Authors: Linda O'Connor
Table of Contents
SOUL MATE PUBLISHING
Cover Design by Rae Monet, Inc.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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This book is dedicat
Lesley Rooke — for always making
the positive voice the loudest.
My men — my life is better with you. I love you.
I would like to thank Debby Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing for providing the ultimate encouragement to my writing with the leap to publishing. Huge thanks to the team at Soul Mate Publishing including Rae Monet for the beautiful cover design and editor Janine Phillips.
It’s an amazing feeling when your children grow up and teach you.
Brad, who has shown me that changing course can open doors and be its own reward;
Tom, who has humbled me with his example of perseverance, his willingness to put himself in a position to succeed, his thoughtfulness and kindness;
Mark, who inspires me with his imagination;
I love you and am so very proud to be your mom.
Thank you from my heart to:
Vlad, who promoted my writing before I had the courage,
my mom, who gardens so I can write,
Karen, who shares her coloring and Paul, his photography,
Cathy and Ellie for their eagle eyes, and the ‘Ladies of the Book Club,’ who join me in my love of reading.
I’ve had so much fun writing — I hope it shines through in the words and passes along to you, the reader, as a thank you for choosing to read my book.
Written in the Stars by Esmeralda Garnet
ARIES (March 21-April 19) Life will be hectic and not much will go as planned. Revisiting an old hobby or trying something new should be your goal. Nurture the relationships that mean the most to you.
Dr. Mikaela Finn sat back and rolled her shoulders. One more chart and she’d be done. Finally. What a day. Between the delivery at two in the morning, the emergency C-section, her morning clinic of complicated prenatal patients, and an afternoon clinic that never seemed to end, she was toast.
She blew out a breath and looked up at the sign on her door. Dr. Mikaela Finn. Obstetrician and Gynecologist. It still gave her a thrill to read it. She laughed at herself. After six months she should be used to it, but it had been a long road. Finishing and passing her exams had been exciting enough, but being offered a junior position at St. Peter’s where she’d trained had been icing on the cake. Clinic space, operating time, and an office within running distance to the delivery suite had been quite the coup.
Or so she had thought.
It was absolutely crazy. Rivermede was a good-sized city with a population of about one hundred thousand. But add in the catchment area of surrounding small towns with very fertile people, and it meant non-stop work. Plus, it didn’t help that the senior staff and half the nurses still saw her as a trainee. Saying 'no,' to the endless stream of requests was hardly an option.
But something had to give. She had considered change and had sent out a couple of letters to hospitals in other towns, thinking change would be good, challenging even.
Just one problem.
She feared change.
So unless she found time to research and plan, she’d be staying put. In the meantime, a little practice saying ‘no’ in the mirror might be a good idea.
She clicked on the patient chart and started typing. Her brain felt slow. She had kept a very satisfying caffeine buzz going all day with three coffees and a chocolate bar, but it had worn off when the last patient walked out the door. Focus. Shit, what had she told that mom? Sex? No sex? Sex on Sundays? She envied the era of hand written charts. Write a few illegible squiggles and be done.
She finished the note, shut down her computer, and gave a huge yawn. Food or sleep? The thought of soft pillows and a warm comforter had her sighing. Food could wait.
Her cell phone rang as she shrugged on her coat. She checked the call display, half-afraid to see the hospital switchboard. Margo, she read with a smile.
“Mikaela, I have a favor to ask.”
That was enough to send a shot of adrenalin through her. She could count on one hand the number of times her best friend had asked for a favor in the past ten years. “Of course. Ask away.”
Margo hesitated. “I shouldn’t even bother you with this, but I’m in such a bind.”
Mikaela heard the uncertainty and worry. “What? Do you need a kidney? Bone marrow? You’re killing me. What is it?”
Margo laughed. “Sorry, you’re right. Nothing so drastic. Although I need your time, which is probably a hotter commodity than your kidney,” Margo said with a sigh. “For the past two weeks, Chloe and I have been painting a house for a client. I flew to Rainy River for a meeting this morning and left Chloe to finish the last room. Which she should have been able to do. Except, this morning she slipped and broke her wrist.”
“Oh no. Poor Chloe. Is she okay?”
“Yes, she’s fine. She went to the Emergency Department. She’s in a cast for six weeks and pretty high on painkillers, but at least she didn’t need surgery. Luckily Rip’s home and can help with the triplets. The problem is, I can’t get a flight home until tomorrow morning. I promised the client I would have the painting done and everything put back by tomorrow, but Chloe said the bedroom still needs another coat of paint.”
“So you need me to go over and finish it?” Mikaela asked.
Margo sighed. “Yes. I know you haven’t painted in a few years now, but . . . yes.”
“Why don’t you just explain to the client what happened and ask if it would be okay to take another day?”
“We were already cutting it pretty close. Tomorrow night there’s a big party planned. They want to showcase the entire house because it’s going on the market. The event planner will be there at noon.”
“I know. I’m really sorry to ask.”
“No. No. Not at all. Of course I can do it.” It brought back memories of all the summers they spent painting to earn money for school. Mikaela had gone on to do a residency. Margo kept the business running. “What’s the address?”
“No problem. I’ll grab a bite to eat and head over.”
“I’ll text you the code for the front door. If you have any problems, just call me. Chloe said she got the first coat on, so if you could get the painting done, that would be fantastic. Leave the cleaning. I can get there first thing in the morning and do the rest. Mikaela, thank you so much.”
Mikaela dragged herself to her car and, with a detour to Tim Horton’s for an extra large coffee, drove home. With a look of longing at her bed, she grabbed a change of clothes and headed over to 1273 Pinewood.
Mikaela stepped back and eyed her work. The third coat of paint had done the trick. The streaks and faint trace of the original color had finally disappeared, leaving a velvety smooth finish. She tossed the brush with the other rollers, trays, and paint cans that were strewn all over the drop cloth protecting the floor.
Even covered in a tarp, the oversized chair in the middle of the bedroom looked too tempting. She really shouldn’t relax now. She should finish up and go.
She eyed the chair.
Just five minutes.
Mikaela sank down into the softness of goose down feathers, threw her head back, and closed her eyes. It was like floating on a cloud.
She had done a delivery, a C-section, two full clinics, and three hours of painting, all on four hours of sleep. Her arms and shoulders ached from the exercise. Stray soft brown hair escaped her ponytail, brushed her face, and tickled her nose. She didn’t even have the energy to raise her arm and brush it away.
So far Esmeralda’s horoscope had been bang on. Hectic – no surprise there—and a change in plans. Change. When she read that, she almost flipped to Zodiac Zach. She had apps for three astrologers and picked the one she liked best. She wasn’t sure if she really believed in them, but it was surprising how often they were right. Like today. Turned out, it wasn’t so bad. She could handle change if it meant helping Margo.
Mikaela opened one eye and glanced at her watch. Midnight. She really should get up, clean the paintbrushes, and go home. Then crawl into bed and sleep for, well, she groaned, six hours. If she was lucky.
Just five minutes.
As every muscle in her body relaxed, Mikaela smiled to herself and wondered what the homeowner would think if he knew he had the highest paid painter in the city.
Mikaela woke with a start to the sound of voices. Disoriented, in unfamiliar surroundings, she looked down at her short shorts and loose shirt covered with spatters of paint. Painting, of course. She must have fallen asleep in the chair, and checking her watch, she saw that it was two o’clock in the morning. Shit. She rubbed her eyes and yawned. Pulling herself out of the chair, she listened to the voices. One voice was female, sounding impatient and unhappy and one male, sounding apologetic and resigned.
“I know it’s not ideal, Sophia, but it’s what I want. I’m tired of the large city, the tertiary care center, and all the politics. I’m tired of all the meetings and all the committees. I want a smaller hospital in a smaller city. I want a life.”
“Nonsense, Sam,” the woman shot back. “You don’t know what you want or what’s good for you. You need to pay your dues now to reap the benefits later.”
“Look, I don’t expect you to understand. I’m grateful you’ve agreed to help me out, but . . .”
Mikaela wandered into the hallway and stopped when she saw the two of them at the front door. The woman had unbuttoned her coat, and as she put her hands on her hips, there was a flash of the red cocktail dress she wore underneath. The man was a foot taller and wearing a suit. A very nice fitting suit, Mikaela mused, as she came up behind him.
The woman noticed Mikaela first, and her startled gasp had the man looking over his shoulder. Mikaela wasn’t sure who looked more shocked, the man, who moved to shield the woman, or the woman, who raked her gaze over Mikaela from head to toe. As Mikaela fought the urge to straighten her shirt and fix her hair, she decided, definitely, the woman.
The woman’s eyes narrowed, the hands on her hips became clenched at her sides, and her face flushed red. Mikaela held her breath.
The woman pushed at the man’s shoulder and spun him around to face her. “Why you! You! 'I can’t invite you in, the house is being painted,'” she mimicked. “Is that the new code word for 'mistress?' You could have just told me we were through. Well, I’m done. This is the last straw. You pig!” The woman spun on her heel and wrenched the door open.
“No, wait,” Mikaela added. She lurched forward, now wide-awake.
The woman stormed out and slammed the door.
The man turned to Mikaela. “Who the hell are you?”