Doctor Reagan Rosner loves her fast-paced life of practicing medicine in New York City’s busiest trauma center. Kind and confident, she’s taking her profession by storm—until a young girl’s accidental death leaves her shaken to her core. With her life a mess and her future uncertain, Reagan accepts a position as Head Physician for The Appalachia Project, an outreach program working with some of America’s poorest citizens.
Shane Harper, Ethan Cooke Security’s newest team member, has been assigned a three-month stint deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and he’s not too happy about it. Guarding a pill safe in the middle of nowhere is boring as hell, but when he gets a look at his new roommate, the gorgeous Doctor Rosner, things start looking up.
Shane and Reagan encounter more than a few mishaps as they struggle to gain the trust of a reluctant community. They’re just starting to make headway when a man’s routine checkup exposes troubling secrets the town will do anything to keep hidden—even if that means murder.
He was hungry, but Reagan couldn’t cook for shit. He sucked in a hesitant breath through his teeth. “What’s for dinner?”
“Pasta, garlic bread, and a salad.”
He closed his laptop and stood. That was a pretty foolproof meal; there wasn’t much to mess up. “Sounds good.”
“I think I did all right tonight, but I’m not making any promises either.”
“It’s spaghetti. It can’t be that bad.”
They walked down the hall to the table. The salad looked fresh and colorful, and the bread perfect and buttery brown. Then he stared at the pasta swimming in a gallon of sauce in the serving dish.
“Not too bad, right?” She snagged her bottom lip between her teeth, looking at him with hope.
“No. Not too bad.” He took his chair across from hers and served watery pasta and sauce on her plate, then his own. He rolled thin strands of pasta on his fork and bit into mush.
She sampled her own and winced. “Soggy. Sorry.”
“No problem.” He ate some more, despite the terrible texture and lack of flavor.
“It’s not exactly al dente.”
He shook his head. “It’s not half-bad soup though.”
“I’ll grill something tomorrow night.” He’d thought of offering to take over the cooking entirely. He was no master chef, but the three meals she’d prepared in the week they’d been living here had been an experience all their own. The fresh eggs she’d attempted to whip into omelets turned into a disaster of flaming cheese and charred vegetables; the sloppy Joe’s and fries hadn’t turned out much better.
“Sounds good, but you have to admit this is a marginal improvement over the pork chops I made the other night.”
He chuckled. “Burnt on the outside, raw in the middle. It takes a special talent to make something quite that bad.”
She laughed. “I’m trying.”
“I know.” He tore a piece of garlic bread and set it on her plate, then placed a huge hunk on his own. “What did you eat before you came to Kentucky?”
“Salads, cafeteria food, takeout. Manhattan makes it easy to survive when you’re challenged in the cooking department.”
He perked up, surprised she was actually sharing something about herself. “You were in Manhattan?”
She nodded. “I worked in the Bronx but lived on the Upper West side.”
“No kidding,” he said over the food in his mouth. “Where?”
“Huh. Me and my buddies lived on Seventy-Seventh.” Had they passed each other on occasion? He immediately dismissed the idea. They couldn’t have. Doc’s stunning face would’ve been impossible to forget.
She frowned. “I thought you were in Los Angeles.”
“I am. I moved a few months ago. Career change.”
“What did you do in Manhattan?
“US Marshall. Fugitive Task Force.”
She hummed in her throat. “Sounds exciting.”
“I loved it.”
“Why’d you give it up?”
He shrugged, thinking of one of his best friend’s betrayal. “One of my roommates turned out to be an asshole. I lost my taste for the job and joined Jerrod, Abby’s husband, out in LA. It was a good change.” He dutifully twirled another bite of pasta. “What about you? Why’d you give up the city?”
Her eyes dulled as she jerked her shoulders and stared down at her plate. “I thought I’d give rural living a try.”
He studied her tense movements as she pushed the spaghetti around. There was a story here, but she wasn’t sharing. Time for a subject change before she clicked back into clinical mode. “I’ve gotta ask, Doc. How old are you? You don’t look like you’re old enough to be out of medical school.”
“Maybe I’ve discovered the fountain of youth.” She smirked, chewing a healthy bite of her salad.
He tilted his head, as if considering. “It’s possible but doubtful. News like that would’ve spread.”
She smiled. “It’s rude to ask a woman her age.”
“I’ve heard that, but I’ll risk a faux pas for curiosity’s sake.”
“How the hell are you a doctor?”
She smiled mysteriously. “I got an early start.”
“What does that mean?”
“Mmm, I went to college fairly young.” She wiped her mouth and set down her napkin.
Frowning, he counted backwards, doing the math. “You had to have been like twelve.”
His eyes popped wide. “Twelve? You went to college when you should’ve been in middle school?”
“So you were one of those kid geniuses? Like Doogie?”
“If you want to put a label on it,” she answered primly, lifting her water glass.
“What would you call it?”
“I learned quickly.”
There was a story here too, yet she didn’t seem to want to spill. He narrowed his eyes. “How many languages do you speak?”
“Play any musical instruments?”
“Violin and piano. I tried the flute but it wasn’t for me.”
He huffed out an exasperated laugh. “So you’re telling me you went to college at twelve, speak five languages, play two musical instruments, but you can’t cook spaghetti?”
She sent him one of her excellent grins. “We all have our talents.”
“I’ll have to call Sophie and have her send us some recipes. Maybe I can teach you the basics of cooking, since you’re teaching me about medicine.”
“Sure. I’m willing to give it a try.”
“I’m—” There was a knock at the door. He stood, glancing out the windows into the fading dark. So far they’d avoided the backlash other Project members had endured at the hands of disgruntled residents, but there was always a first. “I’ll get it.”
Reagan got up as he did.
He walked to the front door, keeping her behind him as he opened the door and stared at the teenage girl in jean shorts and a plain white tank top.
“I need—I need the doctor,” she said, wiping at her sweaty brow.
Reagan pushed ahead of him. “I’m Doctor Rosner.”
“My sister—she’s havin’ her baby, but somethin’s wrong. It’s been a long time. She’s gettin’ awful tired.”
“Let me go to the clinic and get what I’ll need.” Reagan ran down the stairs toward the building.
“What can I do?” Shane called.
“Get ready to give me a hand.”
He swallowed as he looked at the young girl in front of him. Temperatures and blood pressures were one thing; childbirth was a whole different ballgame. “I’ll get the keys.”
About the Author & Links:
Cate currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, their two boys, and St. Bernard’s, Bear and Jack. She is the author of the best-selling romantic suspense series, The Bodyguards of L.A. County. Before her career as an author, Cate worked in special education for 12 years.
“I’m a pretty lucky girl; one day I woke up and my entire life changed. I saw the light, so to speak, and decided I was going to be a writer. Now, five years later, I’m working on my ninth novel, Answers For Julie, which I plan to release during the summer of 2015. I’m remain so very grateful for the support and success that I have had. Thank you!” – Cate