When it came to love... Dr. Jake Fox took pride in helping people with their problems. But the daughter of his latest patient wasn't so easy to figure out. Celebrity designer Ally Rogers seemed determined to show the all-work, no play physician what happened when you mixed business with pleasure. This Doctor was all Business! Her mother's medical emergency sent Ally racing home to Chicago--and right into the arms of the handsome Jake. Soon the good doctor was treating her with regular doses of true romance--and even wrangled her a spectacular job offer designing the new Taka-Hanson heotels. Now Ally had to decide whether she was ready to risk her heart on a once-in-a-lifetime shot at true love....
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July 31, 2008
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Excerpt from Designs on the Doctor by Victoria Pade
Ally Rogers felt shell-shocked as she stared out the window of the Chicago-bound airplane.
It wasn't every day that some stranger told her there was a situation with her mother that she needed to "get to Chicago--immediately--to deal with."
It wasn't every day that some stranger told her that even though Ally might not want to be involved in her mother's life he wasn't giving her the option not to be any longer.
It definitely wasn't every day. It was just yesterday.
This week had been hellish for Ally right from the start. As a well-known interior designer dealing with celebrity clients, she sometimes had to travel the world to get to their sprawling mansions, and she was frequently required to keep odd hours to accommodate her clients' hectic schedules.
Yesterday had been a prime example of that. She'd flown in from Italy at dawn, catching only a few hours sleep on the plane. Then she'd had to rush home, shower and change her clothes before dashing to meet with a national news anchor while he did his live morning show. During his commercial breaks she'd presented pictures of what was being implemented by her design team in his Tuscan villa and gotten the okay on her plans for the rest of the project.
Ignoring the jet lag she was suffering, she'd had a full twelve hours of other appointments and details that had had to be attended to before she'd finally gotten back home again. Where a curt voice mail from a Jake Fox had awaited her. The name wasn't familiar to her and he hadn't said more than that to identify himself, only that he needed to speak to her ASAP about her mother. That it was an emergency.
When Ally had heard that, she'd wanted to kick herself for not having given her mother her new cellphone number yet. But Ally had been en route to Italy on Sunday when she would have made her weekly call to Estelle. And to be honest, she'd just been so busy that she'd forgotten all about it.
The moment she'd heard Dr. Fox's message, she'd dialed the number he'd left. And if his message had been curt and impatient, it was nothing compared to her conversation with him.
After the under-his-breath "It's about time" response to her call, Ally had said, "Are you with my mother now? Who are you?"
"A friend of Estelle's from the senior center," he'd said. "If you talked to your mother more often you'd know that."
"Are you her doctor?"
"No, I'm not her medical doctor, but Estelle needs to get to her doctor. Unfortunately her friends and I can't persuade her to do that. Besides, this is a family situation, something a stranger shouldn't need to tell you," he'd added, under his breath again. Then he'd proceeded, in a more matter-of-fact tone, to say that Estelle had been unwell, that it wasn't exactly clear what was going on with her, but that he was convinced she needed medical attention.
After trying and failing to get more out of the doctor--who insisted he had no more information to share--Ally had instantly dialed her mother's house. But there hadn't been any answer. She didn't have the numbers--or even the last names--of any of her mother's friends. The neighbors had all changed since Ally had lived with her mother, so there was no one nearby she knew to call. And despite the fact that Ally had continued to try her mother's number again and again in between making arrangements to fly to Chicago as soon as she could, she hadn't ever reached Estelle.
So there she was, on her way to Illinois with no clue what was going on and only her own worst fears to keep her company.
Thank you very much, Jake Fox.
What kind of person made a call like that when something happened to someone's seventy-nine-year-old mother?
No, she and her mother weren't close. And never had been. But Estelle was still her mother. Shouldn't there have been a little compassion? A little finesse? Especially from a medical person?
But Jake Fox had been so impatient. And why? Just because Ally didn't live in the same city, the same state that Estelle lived in? Innumerable people didn't live near family. Ally was sure Estelle wouldn't even want her close by, or that close proximity would change the nature of their relationship. Once-a-week phone calls and spending major holidays together, that was the extent of it and would be the extent of it regardless of where she lived.
And who was this guy, anyway? A friend of her mother's from the senior center--that's what he'd said. Was he some sort of boyfriend Estelle hadn't mentioned? Another retiree who had become her companion? And even if they were close, why couldn't he have said what kind of trouble her mother was having? Or if Estelle had been hurt. Or where she was...
Ally wasn't a nervous flyer and yet her hands were clenched onto the armrests and her palms were sweaty.
Rather than drying her hands on her twill slacks, she decided to make a trip to the restroom to wash them, thinking that getting up, moving around, might help some of her agitation.
It didn't. She was no more relaxed as she ran cool water over her hands, and one glance into the mirror over the sink gave evidence to how tense she was.
She hadn't had time to do more than leave her honey-blond hair loose around a face that had lost the usual bloom of pink that highlighted her cheekbones. Even her slightly full lips looked washed out beneath the thin, straight nose, and her emerald-green eyes were a little bloodshot from lack of sleep.
She dried her hands and smoothed the simple brown T-shirt she wore over the tan slacks before retaking her seat, feeling no better than when she'd left it.
She decided to stop focusing on Dr. Fox. Her mother's health was the only thing that mattered right now.