Read an Excerpt
Say You Want Me
By Cindi Myers
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. All right reserved. ISBN: 0-373-69135-1
Chapter OneAs emergencies went, this one was definitely a Code Blue. Joni Montgomery leaned back against the nurses' station counter at San Antonio's Santa Rosa Hospital and stared at the phone in her hand as if it might morph into an octopus at any moment. After all, things like that happened in nightmares, didn't they? And this couldn't possibly be real.
She put the phone back to her ear and tried to sound calm. "Now, Mama, maybe you misunderstood. G.P. couldn't possibly be coming here this time of year. She's always in Charlotte for the V.A. Air Show."
"I wish I was wrong, but I know what she said. Your grandmother Pettigrew is coming to San Antonio in two weeks and she's staying until she finds you a husband."
Joni ground her teeth and thrust one hand into the pocket of her nurse's smock. She could have sworn she'd stashed some samples of extra-strength headache pills there earlier. All of a sudden, she could feel a mother of a headache coming on. "Why does she have to do this now? In fact, why does she have to do this at all? Doesn't she think I can find my own man?"
"Apparently not. She said she's waited twenty-six years and she's not going to wait any longer for you to find a suitable husband."
Joni squeezed against the counter to allow an EKG cart to pass. "Mama, you know thekind of man G.P. thinks is suitable." She closed her eyes, picturing the parade of race-car drivers, fighter pilots and bull riders her grandmother had sent her way. There'd even been one bomb demolition expert. Give a man a dangerous job or a reckless attitude and he was prime husband material as far as G.P. was concerned.
"She thinks you need more excitement in your life."
"Being an emergency department nurse isn't exciting enough?" Joni looked at the row of crash carts ready for use, the curtained exam rooms and the half-dozen doctors and nurses moving busily among them. One Saturday night around this place made a person long for the mundane and ordinary.
"What's wrong with a boring man?" she asked.
"You married a boring man." Joni's father was a tax assessor whose idea of excitement was Friday night at the video store.
"Your father may seem boring to you, but he's actually very romantic."
Joni resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Her entire family was addicted to romance, leaving Joni the odd woman out. "Romance is overrated," she said, not for the first time. Other things were much more important in a relationship: dependability, stability, integrity. Things she hadn't found in the right combination yet, but she was sure she would, given time to do things her own way.
"Romance is not overrated to your grandmother. And not to you, if you'd only admit it."
Joni groaned. "I won't do it, Mama. I won't marry some adrenaline junkie just to please G.P."
"You'll have to discuss that with her when she gets here. I only called to warn you."
"Thanks, Mama. For the warning, anyway." She hung up the phone and slumped against the counter. She'd scream, but that tended to upset the patients. So she settled for reaching behind the counter and helping herself to the staff supply of M&M's. Headache pills were fine for some things, but serious crises called for chocolate.
"Joni, we need a hand over here."
Soon, both Joni's hands were occupied giving a breathing treatment to a thirteen-year-old girl who'd had an allergic reaction to peanuts. While she monitored the girl's vitals and waited for the treatment to take effect, Joni considered her options.
She could leave town. But she only had a week's accumulated vacation, and she couldn't afford to travel very far. G.P. would either stay in town until Joni returned or come looking for her.
She could refuse to cooperate. After all, she was a grown woman in the United States of America. The idea of her grandmother choosing a husband for her was ridiculous.
Except that G.P. wrote the book on stubborn. She'd simply smile and keep going her own way, and the next thing Joni knew, she'd be standing at the altar with a motorcycle stunt rider or a professional mountain climber by her side.
She checked the oxygen sensor attached to the girl's index finger. "You're doing really good," she said, patting the child's shoulder. "Keep breathing."
If running away and putting her foot down didn't work, that left one other choice: she had to convince her grandmother that she already had a man in her life. That G.P. didn't have to hunt up a husband for her granddaughter, because marriage was already imminent.
All she had to do was find a guy to hang out with for the week or so G.P. was in town.
She looked around the room for likely candidates. There was that good-looking new resident.... No, residents worked killer hours. Even if he could get an evening free to take her out, he'd likely fall asleep.
The paramedic from Lone Star Ambulance? She made a face. G.P. would love him. He raced motorcycles when he wasn't careening through the streets behind the wheel of an ambulance. No thanks.
Her gaze lit on a policeman at the front desk. He was kind of cute, in those motorcycle boots and tight pants.... No! Definitely not a cop. Cops were the worst adrenaline junkies of all. Her friend Connie had married a cop. And since her husband was always involved in an investigation or doing off-duty work, Connie was practically raising their three sons by herself.
There you had it. The reason she didn't have a man in her life was that all the men she met were too involved in their jobs. She wanted a man who would be there for her and their children - not someone who spent all his time risking his life, even if it was to save mankind.
A plump, curly-haired woman pulled back the curtain and peered into the treatment room. "Mandy, are you okay?"
Mandy, who had been doing just fine until that moment, burst into tears. "Mama!"
The woman rushed forward and gathered the girl in a hug. "I came as soon as the school called."
Joni stepped back to allow mother and daughter a little more privacy. Five years as a nurse hadn't inured her to such scenes. What was more special than the bond between mother and child? It was a bond she intended to experience for herself one day, as soon as she found the right man to stand by her side.
Excerpted from Say You Want Me by Cindi Myers
Copyright © 2003 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.