you just got.”

“That’s real good advice. Lie to Mom.”

The two of them laughed, got their coffees, then walked back to the office. Bode was right, Connie didn’t seem to notice that he barely left the parking lot.

“Your office or mine?” Bode asked.

“Mine’s neater. You’ve got tools and papers everywhere.” When they were seated in the two chairs around a table he asked, “What do we need to talk about?”

“Some of the rental properties haven’t had spot checks in a few years. We’ve been so busy, both of us, that we need to really make time to go in and check them out.”

“That’s your job,” he said.

“No. We both do it. I go in when there are problems. You do spot checks and play nicey nice with the renters.”

“They don’t even know us,” he said. “We’ve always had a property management company do it all.”

“Which you know is coming to an end soon. That’s my point. It was a waste of money and Dad agreed. Half the island knows we own properties; why should we hide behind a property manager? We talked about this with Dad last year.”

“I know,” he said. “One by one as leases ran out we were going to do the spot checks, introduce ourselves, blah, blah. I’ve done more than twenty of them so far. Isn’t it your turn?”

“Nope. Because once you have your meeting they start making their lists of things they’d like to see done and then it becomes my headache.”

“Which is why I didn’t want to do this.” He understood it was a money-saving move. A smart one too. He had no clue why one of his ancestors wanted to use a property management company out of Boston all those years ago, but Bode was right. There was no hiding anything at this point and they shouldn’t be. It’s not like they even had that many properties back then.

They were one of the biggest realty companies in Massachusetts and the only one on the island. Up until the last ten years it was a handful of rental homes at most on the island. Now it was close to fifty all over Massachusetts. They owned multiple apartment buildings too with other family members.

“We already started making the changes. We’ve only gone through about half the homes we own in the past six months. Can you let me know when the next one is so I can clear my schedule for the changes or work I’m sure I’m going to be asked to look over and schedule the crew to do?”

“Fine,” he said, getting up and going to his computer. “The next house is leased to Amanda Moore. Her lease is up in less than two months. I’ll send out the letter today to find out when a good time is to stop in for a spot check and introduce myself.”

“Good,” Bode said. “And you never know, maybe she’s some hot chick and not some retiree that came to the island for a few years to live life in the slow lane.”

“I couldn’t get that lucky even if I wanted to.”

Family Bonds- Drew & Amanda…Prologue

D&A

Prologue

 

“It hurts,” Amanda said as she gripped her mother’s hand.

“Of course it does. Did you think it wouldn’t?” her mother said back, not a lot of emotion in her voice. Not a lot of caring or sympathy either.

“Why won’t they give me something for the pain?”

There was sweat on her brow and every other part of her body. Her stomach was tight and the pressure was massive. It felt like her midsection was full of rocks. She’d bet a board could be broken across her belly.

“It was too late. You already started to have contractions and were too far along,” her mother said in the same know-it-all voice she’d used on her daughters their whole lives.

“Why do I have to go through this?” she whimpered.

The tears were running down her face. As if she wasn’t in enough pain this was all going to be for nothing.

“You didn’t have to and you know it. You went against our wishes and this is the price you pay. This is why seventeen-year-olds shouldn’t be pregnant.”

She’d been hearing this for months…ever since she’d told her parents she was pregnant. Thankfully she wasn’t showing by the time she graduated and no one really knew in school.

But Randall knew. Of course he did. She’d told him the minute she knew about the baby.

He’d panicked and told his parents who wanted her to end the pregnancy. Her own parents did too. Randall never really said one way or another what he wanted, but she didn’t care. It was her child and she was having it.

Randall wouldn’t stand up to his parents either. Not when there was money involved. He went off to college at Harvard a few months ago and they’d only talked twice. The last time was well over a month ago.

She’d have to assume they were done, though he never actually broke up with her. Must be the hundred-thousand-dollar check that was delivered to her two months ago was enough for him to wipe his hands of her.

She wasn’t going to be bought. They couldn’t make her end her pregnancy either. She didn’t give a shit what anyone said.

That check was going to set her up to raise this baby on her own.

Or that had been the plan.

The plan that wasn’t going to happen now.

“I wanted this baby,” she said, sobbing.

“We don’t always get what we want,” her mother said.

Amanda let out another scream and the nurse came in. “There, there. I know it’s hard. And I know it’s painful. It won’t be much longer. Breathe through your mouth. Slow breaths. The doctor is on the way.”

Her mother shot the nurse a look as if to say, “She deserves this for bringing shame on two families.”

“How much longer?” she asked. “I can’t take much more.”

“Not long. Your contractions are really close and you’re almost ready to push.”

“It doesn’t matter though,” she said. She wasn’t sure what was worse. The pain in her body or the one in her soul.

“I know, sweetie. I wish there was another way.”

The doctor walked in a few minutes later and told her to start pushing. She was pretty positive it sounded like she was being murdered in the room, and it sure the hell felt like it, so why not shout it out.

It wasn’t just her body that was being ripped apart, but her family and her heart.

She’d be leaving this town the minute she could. She was taking her money and she was going far away.

No one supported her. No one cared about her.

Hell, the nurse was showing more compassion than her own mother.

“You’re almost there,” the doctor said. Embarrassment was thrown out the window at this point with her legs spread wide, naked under the gown. Who knew what mess was on the floor from her body and she didn’t even care. She just wanted this over with.

“I can’t do it again.”

“One more,” the doctor said. “Just one more big push. I’ve got the head in my hand.”

Hearing that was enough for her to gather all her strength, grind her teeth, and push with everything she had.

“That’s it, I’ve got it now,” the doctor said. “Just relax for a minute.”

There was silence in the room. Only her breathing could be heard, her mother looking over at the doctors and the nurses at the other side of the room.

“Do you want to see the baby?” the doctor asked her while the nurses cleaned up the newborn.

She was having trouble catching her breath. Not just from the delivery but the pain in her chest. “Yes. I want to name my baby. She’s really gone?” she asked, even though they’d told her hours ago there was no heartbeat when she had her appointment.

She was only seven months pregnant and had pain so she’d called the doctor and drove herself there. The past six hours had flown by in one instant and lasted forever in another.

“There is no heartbeat,” the nurse said coming over and running her hand on Amanda’s sweat-dampened hair. “Do you want to hold your daughter?”

“Yes,” she said, taking in a deep breath. “Please.”

Her mother got up and walked out of the room, not even looking at her daughter or granddaughter.

Three weeks later, Amanda walked out of her parents’ life for good.

Family Bonds- Drew & Amanda

D&A

Two people wondering if they were destined to be alone might be fated to find each other on Amore Island.

Amanda Moore only wanted one thing in life. A family of her own. A child she could raise and nurture better than her parents had to her. When she thought she had exactly that, it was taken away from her and she’s never been able to find it again. Now she wonders if she ever will.

Drew Bond has spent his life dodging the setups by his mother. She was adamant her sons needed to find a woman and she knew the perfect ones for them. But everyone she put in front of him only wanted two things from him. Money and his name. All he wants is to find someone himself, but the one time he did, he’d been fooled and left heartbroken. Now he wonders if he’s just meant to be alone.

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.