My bookmarks with a picture of the cover for Romancing the Doctor just arrived. I really like the cover.
Here’s a sample excerpt from Romancing the Doctor
“Twenty-one people from the same bus were admitted to an Atlanta hospital. It’s like some virus or poison was released in the vehicle.” Heather McKinley’s boss at The Dallas Morning News sounded excited like she thought this would be a really big story.
Like steady drumbeats, rain pounded on Heather’s car, making it hard to hear the woman on the phone. Heather slowed the vehicle down before pulling off to the shoulder on the wooded road. “What?” Poison? On a bus? she couldn’t possibly have heard right.
“That’s right. I want you to interview someone who’s willing to talk.”
Heather dug out a pen and pad. “Who?”
“Mark Hanes. See what you can find out.”
Heather scribbled down the information. “I’m on it.”
She jotted down questions and dialed the number. A hoarse male voice grated on her ears.
“Mark Hanes. Please leave a message.”
“I’m Heather McKinley with The Dallas Morning News, and I’d like to interview you about being on that Atlanta bus where a number of people became ill today.”
She glanced ahead, ready to pull back onto the road. She strained to focus. A golden-brown lump lay in the grass on the shoulder. Wait…did it move? If it’s an injured animal, I can’t just leave the poor thing lying there cold and hurt. After killing the ignition, she grabbed her umbrella from the back seat. Jumping out into the weather, she gripped the umbrella tightly against the wind and rushed to the quivering animal.
The cold wind whipped the leaves in the trees, and goose bumps rose up on her bare arms. A puppy lay beside the ditch. Barely visible, a swollen eye looked at her from dripping, slicked-down fur.
She knelt to examine the dog. “Oh, look at you.” It whimpered, tearing at her heartstrings. “You poor baby. Where’s your owner? Did someone leave you out here all by yourself?”
She ran her hand over its body and found no obvious cuts or blood except around its eye. It struggled to its feet and walked unsteadily toward her in a weakened state. Carefully, she lifted the puppy up and hugged it to her chest. Its wet fur chilled her, and its tiny limbs shook. Snuggling against her, the puppy let out one more whimper then stilled. she could barely feel a tiny heartbeat. Her fingers felt through its straggly fur for a collar but didn’t find one.
“Damn it. Why did someone just leave you here beside the road when they could have taken you to the SPCA?”
Her watch said ten to five. If she hurried, she could get to the vet’s before it closed. “There, there. You’ll be okay soon.”
She laid the puppy on the passenger seat, threw her sweater over it and turned the heater on full blast. After aiming the vents toward the pup, she gunned the motor and headed back onto the road, all the while praying the office was still open. Soon the blowing warm air heated her enough to make her unbutton her sweater. She patted his golden fur. It felt warmer and drier.
She’d met Dr. Thomas Whistler the previous week at church in their small town of Pleasant Prairie, and they had exchanged a few words. He seemed like the kind of man who wouldn’t mind staying late for an emergency. Beside her, the puppy squirmed and stretched his front legs to push against her side. It would be a shame if no one claimed the little fella. The little dog snuggled closer and licked her hand, its tongue raspy and warm.
* * *
Sitting in the vet’s office, Heather stashed her notebook in her purse and took a moment to glance around the room. Across from her sat a man with a cleft chin and high cheekbones. His brown eyes met her gaze. With a quick brush of his long fingers, he smoothed back wavy chestnut hair and smiled at her.
He wore a well-pressed suit and tie and was studying a stapled report. However, he kept glancing her way with his warm brown eyes. When she met his gaze, he smiled back. It felt good to be noticed the way a man notices a woman. A glow suffused her body as if she were basking in the sunshine on a balmy spring day. She felt her face flush and hoped he didn’t notice.
He returned to his paperwork. Sliding a glance his way, she decided he looked to be in his early thirties and from the briefcase near his feet, an executive. His hair lay in even waves, every strand in place. How would he react to someone ruffling it? Why was she even thinking about that?