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WAS IT LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Anna Sebastian wanted desperately to learn about the stranger whose transplanted heart beat within her chest particularly once the erotic dreams and deathly silent late-night calls began. But when her journey brought her face-to-face with her darkly handsome fantasy lover, she debated whether to divulge the truth. For brooding widower Ben Porter was rumored to have murdered the ...
WAS IT LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Anna Sebastian wanted desperately to learn about the stranger whose transplanted heart beat within her chest particularly once the erotic dreams and deathly silent late-night calls began. But when her journey brought her face-to-face with her darkly handsome fantasy lover, she debated whether to divulge the truth. For brooding widower Ben Porter was rumored to have murdered the wife whose tragic end had given Anna a precious second chance .
OR SOMETHING EVEN MORE DANGEROUS?
A former cop, Ben knew that Anna harbored secrets, just as he knew they would become lovers. But Anna's sudden appearance aroused more than his guarded heart and urge to protect. It awakened a dormant killer who'd chosen now to strike again .
Dr. English glanced up from Anna Sebastian's lab reports and gave her a wink. "Not my wife, I hope."
"You aren't married," she reminded him. And despite what his teasing tone seemed to suggest, Anna was not now, nor would she ever be, involved in a torrid love affair with her doctor.
Not that he wasn't torrid love affair material. He was a real heartthrob, in fact, with his dark hair, smoldering eyes and a slow, sexy smile that had sent Anna into a tailspin the first time she'd seen it.
But that was before he'd reached inside her chest and literally ripped out her heart.
Since then she'd become immune to that smile. Nowadays she valued Michael English's expertise as a heart surgeon far more highly than his skills as a lover, although she suspected those skills were considerable.
"Aren't you even the least bit curious about what I said?" she persisted.
"First things first." He gathered up the lab reports and gave her a look that was now all business. "How've you been feeling?"
"At the moment, like I had a run-in with a vampire." She put a hand to her neck where a bandage covered the small incision made several hours earlier for her heart biopsy.
Michael scribbled something in her file. "Have the mood swings improved since we eliminated the prednisone?"
"What mood swings?"
"Laurel said -"
"Laurel is a born worrier," Anna scoffed. "She thinks if I feel the least bit tired or cranky or if I should - God forbid - cough, I'm experiencing rejection."
He gave her a stern appraisal. "Have you experienced any of those symptoms?"
"No." Anna shrugged. "I was just trying to make the point that my stepmother worries too much."
"No." It seemed a shame to have to discuss something so unpleasant with a man like Michael, but Anna was used to it by now. He'd seen her at her worst and then some.
"Shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat?"
"No, no and no." She sighed. "You would think after nearly a year and no major complications, Laurel could relax a bit." She slanted him a glance. "So could you, for that matter."
"Anna." His voice took on the note she didn't like, the doctor to patient one that told her she was in for another lecture. "You can't afford to get complacent just because you've only had one mild episode of rejection. It could still happen. You have to check your vitals on a daily basis. That doesn't change. That's forever. So is taking your medication. Noncompliance is the third-leading cause of rejection."
"I am taking my meds," she insisted.
"You never forget?"
"Not once." The various medications had, thankfully, decreased to a more manageable number from the fifteen in the morning and another fifteen at night she'd been prescribed when she first left the hospital. She still sometimes felt as if she were running a pharmacy out of her medicine cabinet, but she took the pills and the liquids like clockwork every single day. No forgetting. No doubling up on the dosage. Even skipping one time could invite rejection.
Anna knew that only too well. Michael and the rest of her transplant team had hammered it into her head before and after her surgery. She'd had to memorize all her meds, know them by sight and what they were for, before she'd been allowed to leave the hospital.
"Lean forward." Michael blew gently on the stethoscope before placing the warmed instrument against her back, and then he moved it around to her chest. Next he took her pulse, his brows drawing together in concentration as he counted.
He really was a handsome man. It would have been very easy to cross the line from professional to personal, Anna had to admit. He wasn't just easy on the eyes, but was charming and funny and he loved to tease her. She couldn't remember being teased that way since her mother had died of heart failure when Anna was thirteen.
She'd inherited her mother's bad heart, but not her sense of humor. Always prone to a serious disposition, Anna had become even more intense and driven as a teenager, especially after her father remarried. She'd bitterly rebelled against her stepmother and had cut herself off from her family all through college and law school. Not until Anna learned her father was battling lung cancer had she finally taken the first step toward reconciliation.
She was grateful they'd made their peace before he died, but she knew she hadn't given him the one thing he'd wanted most - her acceptance of Laurel. Even in their mutual grief, Anna hadn't been able to warm up to her stepmother.
So it was ironic, she supposed, that Laurel was the one who'd talked her into seeing a doctor when she'd started having dizzy spells, Laurel who'd insisted Anna seek a second opinion when her first cardiologist had sent her home after treating her for an irregular heartbeat.
It was Laurel who moved in and took care of Anna when, several months later, the dizzy spells turned into exhaustion, Laurel who commiserated with her when she had to cut back her caseload at Matthews, Conley and Hart and later, when she had to take an extended leave of absence.
It was Laurel who'd been by Anna's side when she got the news that in the year since her first diagnosis, her heart had taken a complete nosedive, and a transplant was her only hope.
It was Laurel who'd driven her to the hospital when the call had come that a heart had been found for her.
A new heart. A new life. A new Anna.
At least, she was trying for the latter. Facing her own mortality had made her take a long hard look at herself, and Anna had been a little shocked by what she'd found. Her whole adult life had been focused on her career to the exclusion of all else, including friendships, relationships and family.
The decisions she'd made had been brought painfully home to her when Laurel had kept a lonely vigil at the hospital, when only a smattering of cards and letters from well-wishers had been delivered to her apartment. She'd been forced to accept the unpleasant truth that, except for her stepmother - a woman Anna had treated badly for years - no one much cared whether she lived or died.
Excerpted from Confessions of the Heart by Amanda Stevens Copyright © 2003 by Amanda Stevens
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted July 5, 2006
'Anna Sebastian wanted desperately to learn about the stranger whose transplanted heart beat within her chest...particularly once the erotic dreams and deathly silent late-night calls began. But when her journey brought her face-to-face with her darkly handsome fantasy lover, she debated whether to divulge the truth. For brooding widower Ben Porter was rumored to have murdered the wife whose tragic end had given Anna a precious second chance....A former cop, Ben knew that Anna harbored secrets, just as he knew they would become lovers. But Anna's sudden appearance aroused more than his guarded heart and urge to protect. It awakened a dormant killer who'd chosen now to strike again...'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.