After ten years of service as chief of the E.R. at a New York City hospital, Dr. Kai Randall decided to trade her scrubs for a calmer existence in Sag Harbor Village. The only thing that has interrupted her serenity in months is the photo she snapped of a handsome, solitary stranger. The image haunts her. But that's nothing compared to how she feels when she comes face-to-face with the man from her dreams.
When Assistant District Attorney Anthony Weston barges into Kai's house frantically looking for his young daughter, he meets one beautiful complication. Anthony's career ambitions caused him to lose his marriageand now he's on the cusp of a huge promotion. His life is in the city that Kai left behind, but his heart is in the soul-stirring passion they share. Is this just another sizzling summer fling or could this be the beginning of forever?
About the Author
Donna lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.
Read an Excerpt
"You'll be fine, Mrs. Anderson." Kai snapped off her rubber gloves and pulled her stethoscope from her ears. "It's your allergies."
"Are you sure it's not the flu? I feel like it's the flu." She sniffed hard and blinked against watery eyes.
Kai's amber-toned eyes crinkled with humor. "No, Mrs. Anderson, it's not the flu." She handed her a tissue. "With all the rain we've been having and with the blooming flowers and grass, I'm surprised you haven't been bothered before. I'll give you a new prescription for your allergy medicine."
Mrs. Anderson almost looked disappointed. Kai tucked away her smile. "You can get dressed and then come to my office for the prescription."
"Are you sure?" she asked again.
Kai stopped at the door and glanced over her shoulder. "Positive."
Mrs. Anderson huffed and Kai closed the door softly behind her. When she stepped out into the small waiting area that was really only equipped to handle six people including her, she was stunned to see all the seats occupied. Mr. and Mrs. Hanson and their three children were huddled together as if they'd recently been washed ashore.
"Oh my goodness." Kai looked from one to the other and instantly saw the flush in their faces and the wan look around their eyes. "I'll be with you all in one moment." She started off toward her office but stopped when she remembered Mrs. Anderson, who already believed she had the flu. If the Hanson family had anything contagious she needed to get them out of the front room as soon as possible. Her triage skills from her years in the emergency room kicked into gear.
The office was small. She had three exam rooms, a tiny office and the waiting area. She quickly ushered Mr. Hanson into a room with the oldest son who was on the verge of turning six. Mrs. Hanson was placed in the adjacent room with the twin three-year-old girls. Today was a day she could use an assistant.
After getting them settled, she went to her office to write the allergy prescription for Mrs. Anderson and was just finishing when Mrs. Anderson knocked on the partially opened door.
"Come in." She tore the prescription from the pad and handed it across the desk. "Get this filled as soon as possible and I guarantee you will feel much better."
Mrs. Anderson took the rectangular piece of paper and placed it in her purse. "Thank you so much, Dr. Randall. I appreciate it."
"Of course. Never hesitate to come in if you're not feeling well. It could have been something more serious, but fortunately it wasn't." She smiled.
"Thank goodness for that." She turned to leave. A wail from one of the twins pierced through the walls and halted her step. "Oh, my. That's some cry. Must be something terribly wrong."
Kai got up from behind her desk and ushered Mrs. Anderson out. "Kids cry. That's what they do," she said with a placating smile. "You be careful going home." She gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulder. Mrs. Anderson was a sweetheart but everyone knew she had the biggest mouth in the town of Azurest. If she even thought for a moment that an entire family was ill she would create panic in the streets of Sag Harbor before lunchtime.
Kai secured and locked the door and put her closed sign in the window then quickly went into the room with the wailing baby, who had in turn, gotten her twin involved in the symphony. Kai went to the sink and thoroughly washed her hands, put a disposable smock over her clothing and snapped on rubber gloves.
"Christine, I'm going to check out the twins first." She picked up one of the girls from her mother's arms and sat her on the exam table. "I can never tell them apart."
"That's Cara. This is Carmen," she said, indicating the baby in her arms.
Kai talked softly and soothingly to Cara while she made a game of placing the child thermometer in her ear. "How long has everyone been sick?"
"This is the second day. The only one who hasn't been sick is my husband, Mike. But I know taking care of a house full of sick people is going to catch up with him at some point."
"She has a slight fever." She tossed the disposable tip of the thermometer in the trash. "Any vomiting?"
"Hmm," Kai murmured deep in her throat while she checked Cara's ears, nose and throat. She listened to her chest and then did it all over again with her sister, Carmen. She pushed out a breath. "They both have low-grade fevers. And with the vomiting, I'm concerned about dehydration. When I'm done with my exam of Monty, I'm going to give my colleague over at General a call. He's a pediatrician. I'll see what he suggests. Okay?" She offered an encouraging smile. "I'm sure it's only a virus and it will run its course, but until it does, I want to make sure we're doing all that we can."
"Thank you, Doctor."
"Sure. I'm going to examine Monty and then I'll come back and check you out." She took off her smock and gloves and ditched them in the trash then went into the next exam room.
An hour later she sent the Hanson family to the local pharmacy and also advised that they get to bed early.
Kai went about cleaning and sterilizing the rooms and was ready to call it a day when the office phone rang. One of these days she might actually hire a receptionist, she mused as she hurried to the front desk.
"Dr. Randall. How may I help you?"
"What's up, doc?"
His corny greeting always made her laugh. "Dr.
"I'm calling to check up on my virtual patients."
She leaned her hip against the desk. "They should be on their way home by now and following your advice."
"Good. I so love doing business with you, Dr. Randall."
She could hear the laughter in his voice. That was a unique quality of Andrew Clarke. He was always upbeat and could make anyone around him feel the same way. It was probably why he was such an incredible pediatrician.
"I aim to please."
"The real reason for my call is that there is an author reading at the Grenning Gallery tonight. I know how much you love thrillers and mysteries and it's the mystery writerHarlan Cobenthat will be the guest."
Her eyes widened. "Right! I totally forgot. Harlan Coben is a favorite of mine."
"So you'll go with me?"
She hesitated. They'd been out together beforecasuallywith a group of his colleagues from the hospital. But she always had the sense that if given the chance, he'd want more. This would be the first time they would actually be going out "together." Is that what she wanted? He was good-looking, and smart and funny and available.
"Sure. I'd love to go. I can meet you there"
"Don't be silly. I can pick you up. I'm out of here early today for a change. Reading starts at eight. Maybe we can grab something to eat first or afterwards."
Oh, so this really was a "real date."
"Uh, okay. I'll be ready."
"You want to grab something first or after?"
She was having momentary brain freeze. If they had dinner first then went to the reading it wasn't as romantic, whereas a late dinner gave off all kinds of signals. Didn't it? It had been so long since she'd been on a date, she really didn't know.
"I guess we could eat first."
"No problem. How 'bout I pick you up at six?"
"Works for me," she said, forcing cheer into her voice.
"See you then."
"See ya," she chirped. She slowly hung up the phone. Her right eyebrow rose ever so slightly. A date. Well, stranger things had happened.
You finally gave in to Dr. Feelgood. It's about damned time," Tiffany teased Kai as she sipped her iced tea during their etched-in-stone Wednesday afternoon brunch. They'd decided several years earlier that with their hectic lives they needed time for themselves and designated Wednesday afternoon for just that. They would always have brunch and when time and opportunity allowed they either went window-shopping or to a movie. Although Tiffany's import business of fine jewelry and fabrics often took her out of town to shop, she and Kai made it a point to keep their Wednesday afternoon dates. In the early days it had taken a bit of getting used to, with one or both of them often forgetting about their "date." But once they got into the swing of it, not hell or high water would keep them from getting together for some girl time.
Kai had hit it off with Tiffany Howard from the moment Tiffany had sought Kai's medical assistance when she needed a prescription for the morning-after pill. Tiffany was so warm, friendly and open that Kai had taken to her right away. They found themselves talking and laughing and finding more and more things in common long after the prescription had been written, and they hadn't stopped sharing confidences ever since.
Kai gave her the bug-eye. "Very funny." She cut her Caesar salad into smaller bite-sized pieces, and made sure that every slice of lettuce was sufficiently coated with dressing before putting it in her mouth.
Tiffany observed this ritual with wry amusement. "I swear you are the only person that I know that can actually make a major production out of eating a salad."
"Would you stop?" She cut up some more pieces.
"What should I wear?"
Tiffany pursed her lips in contemplation. "Hmm. Gallery. Evening. First date. Famous author. Sexy doctor. I say wear the navy wrap dress."
"You don't think that dress is a little too low-cut?"
"Low-cut? You're kidding, right? Of course it's low-cut. It's supposed to be. That's the point. If you would ever come out of hospital garbs and sweat suits, you would know that."
Kai made a face. "I don't want him to get the wrong idea."
"And what if he did? Would that really be so bad? What would be so wrong with a handsome, sexy, intelligent man showing you how much he wanted you?"
Kai studied her salad. "It's just I don't know if I want things to go that way."
"But you'll never know if you don't at least open yourself to the possibility. You said yourself that he's a really great guy." She smiled at her friend. "And he's been after you for a date for forever."
Kai giggled. "True." She released a long breath. Her eyes sparkled in the afternoon light. "I do kinda like that blue number and haven't had a chance to wear it."
"Now you're talking." Tiffany pointed a well-manicured finger at her friend. "And don't forget heels the higher the better!"
"Girl, you are a mess."
After leaving Tiffany, who had an appointment with a client who wanted to buy some of her imported jewelry, Kai took a walk down to the nail salon and treated herself to a well-deserved and long overdue mani and pedi. She was enjoying the feeling of the warm sudsy water bubbling around her feet when pedestrians strolling past the plate-glass window caught her attention. She jumped up so quickly she splashed water all over the floor and the manicurist.
"Oh I'm so sorry." Kai snatched up a towel and dutifully wiped the young woman's damp arms. "I'm really sorry," she repeated.
"Don't worry about it. Is everything all right?" She stared at Kai whose attention was glued to the window.
Slowly, Kai sat back down. In that split second of confusion he was gone. Poof, like an apparition. But she was certain it was himthe man she'd seen in the photo that she'd taken. She lightly shook her head and offered a half smile. "Thought I saw someone "
The young woman continued to massage Kai's feet. "Must be someone important," the woman prompted.
"Just someone," she said absently, even as her entire body was consumed with an inexplicable heat from the soles of her feet to the top of her head, and it wasn't from the water. Just someone.
* * *
Kai took a final look in the bathroom mirror, dropped her lipstick in her purse and returned to her bedroom just as the front doorbell rang. Self-consciously she pulled on the deep V of her dress to no avail. She drew in a breath and went to the front door.
"Andrew," she greeted, pasting a broad smile on her face, a combination of nerves and more nerves.
For an instant his eyes widened with pleasant surprise. "Wow." He grinned. "You look great."
Her face flushed. "Thanks." She swallowed. "So do you."
"Guess doctors can clean up pretty good, huh?"
"Guess so." She stepped aside. "Come on in for a minute. I need to get my purse."
Andrew came inside. Kai shut the door behind him. "Have a seat. I'll be right back. Can I get you anything?"
"Be right back."
He took a slow look around the airy living area, which was dominated by a soft taupe-colored sectional couch with a bronze-and-gold stripped throw that looked like it had been meticulously hand-sewn. One wall held a bookcase filled with a cross-section of titles that included medical journals, British classics, contemporary thrillers, romances and a full shelf on photography. A flat-screen television was mounted on the wall. But what drew his attention was above the mantel. It was a near life-size black-and-white photo of the beach during a storm. The composition was breathtaking. Andrew could feel the fury of the surf as it roared toward the shore. Beyond the shoreline, the inky black sky was illuminated by a flash of lightning that exploded from an angry gray cloud and sliced through the horizon. He stepped closer to see the name of the photographer.
He turned and his heart knocked hard in his chest at the sight of her. She was so gorgeous. "Yep. Incredible photo," he said, hooking a thumb over his shoulder. "Who's the photographer?"
She gave a shy smile. "Me."
"What!" He chuckled. "You. Are. Good."
"Thanks." She gave a slight shrug of her right shoulder.
He crossed the gleaming wood floors to stand a few feet in front of her. "How long have you been taking pictures?"
"Years. It was always a hobby of mine, but with patients, working at the hospital for an inhumane number of hours a week, there wasn't much time to indulge in my little hobby." She drew in a breath and smiled. "When I moved here and my life slowed down " She shrugged again.
"Well, you definitely have skills, doc."
They stood facing each other in an odd moment of silence.
"Guess we better get going," Andrew finally said, snapping them both back to the moment.
"I'm looking forward to meeting Mr. Coben."
"You have quite a few of his novels on your shelf."
"Ya think?" she teased as they walked to the door and out.