Sleeping with the enemy?
Newly minted doctor Ella Wilder just wanted to follow in her father's footsteps and practice medicine--even as a conglomerate vied to take over her family's beloved hospital. Then said company's executive accidentally lost his footing and shattered his leg on the grounds of Walnut River General. As the new orthopedist on staff, Ella rose to the occasion.
J. D. Sumner intended the trip to his hometown to be strictly business. But the sparks that flew between him and his beautiful, talented doctor were worthy of medical attention. And he wasn't exactly sure of his condition, but Ella might just be the antidote to J.D.'s hardened heart....
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January 31, 2008
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Excerpt from First-Time Valentine by Mary Forbes
.D. opened his eyes to a murky dawn.
For a moment, he was at a loss with his surroundings. Oh, yeah. Back in Walnut River, Massachusetts, his hometown--and the hospital of his birth.
He groaned as memories of a long night of pain and fitful dreams rushed together. He lay in a hospital bed. IV attached to his vein. His right knee...
He did not want to consider the mess there. Outside his room, the hospital woke. In his head, memories tumbled. The board meeting last night. The snowstorm. His knee popping like a firecracker as he slipped on those damned icy steps. And then...oh, man...the killing pain.
Had he blacked out? He couldn't remember. Just the crazy pain.
He should've had his knee fixed years ago. Hadn't he learned back in high school playing basketball? When the doctor told him about "jumper's knee"? Had he taken the man's advice? No. Instead, he'd ignored every recommendation and for years depended on over-the-counter painkillers. And then he'd defied fate seven years ago by joining the Northeastern HealthCare basketball team when the company hired his ambitious mind.
Arrogant jackass is what you were.
J.D. grunted. Damn this February weather. Damn the ice and snow, and why he'd returned yesterday to this armpit dot on the Massachusetts map. And damn the fact that he was now doomed to wait for surgery by the esteemed Dr. Ella Wilder, another one of the family of Wilders he'd come to lock horns with--well, not lock horns, to wine and dine and sway to realize that NHC's contemporary model of practicing medicine was the way of the future. A model second-to-none in efficiency. A model favoring corporate-run medicine, not the old-fashioned methods prevalent in this quaint little hospital.
If he did his job right, Walnut River General would be brought under NHC's generous umbrella in a matter of months, a move that would benefit patients and doctors with some modernity--with a capital M.
But first he needed to get out of here. Fast.
Six hours later and still waiting for his surgery, he realized fast was not a key part of this hospital's policy and his apprehension had mushroomed into full-blown anxiety. Okay, they'd told him the E.R. was having a chaotic day. But he hadn't seen the doctor--any doctor--since he'd been there.
Stop worrying, J.D. Your gurney is third in line for the O.R. Won't be long now. Which did not calm him at all.
Goddammit. Didn't they know he hated Walnut River General? His mother--Grace Sumner--had died here. Died of a blood clot in her brain--as a result of the C-section at his birth, or so Pops maintained.
You go to the hospital to die. End of story. As far back as J.D. remembered the old man's words had been a slogan in their house.
Yes, Grace was the reason J.D. had avoided getting his knee repaired years ago. Nobody was cutting into him, causing blood clots. Last night, however, he knew he could no longer dodge surgery. It was either that or end up walking with a cane for the rest of his life, plus attracting arthritis before he was forty.
So, where was the female Wilder? He hated to admit it, but the way she touched him, spoke, smiled last night in the E.R....
"Mr. Sumner," she had said upon entering his curtained cubicle. "I'm Dr. Ella Wilder. I hear you fell on some steps and banged up your knee." Against the collar of her white lab coat hung a hot-pink stethoscope.
"Should sue the hospital," he'd ground out, gazing at her through half-closed eyes. He hadn't expected a woman doctor. Nor one resembling a French fashion model. "Suing won't heal your knee, sir," she informed him, dipping her head to examine his exposed leg.
The paramedic--Mike O'Rourke was it?--had found J.D. sprawled across the snowy steps by the hospital parking lot. In the E.R., the man had cut away the expensive cloth from his right pant leg, easier for radiology to take X-rays.
Ella Wilder snapped on a pair of surgical gloves and tested the wounded area gently. "Tell me when it hurts."
He winced; she nodded. "I'm sending you for an MRI."
"Think I broke something?" He tried to lift up on his elbows.
"According to the X-rays, no. However, I'd like more information about the soft tissues around and under your kneecap. We'll also do some blood work to see if there's a sign of arthritis."
"Arthritis?" He bit his bottom lip as she gently probed the distended knee. "You saying--" a pained grunt
"--I'm getting old?"
"Not at all." The dark bob of her hair swung along the line of her jaw as she removed the gloves. "Arthritis can happen at any age."
"Terrific. Worst-case scenario?"
"Let's see what the MRI brings. If it's what I suspect, we'll do surgery tomorrow once the swelling subsides." She offered a smile and it blew through his pain like a breeze on the Cayman coast. "Meantime, we'll keep you off your feet tonight and get some pills into you."