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One Week in Your Arms

One Week in Your Arms

4.6 5
by Patricia Preston

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Six years ago, ambitious med student Marla Grant gave into temptation with a gorgeous man. Now a busy doctor and a loving single mom, the only thing that matters to Marla more than her adorable daughter is the Lafayette Falls Community Clinic. When its funding is threatened, Marla is determined to find out


Six years ago, ambitious med student Marla Grant gave into temptation with a gorgeous man. Now a busy doctor and a loving single mom, the only thing that matters to Marla more than her adorable daughter is the Lafayette Falls Community Clinic. When its funding is threatened, Marla is determined to find out why—until she learns the person responsible is none other than the powerful, persuasive man of her long-ago fling and the unsuspecting father of her child…
Carson Blackwell has never forgotten bright, beautiful Marla. When he discovers that she runs the clinic his grandmother’s foundation funds, it’s the perfect chance to put an end to his ongoing infatuation—and use his leverage to cement a new business deal. He needs a fake girlfriend for one week in Hawaii, and Marla is just the woman for the job. It’s a win-win situation, until they realize the attraction between them isn’t feigned, and the heat has never died down. Only the secrets they’re both keeping stand in the way of a future together—and a love that could last a lifetime.

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Publication date:
Love Heals All , #1
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Read an Excerpt

One Week in Your Arms

By Patricia Preston


Copyright © 2016 Patricia Preston
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60183-946-6


Marla wished the letter on her desk would vanish. That, somehow, it would sprout little legs and go running all the way back to California. But she was not going to be that lucky. Today, her luck had run out.

She shifted in the old executive desk chair that squeaked every time she moved. Her desk was a vintage monstrosity made of dark cherry wood. Built in the sixties and made to last forever. Unlike her luck.

A variety of modern items covered the desk. Her new smartphone and touchscreen tablet. The latest editions of Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary and Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. Her red stethoscope and a solid brass desk nameplate engraved with her name.

Marla E. Grant, MD

The idealistic country girl who had made her family proud. Of course, that wasn't engraved on the nameplate, although she often thought it should be.

Beside her nameplate, a lovely philodendron grew in a ceramic pot. Philodendron was the kind of plant you couldn't kill. She could save people, but not plants.

A funny figurine of a frazzled female physician, given to Marla by her staff, stood next to a wire basket that held a variety of notes and reports. Near the basket was a stack of mail in disarray. Most of the mail was the typical stuff from pharmaceutical companies, consulting physicians, and medical associations. She had not been expecting anything out of the ordinary as she thumbed through the envelopes.

Then she had gotten the shock of her life.

She leaned forward and contemplated the striking envelope on her desk. It haunted her in the way that only an unresolved past can haunt you. Especially a past of well-kept secrets. What did this envelope conceal? She managed to touch it. Barely.

The stationery was exceptional. Expensive, of course. Buff linen paper. The return address featured raised letters in a bold font, black outlined with gold. No surprise there.

Blackwell Enterprises.

She stared at those two words and tried not to tremble as she thought of a pair of tall, ornate gates that led to an imposing mansion and a world so different from hers. Those gates only opened for a select few in Carson Blackwell's elite circles.

Lifting her gaze from the envelope to the wall, she looked at the photographs of her little girl. Sophie. Dark-haired and blue-eyed, Sophie smiled back at her. There were pictures of Sophie as a baby, a toddler, and the most recent was a picture of Sophie and Marla together, taken on Sophie's fifth birthday.

Plus, there was one old portrait of Marla with her former husband, Dr. Ben Archer, and one-year-old Sophie. The family that never was.

Marla closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, the letter was still there. It wasn't going to disappear on its own.

It's not going to open by itself either.

Put on your big girl panties and do it.

No. No. Just stick it in the shredder and hope for the best.

She picked up the letter opener. Her heart palpitated in sheer terror as she slid the opener under the flap of the envelope. With the envelope open, she peeped inside to see one folded sheet of stationery.

After six years, what could he possibly have to say?

She pictured him, standing beside a black truck in the drive of Royal Oaks, an old estate belonging to his grandmother. She recalled the date. June twenty-eighth. The day they had said goodbye had been a warm, blustery day in Tennessee. A summer storm was heading toward the rolling hills near Nashville.

The wind made a mess of Carson's unruly dark hair. His dark blue eyes were hidden by a pair of mirrored lens aviators, and his alpha-male physique tested the seams of his polo shirt.

"If I'm ever back in town, I'll look you up," he promised as their casual affair came to an inevitable end. For three weeks, they had been together and finally, the time had come for them to go their separate ways. She hadn't realized it would be so difficult.

"Sure." She forced a smile of goodwill. After all, they weren't parting in anger, or in love for that matter. And it was unlikely that she would ever see him again.

"I had a great time," she confessed boldly. She'd loved every minute of their brief, steamy affair. Talk about a summer break to remember. She grinned.

He gave her cheek a stroke. "You'll make a great doctor."

"You think so?"

"Yeah." He grinned. "You certainly know all there is to know about male anatomy."

"Yours, at least." She laughed. Then she hopped up on her toes and gave him a quick kiss. "Goodbye, Carson Blackwell."

She stepped away from him. Now was the time to face what was ahead. A grueling three-year residency. There would be no more time for long summer nights, tangled sheets, and sighs against swollen lips. She walked toward her small, sturdy hatchback. Before she opened the driver's door, she looked up and met his gaze.

"Goodbye," he called.

At that moment, she'd had an odd sensation in her chest that her life was never going to be the same. Then she laughed at her silliness. A summer fling with a guy just passing through was not something that changed your life. For her, completing her residency would be the life changer.

She had watched Carson drive off into the sunset.

Never to be seen or heard from again until now.

Why now?

She gave Sophie's pictures a quick glance. Her daughter looked so much like Carson. She had his blue eyes, his wavy hair, his smile, and sometimes, his arrogance. Fate could play dirty tricks even when you didn't deserve it.

Maybe somehow he had found out about he had a daughter. Marla had been living on the outskirts of that nightmare ever since Sophie was born. Carson had the kind of wealth that made it possible for him to have whatever he wanted. If he wanted custody of Sophie, he could make that happen. She was sure of it.

For a moment, she fanned herself with the envelope. It's not possible.

No one knew the truth except her. Everyone else thought Sophie was Ben Archer's daughter. Not even Ben knew who Sophie's biological father was.

Dear, sweet Ben had never asked. He had simply accepted Sophie as his child even though he knew she wasn't, and Marla had kept the truth buried so deep in her heart that it would have taken the best surgeon in the world to excise it.

She withdrew Carson's letter and unfolded it slowly. The way you'd open a death warrant. The paper trembled in her hands.

A high-quality laser printer had produced a perfect, professional copy. Bold and easy to read.

Dear Dr. Grant:

I am writing in regards to the Royal Oaks Foundation, which provides a monthly stipend to the Lafayette Falls Community Clinic. Samuel Clayton, who has been director of the foundation since my grandmother's death, has retired. Due to his retirement, I am assuming control of the foundation.

This letter shall serve as a sixty-day notice of the discontinuation of grant money from the Royal Oaks Foundation to the clinic, effective September first.

This notification should give you ample time to find other benefactors. If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact my office.

Yours truly,

Carson Blackwell

Short and to-the-point. That was his style. She slumped in the chair as the breath she'd been holding rushed out as if it had been pent up for decades. Sweet relief poured through her soul. She smiled at Sophie's picture.

We're safe, angel. He doesn't know. He will never know.

She tucked the letter back in the envelope. All that stressing and sweating for nothing. She rubbed her chest as her tense heart muscles finally relaxed.

It was all about money.

The Lafayette Falls Community Clinic provided general medical care to the public, offering reduced rates to non-insured and low-income patients and free wellness services. Grants, sponsors, and government assistance subsidized the nonprofit clinic. Without the grant, the clinic finances would need to be adjusted, and that was Nolana's job. Nolana Sullivan was the clinic's manager, and she kept up with all the money matters.

At the door of her office, Marla roped her stethoscope around her neck and called to her nurse, "Christy, is Mr. Taylor's X-ray ready?"

Christy Price, one of the clinic nurses, walked in the office. Christy, an ex-cheerleader, could still do a cartwheel at age thirty. "His X-ray is on the viewer. Also, I have a seven-year-old in Room One with a spider bite." Christy grinned. "And you won't believe what's behind door number two."

Marla eyed Christy. "It's not Mrs. Hauckdale again with the alien inside her?"

"No." Christy's smile broadened. "You know, she had that alien baby. She named it Scotty and they beamed it up."

Marla shook her head and Christy said, "She posted its picture on Facebook."

"No way." Marla laughed.

"For real. You need to get on Facebook."

"Don't have time. I'll go look at the X-ray. Run this letter upstairs to Nolana." She handed the envelope to Christy.

As Marla was looking at the X-ray, her smartphone started playing "Material Girl," which meant she had a text from her best friend and partner-in-crime, Dr. Kayla Vance, an ob-gyn specialist. Cardiologist Brett Harris, a.k.a. Hot Rod, had nicknamed them the Two LaLas. Marla reached for her phone and read Kayla's text.

I'm having an awesome time!

Kayla was at a medical conference in Miami.

Who is he?

You know me too well. A rep for Ellerdine Pharmaceuticals. You should see how he fills out a suit! I'm hoping it's not padded, you know! LOL!!! I'll let you know if I get lucky.

Marla grinned.

Go for it. She added a smiley face with horns.

The rest of the afternoon proceeded uneventfully. Marla saw eighteen patients with various complaints and injuries. She referred the flashlight guy to the gastroenterology clinic. When she left the last patient, she decided she and Sophie would go to Barney's for pizza tonight. She was too tired to contemplate making dinner.

As she was completing her patient notes on the computer at the nurses' station, Nolana appeared. Nolana was an attractive woman with chocolate-colored skin and golden-brown eyes who liked wearing colorful silk scarves with her business suits. She was one of those people born with a great smile, but at the moment, she wasn't smiling.

Nolana's somber expression troubled Marla.

"We need to talk," Nolana spoke quietly. "Now."

Marla followed her upstairs. The clinic was located in an old building that had once been a retail business, and Nolana's office still had the original hardwood flooring and tin ceiling tiles. Vibrant African tapestries flourished on grayish-green walls, and a bouquet of fresh roses from Nolana's garden gave the room an appealing fragrance compared to the medicinal scent of the clinic.

Nolana had a straightforward approach when it came to business. She motioned to the armchair in front of her desk and said, "Without the money from the Royal Oaks Foundation, we're in trouble. We'll have to make major cuts."

Marla took a seat. "Such as?"

"For starters, cutting back clinic hours."

At the present, the clinic was open five days a week. Marla worked in the clinic three days a week. Besides her work at the clinic, she was the medical director at the Lafayette Falls Wellness Center. She headed up a fitness program for policewomen. Plus she occasionally worked an emergency room shift on the weekends and made hospital rounds for her aging mentor, Dr. Adam Hughes.

When she first started working at the community clinic, some of her peers scoffed at her idealism. They called her a starry-eyed and said she would never make a living. True, she didn't drive a Mercedes and live in a huge house, but she and her little girl had everything they needed.

"How many hours will we need to cut back?" she asked.

Nolana settled in her desk chair. "We can go from five days a week to three. We can be open the days you are here seeing patients."

Marla shook her head as she considered that. Elderly patients often stopped by to let Christy monitor their blood pressure and vital signs, plus answer questions about their medications. Young mothers brought babies for immunizations and childcare education. The clinic provided medical counseling for all ages as well as free medications and supplies. Cutting back to three days a week would limit services.

"The clinic needs to be open every day. What about the staff?"

"When we cut the hours, we'll have to cut the staff as well," Nolana answered. "We don't have a choice. The grant from Miss Eva's foundation pays half of our expenses." She sighed.

"That much?" Marla had never delved into the clinic finances. When she moved back to Lafayette Falls and replaced Dr. Hughes as the clinic physician, Nolana had already been the business manager for ten years, and she did an excellent job.

"You know Miss Eva loved this community," Nolana said. "She was very generous to the less fortunate."

Yes, Eva Richardson, who was Carson's grandmother, had been a gracious lady known for her wealth and benevolence. The granddaughter of a New York railroad baron, Eva Carson had married Dr. Benjamin Richardson in the forties and moved to the old antebellum estate, Royal Oaks, which had been Dr. Richardson's birthplace. She had made the West Tennessee town of Lafayette Falls her home, and she'd become the city's most beloved philanthropist.

There was a school, an avenue, and a park named after her.

Marla tried to remain positive. "Maybe we can get more money from the city and the county."

"Those tightwads? No way. Not until election year," Nolana replied. "Then we might get lucky, but that's next year. We can try for another federal or state grant, but the process will take months, and there's no guarantee we'll get any money."

"How about private donations?"

"We can do that. I can probably get some money from Mike's firm." Nolana's husband worked at the largest investment company in town. "I'm still waiting to hear back from a couple of private foundations. You could talk to the medical staff, but I don't think we're going to find another donor this year who can match the Royal Oaks Foundation."

"I'll meet with Doctor Sheldon," Marla said. Sheldon was the chief of staff, and he would know if the hospital had any funds available. "How much money are we talking about?"

"Two hundred thousand."

"You're kidding," Marla gasped.

"I wish." Nolana opened one of the desk drawers. "I need chocolate. How about you?"

"I really need a drink," Marla responded, "but chocolate is good."

Nolana dug a plastic container out of her desk drawer. It was filled with Nolana's favorite treat. Fancy dark chocolate truffles wrapped in silver foil. She offered the truffles to Marla.

"Thank you." Marla took one. She munched on the truffle and looked at Carson's letter that lay on Nolana's desk.

She thought back to the first time she'd seen him. He had been standing beside one of the white columns at Royal Oaks. Dressed in a white shirt and dark slacks, he had an arrogant stance and a killer smile. Royal Oaks's very own Rhett Butler. It had been a throw-me-down-and-take-me-now moment.

She sighed. "I wonder why he's going to do away with Miss Eva's foundation. He's rich. He inherited his father's fortune, which is worth millions."

"Actually, Blackwell Enterprises is worth one point two billion now," Nolana said and Marla's jaw dropped. "I Googled it."

"Can I have another truffle?"

Nolana pushed the container toward Marla. "Help yourself."

As Marla stuck the truffle in her mouth, Nolana tapped her fingers on Carson's letter. "I don't understand why he'd pull the funding on the clinic. With the kind of money he has, he can easily afford the donation and write it off as a tax deduction."

The truffle melted in Marla's mouth. A tiny moment of pleasure on a bleak day.

Nolana went on, "You would think he'd want to keep his grandmother's legacy intact."

"That probably doesn't matter to him now. She's been dead several years, and he's never had any connection to this community."

Nolana toyed with the letter. "Then he doesn't know anything about the clinic as far as who we are and what we do." She gave the letter a reflective gaze. "If he did, he might reconsider and fund the clinic. Maybe I should call him."

Marla squirmed in the chair. "I don't know. I doubt if that'd change things."

"We have to try," Nolana insisted. "I tell you what. I'll call him and invite him to come here."

"No!" Marla gasped, and Nolana glanced up, surprised. Quickly, Marla gathered her wits. "I'm sure he's far too busy to come here. Small town. Nothing going on. That's not his style."

Nolana leaned back in the chair. "You know him?"

Marla nodded. Try not to dig your grave any deeper. "I met him once. Back when Miss Eva was still alive. There was a fundraiser at Royal Oaks. He was visiting her."


"Yeah." Marla gave her fingernails a quick glance. "I think he was rather bored."

She had often thought that boredom was what had driven Carson Blackwell to flirt with a nobody like her. A plain country girl with a lofty IQ that had made it possible for her to become the first doctor in her family. A girl who had no money or pedigree.


Excerpted from One Week in Your Arms by Patricia Preston. Copyright © 2016 Patricia Preston. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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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One Week in Your Arms 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
angang68 3 months ago
Marla and Carson had a fling and then went their separate ways. Fast forward six years and Marla runs a clinic and is raising her daughter. Carson's foundation is the major contributor for the clinic and plans to leverage this as a way to get Marla out of his system once and for all. He blackmails her into going to Hawaii with him and pretending to be his fake girlfriend.....one week and she will have the money she needs to keep the clinic open. While in Hawaii, they both soon realize that what they had in the past is necessarily in the past. When secrets come to light, will their new found relationship be threatened? Patricia Preston wrote a second chance story full of twists and turns. This is a second chance romance I recommend!
HumorMyWay 4 months ago
I just adore stories of second chances that make you smile, feel good all over and pull you in from the first page. Ones with over powering men who know what they want and will do anything to get. Men who need to be taught a lesson or must learn from their mistakes with women who know how to stand on their own but really deep down just want that someone who keeps them smiling, with arms to fall into when the day is long, taking some of the hard times turning them around making you see a rainbow through the rain. I found all this and more in this story full of hope, love, fear, the unknown, misunderstandings, starting over, with humor, sorrow in community that gives back from a very talented author that gives you a story about family values, mistakes, love, longing and family. Yes it is a little predictable with a few surprises but it makes you smile and keeps you invested throughout the read. Marla and Carson had a hot love affair things didn’t go as planned, they split up and tried to move on. Neither could forget the other. When the opportunity knocked on Carson’s door he put a plan together to worm his way back into her life. He thinks one week is all he will need to work her out of his system. Come hell or high water one week it will be in Hawaii with Marla being his fake girlfriend. He’ll gets some hot nights in the sun with his hot ex, she gets the money she needs to run her clinic it is a win, win for both of them or is it? Marla fears of the unknown when and if Carson finds out about their daughter are true fears that any mother would feel. Fear has a way of making us do or say things we wouldn’t normal do. There were times I really wanted Marla to go ahead and get it over with but at the same time being a mother myself I understood why she didn’t and most likely would have done the same thing. With passion running high for them both something has to give and things must be worked out if they ever hope to have a HAE. I thought the author brought real emotions into the story pulling very strong on the reader’s heartstrings. With very emotional issue that was written with love and care twisting and turning not only to the story but the reader’s heart as well. It’s very well written giving a believable story that at times really broke my heart. I feel the supporting characters really added a lot to the story giving a very well round read. I found myself so invested I read this at one setting really wanting the story to not end. I would have liked to have seen more into their future I just wanted to continue reading with no ending in sight. I have not read anything by this author but really look forward to reading more of her work. If you just want a feel good read full of emotion, chemistry of a love that never ended even when goodbyes were said that pulls you in giving you sorrow, humor, smiles heartbreak and a love that last through the years I hope you will give this story a read. I really enjoy it so much.
PTBradley More than 1 year ago
Oh, my goodness! I loved One Week in Your Arms! Carson had Marla hooked at hello and Patricia Preston had me hooked on the first page. Two things matter to Dr. Marla Grant--her daughter and the clinic she manages. And Carson Blackwell is a disaster waiting to happen to both. Knowing that spending a week in Hawaii with Carson is the worst possible thing Marla can do, she does it anyway to save her precious clinic. Preston does an excellent job of writing the unexpected. It was fun watching these two spar, and I loved Marla's sense of humor and her determination. And Carson really touched me when I learned the reason he deleted a date's number when the date ended. A really warm, sexy romance. I can't wait for Everything His Heart Desires to release!
ljtljtljt More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars! Wow, what an impassioned read from "new to me" author Patricia Preston. One Week in Your Arms is a reunion romance with twists and turns that will keep you entertained from beginning to end. The two main characters, family doctor Marla Grant, and Carson Blackwell, a billionaire and successful architect, had a fling six years ago. Their time together resulted in a beautiful baby girl, which Marla has raised by herself. Although they both agreed to move on without looking back, the feelings they developed always remained in their hearts. When Carson realizes that Marla's clinic is primarily funded by his late grandmother's foundation, he devises a scheme to see her again. Part of his plan includes a trip to Hawaii, posing as couple that is very much in love. The chemistry between them is hot and sexy, so pretending to be in love is not difficult. However, their respective pasts must be unveiled in order for them to form a family. I really liked both Marla and Carson, and there was never a moment that I did not want them to work out their past and forge a future together. The secondary characters add depth and personality to an already engaging storyline. I especially liked Marla's best friend Kayla, because of her chutzpah and positive attitude. Overall, this is a well-written book with a happy ending that will leave a smile on your face. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
I was really surprised with this one..happily so! Patricia Preston is a new to me author but she definitely hooked me with this one! It's a secret child story that grabbed my attention right from the start. Marla Grant and Carson Blackwell had a fling six years ago and as they had agreed they both walked away when their time was over. Neither has forgotten the other though so when Carson discovers that the clinic Marla works for depends on donations from his Grandmother's foundation, he knows he needs to see her again and that's just the hook he needs. Promising to continue the funding in exchange for a week in Hawaii with him Marla knows she can't say no. She just needs to make sure her secret stays just that ...hers. A great read you don't want to miss. I highly recommend it.