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Lynne Marshall

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All Taylor Clark ever wanted was a normal life and a traditional family, but so far she’s had neither. Soon after discovering that her boyfriend was secretly engaged and she moves to Charity, Montana for a fresh start, she realizes she’s pregnant. As her new friendly and sexy landlord helps her settle in, they become friends, although Taylor has to keep reminding herself to keep her distance. The last thing she needs is to start something new.

As an ex-con, Joe Collins knows a little something about fresh starts. Despite his determination to keep his head down, he can’t ignore Taylor’s natural beauty or obvious vulnerability. In short time, a tentative friendship blooms along with something more precious—trust.

When Taylor’s ex comes to town, he threatens everything that Joe and Taylor have built together. Joe steps up to care for and protect her, even though he risks losing more than the woman he loves.

Shaken and unsure of how to handle her “thing” for Joe, Taylor prepared for her bath.  She gathered clothes and a fresh towel while thinking over the “situation,” her bad timing, and the distraction in her back yard.  And mostly, she thought how hard it was to pretend she didn’t want to see him.  She liked having him around, even though she’d been avoiding him.  She wondered about him all the time. But it wouldn’t be fair to Joe.
She smiled, he’d made up a great excuse to see her today. 
But weren’t they just friends?  Wasn’t that the deal?
         She’d never bothered to notice her other male friends in the exact way she did Joe, like when he’d bent down to toss aside that rock, and his powerful thigh muscles bunched and bulged.  She’d never seen him in shorts before, and definitely liked the view.  He hadn’t shaved today, and strawberry blond stubbles dusted his cheeks.  When she’d first seen him, she’d wanted to trace that bead of sweat on his temple all the way down to his jaw with her finger.
         Snap out of it!
         Taylor made sure the bathroom blinds were securely closed then snatched a huge towel from the rail and wrapped her body tightly.
         These sorts of thoughts about her “friend” confused her and had to stop.  She tapped her forehead on the bathroom wall.  If being pregnant and confused was a bad combination, she could only imagine what being an ex-convict hunk must be like.
         She plopped onto the covered toilet and hugged her knees tightly against her chest.  What she should do, to show her appreciation for Joe taking time off work to do her landscaping, was make him a nice big lunch.   But then she’d have to face him again, and after reminding herself how gorgeous he looked in nylon jogger’s shorts, she might not be able to hide her interest, and that just wouldn’t be right.  There was no point. She was pregnant for crying out loud!
         She peeked out the window.  He was digging, back muscles bunched, arms tight and sculpted.
Okay, this had to stop.  She’d make an excuse about having to run errands and stay as far away from her house as possible until the coast was clear of Joe.  She’d been a runner all her life, she knew how to keep a low profile and dodge anyone she didn’t want to see, even if that person was the sexiest man she’d ever met. 

From daddy?

This story was inspired by JoJo Moyes’ book Me Before You, which was a heartbreaking read. Being a romance writer and reader, well, I simply had to write a story about a disabled hero, a completely different story than hers, with the kind of ending I personally love HEA! (Happily Ever After). So I did and it’s called – Miracle for the Neurosurgeon.

Neurosurgeon Wes Van Allen is used to being at the top of his game, so when an accident puts him in a wheelchair, he’ll push himself to the limit to regain his strength—he just needs a physical therapist who can keep up!
Enter Mary Harris, whose sweet kisses he’s never forgotten! She’ll help Wes achieve his dream, if he helps her achieve hers—a baby! Captivated by Mary’s sunny optimism, dare Wes hope for the ultimate miracle—a family, with Mary by his side?
Here's a link to a preview blog about my research for this book: 

Unedited excerpt:

Mary stepped outside Wes’ front door, her hands shaking, her body quivering.  She leaned against the wall biting her lip, blinking her eyes, until grief overtook her. The man she’d idolized as a teenager was sentenced to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. She’d known it in advance, of course, but seeing him—the same yet so changed—drove the point home and deep into her heart. 
The ocean blurred, her skin flushed with heat, and her pulse jittered through her veins, forcing her to let go of the threatening tears. To stop fighting and release them before she choked and drowned on them. It had been a long time since she’d cried, and they pricked and stung the inside of her eyelids. She buried her face in the bend of her arm, smothering the sudden keening sounds ripping at her throat, thankful the screeching seagulls overpowered her mourning.
Wesley took a break from his demanding routine and peered out the upstairs window, not believing what he was seeing. Heath, his groundskeeper, directed Mary as she backed a tiny portable wood covered house, complete with porch—if you could call that out-pouch a porch—onto the graveled ground beside his unattached garage. So that’s how she’d taken care of living arrangements. She drove the pickup truck like a pro, threw it into park and jumped out to check her handiwork. Clearly satisfied with the parking job, she dusted her hands and went about releasing the hauled house from the towing hitch.
         This wasn’t her first time at that rodeo.
         His guess was that RV sized house couldn’t be more than 200-300 square feet, tops. Sure Mary was petite, no more than five-three and a hundred-ten pounds wringing wet, but it had to be snug in there.  Why would she want to live like that for two months?
         She smiled, and from all the way upstairs he could see the self-satisfaction in her expression.  Determination had always been her saving grace, and he’d admired it. Until just now when she’d trained her grit on him and weaseled her way back into his life. He didn’t need anyone—didn’t his family get it? He shook his head, frustrated, yet amused. That same tenacity had always been the key to her survival. Could he fault her for not letting him send her away?
         He moved further into his gym and grabbed some free weights.
Mary had gotten a lousy start with her parents stumbling their way through life, blaming everyone and everything else on their failings, rather than taking a good look at themselves. Fortunately, she hadn’t picked up their lax habits. In fact, she’d done exactly the opposite—she’d taken a long look at her parents and had become convinced she could do better for herself. Then she’d set out to prove it. And prove it she had. She held a doctorate degree. Could work anywhere she wanted. And at this point in time she’d chosen to work here. Lucky him.
         When Alexandra had first brought her home, Mary was scrawny and wore clothes from thrift shops. They’d been assigned to work on a science project together, and instead of judging Mary on her appearance, Alex had been raised to be open minded. She’d treated Mary like all of her other friends, though those friends were all rich. Without passing judgment, Alexandra had quickly zeroed in on how bright Mary was—beyond how nice and sweet she was—and their team project had taken first place.  She’d also realized that Mary couldn’t always depend on meals at home, so she’d quickly become a regular guest for meals at the Van Allen house. Soon Mary was best friends with his big-hearted sister.
         Back then, he’d also been taken in my Mary’s upbeat spirit, and secretly by her waist-long strawberry blonde hair, which she wore only shoulder length these days. Her shining inquisitive green eyes had stood out like a newly discovered gem in a household of brown-eyed people, and he’d been drawn to her from their very first meeting. Plus, he’d seen something else in that wide and intelligent stare of hers—admiration. Admiration for him. He’d enjoyed knowing his sister’s new best friend had a huge crush on him, accepted it with pride, even fed that crush from time to time.
         But she’d been innocent and vulnerable, and with parents like hers, hungry for love and attention. With a father like his, who had unwavering expectations for him, well Wes had been wise enough to play gently with her heart by keeping her at arm’s length, knowing his future would take a far different direction from hers. Still, selfish eighteen-year-old that he was, he’d strung her along, given her enough attention to keep her hopeful.
         Damn, he’d been mean even then. Or careless? Egotistical for sure. Hadn’t Prince of Westwood been his family nickname? Especially the one time he’d slipped up and let his—what should he call it, curiosity or desire?—get the best of him.
He traded in the first weights and lifted two heavier weights and began vigorously trading repetitions, like a locomotion locked in place.
He’d always been lucky that way, saved from his wandering, kept on the straight and narrow if not by himself, by outside forces, especially by his father, because he was meant to be a doctor. And not just any doctor, a neurosurgeon. He’d planned his entire life around it, and a young, pretty and fresh face like Mary’s couldn’t get in the way. Yes, his parents were open minded about many things, but getting mixed up with a girl literally from the wrong side of the tracks would never be tolerated by dear old Dad.  Alexandra having Mary as a friend had proved to be charitable enough for the Van Allen family
Until her prom two years later. When no one had invited Mary the first week after the school prom kick-off announcement, Alexandra begged Wesley to invite her. He’d fought it at first, knowing there had to be several guys who’d love to take a girl like Mary, unless they were snooty and let her being poor get in the way of good taste. By the end of week two, Alexandra had gotten her mother involved, and what seemed beneath him as a twenty-year-old university student, got foisted upon him. Three years older than all the others attending, he’d been volunteered to take her to the prom. If he’d let himself look deep down, he wouldn’t have been able to deny he still had vague feelings for her. He’d become a sophisticated pre-med student and a seventeen-year-old woman was not only jail bate, but socially undesirable. The Prince of Westwood had taken her to the prom anyway, just so his family could wear the “aren’t we good people” badge.
His worldly-wise self hadn’t expected to be knocked off his feet when he’d seen her that night in the dress his mother had bought. Not as pricey or special as Alexandra’s dress, of course, but perfectly suited for her. His conscience had been dealt its first blow when he’d picked her up at the ratty mobile home park she lived in, her parents not even bothering to make an appearance. Maybe they were embarrassed? Regardless, he’d taken her back to his house where Alexandra and her friends waited to take before-prom pictures, wondering how such a lovely flower had grown in such bleak surroundings.  Then he’d spent the entire evening keeping her at arm’s length, being a boorish cosmopolitan minded university man, The Prince of Westwood lecturing her on making something of her life. Explaining to her how insignificant something like a high school prom registered in the course of a lifetime. So why was he still thinking about it now?
While on his soapbox that night, he’d warned her about guys—like himself—who’d love to take advantage of her.
So wise. So stupid. So moved by her poverty. So protective of her. Out of obligation, he’d asked her to dance and when holding her he’d made the mistake of looking into those eyes, a shade darker than her pastel green dress. Innocent and beautiful and calling out to his soul. To love her.
He knew he couldn’t. He wasn’t nearly enough of a man to risk that. When he’d taken her home, out of gratitude she’d thrown her arms around his neck, and he’d nearly kissed her the way he’d wanted all evening. But he knew it would change everything if he did, and he couldn’t stray from his calling.  Nothing could keep him from medical school, and surely getting involved with a girl like Mary would change his life. For the better? Who knew.
How pompous he’d been, lecturing her on making something of her life, to not get knocked up so nothing could stand in her way. To do it for herself, because no one else could.
He stopped the repetitions and stared out the gym window, down where her crazy little house stood.
The least he could do was let her share her expertise with him. Who knows, he might learn something, and if that helped his recovery and goal to get back to work along, it would be worth all of these memories bombarding him about his unwanted guest.

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