Time for Love

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Chapter 1

Daisy scurried about the spacious living room, picking up toys, folding blankets, plumping pillows and generally doing anything she could to stay busy. It had taken forever to get her friend Maddie’s three-year-old son Thomas into bed. He’d been excited to have Daisy babysit for him and his sister Hailey, and Daisy was praying she’d heard the last of both kids as she prepared for her special guest.

Thinking of him made her stomach flutter with nerves. Why in the world had she invited him to come over to keep her company after the kids went to bed? Why in the world was she running around Mac and Maddie’s house, straightening up as if it were her own home? As if she’d ever live anywhere this nice.

Maddie sure had tumbled into a pot of gold when she met and married Mac McCarthy. Not that Daisy begrudged her friend’s happiness. Quite the opposite, in fact. Maddie was one of the best friends Daisy had ever had, and no one deserved to be happy more than Maddie did.

It’s just that sometimes Daisy wondered if she’d ever find the kind of happiness Maddie had with her devoted husband. Daisy’s most recent relationship with Truck Henry had turned into a disaster when he got violent with her—more than once. That was over now, and for good this time.

She’d learned her lesson about giving second chances to people who didn’t deserve them. Too bad she’d had to suffer badly bruised ribs and a host of other injuries before she wised up. She’d rather not think about those unhappy memories when her new friend David Lawrence was coming over to hang out with her.

Why had she invited him?

It had been a weak moment the night before. He’d taken her out for a lovely dinner at Stephanie’s Bistro and had asked what she was doing the next night, which was how she’d ended up inviting him to her babysitting gig.

Now she felt like a foolish teenager waiting for the captain of the football team to show up. No doubt he had far better things to do than hang out with her on one of his rare nights off. He’d probably felt obligated to accept her invitation, and the whole thing would be painfully awkward.

When it came right down to it, they had absolutely nothing in common. She was a hard-working—if perpetually poor—housekeeper at the McCarthy’s hotel, and he was the island’s only doctor. She’d come from a family that invented the term dysfunctional, whereas he’d been raised with his sisters on the island and gone to a top college and medical school in Boston.

She’d dated one loser after another while he’d been engaged to Mac’s sister, Janey McCarthy Cantrell. Janey was married now to Joe Cantrell and expecting their first child at the end of the summer.

Daisy had never heard what went wrong between David and Janey, but their long relationship had ended suddenly two summers ago. She could’ve asked Maddie and almost had a few times, but she’d been unable to bring herself to actually ask.

In the meantime, David had been so nice about coming by to check on her injuries and so gentle with her as she recovered. They’d fallen into an unlikely friendship that continued when she stopped by the clinic a couple of times to share the influx of food her friends had brought her. David worked so hard that he often missed meals, and it had seemed only fitting to share with him when he’d been so good to her.

It was foolish, she knew, to let her heart get all pitter-pattery over a guy who was just being nice to her because that was his job. It was doubly foolish, she also knew, to nurture the world-class crush that had come from his many kindnesses. Thus, it was triply foolish to be hoping that something might come of the time they’d been spending together.

Romance, Daisy thought, is so fraught with peril. At least it always had been for her. She simply chose the wrong men. The habit dated back to high school when she’d yearned for a boy who turned out to be a cheating pig. Next came a lovely guy who became a mean drunk and then another with a gambling addiction she’d failed to recognize until he’d wiped out her meager savings account.

Then came Truck and his meth addiction and meaty fists.

Daisy shuddered thinking of the awful night when Truck most likely would’ve raped and killed her if the island’s police chief, Blaine Taylor, hadn’t broken down her door and stopped him from finishing the job.

A knock on the sliding glass door made her startle. Had she really wasted all that precious time thinking about things that couldn’t be changed? And now David was here and she probably looked like a wreck after wrangling babies all night. She combed her fingers through her long, blonde hair, hoping to restore order as she walked over to the door to unlock it.

“Hey,” he said as he came in smelling of fresh air and a hint of cologne that made her want to snuggle in close to him. He wore a navy blue button-down Gansett Island shirt with khaki shorts.

Daisy had never seen him dressed so casually. “Hey.”

“Are they asleep?”

“I think so. I’m told it’s a minute-to-minute thing.”

He smiled, revealing a flash of straight, white teeth that made her want to sigh with pleasure. She had a thing for a great smile, and David Lawrence’s smile was one of the best she’d ever encountered. Coupled with thick, dark hair and serious brown eyes, that smile was downright potent. Even the slight bump in his otherwise perfect nose was appealing.

“Is that…” He brushed at something on her shoulder, making her nerve endings tingle. “Spit-up?”

“Oh crap,” Daisy said, mortified. Heat singed her cheeks and made her scalp itch. “I forgot that Hailey nailed me at bedtime. I’ll just run up and borrow something of Maddie’s. She won’t mind.”

“Don’t bother.” He took her hand and led her to the kitchen, where he wet a paper towel and went to work on the spot on her shoulder.

Daisy had never been more acutely aware of her own intake of oxygen than she was in that moment with his face about six inches from hers as he worked with single-minded purpose to clean the spot off her thin top. While focusing on the shine of his dark hair, she concentrated on drawing in enough air to remain conscious without gulping in the deep breaths she desperately needed.

“There,” he said after an interminable few minutes. As he backed away from her, his fingers brushed against her neck, and damn if she didn’t gasp. “Sorry.”

“Oh no, don’t be sorry. I…um…”

“What’s wrong, Daisy?” He studied her in that deep, dark, serious way he did so well.

“Nothing,” she said in a cheerful tone that sounded forced, even to her. “Want a beer or some wine or something?”

“I’d rather know why you seem so uncomfortable. I thought we had a nice time last night. I was looking forward to seeing you tonight, but if this isn’t a good time, I can go.”

“No, I don’t want you to go.” Daisy covered her face with her hands. “I’m making a total mess of things.”

“Tell me what’s wrong.” He covered her hands with his and gave a very gentle tug that revealed her eyes.

“I’m nervous, and that makes me feel stupid.”

“Why are you nervous?”

“Because you’re here. Because I invited you, and I wasn’t sure if you really wanted to come or you just said you would because I asked you to and you didn’t really want to—”

And then he was kissing her, and Daisy’s brain cells positively fried the second his lips landed on hers.

He was a really good kisser, as if that was any big surprise. His lips were firm but soft and moved over hers in a light caress that was neither too much nor too little. It was just right, and quite simply one of the best kisses she’d ever received. Just as she began to relax and kiss him back, he withdrew.

“Sorry,” he said, his forehead leaning against hers. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

“I’m glad you did that.”

“You are?”

She smiled, because really, how could she not? He was so cute. “Maybe you’ll do it again sometime?”

“We might be able to arrange that.”

Daisy discovered she was no longer nervous about having him there. Now she was nervous for a whole other reason, a much better reason. “Do you want to watch a movie?”

He took a step back from her. “Sure.”

“Maddie left some on the coffee table if you want to see if any of them interest you. Popcorn?”

“I won’t say no to that.”

“How about a beer?”

“Will you have one, too?”

“I’m going to stick with Coke.”

“Then I will, too.”

While she made the popcorn in an oil popper that Maddie had once told her dated back to her high school years but still worked perfectly, he went into the living room to check out the movies. Reliving the kiss, Daisy was acutely aware of him in the next room.

What did it mean? What was he thinking? Was he looking for a summer fling or something more lasting? What was she looking for? Nothing serious. That was for sure. After what had happened with Truck, she’d been prepared to swear off all men permanently. But then David kept showing up, chipping away at her defenses one visit at a time.

“These are all chick flicks,” he said.

“In case you haven’t noticed, I am a chick.”

“Oh, I’ve definitely noticed.”

Daisy nearly swallowed her tongue.

“Have you seen Love and Other Drugs?” he asked, as if he hadn’t just totally rocked her with that comment. “Looks kind of good. A girl with Parkinson’s falls in love with a drug rep.”

“Leave it to the doctor to pick a medical movie.”

“Um, I believe it’s a chick-flick romance that happens to include a disease. There’s got to be something in it for me.”

“Who is in it?”

“Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.”

“I should probably mention at the outset that I have a huge crush on Jake Gyllenhaal. I’d hate for you to be threatened by my ogling.”

“I believe I’m man enough to handle your crush.”

As she carried the bowl of popcorn and two Cokes into the living room, she tried to remember the last time she’d enjoyed a conversation with a man as much as she enjoyed every conversation with him. He never talked down to her or made her feel like she wasn’t as smart as him, even though she was nowhere near as smart as him.

After she put the bowl and sodas on the coffee table, he handed her the movie and she popped it into the DVD player. She sat on the sofa, careful to leave at least a foot between them, and reached for the popcorn bowl.

David opened both sodas and put them on coasters.

As she dipped into the bowl, his hand brushed against hers. Daisy pulled hers back and then felt like an idiot. So his hand had touched hers. Why did she have to react like a teenage girl on a first date?

The movie’s opening credits had just begun when Daisy heard a noise at the top of the stairs. She handed the bowl to David, got up to go investigate and found Thomas sitting behind the baby gate, his blanket and teddy bear with him.

“What’re you doing up, honey?”

“I want Mommy.”

“Mommy and Daddy are out with their friends, but they’ll be home soon.”

“Who were you talking to?” Thomas looked around her to see who was visiting.

“You know Dr. David, right?”

“He gave me a shot,” Thomas said, his feathery brows knitting into an adorable scowl. “It hurted.”

“Come here, sweetie.” Daisy extended her arms, lifted him over the gate with the blanket and bear and carried him downstairs. “We have a visitor,” she said to David.

“Hi there, Thomas,” David said.

Thomas burrowed his face into her neck.

“I believe Thomas is annoyed with you. Something about a shot?”

“Ah, yes. Sorry about that, pal. Just trying to keep you healthy.”

“It hurted,” Daisy said, earning a smile from David.

“Do you know what else is really important to staying healthy?” David asked.

Thomas turned toward David.

“What’s that?” Daisy asked.

“Sleep. We need lots and lots of sleep, especially when we’re three years old and our bodies are using so much energy to grow.”

“I growed,” Thomas said. “Mommy measured me on the wall.”

“If you want to keep growing and someday be big and strong like Daddy,” Daisy said, “you have to go to sleep.” She drew the blanket up to his shoulders and rubbed his back. He popped his thumb into his mouth and cuddled up to his bear.

As Daisy brushed her lips over Thomas’s hair, her own hair slid over her face.

Before she could tend to it, David had it secured behind her ear. The brush of his fingertips against her cheek and ear gave her goose bumps. She ventured a glance at him and saw that he was watching her with sexy eyes attuned to her every move.

Oh my.

path toward love together? Or will ghosts from the past derail them before they get the chance for their own happily ever after? Catch up with many of your favorite characters from earlier books in the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, and get set for another summer of love on Gansett!

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ISBN
eBook: 9780985034160
Print: 9780615843841