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Dale Metcalf read the brief message for the hundredth time and told himself he should walk away. Let the islanders save themselves - they certainly hadn't saved him fifteen years ago. They hadn't saved his parents. His aunt.
"Can I get you something else?" The heavily made-up waitress leaned over Dale, giving him a look down her shirt and a whiff of cheap perfume. She brushed her breast against his arm when she stood, leaving no doubt as to what something else could entail. Though the strippers were off duty, the Slippery Pole still reeked of sex and anonymity.
He lifted the nearly empty bottle. "Another beer, please."
Her pink-caked lips pursed and her tired eyes flashed, stuck-up doctor thinks he's too good for the likes of me. Bastard. She flounced off with a twitch of her too-generous hips, and Dale leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. He folded the paper and tucked it into his pocket without looking, but the words pounded in his brain. Lobster Island. Death.
Dale jolted at the voice, then cursed when his boss, Zachary Cage, slid into the dark booth. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Ripley said you were looking for me."
Hospitals were incestuouslysmall by nature. Boston General had become even more so when Cage married Dr. Ripley Davis, who was best friends with Dale's ex. Awkward didn't even begin to cover it.
Dale frowned. He'd wanted to have this conversation at the hospital, wanted it official. "Yeah, I need to talk to you. But I didn't expect you to track me down in an off-hours titty bar."
"And I didn't expect to find you in one, knocking back cheap beer," Cage countered. "So what's the problem?"
Dale tilted the bottle to buy a moment. He wasn't much of a drinker, but the memories crowding his head deserved to be toasted with beer. The cheaper the better. He set the bottle down. "I need time off."
"No problem." Cage waved at the waitress and ordered an import. "Between Boston General and HFH, you've done the work of two average doctors. You deserve a vacation. Maybe it'll help you clear your head of ... things."
Dale was tempted to let his boss think he needed distance from the breakup. But Cage was the local administrator for HFH - Hospitals for Humanity - a group that sent doctors into unstable situations. War. Natural disasters. Outbreaks. He needed to know where Dale was going, and why.
At least some of the why. Nobody at Boston General needed to know all of it.
"I'll need HFH field equipment." Dale touched his pocket, where Mickey's message rested near his heart. Distant cousins, the boys had grown up together. Mick was the only one Dale had kept in touch with. The only one who had the power to call him back to that godforsaken place. "There's an outbreak of shellfish poisoning on a chunk of rock called Lobster Island. The Maine fisheries people shut the area down, but I'd like to investigate."
Cage's eyebrows lifted. "Why HFH?"
The subtext read, why bother? The group focused on major disasters and massive outbreaks. Not a few people sick with paralytic shellfish poisoning - PSP - and not when the locals already had the necessary quarantines in place.
But this was different. Resisting the urge to tug at his imported cotton shirt, Dale muttered, "I was born on the island."
Oddly enough, he wasn't struck by lightning. He glanced at his beer. It was his third. Maybe fourth. And it was the only way he'd been able to make himself say the words.
Cage raised his eyebrows. "Well, hell. I always thought -"
"Yeah, I know," Dale interrupted. That's what everyone at Boston General thought, because that's what he'd wanted them to think. "I need a week, some field kits and lab support back at BoGen." He paused. "Please."
Cage studied him a moment, then nodded. "You can have all the equipment you need. But I don't let my team members go Lone Ranger, even on a quick island hop. You're bringing a partner."
Dale hid the wince, knowing Cage was bound by HFH policy. Nobody went into the field alone. Period. But he didn't want anyone else at Boston General to know about his past. Not even his usual HFH partner, though he trusted her as much as he trusted anyone.
Unfortunately, Dr. Tansy Whitmore wasn't an option. Not anymore. He scowled as the cheap beer soured in his stomach. That was the only reason he felt a twinge of pain that they'd gone from "let's just be friends," straight to "I hope you choke on your stethoscope and die, you miserable -"
Yeah, that was it. Dale looked up. The knot in his stomach grew tighter and he felt the familiar sizzle when he saw her striding through the disreputable bar without a sideways glance. Grown out from the short crop she'd given it during their last tropical assignment, her golden hair was caught mid-curl. It stuck out around her head like a nimbus of flame, matching the fire in her blue eyes. Her unpainted lips drew a tense line across her face, and energy crackled around her as she beat a path to Dale's table.
As always, the sight of Tansy was like a punch to his chest. But now, that first thrust of sexual awareness was tangled with other things. Anger. Disappointment.
Regret, though she'd never know it.
"Oh, hell," he muttered, rising to his feet more from self-preservation than manners.
Cage stood, as well. "Dr. Whitmore."
Hospital hierarchy didn't save Cage from Tansy's anger. She snapped, "Don't you 'Dr. Whitmore' me, Zachary Cage. You said you didn't know where he was." Without waiting for an answer, she turned on Dale and shook a piece of paper at him. "And you! What the hell is this?"
Excerpted from Body Search by Jessica Andersen 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.
Posted November 27, 2012
She padded in to the clearing her mini freshkill pile was gone. "What?" She opened her jaws to take in any and all scents. The scent of cat was strong but strange. She followed it to a bush where it was strongest. As she sniffed something hard hit her shoulders pinning her to the ground. She quickly pushed herself up knocking her attacker off. She spun around to face a mangy orange tom. "You!" She yowled. The attacker looked suprised. She jumped at him but her moved to quick. He flipped her and pinned her down her soft belly exposed. He raked her belly with deep pericing claws. She yowled in pain. The attacker ran off instantly. She got up and stagered back to camp not noticing the deep cut on her belly.... < WolfscarWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.