The prodigal Wilder returnsTo snag a coveted promotion, financial whiz Anna Wilder had to close one last important deal: the takeover of her hometown hospital, Walnut River General. Black Sheep Anna had never felt like she'd fit into the respected Wilder clan, and now her job was making the proposed merger personal--especially when she met her opponent in the boardroom! Richard Green was the savvy attorney--and ex-love--determined to foil her plans. After one unbelievable kiss years ago, Anna had run far away from her home, her insecurities and the man who made her pulse quicken. But perhaps her return was a second chance in disguise. Could Richard convince Anna thatthismerger was bad business...and take over her heart instead?
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May 31, 2008
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Excerpt from A Merger... or Marriage? by RaeAnne Thayne
So this was what it felt like to be a pariah.
Anna Wilder tilted her chin slightly higher, tightened her grasp on her briefcase and walked firmly past the two gray-haired biddies at the information desk in the lobby of Walnut River General Hospital.
She didn't need to keep them in view to feel the heat of their glares following her to the gleaming elevator doors. She also didn't need to fully hear their whispers to catch enough to make her ulcer go into overdrive.
It's her, Anna Wilder.
James and Alice must be rolling in their graves.
She did her best to ignore them--and the hurt that settled like greasy black bile in her stomach. Still, to her great shame, she wasn't quite able to control the slight tremble of her hand as she pushed the elevator button to go up.
One of the two cars appeared to be permanently stuck on the second floor but the other one at last began creeping downward in what felt like excruciatingly painful slow motion.
She prayed the blasted thing would hurry up and arrive-- not only to allow her to slip inside and escape the stares and whispers but, more importantly, because she was late.
She really hated being late.
The elevator stopped on the second floor and paused there for a few moments before continuing its descent. Suddenly a new apprehension fluttered her ulcer.
Why hadn't she been smart enough to take the stairs? The only thing worse than being late for her meeting would be the social discomfort of encountering one of her siblings in the elevator during her first few minutes at the hospital.
She didn't know which one would be harder to face right now. Ella? Peter? David? It probably didn't matter. They were all furious with her and would no doubt love a chance to let her know.
Just before the elevator arrived, one of the two volunteers at the information desk raised her voice in what had to be deliberate malice so Anna couldn't miss her words.
"She might have the Wilder name," she said in a carrying voice, "but she's not a true Wilder. How can she be, since she's in bed with those who are trying to sell out this hospital and this town?"
Anna inhaled sharply. Apparently the doctors weren't the only ones at Walnut River General who could wield a scalpel. The words effectively sliced straight to where she was most vulnerable.
Her hand tightened on the briefcase as she ruthlessly tried to ignore the hot tears burning behind her eyelids.
It didn't matter what a couple of dried-up old prunes had to say about her. Why should it? They had nothing better to do with their time than sit around gossiping and watching all the human suffering march through their lobby.
She knew she was doing the right thing--the best thing--for Walnut River and its citizens. She just had to convince everybody else in town.
At long, long last, the elevator car arrived and the doors whooshed open. She considered it nothing short of a miracle that it was blessedly empty. Not a Wilder in sight.
Only after the doors slid shut did she close her eyes and slump against the wall of the elevator, pressing a hand to her stomach before she dug in the pocket of her suit jacket for an antacid.
She did not want to be here. In Walnut River, at the hospital her family had all but founded, in this blasted elevator.
It helped nothing that she had expected the reaction she had received from those two volunteers and she expected much more vitriol in the days ahead.
She had read the reports and knew the merger she had been sent here to expedite wasn't popular among the staff at WRG. Not that she had needed reports. Her family's unreasonable opposition was all the evidence she needed. They had all made no secret that they were furious at her.
Not a Wilder.
She screwed her eyes shut. Focus on the job, she chanted to herself. That was all that mattered. Move in fast and hard and wrap things up so she could return to New York.
She had no choice, not if she wanted to keep her job. And she certainly did.
She loved working for Northeastern HealthCare, one of the fastest growing health care conglomerates in the region. She was on the fast track there and had great hopes of making vice president within the next five years. That goal would be even closer if she could pull this deal off.
Mercifully, though the elevator stopped on the second floor to pick up a couple of nurses, she didn't recognize them and they didn't seem to know her. One of them even gave her a friendly smile.
So maybe David hadn't yet gotten around to plastering up wanted posters throughout the hospital of her wearing devil horns.
Beware of the evil HMO-mongerer.
She wouldn't put anything past her second-oldest brother, a gifted plastic surgeon who had recently returned to Walnut River as well. Unlike her, he had come back to a warm welcome, embraced by one and all--the prodigal son giving up a lucrative career in L.A. as plastic surgeon to the stars to share his brilliance with patients in his own hometown.