From This Day Forward [Secure]
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by Irene Hannon
Description: It Was A Shocking Proposal.... But Cara Martin had to say yes. After a frightening ordeal, she needed a safe haven, and her estranged husband, Dr. Sam Martin, offered to share his home. *Live* with Sam? The man she'd married had become a stranger long before their separation had broken her heart. Yet when she arrived in his small Missouri town, Cara discovered the workaholic surgeon had become a general doc who cared about people ... cared about her. Could they possibly love, honor and cherish each other again, from this day forward?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Steeple Hill,
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [351 KB]
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"Sam, it's Liz. I need to speak with you right away. Call me on my cell."
A jolt of adrenaline shot through Sam Martin as he set his black medical bag on the kitchen counter and reached for the pad and pen next to the answering machine. He hadn't seen Liz Warren, his wife's best friend, since the night Cara left him, and he'd only spoken with her once after that. If she was calling, something was up. And a sick feeling of dread told him it wasn't good.
Jotting down the number as she recited it, Sam checked his watch. If his house call deep in rural Missouri hadn't taken two hours, he would have arrived back in Oak Hill early enough to return the call without guilt. But it was almost eleven on the east coast, and Liz hadn't used the emergency cell phone number he provided on his home and office answering machines. Whatever she wanted to talk to him about couldn't be urgent. But there was no way he could wait until tomorrow to find out the reason for her call. Better to risk waking her than spend a sleepless night counting the hours until morning.
As he punched in Liz's number, it occurred to him that she might have gone out for the evening. It was Saturday, after all. But if she had, he'd leave a message to call him back when she returned, no matter the hour. He'd be awake anyway.
To his relief, a live voice answered. "Hello."
"Liz, it's Sam. I just got your message."
There was a slight hesitation before she responded. "I've been having some second thoughts about calling you."
Sam heard the coolness—and caution—in her voice. No surprise there. She'd been Cara's best friend far longer than he'd known his wife. And she'd witnessed his ultimate betrayal. He understood—and respected—her loyalty. But he wasn't about to hang up without finding out why she'd called. It was too late for that.
"I assume it concerns Cara."
Another brief silence.
"Look, Sam, to be honest, you're the last person I wanted to call," Liz finally said. "If Cara's parents weren't on a missionary trip in Africa for a year, and if her sister wasn't eight months pregnant and in the middle of preparing to move, I'd have called them. But they are and she is, so I didn't know who else to contact."
"About what, Liz?" Sam's grip on the phone tightened. It took every ounce of his restraint to remain calm when his mind was racing with terrifying scenarios.
"I…I think Cara needs some help. I've tried to talk with her about it, but she shuts me out and says she's fine. Except she isn't. Not even close. And I don't know what else to do." Her voice broke on the last word.
"Okay, Liz, you're going to have to back up. What's wrong with Cara? Is she sick?" Sam couldn't stop the quiver that ran through his voice. Liz was the most in-control woman he'd ever met. If she was upset enough to let her emotions show, there was a major problem.
"Not physically." The sound of a deep breath being drawn came over the line. When she continued, she sounded more like herself. "A month ago, Cara and another chef named Tony were leaving the restaurant after hours, and they were accosted in the parking lot by a robber. When Tony tried to resist, the guy shot him. He died before the ambulance got there."
A muscle in Sam's jaw clenched. Cara had witnessed a murder—and possibly faced death herself. If he hadn't made a mess of their marriage, he'd have been there for her through this trauma. Instead, she'd had to deal with it—and the aftermath—alone.
"Tell me…" He stopped and cleared his throat, then tried again. "Tell me about Cara."
"She tried to go back to work a few days after the shooting, but when she had a panic attack in the kitchen the owner suggested she take a little time off. The thing is, though, she's not getting any better. She rarely leaves her apartment, and never at night. She's anxious in the dark and can't sleep when she's by herself. She has persistent nightmares. I found that out when she stayed with us at the beginning. But now she thinks she's wearing out her welcome…as if that was possible! Anyway, I know she's still not sleeping."
Post-traumatic stress disorder. It was an easy diagnosis, but a difficult condition to treat. Sam had learned enough about it in the past couple of years to write a book. "Does her family know about any of this?"
"No. She said they all have enough on their plates, and since she wasn't hurt there was no need to upset them."
That sounded like Cara. She'd always put other people's needs above her own. The best example of that was when she'd stood by him after his own trauma, despite the verbal abuse he'd heaped on her. Perhaps now he could return the favor by being there for her as she had been for him. If she'd let him.
"I'll help in any way I can, Liz. What did you have in mind?" If he followed his instincts, he'd jump on the next plane to Philadelphia and show up at her door. Except she'd probably slam it in his face.
"I do have an idea. But it may not be convenient for you."
Based on his history, Liz's comment was fair. Sam knew he'd been selfish and self-absorbed and far too egotistical in the past. But things had changed. "That won't be an issue."
She mulled that over for a few seconds. "Okay. But it all hinges on whether or not you're…involved…with anyone."
Copyright © 2007 by Irene Hannon.