USA Today Bestselling Author
Nash has been struggling to get back on his feet after his last set of surgeries. He pushed for a transfer to Hathaway House on an old friend’s recommendation and finally made it there—after multiple frustrating delays—only to find that he isn’t ready for the strides he hopes to make in the new facility.
To add insult to injury, on his first day at Hathaway House, he comes face-to-face with Alicia, the only woman he’s ever loved and the last woman he’d want to see him in his current condition.
Alicia let Nash go more than a decade ago, unwilling to settle for a long-distance relationship with the sailor, certain that her future would bring other dreams and other loves. But, when her brother fell ill, all her dreams shattered. She devoted herself to nursing him and, after his death, to helping others.
Seeing Nash again is both pleasure and pain. The rapport between them is instant, as if the years apart had never happened. But, if they couldn’t make things work back then, when life was bright and new, do the people they’ve become in the years since have a shot at a future together?
Nash is getting frustrated, there’s a bed for him a Hathaway House but he hasn’t yet been cleared. While this isn’t uncommon, in his case a four day wait becomes eleven and he was more than ready to start fresh. He promised his roommate Owen he would let him know how things work out. Like many new residents he first starts to check things out, only to step wrong and hurt himself. On top of the travel stress and general tiredness the pain and cramping is intense.
Having read the other books in this series, when Shane walks in and starts asking him questions about the hows and location of the pain then offers a massage of the area, I was screaming let him help you! Sigh alas Nash is going to suffer in silence for a bit.
Then he hears a voice he recognizes but thinks it’s his imagination. His once girlfriend Alicia couldn’t be here. He didn’t tell anyone he was coming this close to home. Nursing wasn’t what Alicia was planning on doing, but then people do change their minds, or circumstances do.
Alicia is on his team and he’s okay with that, but she still hasn’t come in to say hello like others on his team have. She has a conversation with Dani before she does, I really loved their reunion in spite of the professionalism.
This is a favorite scene.
She smiled at him and said, “Hello, Nash. It’s been a long time.”
“A long time, a lot of years, and a lot of distance,” he admitted slowly. Then he smiled and said, “You still look gorgeous.”
She flushed. “I forgot how easily you could turn a compliment,” she said with the shake of her head.
“You used to like it,” he said. “Also I never lie. I meant it. You still look stunning. I, on the other hand, I’m a broken caricature of when you last saw me.”
“But the inside hasn’t changed, I hope,” she said as she walked in slowly. “You used to be very caring and friendly, willing to help anybody.”
“Maybe,” he said. “But our circumstances have certainly changed, and my abilities have certainly changed, so I’m not the one to step up anymore.”
“Understood,” she said. “Right now you’re the one who needs help, and I don’t remember you being very good at accepting help.”
He gave a harsh laugh at that. “I doubt that’s changed,” he said with a nod. “Figures that you’d remember that.”
“Well, you were a bit on the stubborn side,” she said with a chuckle.
“A bit?” He smiled at her. “It’s good to see you, but I don’t remember nursing being part of your future plans.”
“Nope,” she said. “Remember Jerry, my brother?”
“He ended up with cancer, and he’s gone,” she said, feeling even now— two years after his passing and the seven years before that dealing with his cancer— tears forming at the back of her eyes. “He didn’t go very quickly, and it sent me on a path, out of frustration, of trying to do something to help him, and there was just nothing I could do. So I thought that maybe I could help somebody else instead,” she said quietly.
He nodded slowly. “I’m sure that health care has received a guardian angel,” he said. “I’m so sorry about Jerry. He was always the jokester of the group.”
“Well, the laughter finally left him,” she said. “His last few months were absolutely terrible. During that time, I’ve never been so traumatized, prayed so often, and wished for so much that could never be. My parents split up afterward. They couldn’t handle his loss. Instead of bringing them closer, it broke them up, and that was another whole trauma that I wasn’t prepared to deal with.” She then added, “I don’t know. It’s their problem, but, at the same time, it doesn’t feel like it’s just their problem.”
“Of course not,” he said, frowning. “Your parents, they’re the best.”
“Well, they still are,” she said. “Each in their own world at the moment.”
“Any chance of them getting back together again?”
“I would say no,” she said, “but who knows. They haven’t remarried, but I’m not sure either has dealt with the loss of Jerry, so I’m afraid they won’t move on. They can’t move on.”
“And sometimes people can’t pull together in trauma,” he said. “I had friends before my accident, but, after the accident, they disappeared. Not everybody can handle seeing or dealing with the way I am now. People don’t like to come visit me in a hospital or a VA center. Those are depressing places to be for most people. So my friends wanted to be outside, playing ball or going to a movie. They don’t want to sit and just talk to me.”
“And I can see how that would be a challenge too,” she said. “I never thought of that. Once Jerry got sick, his friends all clustered around at the beginning, but, as the months went on, he lost them all.”
“It’s an individual journey,” Nash said. “Not an easy one. But, at the end of the day, you realize that you were born into this life alone. Then, when some of these really heavy events happen, you end up depending on only yourself. I think that death will be a similar journey. I came in alone, and I’ll leave alone.”
“That sounds terrible,” she cried out. “I was with Jerry the whole time.”
A whisper of a smile crossed his face. “Good for Jerry,” he said. “I think that was probably the best gift you could have given him.”
“No,” she said, her tone turning harsh. “The best gift would have been a longer and healthier life, but I couldn’t do anything about that. None of us could.” Then she gave herself a mental shaking. “I didn’t mean to bring up all that negativity,” she said, taking a slow, deep breath. “I have to remember that what happened to Jerry won’t happen to everybody.”
“No,” he said. “It can, but that doesn’t mean that it will.”
She smiled. “Exactly, so I’m working on that whole positivity thing.”
“Good,” he said. “So am I, although it doesn’t sound like we’re doing all that great with it.”
She laughed out loud. “I don’t know. You sound much more positive than I am.”
“Nope,” he said. “I have those lovely days, where everything looks bright and sunny and where I know I can make it. Then I have those not-so-lovely days, where I know I’m useless, washed out, and will never be a contributing member of society again. You don’t plan for these life events, but you get hit sideways by them anyway.”
“Ditto,” she said, sighing. “I came in to introduce myself, to say hi, and to welcome you to Hathaway and all that good stuff,” she said with a bright smile. “I’ll come back when we figure out how your schedule will proceed. I worked here some years ago but haven’t been here recently very long myself. So I’m not familiar with everything that goes on during rehab. I came to work at Hathaway House because I needed a change of attitude, and I needed to feel like I could help somebody. So I’m really glad that you’re here. It’s good to reconnect.” She lifted her hand, gave him a small wave, and walked out.
Once Alicia was outside his room, her heart slamming against her chest, her feet slowed, as she made her way down the hallway. As much as it was nice to see him, it was also terrifying to see him like this. He was not the same vibrant man she had known; he was not the same physically fit man who could take on the world. He looked and reminded her so much of her dying brother that she wasn’t sure she could do this.
She counted slowly to five while noting her breath, then repeated that calming technique, realizing that she needed to get a grip because, if anybody saw that she was the one who was depressed, she knew she couldn’t stay here. Not only would she not help herself but she would be of no value to any of the people who needed her, and that was what she had to focus on— the patients. They needed what she had to offer, even if she couldn’t define just what that was at this moment.
Dale Mayer. Nash (Kindle Locations 191-243). Valley Publishing Ltd..
As Nash begins his journey, he finds how different the professionals here are. He also loves the animals that he sees around, some permanent residents others temporary at the vet clinic downstairs..
The addition of a miniature horse is a source of quite a few giggles from me as Dani can’t resist any more than Stan can.
Alicia has things to work through as well, it’s a suggestion from Nash that gets her started after another uncomfortable conversation with her mother.
Alicia’s parents are another thing she is trying to deal with alone and their is plenty of support at Hathaway House.
I love the way Nash and Alicia’s relationship begins anew as they begin healing journeys together and apart.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, and if you haven’t started it yet, there are now bundles of three to help you catch up quickly.
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.