To Gabe Thorne, Rebecca Hamilton didn't look old enough to practice medicine, let alone coach his kid sister through a difficult pregnancy. But he couldn't have been more wrong. Because the physician before him was skillful. Compassionate. And beautiful. Too bad, because he'd sworn off looking for the latter two qualities in a woman long ago...
There was something about Gabe that touched Rebecca deeply and wouldn't let her go. She knew the handsome widower had suffered a heartbreaking loss. But then again, so had she. And in the face of the man before her, she saw glimpses of the love and family she's always wanted--and was sure she could never have...
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March 31, 2008
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Excerpt from The Millionaire and the M. D. by Teresa Southwick
It wasn't sitting in a doctor's waiting room full of pregnant women that made Gabe Thorne want to put his fist through a wall.
He'd done it before--the waiting room. And the fist. But right now he was remembering the waiting. With the woman who had finally agreed to marry him. He'd gone to every prenatal appointment with Hannah, his excitement and anticipation expanding in direct proportion to the size of her belly as their child had grown within her. The moment he'd seen the plus sign on the stick, it was about being the best father he could be. It was about his child's brand-new life.
Except there was no life because Hannah had died and so had their baby. And a baby doctor's office was the last place on earth he wanted to be, especially with his unmarried, pregnant, teenage sister.
Amy was his parents' "oops" and had come along right about the time he'd passed his driver's test. He glanced sideways at her, the sun-streaked brown hair pulled into a ponytail and away from her face. Big green eyes full of angry resentment looked back at him. An oversize T-shirt with the words Bite Me clung to her gently rounding belly. The sight brought back more memories of Hannah and a pain so deep he could feel himself being sucked back into the black void he'd just barely climbed out of. And once again, just like he had eighteen years ago when his mother died, he wished his sister hadn't come along.
Two days ago she'd shown up on his doorstep and threatened to run if he called their father. Part of him was okay with that, but he couldn't take the chance. There'd been too much loss already.
And just like that, more memories came flooding back--visions of the night before he was going to marry Hannah. After the rehearsal dinner he remembered following her little compact car, to make sure she got home okay. She'd insisted on driving herself because they were into the gray area of the groom not seeing the bride before the wedding. Hannah insisted it was bad luck.
As it turned out, their luck couldn't have been worse. The whole thing flashed through his mind again, in slow motion, like horrifying scenes in a movie. The car that ran a red light and broadsided Hannah. The god awful sounds of shattering glass and grinding metal. Within minutes, emergency personnel were there with equipment to get her out. Jaws of life? Not so much. Hannah was conscious only a few moments, just long enough to put his hand on her belly and beg him to save their child.
The baby was the most important thing.
So here he was with Amy. And he was angry because the sight of her brought back all the painful reminders of how very much he'd lost. But here she was and he didn't know what to do. Damned if he did; damned if he didn't.
Damned if it mattered because nothing did after losing his family.
Gabe looked up and saw a young woman in blue scrubs standing in the doorway between the waiting room and back office. He and Amy got up and followed her down the hall and through the last door on the left.
"Hi, I'm Grace, Dr. Hamilton's nurse."
"Gabe Thorne," he said. "This is my sister, Amy."
"So you're going to be an uncle." She smiled. "Amy, if you'll just step up on the scale, we'll get your weight. Then I'll take your blood pressure--all the usual stuff. You're probably used to it by now. You look like you're about six months along."
To Grace's credit, she didn't react to the attitude. After making a note in the chart, she said, "The doctor will be with you in a few minutes."
Gabe looked around the exam room, so similar to the ones he'd seen with Hannah. His chest tightened when he recalled those last times when the two of them and their baby had been together. He'd talked to her belly, telling the baby about baseball, football, how someday he wouldn't think girls were from another planet and that hamburgers would be a lot more appetizing when they didn't get processed by Mom first. In that little room decorated with poster-size anatomy charts and the blood pressure cuff mounted on the wall, he'd had everything he could possibly want. His fingers curled into his palms so tight his knuckles ached.
Then the door opened and a blonde wearing a white lab coat walked in, holding a chart. He did a double take because no way was this beautiful woman the doctor. Just like that, he felt like all the blood was sucked out of his head.
She looked at both of them. "Hi. I'm Rebecca Hamilton."
"Gabe Thorne. And this is my sister, Amy," he said, relaxing his fist as he extended his hand.
The doc took it, then shook hands with Amy. "Nice to meet you both."