Authors: Susan Fox
He’s the worst man in the world for her. So why can’t she resist him?
Raised by hippies, veterinarian Isadora Wheeler yearns for security, marriage, and fidelity. Her fiancé fits comfortably into her plans.
When Isadora meets activist lawyer Gabriel DeLuca, who’s defending her father on an arson charge, “comfortable” is not the word she’d use. Gabriel awakens her passion and makes her question everything she knows about life—and love.
Should she stick to the safe path or does she have the guts to follow her heart?
I loved this book. It’s the perfect sweep-you-away story—smart, sexy, funny and touching…Susan Fox delivers an unforgettable read.”
New York Times
bestselling author, on
Home on the Range
“Emotionally compelling, sexy contemporary romance.”
“Fox delivers a contemporary love story sure to make readers go weak in the knees.”
“This series is a must read for the great characters, sweet romance, explosive passion and thought-provoking view on life.”
The Romance Reviews on the Wild Ride to Love series.
You can’t go wrong picking up a Susan Fox book.”
Romance Reviews Today on
Published by Susan Lyons Books
Cover by The Killion Group, Inc.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
I stripped off my surgical gloves and mask, and exhaled a long sigh of relief. When I sucked that breath back in again, the air carried the tang of blood, anesthetic, and disinfectant. The scent was as familiar to me as the smell of cinnamon toast when I was a kid, and as reassuring. This was my world, and today I
, Isadora Dean Wheeler, was, to use my mother’s term, a goddess. I’d worked a miracle.
I beamed at my assistant.
“Good work, Martin. Will you clean Pussywillow up and get her settled in the recovery room?”
Sure, Doc.” With a gentle hand, he stroked the little gray cat’s head. “You saved her life.”
We did it together.” Adrenaline sang in my veins. When we’d started the surgery, I’d estimated the cat’s chances at no higher than ten percent; now, I was sure she’d recover.
Martin Swallow, only twenty-one but in many ways older in the ways of the world than I, had long ago learned to hide his emotions. But now, slowly, a white smile split his brown face.
Like a pair of idiots we stood grinning at each other across the stainless steel table. I was so happy to share this moment with him. The young Cree had been with Vancouver’s West End Pet-Vet Clinic for only six months, but he was a quick learner and genuinely loved animals.
He glanced at the clock.
“Weren’t you supposed to leave by five?”
The fundraiser. I
’d completely forgotten, and it was ten to six. “Damn!”
I stripped off my cap and blood-stained gown and tossed them in the laundry bin, then left the sterile surgery and hurried to the reception area where our patient
’s family waited for news.
Today, the homey atmosphere and mellow guitar music weren
’t working any soothing magic on the diminutive dark-haired girl who huddled in her mother’s arms, tear-streaked and sniffling.
I smiled reassuringly at the
mom as I squatted in front of the child to talk to her. “It’s okay, Sue. Pussywillow came through beautifully.”
Little Sue Tran stared at me with huge brown eyes,
hope chasing the tears away. “R-really?” The girl hiccupped back a sob.
Really.” I nodded firmly. “That raccoon hurt her pretty badly and we’ll need to keep her here a couple of days, but then you can take her home. You’ll have to take really good care of her, just like your mommy takes care of you when you’re sick.”
Those soulful eyes peered at me, assessing my honesty. Then Sue brushed at the moisture clinging to her lashes and nodded. Her
“Okay” was barely a whisper.
Thank you, Dr. Wheeler.” The heartfelt words came from above me.
I glanced up at Linh Tran, a not-so-much-larger version of her daughter.
“You’re welcome. That’s what we’re here for.”
Turning back to Sue, I said,
“Want to see her? She’s sleeping and won’t wake up, but you can pet her.”
Kids might seem to believe you when you told them their pets would be all right, but they often had nightmares afterward. It helped if they could see the animal resting, feel the breath lifting in and out, before they went home. They
’d have a positive image to replace the one of their animal bleeding, unconscious, or crying in pain.
Yes, please, Dr. Wheeler,” Sue said, and this time her voice was louder.
I led mother and child into post-op. The small room was warm and dimly lit, full of meadow bird song. Martin had settled our patient in a basket lined with soft towels. He was stroking her, softly chanting a Cree healing song. Pussywillow lay curled in a furry ball, the blood now cleaned away and the only sign of her trauma the wide bandage wrapped around her mid-section.
“Touch her head, Sue. Very gently.” I demonstrated.
The girl politely but firmly elbowed me out of the way and I suppressed a chuckle, pleased her confidence was returning.
“She’s sleeping,” I murmured as the girl rested her hand tentatively on the cat’s furry head. “What do you think she’s dreaming about?”
Sue tilted her head to one side.
“Our ‘quarium,” she whispered. “She likes to watch the fish in our ‘quarium.”
I’ll bet she does.”
As we watched, the little cat stretched her front legs, starting to come out from the anesthetic.
“Pussywillow looks so good,” Linh murmured to me. Her English, unlike her daughter’s, had the slight lilt of an immigrant from Asia. “She was bleeding so much. I was afraid…”
I touched her arm.
“You saved her, tying that towel around her and getting her here so quickly.”
No, Doctor, you saved her.”
I felt a glow of satisfaction. The cat was healthy and strong, and she
’d pull through. I’d keep an eye on her for the next couple of hours and then— Damn. Again I’d forgotten about Richard’s blasted fundraiser. Surreptitiously, I checked my watch. Six o’clock.
Richard was supposed to pick me up at home in fifteen minutes.
Thank heaven I’d had the foresight—the self-knowledge—to bring my evening clothes to work, just in case something came up. Funny how the just-in-cases happened more often than the carefully laid plans. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ever since I could remember, I’d wanted to be a vet, and I loved every minute of it.
I whispered to Martin,
“I have to go, but you’re on tonight, right? You’ll keep a close eye on Pussywillow?”
You bet, Doc. I’ll call you if there’s any problem.”
Martin knew me well. Even though Felipe, the vet who was working evening shift tonight, was excellent, I liked following through on my own cases. Once I
’d had my hands on an animal, done my best to heal it, I hated to turn the creature over to someone else. It was more than professional pride, and not one whit scientific, but I felt as if my spirit and the animal’s were somehow bound together. Having applied my professional knowledge and skill, now it was a matter of one spirit speaking to another.
This was a secret I
’d confessed to only one other person, my mother. Grace understood such things. Martin knew too, I was sure, though we’d never discussed it.
I dialed Richard
’s cell. When he answered, I said quickly, “Hi, sweetheart, it’s me. Change of plans. Can you pick me up at the clinic?”
“I could’ve guessed.” Then, in a worried tone, “But Iz, what are you going to wear?”
You don’t think jeans would make the right impression?”
I rescued him. Teasing Richard was fun, but I didn
’t have time to indulge. “I brought good clothes to work.”
Okay. I just left my place. I’ll be there in ten.”
I’ll be ready.”
Ten minutes to transform myself into an elegant gala-goer. I hurried into the bathroom, then stared at my reflection and laughed helplessly. Elegant wasn
’t in the cards. Reasonably clean and decently clad were the best I could hope for.
A shower—the shower I
’d hoped to have at home—would have felt wonderful, but I had to make do with a paper-towel sponge bath. After, I slathered my body with lime-scented lotion, hoping it would be strong enough to overcome the antiseptic scent that clung to me at the end of a work day.
Carefully I eased into the fitted black cocktail dress that, along with a pair of strappy high-heeled black sandals, made up my entire collection of formal evening wear. My short, streaky blond hair was tousled as always, but nothing short of a shower and blow-dry was going to help it. I applied a dash of eye make-up and wondered if I should borrow a lipstick from Betty, the receptionist. A great
-grandma, she believed no woman should go out in public with naked lips. Not me. I hated the taste of lipstick, and the mess it left on drink glasses, not to mention cheeks.
The dangly puppy-dog earrings had to go. I unzipped an inside pocket of my purse, extracted a tiny suede pouch, and slid from it my engagement ring and the matching birthday earrings. The stones weren
’t ostentatious, but they
diamonds. Richard’s generosity was one of his great attributes, but the truth—which I’d probably never confess to him—was that diamonds made me squirmy.