A few mornings ago I answered a phone call from one of my dear friends, who also is an owner of one of my puppies. We chat about pretty much anything so I wasn’t too worried until she said, “I have to tell you this.” And I felt the bottom drop out of my stomach. Okay, not really though that would be a nifty way to drop some pounds. But I did hold my breath and remind myself not to worry. “Drama was bit by a copperhead.” Okay, time to worry. Until, “She’s okay, but her poor little face is all swollen.”
Time to breathe, and to offer words of encouragement. Then she went on with describing the visit to the vet, the
treatment, the medicine she brought home. Not much about the vet himself until she mentioned “He came out of the back room with her file in his hand and asked: ‘Is her name actually Drama Queen?'” Then she goes back in the story to tell me he chastised her for saying “Drama Queen, you’re fine,” over and over. He told her if she’d ever been bit by a snake, she’d be in a lot of pain herself. Once he realized my friend was using Drama’s name, not mocking her, he felt a bit foolish.
We laughed, and then I thought “That’s EXACTLY the kind of thing Paul would do!” Anyone who has read Teach Me To Forget would know Paul, Bethany’s commitment phobic veterinary friend who used her as a shield against the divorcees and single women in his practice. He thought of her as a buddy and never realized she could have been “the” woman for him. Once Jonathan and Bethany met, Paul became an also-ran.
EXCERPT: Jonathan and Bethany have arrived at Paul’s clinic, and meet a stylish blond woman in the parking lot with her Doberman Pinschers. Then Paul comes out of the clinic door.
“Gorgeous would be too meager a word to describe the man who emerged. Thick, sun-kissed golden hair framed a face of timeless Nordic beauty. Brilliant green eyes perused the grouping in the parking lot and some emotion, that might have been relief, came over his classic features. Shoving the papers he held into the pocket of his white lab coat, he rushed forward.
“Darling, you got here!”
“Jonathan could only gape, arms still filled with the damned case of wine, while the man bore down on Acton with every indication of being her lover. It would seem she reciprocated the emotions. At least she wasn’t running, screaming, toward the hills. If her response seemed a bit tepid, perhaps she wasn’t as passionate a woman as he’d thought. He wondered, too, at the sense of loss that came over him as the doctor took her in a close embrace, turning his back to the
rest of the people, shielding his love from the world.
Then Jonathan realized the trendy blond only had a back view. From his own angle, the ardent clasp was sketchy at best, and the doctor’s lips were aiming for an ear rather than the tightly compressed mouth. Nor was there an answering embrace. Her slender hands were clenched as though in protest against a broad chest.”
Then later, while Paul and Bethany are retrieving a bag of dog food for her Irish Setter, Baron:
“Are you sure you don’t want to rest for a while, kiddo?” Paul’s voice was muffled as he reached beyond sacks of dog food.
“You know how I am when I’m traveling. If I stop now, I won’t get my body moving for days. I’ll be fine. Give me that.” She reached for the bag he had dragged forward.
“Not hardly. Every protective masculine instinct I don’t possess has been activated. What’s going on here?”
“Mr. Merritt did not approve of my review.”
“You did accuse him of, ‘Seducing the virgin wilderness and bringing it to screaming fulfillment,’ or something like that, didn’t you?”
“Something very vaguely like that,” she admitted, with a pained frown at his inexact memory. “Still, it was meant to be a complimentary piece of writing. I don’t really know why he has to go high order over it.”
“Beth, I read the article, even if I can’t quote it to your satisfaction. It wasn’t a tepid piece of writing.” Paul sounded unusually solemn. “Now that I’ve met the man who ‘creates images of unsurpassed depth and beauty,’ I wonder if he has some subtle form of revenge in mind.”
“Maybe. He came into town to throw some muscle around then told Neil he would grant an interview, which he never does, if I would provide taxi service to his place in the mountains, and stay there with him. Neil thinks it’s a great idea, of course.”
Paul peered closely at her. No doubt he was comparing her standard casual appearance to Merritt’s unconscious elegance. Bethany had always known Paul appreciated her more for her friendship than her looks. Then her friend smiled, suddenly and rather wickedly.
“What do you think, kiddo?”
“I think he takes real pretty pictures.”
Yep, Paul would definitely chastise someone for calling their Saluki a Drama Queen when that’s actually the dog’s name. Now is the owner of the Saluki going to be the woman who convinces Paul to give up his casual ways? Hmmm, a Saluki in one of my books, what a concept!