Chelsea Majors met sexy Jared Floyd when they shared one fleeting but oh-so-memorable kiss ten years ago--the kiss that made her feel beautiful for the very first time. Now Dr. Majors has come to join Jared Floyd's practice, and discovers that although Dr. Floyd is just as smoldering as ever, there's a sadness in his eyes....
Chelsea brings life and sparkle to the surgery--and everyone can see the smile start to return to Jared's chiseled face. As Chelsea and Jared gradually find their way back to one another, Jared begins to realize that this might be his last chance to make Chelsea his bride.
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May 01, 2009
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Excerpt from The Doctor's Meant-To-Be Marriage by Janice Lynn
Dr Chelsea Majors pulled on her lab coat and prepared to bask in the first day of the rest of her life.
OK, so maybe she was being overly dramatic, but she'd worked a long time to get to this particular morning. Today she started work at Madison Medical Center, a family clinic that employed three physicians. Make that, as of today, four.
She'd never considered going anywhere other than the moderate-sized practice near Alabama's Gulf Shore coast where her brother worked. From the time of her birth Will had practically raised her. Certainly, she'd spent a lot more time in his care than her parents'.
Henry and Iva Majors had had lives to save, extended overseas mission trips to go on, and medical boards to run. Dealing with their youngest child had been left to hired help. Chelsea had preferred the care of her nanny to her often times indifferent parents anyway. Will had been another story. He'd been the perfect son while Chelsea had been an accident from the moment of conception. Her mother had had no qualms at pointing out that due to her difficult pregnancy she'd had to miss out on an important mission trip to Bosnia.
Plus, she was pretty sure her parents had decided a mistake had been made at the hospital and they'd been given the wrong child. Who could blame them when they were such overachievers? Her father, her mother, her brother. Everyone but her.
For too many years she'd been stuck inside her defective body and an outcast within her own home. Will had been able to go with their parents on their overseas trips, to live their lives. Chelsea's medical problems had kept her at home, in the care of others, and somewhere along the line she and her parents had missed forming loving bonds.
But with Will's encouragement and her own determination, she'd come past all that and achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a family physician. She wanted to make a difference in others' lives the way a few good doctors had in hers. Not by serving on some politically connected health board or by going overseas, but to make a difference in a small-town community that would likely never earn her any commendations from the president. Her parents already had enough of those hanging on the wall.
"You ready, sis?" a tall, dark-haired male version of herself asked. Will stepped into the closet-sized room she couldn't be more proud of--her office--and tossed a small package to her.
"What's this?" Examining the gold foil and white silk ribbon, she held up the square gift-wrapped box. She met her brother's twinkling brown eyes, so similar to her own. Her heart pinched at his thoughtfulness.
Although seven years her senior, they'd always been close and she admitted to hero-worshipping him for as long as she could remember. Will had been her hero, making her believe in herself when it would have been too easy to shut the world out.
"Just a little something to let you know how proud I am of my kid sister," he said, prowling through the cardboard box on her desk. He lifted a small, stuffed bear in doctor garb, curled his nose, then dropped the fuzzy animal back into the box. "I thought we got your stuff moved in on Saturday?"
The bear had been a gift from a group of undergrad friends in celebration of when she'd gotten her acceptance letter to medical school. She cherished the gift, just as she cherished the friendships. Having been homeschooled with very little interaction with others until her teens, she never took for granted the blessing of having friends.
"Almost everything." She glanced at the bookshelf with her precious medical books lined up in neat rows. Nodding toward the box, she said, "This is personal stuff to give the room my personality."
Will's handsome face wrinkled in a look of thorough disgust. "You're going to make this room all girly," he teased.
She rolled her eyes and finished unwrapping his gift. Her eyes misted at what she saw nestled in the tissue paper.
"Oh, Will. You shouldn't have." She wrapped her arms around him and gave an appreciative squeeze. "Have I told you lately that you're my favorite brother?"
"I'm your only brother," he reminded her, indulgently hugging her with a pleased grin on his face. "Give it here so I can pin it on your lab coat."
She handed him the name tag he'd had made for her, one printed with her name and the name of the practice. He pinned the tag to her white lab coat and studied her appearance, much as he'd done many times throughout her childhood.
The badge was a cheap piece of plastic, but the love behind the gift was priceless. Will knew how hard she'd worked, how she'd longed for this day.
Not all the reasons she'd longed for it, of course.
Because her brother didn't know about the passionate kiss she'd shared with Jared ten years ago.
Neither did Will know how excited she was at the fact his partner was going to be a daily part of her life.
The truth was, though, she also dreaded seeing Jared, of having to constantly face the man who haunted her dreams when she knew she could never have him. When her ex's rejection had left her emotionally doubled over, she could only imagine what seeing the disgust in Jared's eyes, hearing him say she was unlovable would do to her poor heart. No, she wouldn't open herself up to the kind of pain Jared had the power to deliver. Never again. She'd offered her heart to him on a platter and he'd turned her away, asked another woman to marry him, driving the message home that she hadn't been good enough.
Oblivious to her thoughts of the past, Will straightened the name tag, and shook his head slightly. A look of pride shone in his golden brown eyes. "There, you look perfect."
Reminding herself of all she'd accomplished, of the life she'd forged for herself, Chelsea bit back an ironic laugh. Perfect? If only.
Dr Jared Floyd read over Connie Black's MRI report, not liking the radiologist's comments. He'd hoped arthritis had been causing her worsening hip pain, but according to the report a tumor was growing in the sixty-year-old woman's left hip joint.
Which meant he had to deliver the bad news at Connie's appointment in the morning. Damn.
Connie had come so far from three years ago when he'd first diagnosed her lung cancer. She'd quit smoking, survived the removal of one of her right lung lobes, endured chemotherapy and radiation, and suffered through the loss of her husband three months ago to a massive heart attack. She'd endured everything and kept a positive outlook. Now this.
He stared at the report, hoping the wording would change.
Highly suspicious mass with solid consistency and increased vascularization. Biopsy recommended.
Maybe the radiologist was wrong.
Maybe he was doing a lot of wishful thinking.
And definitely a whole lot of procrastinating.
Sighing, he left the report on his desk and went to examine his patients. Normally, he cleared up lab and radiology reports before starting his appointments and usually he finished quickly. Today, he'd tarried.
Partially due to Connie's bad MRI report, but also because of the clinic's newest employee.
Chelsea. He'd avoided seeing her since the night he'd made the biggest mistake of his life. Not an easy task when she was his best friend's little sister. Today his avoidance would come to a screeching halt because, with Chelsea joining the practice, he'd see her more days than not.
How could he remain faithful to Laura's memory if he was constantly confronted with the woman who'd made him second-guess his heart?
Knowing he had to get the inevitable over with, he headed to her office just in time to hear Will's teasing.
"Now," Chelsea's brother said, "go see your patients before I have to fire you for slacking on the job. Nepotism will get you nowhere around here."
Yeah, right. Will babied his kid sister and wouldn't even consider Chelsea going to work elsewhere when Jared, risking his friend's anger, had voiced his concerns. Family and business didn't mix. Too bad Will had ignored Jared's less than subtle hints.
"Oh," Chelsea said as she rounded the corner of her office doorway, bumping into him. Surprised golden brown eyes lifted, met his and she gave a sharp, surprised gasp. "Jared."
Reflexively, he grasped her arms to steady her and was struck by a hauntingly familiar waft of something sweet, like homemade cookies or vanilla. Whatever the fragrance, the inviting smell filled him with the desire to take a deep breath. Just as the thought of knowing only the cotton fabric of her lab coat separated their skins filled him with the memory of the single kiss they'd shared and how he'd run his hands over her bare arms that night.
She'd been so beautiful, so full of life, so innocent. Yet the sparks between them had been anything but when she'd caught him off guard by pressing her body to his. By pressing her lips to his.
Even now he recalled the warmth of her lips, the moan that had escaped her mouth when he'd kissed her back, the softness of her flesh when he'd molded her to him.
God, he hadn't been able to get close enough, hadn't been able to stop himself from kissing her even though he'd known it had been wrong. He'd have sold his soul that night to have made love to Chelsea.
And although he'd gotten his body under control before they'd done much more than kiss, he hadn't walked away with his soul intact. Far from it.
No, kissing Chelsea had cost him a great deal, too much.
Which he didn't need to be thinking of because some things were best forgotten.
Not that he'd been able to forget, despite years of trying.
Some things truly were unforgettable.
"Jared," she repeated, her gaze traveling over him, almost as if she couldn't resist seeing how time had changed him. Her honey-colored gaze softened, almost becoming a caress, stroking his insides to an ooey-gooey mess. Red stained her cheeks when her eyes lifted to his and she realized what she'd done. "It's been a long time."
His heart thudded against his chest in a rapid beat and his bones turned to jelly, leaving him off-kilter. Had he secretly wondered what Chelsea would think of him after all this time? Of how she'd perceive the changes the years had etched on him?
Annoyed at her stirring of his senses and thoughts, he frowned. How could he want to lean in and get a better smell of a woman he didn't even want to like?
"Yes, it has." Too long. Not long enough. "I was on my way to say hello," he said matter-of-factly to cover his slip.
She smiled, flashing perfect white teeth. Her mouth made him think of his favorite female actress, of her classic, infectious smile. Wide, bright, and contagious. Despite his determination to remain impassive, outwardly at least, her smile made his lips want to curve upward.
Which only served to annoy him all the more.
Although she was older than the too-young-for-him seventeen she'd been when they'd first met, there were a thousand reasons why he needed to stay away from Chelsea and safeguard himself from getting close to her. Even if she did now work at Madison Medical Center.
Chelsea held out her hand. She had nice hands with slender fingers and clean, unpainted nails.
Unable to avoid the greeting, Jared clasped the hand of the girl who'd become a woman in the years since he'd last seen her.
His blood sizzled and fried his brain, short-circuiting the logic that said he shouldn't think Chelsea's soft touch so compelling, her smell so mesmerizing, her nearness so seductive. Time hadn't changed the way she heated his blood. Unfortunately.
He let go of her hand, wondering why he wanted to turn her hand over and run his fingers over her palm. Ridiculous. He wasn't a romantic and even if he had been, Chelsea would be the last person on his list of possible valentines. She held the power to destroy everything he held dear.
Their gazes met and desire flickered in her eyes. Desire he'd last seen right before she'd kissed him ten years ago.
At seventeen she'd affected his libido more than any other woman before or since. She'd also left him feeling guiltier than at any other point in his life.
Foolish as the notion was, he'd thought avoiding her would protect him.
He'd learned the hard way not to tempt fate and Chelsea tempted in too many ways.
"Ahem." Will cleared his throat from behind his sister.
First shooting Jared a dazzling smile, Chelsea scowled at her brother. "Hold your 'taters."
"My 'taters, huh?" Will laughed, giving his sister a conspiratorial wink. "That's a new name for them. But if you insist on my holding them..."
"Eww." She rolled her eyes. "Keep your nastiness to yourself, please." Seeming glad of the interruption, she sighed with great exaggeration. "Do you have a brother, Jared?" she asked. "Because, if not, you're welcome to mine."
"Hey, what happened to being your favorite brother?" Will asked, pretending to be hurt.
"Like you said, you're my only brother. Which means you're also my least favorite." Obviously relaxed in her brother's presence, she grinned mischievously. "Now, quit pestering me at work. I've got patients to see."
With that she paused long enough to bestow another uncertain glance on Jared, swished her ponytail with a great deal of sass at her brother, and headed toward the exam rooms.
"Isn't she something?" Will asked with obvious indulgence.
Not sure how he was supposed to answer, Jared opted for watching Chelsea pause outside the first exam room.
Why did she hesitate? Had their reunion left her as shaken as he found himself? Was she recalling how their mouths had felt against each other, how she'd moaned, parted her lips beneath his, granting him sweet surrender?
He winced. Her reasons didn't matter because Jared planned to keep his distance. No matter that he found himself wanting to lean in and inhale her seductive scent, to know if she still tasted heavenly, to know everything there was to discover.
He turned and found Will watching him with narrowed eyes.
Jared snorted. Despite the way he'd once again responded to Chelsea, he didn't need this particular warning. "It's not like that."
"Uh-uh." Will didn't look convinced. He pulled him inside Chelsea's small office. "You're one of my partners and best friends." Will's eyes lost the good-natured humor that usually shone there, replaced by a steel Jared had never seen in his pal's gaze. "But my sister is not your type."
Recall of the electricity that had short-circuited his brain reminded him that physically Chelsea was exactly his type, but he kept his mouth shut. He was above acting on physical attraction when that attraction came in the form of something so bad for him.
"No problem." He spoke slowly, keeping his voice level. "Because I don't date coworkers anyway."