Safe Harbor surgeon Marshall Davis and staff psychologist Franca Brightman have different opinions on almost everything, but especially on children. She's been fostering kids for years, while he only wants to raise his own child.
But one night when Franca desperately needs tenderness, Marshall is there for her, and they find comfort in each other's arms. She brushes it off as a moment of weakness. Until she discovers she's pregnant. Franca wants this baby, and she knows Marshall does, toobut only on his terms. Does this mean war or a wedding?
Enjoy a special bonus short story from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber, MY FUNNY VALENTINE
About the Author
Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and a leading voice in women's fiction worldwide. Her work has appeared on every major bestseller list, with more than 170 million copies in print, and she is a multiple award winner. The Hallmark Channel based a television series on Debbie's popular Cedar Cove books. For more information, visit her website, www.debbiemacomber.com.
Read an Excerpt
It was unfair, dangerous and cruel. That poor little girl. If Franca Brightman didn't figure out a way to rescue four-year-old Jazz, she'd burst into a fireball that would bring down the Safe Harbor Medical Center parking structure on top of her.
She'd tried to work off her fury by staying late on a Friday night at her office. She'd spent hours reviewing the patient files that had come with her new job as staff psychologist. Plunging into the records and assessing patients' need for additional treatments should have blunted her pain and outrage.
Instead, the click of her medium-high heels on the concrete floor rang in a fierce staccato as she tore through the nearly empty lower level of the garage toward her aging white station wagon. At least at this hour she didn't have to feel embarrassed by her car, which was dented and old compared with the others, particularly the sleek silver sedan parked a short distance up the ramp.
Franca's last glimpse of Jazz had been riding off in a junkmobile far worse than this. The decrepit state of the car had intensified her fear about where and how the child would be living now that she'd gone back to her biological mother.
Where was Jazz right now? Had her mom bothered to fix dinner, or were they eating out of a can? Crammed into a rent-by-the-week motel unit, the four-year-old must miss her beautiful princess bedroom. Did she believe Franca had relinquished her by choice?
White-hot rage swirled inside Franca as she unlocked her station wagon and dropped into the driver's seat. It was a wonder that, despite the chilly March air, she hadn't already set the building ablaze.
Franca wished she could figure out a safe way to vent her anger, which had been simmering all day. With a PhD in psychology and years of counseling experience here in Southern California, she ought to be an expert on releasing emotions.
Instead, her mind returned to an image of the black-haired little girl, her blue eyes brimming with tears. Handing Jazz over to her unstable mother at the lawyer's office this morning had nearly torn Franca apart. How could she expect her foster daughter to understand why the planned adoption had fallen apart?
I shouldn't have come to work today. But being new at her job, Franca didn't want to ask for personal leave. After a lifetime of careful control, she'd assumed she could handle this.
She'd been wrong.
On the steering wheel, her hands trembled. She hated to drive in this condition, but she couldn't sit here indefinitely. Sucking in a breath, she switched on the ignition.
A rock song from the radio filled the car. The singer's voice rose in a ragged lament: "I can't take it anymore!"
There must have been half a dozen songs with similar lyrics, but right there, right then, this one seemed meant for her. Smacking the dashboard, Franca cranked up the volume and sang along in shared disgust, her voice ringing through the garage.
"I can't take it anymore! I can't take it anymore!" That felt good. Childish and self-indulgent, but good.
A drum solo followed, which Franca accompanied by thumping the steering wheel. When the chorus returned, she howled even louder: "I can't take it anymore!" The acoustics in this garage were odd, she noted as she paused for a breath. It sounded as if the music was echoing from up the ramp, underscored by could that be a man's voice rasping out the same lyrics?
It might be her imagination, but to make sure, she muted the radio. The music continued in the distance, with a ragged masculine voice trumpeting, "I can't take it anymore!" over the recording. The words and melody were emanating from the silver sedan.
Although Franca had done her best to meet her fellow professionals at the hospital during the past few months, she couldn't identify them all. Maybe it was best if she didn't recognize her fellow sufferer. She hadn't meant to intrude on anyone's privacy.
Embarrassed by her outburst, Franca adjusted the radio so it played at a lower volume. The man, little more than a silhouette against a safety light, turned in her direction, as if he'd registered the change.
Had he heard her singing earlier? She hoped not.
Franca was about to pull out of her spot when the silver sedan shot in reverse. In a moment, the car would drive past her parked vehicle as it headed for the exit. The driver would be able to identify Franca by the reddish-blond hair floating around her shoulders.
How awkward for the staff counselor, who was supposed to be strong and supportive, to be caught screeching like a teenager. Should she try to beat him out of the garage and pray he hadn't already figured out who she was?
Too late. His car was closing in, and she might back into it by accident.