USA Today Bestselling Author
Health-care worker Shane has been at Hathaway House since the beginning. He’s watched patient after patient scratch and claw their way to recovery and has watched relationship after relationship blossom into love and marriage. He believes in love. Wants a true love of his own. Yet he wonders now whether anyone is out there for him.
Until Melissa walks into his gym.
Broken and beaten by life and overwhelmed with endless pain was never part of Melissa’s long-term plan. But a year after an accident sidelined her navy career, she’s still fighting her way back to a normal life—if such a thing exists for the woman she’s become. Her transfer to Hathaway House is a lifeline to her oldest friend, but, even with Dani’s encouragement, Melissa’s journey back to health is long and hard and maybe just a pipe dream. But she’ll try again. One more time.
Separately, Shane and Melissa have been battling their own personal demons. When they meet at Hathaway House, the tough physiotherapist vows that his newest client will reach successes unimaginable to her. Together, working through her rehab plan, Shane and Melissa find a special tenderness behind each other’s strength.
Dani finally convinces Melissa to come to Hathaway House knowing it’s her friends best change of finding a new normal. The journey there is brutal and Melissa is still in a lot of pain the next morning.
Shane is the first person Melissa gets to know at Hathaway House. He stopped by her room before breakfast on her first day. He doesn’t take no for an answer on going for a bit of a tour which will include breakfast.
It doesn’t take long before Melissa realizes that Hathaway House isn’t a hospital and it’s far better than she imagined. She can now understand that Dani has created something wonderful, even before she starts her own rehabilitation.
This is favorite scene.
A huge man came to the front counter, leaned across the top, and smiled down at her. “Now that’s a new face I haven’t seen before.”
She smiled up at him. “I’m Melissa,” she said. “I just got here last night.”
“Uh-huh,” he said. “So I see they wouldn’t let you skip breakfast, huh?”
She shook her head. “No, Shane was pretty much against that.”
“We’re all against that,” he said. “You need your food.”
She smiled up at him. “But what if I’m not hungry?”
“We always have something to be hungry for.” He quickly explained how the kitchen worked, how the coffee and tea were always here. Food was always here. If she ever woke up hungry, she could raid the self-serve fridge filled with sandwiches, muffins, quiches, things like that. All beside a microwave, if needed. “And,” he said, “I have lots of hot fresh food now. What do you prefer for breakfast?”
She raised both eyebrows. “Wow! I haven’t been asked that in a long time.”
“Well, that was then. This is now,” he said, “and food is a big part of your healing. But the right food.”
“Oh, I agree with that,” she said. “What do you have?”
“I’ve got eggs, sausages, bacon, omelets, fresh fruit, yogurt, homemade bread, French toast. If that doesn’t appeal, tell me what does. Oh, we also have muffins today. What would you like?”
Just then her stomach growled. She stared at him, a bit embarrassed. “I haven’t heard that sound in a long time,” she said. “Something triggered it nicely.”
“Well, if you haven’t eaten, and you’re not working out today because it’s still not a whole first day for you,” he said, “let’s get you a decent breakfast. Then you will have lots of energy to hold you over, and you won’t have to worry about your stomach getting upset from Shane’s workouts.”
She looked at Shane. “You already have a reputation, huh?”
“Maybe,” he said cheerfully, “but we won’t worry about that right now.” He looked at Dennis and said, “She told me that she loves eggs.”
Dennis smiled, looked down at her again, and asked, “So poached, scrambled, fried? Or how about a spinach and bacon omelet?”
“I’d love that,” she said. “Are you sure though? That’s more work.”
He laughed. “I’m very sure. I’ll have it up in a few minutes,” he said. “Make sure you get the rest of what you want, and I’ll bring the omelet to you.”
And, with that, Shane moved her a little farther down the counter. He asked, “You want some yogurt, some berries, muffins? Anything here?”
A whole pile of add-ons went with breakfast. She grabbed a parfait that looked like half the size of the other parfaits. It was full of yogurt, berries, and granola. “I like this,” she said, “but I don’t want to take so much food that I can’t eat it all.”
“And that’s a good thing,” he said, “because we do have to watch that people eat what they take.”
“Right,” she said. “So maybe not this.” But she hesitated.
He put it firmly on her tray and said, “If nothing else, we can take it back to your room with you because you’ll be in there dealing with a lot of team members, as they come to interview you all day.”
“Right,” she said. “So for a coffee break.”
“And the cafeteria is always open,” he reminded her. “If you’re ever hungry, you can always come and get food.”
She nodded, and they went to the coffee area. He poured coffee for the two of them, which surprised her because she figured he had something better to do than to sit around and babysit her. But he didn’t seem to be in any rush to leave. Quietly she wondered at that.
He pushed her back to the outside deck, knowing she craved the sunshine and the sight of the animals. She sat close to the railing as she worked away on her parfait without even thinking about it.
By the time Dennis arrived with the omelet, she had tucked into that without realizing just how much food she was consuming. But the two men noticed.
Dennis quickly took away the empty parfait glass and smiled at her. “See? Just even being here helps bring up the appetite.”
“That’s not a bad thing,” she said. “I’ve lost a lot of weight from the surgeries.”
“That’s not allowed at all,” he said. “I’m really good at fattening people up.” He gave her a big toothy grin and took off, leaving her.
She laughed. “How do you guys stay skinny at this place?”
“Well, for the staff, we work it off,” Shane said, chuckling. “But, for everybody who’s here to heal, you must remember. Good food is a major part of healing.”
“I get it,” she said and looked down at the omelet. “Wow!”
“And, if you don’t like something, just tell Dennis. He lives to make everybody eat happily.”
She smiled and said, “Maybe it won’t be so bad being here after all.”
“If you were afraid it would be bad,” he asked curiously, “why did you come here?”
“Dani persuaded me,” she admitted. “And maybe I was just being stubborn. But I hated to impose.” She leaned forward and whispered, “I have one of those free beds.”
He leaned back and said, “Good. At least you’re smart enough to take what was offered.”
She sat back, looked at him, and asked, “Doesn’t it bother you?”
“Of course not,” he said. “We have multiples of those beds that we rotate all the time. Not everybody has full care or access. The navy should have given you full care, though they didn’t, did they?”
“My injuries didn’t happen while I was in the navy,” she said. “I had finished a tour and had just left when I was hit by a vehicle. So technically, I was no longer on active service— one day after leaving the navy.”
“So you were at the VA hospital when she offered you a bed here?”
“I wasn’t showing any progress there. At least I didn’t think so.”
“Good for her for bringing you here then,” he said. “And it doesn’t matter what bed you may have or whether the VA benefits come through for you or not because it’s all about your healing, not about how you got here. You are here, so let’s make the most of it.”
She smiled, nodded. “You’re very much a cheerleader, aren’t you?”
“Sometimes,” he said. “And then there’ll be times when you really don’t appreciate the heavy taskmaster version of me.”
“How many days before that happens?”
He gazed at her with a serious look. “Probably three.”
She winced. “So enjoy my holiday while I have it?”
“Enjoy it,” he said, “because then you’re on the most difficult and the most rewarding journey of your life. One that, without which, we can’t get you back to being normal.”
“I thought you said normal doesn’t exist?” she asked in a challenging voice.
“You’re right,” he said. “So let’s get you to the new normal, which I have seen time and time again. It’ll be very different than what you think is normal.”
“Get me to walk and to sleep without pain, and I’ll be grateful,” she said. “Anything above that is sheer gravy.”
He laughed and said, “Sure hope you like gravy with everything then,” he said, “because we have a lot of work to do.”
Dale Mayer. Melissa (Kindle Locations 283-343). Valley Publishing Ltd..
After his initial evaluation, Shane knows it’s going to be slow going, and he is more than up to the challenge. He also finds himself enjoying her company, and she hers. The problem he faces is recognizing if what is growing between them is gratitude or love.
I loved this story so much. Shane is one of my favorite characters and Melissa is perfect for him.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.