From #1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag comes this powerful novel of passion, heartbreak, and redemption--a story that celebrates our capacity to love one time, for all time, even in the face of adversity and change.
They say that each of us becomes an entirely new person every seven years. But Rebecca Bradshaw doesn't feel any different when an old lover shows up severely injured at the hospital where she runs the physical therapy department. Seven years ago baseball player Jace Cooper left her without a second thought or the chance to share the life-changing secret she swore she'd keep from him forever. Now he was back, wanting both her help and a second chance. Becca hadn't changed, and she didn't believe Jace had either, but as she helped him repair his broken body and his fractured past, she would find she was wrong on both counts. The only thing that had stayed the same was the most important thing of all--and now suddenly time was running out.
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July 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Straight from the Heart by Tami Hoag
"Jace Cooper's coming back to town!"
Rebecca Bradshaw's hand slipped on the edge of the whirlpool, and she dropped her clipboard into the churning water. Water splashed up onto the newspaper her patient, Bob Wilkes, held open just above the surface and sprayed onto the front of her white smock.
"Hey!" Yanking his paper out of the way, Bob gave her an indignant look. "Jeez, Rebecca, what if that had been a radio or a hair dryer or something?"
She frowned, more at her reaction to the news about Jace Cooper that Bob had read aloud than at him. "You would have gotten a free hairdo. May I have my board back, please?"
Bob's wide mouth lifted in the comic leer he had used on her on a regular basis over the last few months of his physical therapy. "Why don't you come and get it, beautiful?"
Rebecca slanted him a look. "Fork it over, Romeo, or I'll put you back on the tilt table and spin that thing like a roulette wheel."
Wilkes handed her the dripping clipboard with its sheaf of soggy papers. "You're heartless, a sadist."
"Flattery will get you nowhere," she said. As she tried to blot her notes and her sweater with a towel, unbidden thoughts of Jace Cooper tormented her. She quelled the urge she had to pump Bob for more information.
But as if he'd read her mind, he went on. "It says here that Cooper's being sent down to the Mavericks. He'll be playing here in Mishawaka if he can get his knee back in shape." Wilkes shook his head. "How do you like that? The guy gives the Chicago Kings six and a half great seasons. He's been an All-Star, he's been a Golden Glove winner. Now he gets wracked up, and they pack him off to the minors without so much as a fond farewell. He goes from the big show back to Class A ball overnight. That stinks."
"I imagine they got sick of his shenanigans off the field," Dominique LeGault said as she worked with a patient on the mat table.
Rebecca glanced up at her coworker. Dominique was a woman of rare and exotic beauty. She was a long-limbed six footer, with skin the color of cafe au lait and almond-shaped eyes that reflected her mother's Cherokee heritage.
Dominique shook her head, her wild cloud of black hair bouncing behind her. "With all his partying, practical jokes, and publicity stunts, that man was in and out of more trouble than the rest of his team put together."
"What a guy does on his time is his own business," Wilkes declared. "Which reminds me, Rebecca, do you want to watch a movie with me tonight?" He chuckled mischievously. "Bimbos Galore is now available on videocassette."
"As much as I've been waiting for that, I'll have to pass," she said firmly. "You know I don't date patients, Bob."
"Bad policy," he muttered.
It was a policy Rebecca had adhered to strictly during her nine years as a physical therapist. The one exception she had made to that rule--Jace Cooper--had turned out to be the biggest mistake of her life.
She pushed the thought from her mind as she abandoned her ruined notes and went to a cabinet against the far wall of the exercise room to get out the toolbox and the coffee can of miscellaneous screws, nuts, bolts, and pins. She had a patient with a spinal cord injury coming in an hour to make her first attempt at using the parallel bars, and the bars had to be adjusted.
Rebecca told herself she had no time to reflect on the news that Jace Cooper was coming back to town. What did she care? She didn't. The news had just surprised her, that was all.
"Jace Cooper," Mrs. Krumhansle, Dominique's patient, mused aloud. She scratched a hand back through her steel gray hair. "Isn't he the cute one with the ash blond hair and the great fanny?"
Dominique's hoarse laugh filled the air. "That's him."
"Good glove. Swings a mean bat when he wants to. I'll have to renew my season ticket."
"It seems to me we're doing a lot more talking than working in here today," Rebecca said sharply.
Bob Wilkes gave a low whistle and hid behind his newspaper. Dominique's exotic black eyes focused on Rebecca's from across the room. Rebecca dodged the question in her friend's gaze.
Concentrating on the task at hand, she squatted down and began to work on the piece of therapy equipment. She certainly had better things to think of than some overage adolescent getting kicked off his team. She had her next patient to think of. She had the proposed expansion of the physical therapy department to think of. She wondered if there was any way she was going to be able to talk the hospital board into providing a separate hydrotherapy room. She wondered what Jace Cooper had done to his knee.
"No, no, Rebecca," she muttered under her breath, shaking her head so her glossy black hair swung back and forth above her shoulders.
It upset her that the mere mention of the man could throw her into such a mental tailspin. Jace Cooper had ceased to be a part of her life. She had accepted that fact, had dealt with it. It wasn't as if she'd been carrying a torch for him.