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By Gail Martin
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I don't get it." Kate Darling pivoted her head toward Dr. Adam Montgomery standing in the clinic's office doorway.
"Get what?" Adam pulled his shoulder away from the doorjamb, his stethoscope swaying at his neck as he crossed the room.
Kate gestured toward the papers she held, then used them as a fan. "We ordered adequate supplies last month, but we're running short again. I've checked against our computer records, and it doesn't match. I helped stock the last shipment, and now I'm wondering where my mind is."
"I've wondered that myself," Adam said, standing above her and watching Kate's cheeks tint a soft shade of pink.
Her chair grated against the wooden floor as she shifted and rose to face him. "I'm sorry that you find me inadequate, Dr. Montgomery."
Adam stepped back, surprised at the spunky attitude she'd shown lately. Should he remind her that she was only a nurse? He held back the comment, figuring the hot, humid climate had set them all on edge. "I didn't question your ability as a nurse, Miss Darling. You're an exceptional nurse. I question your competence in keeping accurate records of our supplies."
Her eyes narrowed, and the look she sent him nailed him to the floor. "Perhaps we should hire a local to handle supplies. Is yourSpanish prolific enough to give her orders?"
Adam held up his hand to calm the waters. "I'm not arguing with you, Katherine. We're dealing with drugs here, and we need to be responsible. We can't lose cartons of morphine and Demerol."
"I didn't lose anything. I just can't find the boxes." She spun around and headed for the doorway.
He watched her rounded hips sway as she charged across the room. Besides being irked by his comment, he knew she hated him to call her Katherine. Everyone called her Kate, but Adam thought that calling her Katherine kept things more professional.
Before she passed through the doorway, Kate paused, eyeing him over her shoulder. "You know, when I volunteered for Doctors Without Borders, I agreed to leave my cozy apartment and come to this village miles from nowhere, except mangroves and jungle." She spun around to face him. "But I didn't agree to be called inadequate." She pivoted again and hurried out of the room.
"Look, Katherine. Come back ... please."
In a moment, she reappeared in the threshold, her arms folded across her chest.
"I'm not blaming you. It's a month between shipments, and when we come up short -"
"I know." Kate stepped into the room and approached him, her arms swinging in a hopeless gesture. "I'm upset, too. I don't understand what happened."
A movement at the doorway caught Adam's attention.
"What happened?" The clinic's internist stood inside the doorway, eyeing the two of them. "What's the problem?" Perspiration beaded Lionel Valenti's face, and he pulled out a handkerchief to blot the moisture.
"Our supplies," Kate said, her tone as defeated as she looked.
Valenti's gaze shifted from Kate to Adam as if not sure who had the answer. "What about them?"
"We're running low on some of the meds," Adam said, studying his co-worker's face with concern. The man's haggard look grew worse everyday, and Adam prayed he hadn't contracted some type of jungle virus. The Venezuelan climate had been difficult for everyone.
"I hadn't noticed," Valenti said. "When I give away meds, I list them on the charts."
"No one's accusing anyone," Adam said. "But according to Katherine, the computer records and what's on the shelves don't match."
Valenti shrugged. "Our new shipment should be here on Thursday. It is the second Thursday of the month, isn't it? If so, we don't need to worry."
"I'm not worried about running out. I'm worried about being accountable," Adam said.
Kate held up her hand to halt the discussion. "I forgot to tell you. I got a call this morning. The Thursday shipment will arrive on Tuesday, two days early." She shrugged. "Don't ask me why."
Valenti eyed his watch. "Tuesday. July sixth." He swung his arms out at his sides and let them drop. "Then there's no problem. In four days we'll have a restocked dispensary."
"But that still doesn't answer my question," Kate said as she marched toward the doorway and vanished into the hallway.
"What's eating her?" Valenti asked.
Adam shrugged. "Prima donna. She doesn't take criticism well." He swung his frame into the chair Kate had vacated and eyed the computer screen.
"She'll get over it."
Valenti leaned over with him and studied the monitor. When he drew back, he swayed and grabbed the chair back to steady himself.
Adam looked into his colleague's face. "I'm concerned about you, Lionel. You don't look well. You're flushed and look tired. Have you checked your temperature?"
"It's nothing," Valenti said, waving Adam's words away. "It's the climate. I hate humidity. And I've got a sinus infection."
"You sure? If you need a day off, we'll cover for you."
"No need. I'm fine." Valenti dug his hands into his lab coat pockets. "We're all looking bad. It's this late shift."
"Someone has to do it," Adam said.
Valenti shrugged. "It doesn't matter. There's not much to do here anyway except slap at mosquitos and listen to those incessant insects."
"This isn't Colorado Springs." Adam chuckled. "I have to keep reminding myself this is Santa Maria de Flores. No luxuries here." He swiveled the chair from side to side, thinking of the comfortable town house and silver sports car waiting for his return. "I soothe myself with the thought that people wouldn't have medical treatment if we weren't here."
"You sound like a true humanitarian, Adam."
Valenti's comment had a sarcastic ring to it, but Adam didn't challenge the man. He'd been tense lately. Like Valenti had said, so had everyone.
Excerpted from Adam's Promise by Gail Martin Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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