Along Came Zoe (Harlequin Super Romance Series, #1244)

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Along Came Zoe

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373712441
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 12/1/2004
  • Series: Harlequin Super Romance Series , #1244
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.64 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Along Came Zoe


By Janice Macdonald

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-71244-8


Chapter One

JENNY DIXON WAS SIXTEEN.

Jenny Dixon was a cheerleader.

Jenny Dixon was driving home from practice when her Toyota was broadsided by a drunk driver.

Jenny Dixon is dead.

Dr. Phillip Barry, pulling into the underground garage of his Seacliff apartment, was stricken suddenly with exhaustion. He parked the car in its allotted space, climbed the stairs to the front door, unlocked it and threw himself on the sofa, where he fell asleep almost instantly.

Jenny Dixon is dead.

He sat up with a start, shook his head. The phone was ringing.

"Phillip?" His ex-wife, Deanna. "Were you sleeping?"

"No ... yes." He dug his knuckles into his eyes. "I'm fine. What's up?"

"I was calling to talk about Molly. You said you'd have her this weekend, remember?" A pause. "Phillip. Are you okay? I ran into your brother at the market and he said you've been looking like hell lately -"

"I'm fine." He tried to recall exactly when he'd agreed that Molly, their sixteen-year-old daughter, would spend the weekend; not that he didn't want her, but things seemed to be getting away from him lately. Nothing big, nothing outside of the O.R., thank God, just conversations, appointments, things like that. He leaned his head against the couch back and closed his eyes."So what's the deal? I pick up Molly, or will you bring -"

"Phillip, we've already talked about this ... I'm concerned about you. Joe is, too. It's that damn ... that Dixon case, isn't it? Phillip, you're human, for God's sake. You go on burning the candle at both ends long enough and something's going to give. Anyway, why should you blame yourself? I don't see Stu going around wringing his hands - everyone deserves some time off once in a while, when was the last time -"

"So do you want me to pick up Molly?"

"Okay, you're not going to listen to me, I might as well save my breath. I just want you to think about something. Molly needed you. Needs you. This girl's death wasn't your fault. It wasn't your fault a bus overturned. It wasn't your fault the paramedics had to drive her around ..."

With Deanna's voice in his ear, Phillip got up from the couch and wandered over to the opened French doors. Straight ahead, the Pacific stretched endlessly. On either side he could see, in his peripheral vision, the balconies of his neighbors. Smoke from someone's grill wafted briefly into the room.

"... I don't mean to sound callous or anything," Deanna was saying, "but instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, why don't you just think about what it means to Molly that you're available once in a while. Like her birthday, for example ..."

Phillip came back inside, slid the doors shut and returned to the couch. The headline in that morning's Tribune had asked, Did Jenny Have To Die? Maybe not, he was forced to admit. If he and Stu, his partner, hadn't decided just weeks before Jenny Dixon's accident to suspend emergency neurosurgical services to Seacliff's trauma center ... if a tourist bus hadn't tumbled down a mountainous ravine just east of the city, swamping other local centers with injured passengers ... if Jenny had been immediately airlifted instead of being driven around in an ambulance ... If, if, if. An endless wheel of ifs circling unmercifully through his brain.

AS SOON AS SHE HEARD the morning weather report announcing a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, Zoe McCann knew that the winds traveling up from Baja wouldn't be the day's only storm. The announcer's voice on the clock radio - specifically his mention of the words historic surf - had woken her from sleep.

Adrenaline coursing through her body, Zoe pulled on jeans and grabbed a flannel shirt from the pile of clean laundry that she'd intended to put away the night before and ran, barefoot, downstairs to the kitchen to grab her keys.

"That bastard," she muttered to herself as she climbed into her truck. "I swear to God, I'll kill him."

Ten minutes later - it would have been five but for the morning commuter traffic - she drove her pickup south on Pacific Coast Highway, the car radio blaring something unintelligible. Jeez. She punched buttons, searching for something other than the punk rock that always screamed from the speakers after her son Brett had used the truck.

"... and the continued fallout from the tragic death of a local teenager has prompted a Seacliff city councilman to propose financial incentives ranging from five hundred to one thousand dollars or more a day to lure neurosurgeons back into providing on-call services."

Financial rewards to lure neurosurgeons.

Disgusted, Zoe snapped off the radio. Money always took care of everything. A thousand dollars in Dr. Phillip Barry's hot little hand and Jenny Dixon might be alive today.

She glanced out through the passenger window to the ocean where great feathery sprays of foam were shooting into the air. She'd lived her whole life in California, but she never took the ocean for granted. Whether it was that weird churning green it sometimes turned in winter, or the pale blue silk of early summer, the water inspired her. However cranky she might feel, twenty minutes or so watching the waves generally did the trick. Except, of course, if she happened to notice that another small beach cottage along the cliffs had been razed to make room for some hideous megamansion that blocked views for everyone except the self-absorbed morons who lived in them.

Like Dr. Phillip Barry.

The car ahead had Nebraska plates and the driver had slowed to a crawl while everyone in the vehicle rubbernecked at the view. Zoe moved them along with two quick bleeps on the horn. Fingers tapping the steering wheel, she drove past Diamond Beach - where distant black figures out in the breaking waves might, to the uninitiated, be frolicking dolphins - finally slowing down as she reached the bluffs.

The line of parked pickup trucks and battered cars with oxidized paint jobs started halfway up the hill and ended just opposite the power plant on the other side of the street.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Along Came Zoe by Janice Macdonald Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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