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Treasure Creek, Alaska, has only one pediatrician: the very handsome, very eligible Dr. Alex Haven. But the former big-city doc is counting the weeks till his contract with the tiny town is up. All so he can return to Los Angeles to start a clinic in his brother's honor. Nurse Maryann Jenner is determined to keep Alex in Alaska by finding him a bride and giving him a new reason to stay. But when a little boy's life—and Maryann's hope—is jeopardized, Alex may find his own reason to stay forever.
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Janet Tronstad grew up on her family’s farm in central Montana and now lives in Pasadena, California where she is always at work on her next book. She has written over thirty books, many of them set in the fictitious town of Dry Creek, Montana where the men spend the winters gathered around the potbellied stove in the hardware store and the women make jelly in the fall.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
If she opened the clinic door, Maryann Jenner knew a gust of cold wind would blow inside that would smell of wood smoke, mostly from the stovepipes jutting up from the row of flat and peaked roofs that lined the main road into Treasure Creek, Alaska. As much as she liked the scent, not all of the patients did, so she left the door closed and instead looked out the window at the rugged, green mountains that edged the backside of this small tourist town. She still couldn't believe she was working in this postcard-perfect place.
For the first time in her twenty-six years, she was beginning to feel like she had a chance at the peaceful life she wanted. She'd been an unwilling participant in other people's dramas—mostly her parent's—since she was born. Now she was far enough away that she could love her mother and father without being dragged into the soap operas that were their respective, disconnected lives. As though to celebrate her new life, she'd landed the perfect job, working with the ever so perfect Dr. Alex Havens in this perfect little clinic in paradise.
"Oh, no," she muttered to herself and took a quick glance over her shoulder to be sure the doctor was still in the back room examining six-year-old Johnny Short's ear infection. She had a bad habit of actually believing what she conjured up in her day dreams when looking out that window. Treasure Creek was wonderful, of course, but the pediatrician could be, she had to admit, a bit demanding at times. And particular. And downright testy about some things. He'd even been dubbed The Ice Man by her predecessor. And, since Maryann was now his nurse, it was apparently her job to make his days run smoothly.
Ordinarily, that wasn't much of a problem. She was good at maintaining order. Besides, the doctor might be an ice man around adults, but children seemed to love him, and since they were his patients, everything moved along fine in their small clinic. She and Alex had figured out how to work together.
But if the line of women marching up the slight hill toward them were the ones she thought they were, she was going to earn her salary today. The final thing he'd asked before hiring her last month was if she knew how to keep the fancy women away. She'd assured him she did, even though she was new in town and hadn't known what—or who—he was talking about.
Today she knew. Several months ago, Now Woman magazine had run an article on the bachelor tour guides in Treasure Creek, and before Maryann arrived, women had started swarming up here in hot pursuit of husbands. The locals called them fancy women because they looked like exotic tropical birds when set against the sturdy, practical dress of the local people.
Maryann had never heard of the women attacking their target all together, though. Not like this. Alex was only a part-time guide with Alaska's Treasures tour company, earning just one brief mention in the article.
Of course, he was completely single and unattached. But—oh, dear.
The door flew open before Maryann had time to retreat. The smell of perfume followed the women inside, along with a surprising number of the rather large mosquitoes Alaska is famous for. She wasn't sure if it was the heavy floral scents that attracted these insects so late in the season, or if it was the red shine on the women's lips and nails. Either way, the fact that the women didn't complain about the bites they must be getting only proved how determined they were to be here.
"This is a pe-dia-tric clinic," Maryann raised herself up to her full five-foot-seven-inches and announced in her strictest nurse voice. "Adult patients need to go down the street to Dr. Logan's clinic."
She'd worked on that voice in her nurse's training, until it could silence a group of rowdy boys. It didn't even stop the women from chattering long enough for them to really listen to her. Of course, part of that could be because they were reaching up to try and tame their windblown hair.
"I have full-coverage insurance, so any doctor will see me." A showy blonde, with a dandelion head of bleached hair and the plumpest purple lips Maryann had ever seen, sat down in one of the few adult chairs in the waiting room and crossed her nylon-encased legs in a theatrical gesture. Then she looked at Maryann. "It was part of my last divorce settlement. The doctor can do any test he wants on me. My ex will cover it if the insurance doesn't, so the doctor doesn't need to worry about the bill being paid."
"I just need a prescription refill," a young waif-like woman whispered as she slipped into one of the nearby children's chairs. She had long brown hair and a slight overbite. "Do you know if the doctor likes to walk on the beach in the moonlight? I adore the beach. Not the Alaskan beach, of course—it's too rocky and cold—but, you know, the regular beach."
The wind had ruffled the young woman and she nervously tried to pull her tangled hair into place.
"I can't—" Maryann said, her voice rising slightly. She looked around. Eight women were in the room. None of them looked sick, especially since the cold outside had given their cheeks higher than normal color. Besides, together they were wearing enough gold jewelry to open a pawn shop. They had marched up here in full battle armor. But why had they come, now of all times—on this cold, blustery day?
And then the realization hit her and she felt a twist in the pit of her stomach. It was her fault. She'd told her cousin last night how much his young patients would miss Alex after his contract expired at the end of the month. Her cousin remarked that if she wanted the man to stay in Treasure Creek, she needed to get him happily married to a local woman. Which led to the unfortunate remark by her that no woman with warm blood flowing through her veins would marry The Ice Man. Which led to her cousin saying that there was a match for everyone and Maryann could find someone for the doctor if she put her mind to it. After all, her cousin added, Maryann was good at managing other people's romances—hadn't her parents relied on her to help them find their next soul mates? And the ones after that?
Unfortunately, she and her newly-engaged cousin, Karenna, had been eating hamburgers in Lizbet's Diner when they'd had their conversation. Someone must have overheard. Gossip traveled fast in a small town like this, and it often got twisted. Maryann knew she shouldn't have said anything about Alex. And worst of all, she had taken a guess at a woman who might suit him, and, even though it wasn't one of the fancy women, the whole thing must have resulted in today's sudden invasion.
"I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave," Maryann said, as she tried to herd the women to the door. They weren't budging. She didn't suppose she could call 911 over something like this. "The doctor is in the exam room with a patient and—"
"He can be my doctor any time," a woman with bouncy, copper ringlets said, as she wiggled out of Maryann's herd, walked over to a chair and sat down looking pleased with herself.
The fancy women all giggled.
Why did people seeking romance all become silly as teenagers, Maryann wondered. She raised her voice. "What I'm trying to say is that there are no appointments left for today."
She hoped that would do it.
"Or tomorrow either," she added quickly just in case. "We're all booked."
She really liked this job; she didn't want to be fired. Alex had promised to give her a good recommendation to his replacement. Well, it would be his temporary replacement. The agency had already said they could only send someone to fill in for a few months while they kept looking for a new scholarship doctor to take over the clinic for another three years. If they couldn't find someone, they would close the clinic in six months.
Why did it all have to be so complicated? The children here needed a doctor. And Maryann didn't want to lose her job and return to the lower forty-eight. The obvious solution was to have Alex put down roots here in Treasure Creek. Of course, he'd have to want to stay. Her cousin was right about a wife being the answer, but—despite her earlier comments about him being The Ice Man—Maryann knew full well he could have his pick of brides. Some women would tell themselves he would thaw eventually; others might not care.
No, he would be the one who was hard to please when it came to marriage. The nurse before her claimed Alex hadn't dated anyone in the time she'd known him. All he cared about was that clinic he was going to build in Los Angeles.
"I'm Delilah Carrington. I'm sure he'll see me," the copper ringlet woman said as she gave a grand wave with an arm wrapped in thin gold bracelets. Then she looked around and slowly frowned. "I would think a doctor's office would be better equipped though. This place is a little old and scruffy, isn't it?"
She made it sound as though the patients regularly stuck their old chewing gum under the chairs bottoms, Maryann thought—which she was sure they did not, since she'd checked a time or two.
"He's a scholarship doctor," another of the women said, as though that explained any shabbiness. "You know, the government pays for him to go to medical school and he has to work in a place like this for a few years to pay them back. All the poor kids do it."
Maryann bristled at the implication that because Alex didn't have money, somehow that made him less of a success. He was a brilliant doctor. She'd known that after working the first day for him. Plus, he really cared about his little patients. He even treated the children from the Taiya Village, part of the Tlingit tribe, for free. If the town got another scholarship doctor, he probably wouldn't go out to the village at all. It was extra work, and not part of the agreement the doctors signed. That was another reason she wanted Alex to stay on here. The Tlingit kids needed him as much as the kids in Treasure Creek did, and probably more.
"The city owns this clinic," Maryann said firmly. "The place is charming and very neatly organized. It might be a little scratched up, but we keep it very clean. Besides, Dr. Havens knows all of the latest treatments."
The room was quiet as the women looked around. Apparently, they'd been surprised enough at that declaration to listen.
"What kind of treatments?" one of the women asked, looking around the office dubiously. "Those herbal things?"
"Medical treatments," Maryann snapped back. She saw no reason to admit that he studied the native remedies of the Tlingit people. She'd already said too much about the man last night. "They're the kind any good, well-trained doctor uses. Some from the Mayo Clinic."
Then she scowled at the women, daring any of them to make more remarks about this building or the doctor who ran it. The clinic was set in one of the restored log cabins that were left over from the original gold rush prospectors who had founded this town in 1897. She'd like to see how these fancy women would have stood up a hundred years from now. Besides, people should be proud to use this place, she told herself; it had solid history.
The town had taken ownership of the cabin decades ago, renting it out to a souvenir shop for years until someone decided they needed a children's clinic in town. They widened the doorway and added a side ramp off the porch for wheelchairs, and the cabin became a clinic. Except for the thickly lacquered logs, the only other holdover from its tourist days was Horace, the slightly droopy moose head hanging over the door.
"So this means our doctor is poor," Delilah finally said in the silence, that same frown on her face. "If he had to have a scholarship, I mean. That can't be good. Does he have any money at all?"
"Honey, a man with looks like Dr. Havens doesn't need money," another of the women—Joleen something—declared with a warm chuckle. The woman was wearing a spandex jumpsuit in a leopard print and spiked black heels. A long gold chain hung around her neck, and somehow she'd managed to get her blond hair rearranged after the wind. "Besides, he's not going to stay poor. He's a doctor. He'll be rich before you know it, especially since he's going back to Los Angeles. You should see the expensive cars men like him drive down there."
That started the rest of the women talking about the doctor again. And they weren't just talking about his money.
Maryann didn't need to hear the women to know what they were saying. Alex was tall, dark and handsome— she'd be the first to admit it. Any woman who sighed over Rhett Butler—and she had a feeling most of those women in the waiting room had—would be drawn to the good doctor. He had that same kind of jaw. Plus, he had strong biceps, a chin with a dimple—just like they said, and with all the glowing adjectives they used. It was amazing that the fancy women had taken this long to fill up the man's waiting room.
The more they talked, the gloomier Maryann got. Until last night, she'd found working with Alex companionable enough that she'd almost forgotten he was drop-dead gorgeous. Years ago, she'd vowed never to trust a handsome man. Assuming that vow still held, her cousin had made the criticism rather loudly last night over dinner that, because of it, Maryann might be a little bit unfair to her employer when she called him The Ice Man. Everyone deserved a chance to prove himself, her cousin said; maybe Maryann needed to get to know him better. Besides, no boss was perfect.
Which reminded Maryann, if she wanted to keep him as her boss, she needed to warn him about these women, and quickly.
"Let me go see how long the doctor will be," she announced casually as she started toward the back exam room. There was a good-size window on the side wall. It was a bit of a drop to the ground, but Alex was in excellent physical shape. At least the fancy women had gotten that much right.
If she hadn't been looking straight at the door, Mary-ann wouldn't have seen the knob turn. She formed her lips and called out, "Nooo."
But it was too late. Her voice came out thin and the door opened anyway. Johnny Short walked out with his mother. Both of them looked surprised at the crowded waiting room.
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Book Description Steeple Hill, 2010. Mass-market paperback. Condition: New. Large type / large print.. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 276 p. Love Inspired Larger Print. Audience: General/trade. Seller Inventory # Alibris_0001376
Book Description Steeple Hill, 2010. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Lgr. Seller Inventory # DADAX0373814984
Book Description Love Inspired Large Print, 2010. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0373814984
Book Description Steeple Hill, 2010. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110373814984
Book Description Love Inspired Large Print. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0373814984 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0112160