Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Broken Heart Series by Susie Tate @susietate79 @starange13


Title: Broken Heart Syndrome
Series: The Broken Heart Series
By: Susie Tate
Publication Date: April 4, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance



Shy, reclusive Frankie and her best friend Lou obsess over Thomas G. Longley, as they reverently refer to him, for their entire first two years of medical school. So when he publically humiliates her at the student bar she is devastated.

Ten years later, Frankie has to work in the testosterone driven environment of Cardiology before she can start her palliative care training and, to her dismay, Tom is her boss.

Thankfully the subject of her long-term crush doesn't seem to remember her and, given her ability to blend into the background, she’s not really surprised. What does surprise her is how cruel he is. Sure he squished her self esteem like a bug at Uni, but the Tom she spent many a pointless lunch break or library session covertly watching seemed easy going and quick to smile; not an uptight, overly critical bully.

Between passing out whilst assisting in theatre, struggling to force the team to see their bed blockers, and being covered head to foot in the bloody vomit of ‘Scary Glenda’ (A&E’s most frequent, frequent flyer), she can’t wait to get through the six months.

Although she’s too timid to tell Tom to jog on when she is his only target, when it’s her patients that he starts trampling she decides to grow a backbone, and Tom begins to see that she is not the cold, aloof woman he once thought.

As the misunderstandings of the past come to light, Tom realizes that the ‘complete-bastard’ routine he has been clinging to out of hurt pride might not have been his most stellar idea. He has a fight on his hands to win Frankie over and, unfortunately, it's not just his past behaviour he's fighting against. You see, Frankie knows all about being pushed around. She’s dealt with enough verbal and even physical abuse before to last a lifetime and she’s not going to be fooled into thinking that this ruthless alpha male has turned over a new leaf.

Even if he could convince her that he's not really the bully he projected before, her low self-esteem would never allow her to believe that a man like Tom could really be into a boring, bland, nondescript girl like her.

Luckily for Frankie, Tom is used to getting what he wants. He’s determined to make her see herself clearly for the first time in her life and he's just arrogant enough to believe that he can break through her defenses.

But Frankie's past is not ready to let her go quite yet. There's a reason that she spends next to no money but is always skint: a reason that she keeps her flat door open: a reason that she holds herself back from him.

Maybe he won't manage to convince her and he'll allow her to push him away. Or maybe (as Lou rightly puts it) he should 'stop being a pussy and man up already.

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Broken Heart Syndrome

Chapter 1

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy

2003

If you yearned for, and daydreamed about, someone enough, could you drive your subconscious mind insane? Could you lose your grip on reality and start hallucinating?
‘Frankie? Hello, can you hear me?’ Lou trilled as she waved her hand in front of my face. I was staring over her shoulder at the rapidly approaching figure, trying to determine whether he was, in fact, a figment of my fevered imagination. ‘Frankie?’ she called again, her voice now tinged with concern. ‘Jesus, you look like you’re going to pass out.’
She turned to follow the direction of my gaze, and we were now both looking up into the gorgeous (if somewhat bloodshot), sky-blue eyes of Thomas G. Longley. ‘Holy crap,’ she muttered under her breath, taking a small step back.
‘Hi, I’m Tom,’ my possible hallucination said. He was focusing on me, just as he had been throughout his determined walk towards us across the bar. My expression was likely akin to that of a crazed Belieber when confronted with a pair of Justin’s used underpants, and I was frozen in place.
Lou gave me a sharp kick in the shin with the pointed toe of her boot, snapping me out of my stupor. I realized that my mouth was hanging open, and snapped it shut. The pain in my leg suggested that this was reality, and he was the genuine article. Although happy that I wasn’t as crazy as a box of frogs, I had unfortunately lost the power of speech.
I was pathologically shy, especially around attractive men, and this was not just any man; this was Thomas G. Longley. My best friend, Lou, and I had been obsessing over Thomas G. Longley for the last two years. He was the star of most of my fantasies, and, bizarrely, my imagination didn’t just restrict itself to the steamy ones. I had even caught myself daydreaming about washing his sweaty rugby kit and sorting his socks into pairs, such was the extent of my infatuation.
Tom was four years above us at medical school. So whilst we were nearing the end of our second year, he was about to qualify that summer. Well over six foot tall, solidly built, with light brown, messy hair, and amazing blue eyes framed with incredible thick eyelashes, he was our idea of perfection.
He always looked in need of a shave, and most of the time his clothes were downright scruffy, his wardrobe seeming to consist of only well-worn jeans (no bad thing with his arse), and equally well-worn rugby or tour tops. But his lack of care for his appearance made him even sexier in our eyes, highlighting his natural confidence and the fact he couldn’t care less how people saw him. Lou and I thought he was the cat’s pyjamas, along with the rest of the female population of our medical school (although I doubt they were quite sad enough to obsess over him to the extent that we did).
For some weird reason we always used his full name when referring to him, and not just ‘Tom’, by which he was widely known. We would have loved to know what the G of his middle name stood for. The only reason we even knew the first letter was because we checked the viva results for his year like the crazy stalkers we were. Not wanting to be outed as creepy nutcases, we never worked up the courage to find out more, as this would have involved asking his friends and risking exposure.
London medical schools are pretty insular when they’re not part of larger universities, and there were only about a hundred and fifty students in each year at ours. This enabled our rampant observation of Thomas G. Longley; but even though he was the subject of our obsession, neither of us had ever had an actual conversation with him.
There was, however, the ‘Library Incident’, which took place towards the end of my fresher
year. In a revision frenzy, I tripped on the way through the bookshelves to get to my friends. I ended up sprawled face down, right in front of a table of rugby players, one of whom was Thomas G. Longley.
My books had flown everywhere, and unfortunately so had other mortifying items from my bag: my Tampax Extra Super tampons, my trusty multicolour glitter pen, and worst of all, Lady Princess le Foof (the small, dog-eared, ancient My-Little-Pony that I used to bring me luck in exams, and religiously carried around whilst revising).
Thomas G. Longley leapt up, rounded his sniggering mates at the table, and crouched down to help me gather my stuff. I could feel the heat in my cheeks as I frantically grabbed for the most embarrassing items, but I was too late for Lady Princess le Foof, who had rolled out of my reach.
‘You okay?’ he asked, holding out Lady Princess le Foof in his tanned hand. I looked briefly up into his gorgeous face, which was lit with a wide smile, and felt my heart stop before I quickly looked away.
‘Fine, thanks,’ I muttered in barely more than a whisper, before snatching away Lady Princess le Foof and scrambling to my feet. I kept my eyes averted as I scurried away, while his mates continued to jeer in the background.
After dissecting the ‘Library Incident’ at length with Lou, we both concluded that I most likely came across as a rude, clumsy, mentally deficient – not the first impression I would have gone for, but there was little point dwelling on it (which unfortunately I did, an unhealthy amount).
Lou herself had undergone the ‘Bar Incident’. The price of going out and drinking in central London restricted all but the fabulously wealthy to the dingy student bar, so it was invariably heaving, and one night Lou had found herself pressed up against Thomas G. Longley whilst waiting the requisite five hundred years to order. As soon as Thomas G. Longley had drawn up he had been served instantly (such was his appeal to the female bar staff), but as further proof of his perfection he directed the barmaid to Lou, explaining that she had been waiting longer.
Lou had fared a bit better than me in her interaction with him. For a start she wasn’t sprawled on the floor, and she did manage to thank him warmly, using more than the two words I had limited myself to.
So as you can see, past experience had not prepared me for the approach of the unwitting subject of my unhealthy obsession. Hence my second ever conversation with Thomas G. Longley was veering towards me, once again threatening to demonstrate subnormal behaviour on my part.
Despite this, instead of actually answering him, my mind was making a frantic inventory of my appearance. It was caveman night at the bar, and Lou and I had embraced this theme with gusto, both of us donning the micro-mini, furry, leopard-print skirts we had found in the Topshop sale. Lou had backcombed my hair to go along with the whole cavewoman thing, and I was now regretting having allowed this. My hair was the one part of my appearance that I was normally happy with, being very dark, long, thick and shiny, when in its normal state.
Although I doubted that shoes or cosmetics were available in the Jurassic period, Lou had forced me into wearing four-inch stilettos and full-on makeup. All our mates were dressed up too, including the guys (most of whom were wearing extremely ill-advised loin cloths), and we had thought that our outfits were awesome and hilarious. But now that I was looking into the gorgeous eyes of a very obviously not-dressed-up Thomas G. Longley, I thought with horror that we probably looked like a pair of demented cave-sluts.
Lou gave me another sharp kick in the shin, and I realized that I needed to pull it together and speak.
‘I – I’m Frankie,’ I managed to get out. Tom smiled and swayed slightly on the spot. He leaned in and I could smell the alcohol on his breath. We stood staring at each other for another few seconds before he lurched forward, closing the gap between our mouths. He tasted of gin and cigarettes but I didn’t care, this was Thomas G. Longley and he was finally, finally kissing me. The perfection of the moment started slipping away, however, when the catcalls of his mates penetrated my hormone-fuelled mind.
I could hear the standard ‘Way-hey!’, ‘Go on mate!’, ‘Give it some beans!’ and ‘Show her who’s boss, son!’ No doubt spurred on by his vile friends, I felt one of Tom’s hands pushing its way up into my skirt, unfortunately taking said skirt with it, and nearly exposing my knickers. His other hand was clamped round the back of my neck and his tongue was down my throat.
Panicked by imminent knicker exposure, and being the subject of practically the whole bar’s attention, I started frantically pushing at his shoulders. He lifted his head from mine and I could see him trying to focus on me with his bloodshot eyes. A frown creased his forehead and a look of confusion passed across his handsome face, which I noticed was now decidedly pale. He gagged, and I took a hasty step back just as we were approached by my friend Dylan.
Dylan was a member of the rugby team but also in my year and one of my best friends. He gave me an apologetic look and grabbed a now green-tinged Tom.
‘Come on, Longley,’ he said, leading him away in the direction of the loos. ‘Can’t have you blowing chunks over the ladies can we.’
I ducked my undoubtedly beet-red face and straightened my rucked-up skirt. The jeers from the rugby table continued, although now they were shouting ‘Denied Longley!’ and ‘Unlucky mate!’ Lou cast them all killing looks, straightened up to her full five foot ten (given her four inch heels), grabbed my hand and dragged me away.
We retreated over to a table of our friends, which was luckily about as far as you could get from the rugby boys. I was relieved that we hadn’t shared our stupid crush with the others over the last two years. It was mortifying enough that I had allowed a bloke so obviously plastered to stick his tongue down my throat and his hand up my skirt, exposing me to the whole bar moments before he had to be dragged away to throw up. If everyone had known the perfect being I had built him up into before this happened, I would never have lived it down.
‘Buck up, Frankie,’ my friend Georgia said in my ear. ‘We all know that lot can be complete bell-ends, just ignore it.’ I gave her a weak smile and looked down into my pint of snakebite to avoid the concerned looks from the others.
Just as I was starting to feel a bit better, Dylan came up to our table.
‘You okay, Frank?’ he asked, crouching down next to me.
‘Fine, Dyl, no worries,’ I chirped in a voice that sounded falsely bright, even to me.
‘Drinking games got a bit out of hand, see,’ Dylan explained in his Welsh lilt. ‘Longley got too many wets in and they’ve all decided that tonight is “fuck a fresher night”.’
I looked at Dylan in horror, ‘But I’m not a fresher.’ Dylan shifted uncomfortably and ran his hand through his hair before he answered.
‘I guess he hadn’t noticed you before, Ladies.’ (‘Ladies’ was Dylan’s bizarre name for me; I had no idea why, and presumed it was a Welsh thing).
‘Oh right, of course,’ I replied in a small voice, feeling like an idiot. Of course Tom hadn’t noticed me before, despite the small size of our medical school, our frequent proximity, and even the ‘Library Incident’. I was an expert in blending into the background, being only five foot four, with dark hair and eyes (inherited from my Italian parents), and a conspicuous lack of curves. No wonder he hadn’t recognized me.
With a hot crushing pain in my chest and my nose stinging as tears threatened, I looked away from Dylan and continued my contemplation of my snakebite. I think Dylan had caught sight of the unshed tears before I looked down, and he bumped my stool with his hip.
‘Come on, Ladies, make some room for your favourite valleys’ boy.’
I smiled and stood, letting him slip onto my stool and pull me down into his lap. He was tall, with a bulky frame and hair almost as dark as mine. I knew lots of girls panted after him, but I thought of him more like a brother. Although he was always flirting, I never took it seriously. He’d even tried to snog me a couple of times, which was probably more a drunken mistake on his part, and we were firmly in the friend zone now.
He swept my hair back over my shoulder so he could talk softly into my ear. ‘Want my opinion, he’s more than a bit twp not to have noticed you before, Ladies. Forget him.’ I had been around Dylan enough to know that ‘twp’ meant ‘daft’. I didn’t think Tom was daft though, just drunk and thoughtless.
‘Yeah, Frankie,’ Lou said from my other side. ‘In fact I’m going to officially rechristen him Thomas “Gankface” Longley, Weasel Gankface for short.’ I sniggered into my drink and took a decent swig. Gank was Lou’s very favourite word of the moment (what can I say? We were students) and she used it at every available opportunity.
‘Perfect. Weasel Gankface it is.’
We didn’t see Weasel Gankface for the rest of the evening, and I put a brave face on my humiliation. But it proved impossible to completely avoid the rugby boys, a couple of whom stumbled up to us on the dance floor. After disengaging a second time from their wandering hands, I got another demonstration of why Thomas G. Longley’s new nickname was well earned.
‘Bloody hell,’ the drunken prop forward slurred, after I had slapped his hands away from my bum. ‘Longley’s right, you are frigid.’
‘Yeah,’ his friend put in. ‘Frigid Frankie!’ They both burst into gales of laughter at their joke, but were cut short when a furious Lou whipped her blonde head around, stormed up to them, grabbed them both by an ear and banged their heads together. They stood frozen in place and stared at her, shocked.
‘Jog on, you pathetic Gankensteins,’ she bit out, her beautiful face flushed with anger. ‘Mark, I know for a fact that you have a pin-dick, and Harry, I know that you came in your pants from just snogging Milly Jones. How on earth you think you can try it on with Frankie, who is so out of your league it’s not even funny, I don’t know.’ With that she grabbed my hand and stalked off the dance floor with me in tow having to jog to keep up with her long strides. Once we had made it out of the bar and into the car park she slowed to a stop, snatching me into a fierce hug.
‘Hey, Lou-Lou,’ I wheezed whilst being crushed to her ample chest. ‘I’m okay, it’s fine.’ She pulled back so that she could look down into my eyes, and framed my face with her hands.
‘You’re not bloody well okay,’ she informed me, her tone still fierce. ‘Don’t you dare let those tossers push you into your shell. We’ve only just managed to extract you from it and I won’t have them setting you back.’
I had been painfully shy and homesick when I arrived at medical school, and Fresher’s Week had been a terrifying experience. Luckily Lou had been on the same floor as me in halls. She had noticed my rabbit-in-the-headlights expression on the first day after Mamma left, and took me under her wing.
Loud and outrageous, with a particular talent for creative swearing, she was the yin to my yang. Fortunately for me, Lou and I became part of an extremely close-knit group of friends in our first year. The bonds of friendships forged at medical school are strong, owing to the intense environment and pressure pushing you together. Generally the ethos was work hard, play harder, and my friends had made sure that I didn’t let my shyness and fear of big social situations hold me back from having fun.
I gave Lou a reassuring squeeze and managed to fake a small smile. ‘Really, Louey, no probs – okay? I’m tougher now than I used to be, remember?’ I lied. Lou narrowed her eyes but I could see that she was going to let it pass. She heaved out a sigh and released me so that we could link arms to walk through the car park together.
‘God,’ she said in a dejected tone. ‘Thomas G. Longley, what a sodding disappointment.’ I could tell that the death of that particular dream had cut her deep too.
‘Weasel Gankface from now on, Lou, don’t forget.’ Thankfully the heavy atmosphere was broken by our giggles as we made our way to the night bus.
Once we were on the bus, however, and meandering through the busy London streets, my mind replayed the events of the night. I had to turn away from Lou and look out of the window so she couldn’t read my expression, but I couldn’t help letting out a small sigh.
‘Hey,’ she said, grabbing my hand and squeezing, ‘don’t let him give you a raging case of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. ’
I rolled my eyes and grinned despite the churning in my stomach. ‘Wow, Lou. That might just be the saddest joke I’ve ever heard. You do realize you’re a huge nerd for cracking that one.’
‘Well, you’re just as much of a dweeb for getting it,’ she retorted, looking relieved that I was smiling again. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is otherwise known as Broken Heart Syndrome, and is the name for sudden heart failure after emotional trauma, when the stress hormones actually cause a weakening of the heart muscle. The trauma can be anything from grief, to a relationship break-up. And its existence proves that you can, in fact, die from a broken heart.
Well, I survived, and the one good thing to come out of that night was that it absolutely and thoroughly cured me of my crush. The few times that I saw Tom again (he had been demoted from the Reverend Thomas G. Longley), he studiously ignored me, and I began to wonder if he even remembered what happened. He qualified as a doctor a few months later, and that was that.
Unfortunately the name Frigid Frankie was bandied around campus and seemed to stick. Nobody actually said it to my face, but I could hear it muttered behind my back all the time. This meant that either guys were put off by what the name implied, or, worse, they considered me a challenge. Therefore, after a few regrettable incidents, my love life was pretty much put on hold for the rest of uni. This was not fun, seeing as I still had four years left.
So it was safe to say that Thomas G. Longley, a.k.a. Weasel Gankface, was not one of my favourite people. I sincerely hoped I never saw his stupid, gorgeous face ever again.
Title: Sticks and Stones
Series: The Broken Heart Series #2
By: Susie Tate
Publication Date: November 24, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance


For Lou it was always Dylan.
She loved him from the moment they first met across a cadaver in the dissection room at medical school. The most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on, with more Welsh charm than you could shake a stick at; she was a goner.

But Lou, despite her beauty, was just too extrovert to interest Dylan, who was convinced that a quiet, shy girl, like Lou’s best friend Frankie, was much more his style.

‘Have at it mate but I’ve got two words for you: high maintenance.’
‘Don’t think I’d mind putting in the hard yards maintaining that piece of arse,’ one of Dylan’s more disgusting rugby mates replied.
‘Well good luck to you,’ Dylan returned, looking completely relaxed now that they were discussing Lou and not his precious Frankie. ‘I like mine heavy on the sweet and light on the ball-breaking bitch, but each to his own.’

After overhearing that exchange, Lou buries her pain and pines for him in private, but she can't give up their friendship. One night, eleven years later, she finally gets what she has been longing for, but the next morning realizes he was too drunk to even remember.

For Dylan it was always anyone but Lou.
A born surgeon, Dylan resents having to down his orthopaedic power tools for a six-month spell in Elderly Care. He thought that at least working with Lou would make his skiving easier; after all she’s always helped him out before. And so what if he’s been having these weird dreams about her since he woke up in her flat? It’s not like he’d ever actually go there.

So when he mistakenly believes that she’s put his career in jeopardy he loses control and his vicious insults, publicly made, cut Lou to the bone. It’s only after he loses Lou’s warm smiles, dry wit, boundless energy and outrageous banter from his life that he realizes the extent of his stupidity.

Maybe sticks and stones can break bones, and that’s something Dylan’s surgical skills can deal with. But when it’s a heart he’s broken…

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Sticks and Stones

Chapter 1

Silent tears

The first sensation that Dylan registered was the warmth under his hand. As he swam up towards full consciousness he also noticed the softness on his face and the delicious smell surrounding him. His head was buried in soft, wavy, blonde hair with an incredible, yet weirdly familiar, fresh citrusy scent, and as he looked down he saw that his hand was splayed possessively over a toned female stomach.
He groaned. Why oh why was he always as horny as a three-balled tomcat? Whoever it was he’d shagged last night, he knew it would bite him in the arse. If he weren’t careful he would succeed in alienating the entire female staff of every hospital in South Wales before his rotation was over. The last three months he had been at his most prolific, spurred on by the mind-numbing boredom of Elderly Care.
Could he make a stealthy exit without waking her up? As he started shifting on the bed he felt her begin to stir. So much for a ninja-style-stealthy-minimal-confrontation-escape. He closed his eyes in resignation, and felt the stabbing pain behind them and the telltale badger-mouth, which explained his memory loss and latest stupidity.
Why didn’t he stop at a few social wets? Especially on a mess night out. Another wave of recognition swept through him as he breathed in the citrusy scent, and his eyes shot open. He started sweating what was most likely pure alcohol as he stared down in horror at the woman who was now turning to nuzzle into his shoulder and drape her arm across his stomach, making a little low noise of contentment.
Christ, he’d really gone and ruddy done it now.
Or had he?
He wracked his brain for his memory of the night before. Lou and Frankie had been completely smashed. He remembered doing a couple of shots with them, telling Lou to dial it down and being poked pretty painfully in the chest for his trouble. He remembered snogging that physio he’d had his eye on for a while, but getting distracted by all the blokes around them openly leering at Lou and Frankie on the dance floor.
From that point on, everything was a little hazy. He had a few flashes of half carrying Lou through the bar whilst being furious with her for getting in that state and essentially cock-blocking him, seeing as he had to drag her home.
Her breasts were pushing up against his chest now, and her leg had draped itself over his under the duvet, which only served to intensify his alcohol sweats. Dylan wasn’t blind, he knew that a half-naked Lou was most men’s idea of a wet dream – and yes, of course, he himself had on occasion had the odd impure thought when it came to her.
To be honest there were very few females that Dylan hadn’t at some stage visualized having sex with. Even his piano teacher when he was twelve, Mrs Allcock, despite her greying hair, dodgy front teeth and penchant for congealed, bright red lipstick, was not completely safe from the odd dirty thought (although Dylan thoroughly blamed her name for the direction of his daydreaming whilst trying to muddle through his scales under her watchful, heavily made-up eye).
But this particular female, who was currently plastered over his front, was very much off limits. There was a huge difference between thinking about doing something (or someone) and actually doing it (or her).
Weirdly in the last three months since working with Lou, he had been having more and more disturbing thoughts about her. He blamed her proximity and the sheer boredom of the job he was being forced to endure. Hell, the daily multidisciplinary team meeting was enough time for Dylan to construct an elaborate fantasy involving a much more amenable Lou than was typical, and a conveniently empty treatment room / office / registrar computer room / the floor beneath of the ward clerk’s desk / the store cupboard on the geri’s ward.
Okay, so it had recently become somewhat of an obsession with Dylan, but that didn’t mean that he should ever have actually followed through. Lou was a big pain in the arse, but she, together with Frankie, were his best friends. Yes, it was a bit weird to have female best friends, but Mike (his male best friend – and not male partner, as might be suggested by the whole female best friend thing) lived in London now, and the four of them had been inseparable at uni.
At first, after falling head over heels for Frankie, Dylan had pushed the foursome thing to spend more time with her. But after two years of getting nowhere he realized that he had three best friends who knew him better than anyone, and that two of them were female. And when he got over Frankie he was actually pretty pleased with the dynamic. Mike had a girlfriend from school throughout uni, and was so loyal and in love with her (they were now married) that he may as well have been a eunuch, so none of the four of them had ever shagged or even snogged. However much Dylan fantasized about sex with Lou, he wouldn’t risk the friendship, and to be quite honest she would be a high-maintenance nightmare as a girlfriend. He liked quiet, slightly shy, softly spoken women, not obnoxiously posh, brash, foul-mouthed, feisty ball-breakers.
So terror flooded him as he watched her eyelids flicker open. She was smiling slightly, and looked so unbelievably beautiful, and somehow vulnerable, that for a moment he couldn’t quite believe she was the same harpy he knew. She squeezed his stomach, and her head slowly tipped back so her eyes could meet his.
‘Bloody hell,’ he swore, his voice loaded with regret. Her smile faded and that look of vulnerability was quickly replaced by her familiar defiant, take-no-bullshit expression.
‘Please tell me we didn’t …’ he started to plead. Something flashed across her face, and for a moment she looked almost in pain, but her next words were said in a reassuringly careless way.
‘Calm down, Dildo. As if I would allow my lady parts to have any contact with your disease-ridden toothpick-sized excuse for a weiner.’
He heaved out a heavy sigh of relief. He most certainly did not need another balls up to add to his cluster-fuck of a personal life at the moment.
‘Babes,’ he said patiently, ‘you and I both know that the junk in my trunk is most definitely the real deal; you’ve seen it often enough.’
‘Ugh.’ Lou pushed away from his chest and sat up in bed next to him. ‘Only because you and your rugby buddies are such narcissistic freaks that you think everyone in the bar wants to see you drinking pints with your trousers down, and then wrestling half naked on the sticky floor. You do know it smacks of repressed homosexuality don’t you? All those showers and baths together –’
‘Babes, calm yourself,’ Dylan interrupted, patting her on the head. ‘You don’t want to get yourself worked up imagining all that lush man-flesh whilst we’re having a cwtch* in bed. I wouldn’t want you to pounce on me in my weakened state.’
‘Gah! You. Are. A. Disgusting. Sick. Deluded. Pervert.’
‘Don’t get all gushy on me, babes, you know it only embarrasses me.’ Lou snorted and crossed her arms under her chest as Dylan ran his hands down his face. ‘My head feels like there’s a Frenchman living in it.’
‘Series Two,’ Lou put in quickly. They were both well used to this game now, and if either of them ever missed a quote they would never hear the end of it.
‘Episode?’
‘”Chains.”’
‘Well played.’
They sat in silence for a moment staring at the opposite wall.
‘Jesus, you’ve still got that collage up of our elective,’ Dylan said suddenly, making Lou jump. ‘That must have been eight years ago now.’
‘Well, those views were gorgeous,’ Lou said defensively.
‘Yes, babes, yes they were,’ Dylan replied, and Lou rolled her eyes at his smug expression.
‘I mean aside from the loser whose fat head is blocking half the shot in some of them.’
‘Some of them?’ Dylan spluttered. ‘I think you’ll find I’m the main attraction of that whole collage. In fact it’s like a montage of me.’
He felt Lou stiffen beside him and he laughed. Above all things he loved to wind her up. Sometimes it felt like winding Lou up was his life’s calling. He’d even found himself wishing that he were at Lou’s flat winding her up of an evening when he was out with a girl. This for Dylan was beyond bizarre since he also considered sex one of his life’s callings, and him thinking a night of guaranteed no action would be more fun than an (admittedly boring) evening ending in the horizontal tango was just plain weird. ‘That beach was awesome, mind. All those freaky pink shells. Remember the time we watched the sun come up after we’d stayed up in that little beach bar?’
‘Mmmhmm,’ was Lou’s only audible response, but he saw her nod her head.
‘Where were Frankie and Mike again?’
‘They were tired I think; you guys had just climbed Killy.’
‘Pussies.’
Lou snorted, ‘Yeah.’
Then Dylan had another flash of memory. A drunk Frankie swaying on the dance floor came to mind.
‘How pissed was Frankie last night,’ he said. ‘She never lets herself get that steaming.’ Dylan had practically made an art of watching Frankie over the years, and he knew that slamming back shots and letting drunk cardiothoracic surgeons maul her on the dance floor was not her style. Hardly surprising really, what with her mum and Papa Marco. He suddenly tensed with worry. ‘She did make it home okay didn’t she Lou?’
Lou sighed. ‘I’m not a completely crap friend you know. I wouldn’t have left her there in the state she was in. Truth was, Weasel Gankface got to her first and practically carried her home. Far as I know he’s still here.’
Dylan let out a breath that he didn’t even realized he’d been holding. Caring for and worrying about Frankie had become somewhat of a religion to him, and even though he’d given up long ago on her loving him back, it was still a tricky habit to break.
‘He cares about her you know,’ Lou said quietly into the silence that followed. ‘You should tell her.’
‘Yeah, I know,’ Dylan replied in a small voice. Of all the stupid things he did at uni, keeping Frankie and Tom apart was by far the worst (and that was saying something seeing as he had once been caught rolling around in profiteroles and barking like a dog at the Dean’s wife with his testicles hanging out, at one of the rugby balls).
‘She’ll forgive you,’ Lou continued. ‘You know she will, that’s just her nature.’
Yup: sweet, caring, quietly funny, insightful, beautiful, forgiving.
Argh! He almost went to smack himself on the forehead.
Must not obsess over Frankie anymore.
It’s been years.
Enough.
It seemed like Lou was going in for a reassuring hug, but she chickened out at the last minute and performed an awkward head pat instead, much like he had done a minute ago. For some reason Dylan found physical contact with Lou awkward, even more so over the last few months. His eyes drifted down to her pink lace-encased breasts (her nightwear was like something you’d expect a Vegas show girl to wear during a burlesque performance), and unfortunately he felt his body start to react.
‘Right,’ he blurted out, scrambling off the bed and making a grab for his phone. ‘It’s bloody half five in the morning. I better go sleep on the sofa or we’ll have the piss ripped out of us all day. How did we end up like this anyway? We must have been really outers to fall asleep together.’
‘Yes, well, at least neither of us remember too much about it,’ Lou said stiffly. She had her arms wrapped round herself on the bed now, and wasn’t meeting his eyes. Dylan had the nagging feeling that he was missing something.
‘Look, babes, are you sure that nothing –’
‘Of course not, you numpty.’ She gave him a bright smile, which he thought looked somehow slightly forced. ‘Don’t get your knickers in a twist; you know I wouldn’t touch you with a barge pole.’ Dylan hesitated, then decided that his uneasy feelings were most likely the result of hangover paranoia.
‘Oh, well, thank Christ for that,’ he huffed out whilst pulling on his trousers and searching around for his T-shirt. ‘That really would be the bloody last thing we need at the moment.’
‘Yeah, absolutely,’ Lou agreed, her voice sounding slightly raspy.
‘You getting a cold, babes?’
‘No, just standard hung-over-hedgehog-shat-down-my-throat,’ she replied. ‘Now can you please bugger off so I can get some sleep.’
‘I’m going now …’
‘In a minute,’ they both said together. ‘Your turn of phrase is so predictable, Dildo. I do hope that you and your countrymen realize that “now, in a minute” makes no real sense.’
Dylan held his hands up in front of him in surrender, finally located his T-shirt and pulled it over his head. Having dismissed him, he saw Lou turn away and sink back down under the covers.
He closed the door softly and was about to make for the sofa when his stomach started grumbling and he noticed the cake on the stand.
What did Frankie say about that cake-stand? he wondered as he sidled up to the kitchen counter. The bloody thing was huge; surely she wouldn’t miss a couple of slices. He used a surprisingly lifelike sugar-flower to scoop up some frosting, and popped the whole lot into his mouth, before scouring the kitchen for some milk and a knife.
*****
Lou waited until she heard Dylan leave, and then sat up. After staring blankly at the collage on her wall for a minute, she quietly swung out of bed and padded to the door. She carefully turned the lock, and after she was sure it was secure she crept over to her wardrobe. Standing on the mountain of clothes that had accumulated in the bottom of it, she reached up and extracted a small, dog-eared shoebox from a high shelf, which she took back to bed.
Once she was sitting up with her legs under the covers she took off the lid and started delicately pulling out the tattered photographs, which she laid out around her. At the bottom of the box was a small pink and white shell. She turned it over and over in her hands for a few moments, before gripping it firmly in one of her fists, which she brought up to her chest. With her other hand she reached for one of the photos and traced the shape of the face dominating it with her index finger, before grabbing the pillow that Dylan had been sleeping on and bringing it up to her face.
She hugged the pillow and inhaled deeply, letting silent tears track down her cheeks. For the longest time she remained absolutely still except for the deep breaths she took from the pillow as her tears started to soak into the material. Her eyelids started drooping as the first light of dawn began to shine through her window, and she finally succumbed to sleep lying in the middle of her photos, holding the small pink shell, with her face buried in the pillow she was still clutching like her life depended on it.

*cwtch – cuddle / hug


Title: Beyond Repair
Series: The Broken Heart Series #3
By: Susie Tate
Publication Date: October 11, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance


Everybody loves Katie; with her bubbly personality, her beauty, her never-ending supply of care and support for her patients and friends, and her huge sense of fun, there’s very little to dislike. Yes, she’s a bit scatty, she tends not to sweat the small stuff (like an engine light on her dashboard – that is until her Mini won’t actually start any more), and she can talk the hind legs off a donkey, but none of that stops most people from thinking she’s pretty damn adorable.
Well, most people, other than Sam, that is.

Sam is anything but bubbly. His surly demeanour is the complete opposite of Katie's, and over the six years that she’s known him one thing has become very clear: Sam cannot stand her. The fact that he makes her nervous doesn’t help the situation. Around Sam her verbal diarrhoea seems ten times worse, the snort that she tries to hold in when she laughs refuses to be suppressed, and her clumsiness assumes clown-like proportions.

If only he weren’t quite so intimidating, she might be able to act like a normal human being, but his sheer masculine beauty is enough to throw her off before she’s even spoken to him. Then there’s the fact that he looks at her like she’s something he’s scraped off his shoe. The combination is enough to short-circuit her brain.

Katie may be bubbly and bright but unfortunately her past is not, and it’s started leaking into her present. She hides her fear from her friends as they have problems of their own, but when Sam finds out the potential danger she’s in, for some reason he is furious.

Then again, there’s a reason Sam is the way he is. He has his own demons to contend with. Shutting himself off and burying his pain has been working well for him over the last six years since leaving the Special Forces, so the last thing he wants is to spend any time with the one woman that cuts through the numbness he surrounds himself with and actually makes him feel again. But he simply can’t stand by if Katie is in danger; he can’t allow her to be hurt. Unfortunately there are other ways to be hurt, and by getting closer to Katie, Sam may inflict more damage than her past ever could.

Because Sam is damaged, and some things are beyond repair.

This is a full-length contemporary romance / romantic comedy with its own HEA and no cliffhanger.

Warning – Beyond Repair differs from Susie’s other books in that there is some violence within the story. If this, combined with some swearing at times, is not for you, then it may not be your cup of tea.


FREE on Kindle Umlimited
Amazon US - http://goo.gl/nlWXYc
Amazon UK - http://goo.gl/UEOsAE
Amazon CA - http://goo.gl/h5CoS3


Beyond Repair

Chapter 1

Don’t worry about it; I’ll order curry

‘Auntie Katie?’
‘Yes, honey.’
‘What’s the point of this?’
Katie sighed. ‘The point is that there is no point,’ she replied, feeling the cold seeping through her coat into her back.
‘You’re weird,’ Jack said, his tone that of a patient but exasperated parent (a little insulting, seeing as he was in fact only eight years old).
‘You’re the weird one. You’re a kid for Christ’s sake; you’re supposed to love doing stupid stuff. Anyway it’ll be worth it when Benji freaks out.’
‘Auntie Katie, I don’t think you’re supposed to say “Christ” in front of us when you’re babysitting, and you’re definitely not supposed to be trying to freak us out.’
‘Oh come on,’ she scoffed, ‘you can’t wait to see the look on his face either.’
‘Flap flap. Flap flap,’ squealed Baby Thomas, who was lying sprawled on his back on top of Katie’s stomach and chest, his arms and legs spread wide inside his snowsuit like a cute, chubby starfish. The title ‘Baby Thomas’ was slightly misleading seeing as he was actually a very well built two-year-old; but until the next Davis child was born he was stuck with it.
‘Okay, gorgeous,’ Katie said, kissing the top of his bobble hat as she resumed flapping her arms and legs up and down through the snow.
Three-year-old Finlay giggled from her other side. ‘Auntie Waitie funny,’ he said, squirming up to a half-sitting position so he could plant a snotty kiss on her mouth, then flopping back into the snow. Before she could recover from that particular assault, a handful of snow was dumped onto her face, covering her eyes and nose. With a snot-filled mouth and an ice-filled nose, breathing became an issue and she was forced to struggle up to a sitting position (tricky, as Baby Thomas was fairly solid) so she could wipe off her face, spit out the snow and snot, and take in some much needed oxygen.
‘What on earth?’ A woman’s voice cut through Katie’s splutters.
When she managed to clear the snow from her eyes she was confronted by a very large pair of black boots planted in the deep snow directly in front of her. Katie blinked in confusion; the owner of the boots was quite obviously not the owner of the voice. Her eyes travelled up the long, jeans-covered legs and over the bulky torso clad in only a black jumper. When they finally came to rest on his face, she took in a deep breath of exasperation. Dark eyes were staring down at her like she was a particularly nasty strain of Ebola just waiting to strike. His strong, stubble-covered jawline was clenched tight, and Katie could almost feel the disgust radiating off him at being this close to her. The height difference between them had always made her feel intimidated, but now, with her sprawled on the floor at his feet, she felt at even more of a disadvantage.
‘Katie,’ he forced out, managing a semi-polite nod in her direction. His expression softened as he looked down at the children, the side of his mouth pulling up into a small smile. ‘Boys.’
‘Uncle Sam!’ Jack shouted, scrambling up from his position lying in the snow to greet his hero. Finlay wasn’t far behind and they both flew upright, rushing over to Sam’s legs and colliding with them head on. Only Baby Thomas remained loyal, and that was simply due to the fact Katie still had him hugged against her chest, despite his squirming.
‘Sam?’ Katie heard the woman’s voice from before ask, and now looked over to see a tall blonde standing next to him in the snow. She was everything Katie would expect to see next to Sam: perfectly made-up face; sleek, immaculately styled hair; and at least five-foot-eleven in her heels. Of course that was still no match for his height, but they looked ridiculously suited nevertheless. There was something familiar about her face and Katie racked her brain to think where she’d seen her before. Realizing she was still sprawled at their feet, she pushed herself up to standing rather awkwardly, whilst attempting to brush the remaining snow and snot off her face and keep hold of a wriggling Baby Thomas. Uncharacteristically, Sam steadied her with his hand on her elbow, but when it was clear that she was on stable ground and that Baby Thomas was secure on her hip, he pulled back so quickly it was as if it had burned him to touch her.
‘Sam, aren’t you going to introduce me to this … person and her delightful children?’ The woman’s posh accent cut through the air again and Katie looked up at her. The way she’d said ‘delightful’ was belied by the revulsion in her eyes as she looked down at Katie and the boys. Katie sighed. Unfortunately this was not an unfamiliar scenario for her: being looked down on by Sam’s numerous Amazonian, cold women had been a regular occurrence over the six years she had known him. If she was honest though, she actually preferred to be sneered at by these supermodel types than have to have a conversation alone with Sam, as that always seemed to be worse.
‘They’re not her boys,’ Sam said without even glancing in the woman’s direction.
Finlay started shouting ‘Up! Up!’ stretching his chubby arms in the air, and Sam gave him a big smile, before sweeping him up into his arms and turning him upside down.
‘Where are they?’ he asked, turning back to Katie as he swung a delighted Finlay like a pendulum.
‘Rob’s popped out to pick up the wine and Sarah’s having a sleep,’ she explained, dusting the snow off the back of the boys’ coats and trousers.
‘They said seven,’ he muttered through gritted teeth, turning Finlay the right way up and setting him on his feet.
‘Oh no, the party’s not till eight,’ she told him. ‘I volunteered to cook, see. That’s why I’m here this early. Then Sarah was flagging so I said to I’d look after the maniacs so she could lie down.’
‘Lying bastard,’ Katie just about heard him say under his breath, and she took a small step back in response to the fury pouring off him in waves. Amazonian Supermodel Lady seemed oblivious to Sam’s murderous mood and took a step closer to him, curving her hand through the crook of his arm.
‘Sam, darling,’ she purred up at him, and he gave a small start, like he’d forgotten she was even there. ‘It’s freezing out here and you still haven’t introduced me.’ Judging by the tension in Sam’s broad frame, Katie guessed that an intro was not top of his agenda and decided to forge into the breach.
‘Hi,’ she said, smiling up at the tall woman and sticking out her hand awkwardly, as it was the one holding Baby Thomas on her hip. ‘I’m Katie.’
Amazonian Supermodel gave Katie a tight smile and took her hand for the briefest possible moment, saying, ‘Lydia,’ before leaning back into Sam and eyeing a very obviously snotty Baby Thomas, who had reached up to touch her hair.
Sam looked between Katie and Lydia, then down at the snow-angel imprints in the snow, his face completely blank. He then turned on his heel, taking the boys with him, and stalked up towards the front door of the house. Amazonian Supermodel, a.k.a. Lydia, valiantly kept hold of his arm throughout this manoeuvre (she was pretty nippy for a girl in four-inch-heeled boots). Katie followed along after them feeling like a small yapper-type mongrel following two gorgeous, purebred Alsatians. She nearly ran into Sam’s back as he stopped suddenly in front of the door when he realized he had no way of getting in. Stepping around Sam and the boys, who were still bouncing around his legs, she put the key in the door.
As soon as the door opened, Katie smelt the burning and swore under her breath as she pushed past them all to get to the kitchen.
‘Hot,’ Baby Thomas pointed out helpfully as she pulled the burnt pork joint out of the oven.
‘Auntie Katie, you said a bad word,’ Jack said, looking seriously impressed as he rushed into the kitchen, his eyes as wide as saucers.
A light, musical laugh came from behind him, and Katie looked up to see Sam and Lydia striding into the kitchen, her hand still firmly clasped around his arm. ‘I’m not sure what’s de rigueur in terms of home-help nowadays, but it seems a bit of a poor show to attempt to give all the children hypothermia whilst burning the meal and then corrupting their young minds with foul language.’
Right, yes, of course, she thinks I’m an employee, Katie thought, and on reflection she couldn’t really blame Lydia: after all, Katie wasn’t exactly dressed for a dinner party, what with her jeans, trainers and huge puffa coat which Rob often commented made her look like a cross between the Michelin Man and a sleeping bag on legs. Put that with the fact that her chocolate brown hair was piled on top of her head in a messy knot, and her mascara was no doubt a thing of the past after the run-in with the snot and snow, and she could understand why Lydia would not even consider that Katie could have a place at a dinner party glamorous enough to attract the likes of Sam.
Katie would have loved to have offered her a cool smile and explain in an equally posh voice that she was in fact Sarah’s best friend and thus ranked higher in the pecking order than Lydia in many ways. But she knew that her undoubtedly beet-red face and her thick Welsh accent would ruin any attempt at putting this woman in her place. Confrontation was not one of Katie’s strong points. But she did decide to at least defend herself against the hypothermia charge. Didn’t this bitch ever make a snow-angel as a child? Was she actually spawned as the well-groomed, condescending piece of perfection in front of Katie now?
‘The boys were wearing their waterproofs,’ she said defensively, as Jack and Finlay came barrelling into the kitchen in just their pyjamas, blonde hair sticking up in all directions after the confinement of their hats. Katie sat Baby Thomas up on the counter in front of her so that she could untangle his podgy, wriggly little body from the confines of its snowsuit. ‘It was just a joke.’ She shrugged. ‘Kind of like a crop circle but in the snow. You see, Benji – that’s their other son – is into aliens and I thought maybe I could make him think for a second that they had landed in the front garden … and … well …’ Katie trailed off, feeling like an idiot.
‘You were trying to scare a child?’ Lydia’s perfectly sculpted eyebrows were now in her hairline.
‘To be fair, he probably had it coming,’ Sam put in as he raked his hands over his face and, as always, avoided eye contact with Katie. She was surprised that he would defend her, but to be honest there was little argument that Benji did indeed have it coming; anyone who had spent any significant time with him would know that.
‘I really did,’ Benji said as he sauntered into the kitchen wearing his Angry Birds pyjamas. He put the iPad up on the counter. ‘But you know you’ll have to do better than that, don’t you, Auntie Katie?’ He smirked at her and jumped up onto the counter next to Baby Thomas. ‘I mean, aliens? I was born six and three quarter years ago, not yesterday.’
Katie narrowed my eyes at him. ‘I’ll get you back, you little punk.’
‘Not bloody likely,’ he said, sticking his finger into the icing of the cake Frankie had dropped off earlier and shoving it into his mouth.
‘I have my ways to torture the likes of you,’ she told him ominously before lunging in and grabbing him so she could blow raspberries into his neck.
‘Get off! Get off me!’ he shrieked, and when Baby Thomas started giggling Katie transferred the raspberry-blowing to his tummy.
‘Katie,’ Sarah said as she breezed into the kitchen, totally unfazed by the chaos in front of her. ‘Everything under control as usual I see.’
Katie made an eek face at Benji, who just continued to smirk at her. She then swept Baby Thomas off the counter and back onto her hip before facing Sarah. ‘Sare, I –’
‘Oh Sam!’ Sarah exclaimed, cutting Katie off. ‘You made it. I’m so gl …’ She stopped abruptly as she caught sight of who was holding onto his arm. Sarah frowned and looked between Sam and Lydia for a moment, an expression of exasperation and, bizarrely, even disappointment passing across her face. Katie had no idea what was going on although it was obvious that Sarah had not expected him to bring a date.
‘Sarah, this is Lydia,’ Sam said, his feet planted wide apart and his eyes stony, almost as if he was challenging her to say something. For the first time since Katie had seen them together, he voluntarily touched Lydia, laying his hand over hers on his arm. Sarah looked for a moment like she was going to rip both their heads off. But years of practice dealing with her children had given her infinite patience, and after a few beats she managed to plaster a fake smile onto her face.
‘Lydia, hi. Of course I know who you are. Great work on Hollyoaks by the way,’ she said, extending her hand.
That was where Katie recognized her from: she was an actress – if you could call Hollyoaks acting – and she was continually in the gossips magazines. Katie thought she could remember seeing a recent picture of her with a really famous Hollywood actor. What was she doing in South Wales? ‘Always a pleasure to meet one of Sam’s girls.’
Lydia frowned at the obvious put-down, but took Sarah’s hand with a fake smile of her own.
‘I’ve actually stopped the soaps now,’ she told Sarah whilst they shook hands. ‘I’ve moved into film, you might have seen –’
‘Katie, why don’t you go and get changed?’ Sarah asked, cutting Lydia off mid-sentence and taking a slowly drooping Baby Thomas off Katie’s hip before transferring him to her own, with his little legs splayed wide to accommodated her bump. Katie eyed the pork joint guiltily and Sarah rolled her eyes. ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ll order curry.’
As Katie turned into the corridor she heard Lydia’s voice saying, ‘I’m so sorry but I mistook her for the help; I didn’t realize she was related.’
‘Oh no, she’s not really their auntie,’ said Sarah. ‘She’s –’
‘Goodness, I’m so glad,’ interrupted Lydia. ‘I must say I was surprised. I mean, the way she’s dressed … and that accent … makes much more sense that she’s an employee and not a –’
‘She’s my best friend,’ Sarah cut Lydia off, her voice vibrating with anger.
Katie stifled a giggle as she trotted off down the corridor. There was no point being offended, and she was sure Lydia would pay for that comment by the end of the night.

Chapter 2

Give up on me already

Katie huffed as she walked back down the corridor in her stocking feet, brushing an unruly curl out of her eyes whilst approaching the sitting-room door. Of all possible items she could have forgotten, it would have to be her bloody hair-straighteners and her heels. Since the birth of GHD in 2000 she had rarely allowed her hair to break out into its natural state. The results could be, quite frankly, alarming. But before she had realized her fatal mistake her hair was wet from the spare room shower and there was no going back (Sarah didn’t own hair straighteners: she barely had time to shove her hair back into an elastic band most days).
Katie tried to strap the thick mass of curls back into some kind of semblance of order, but it would not be contained, and she had to settle for the ‘Sideshow Bob’ look. If her appearance wasn’t already comical enough, she had also forgotten her heels, without which she would barely even come up to Sarah’s shoulder.
She caught sight of herself in the hall mirror and stopped for a second, trying to think what she reminded herself of. Depressingly she concluded that she looked like the product of her Great Aunt Gwen’s teacup poodle and an Oompa Loompa, given the fact that her dress was bright orange. She sighed; it wasn’t as though there would be any single guys here tonight anyway.
‘What do you think you’re playing at?’
Katie jumped when she heard Rob whisper-shout through the open door of the kitchen, wondering what she could possibly have done to put him in that bad a mood. Rob was a pretty mellow guy in her experience.
‘Don’t know what you’re on about, mate. Got my invite, I’m here. What more do you want?’ Katie relaxed when she realized that it wasn’t her who had incurred Rob’s wrath but a rather unrepentant-sounding Sam. Feeling a bit guilty to be eavesdropping on their likely work-related barney, she started tiptoeing down the corridor, but came to an abrupt halt at what she heard next.
‘Don’t be a prick. You knew why we wanted you to come. How do you think Katie’s gonna feel when she works it out?’
‘Neither of you said I couldn’t bring a date,’ Sam threw back at him. ‘If I want some guaranteed pussy at the end of my night then that’s my business. Fob her off on one of your other mates. I’ve told you before: I’m not goddamn well interested in someone like her.’
Katie froze.
Someone like her. What did that mean? She felt her chest squeeze and bile rise into her mouth. Before she knew it two tears had fallen onto her Oompa Loompa dress. Sam might be surly, mean, uncommunicative, and generally a bit of an arsehole, but he was without question the most beautiful man she had ever laid eyes on. The first time she saw him, six years ago, she had thought she was hallucinating. Nobody that attractive could possibly be in her little corner of Wales. The scar that ran from the outside corner of one of his eyes down through his cheek all the way to his jaw was more prominent back then, but that only seemed to add to his appeal. So the fact that he seemed to find her physically repulsive shouldn’t have come as much of a shock. (The first time he laid eyes on her, his were carefully blank before he looked her over and took a rapid step back like she was diseased.) Benji was a baby at the time and he’d been perched on her hip. When she’d shifted him in an attempt to shake Sam’s hand she’d nearly dropped him, causing him to let out adorable baby giggles, and in her embarrassment she had laughed a touch over exuberantly, and then, to add to her mortification, she’d actually snorted.
Snorted!
And not in an excusable, elegant way. No, this was a wildebeest-like, full-on, room-shaking snort.
Since then he seemed to have made an art of avoiding her. When he was forced to be in her company he largely ignored her, and he certainly never touched her. In fact he was the only person in her life that she had no physical contact with. She was a touchy-feely person. She hugged, she kissed, she shoulder-patted. But with Sam she had learnt to keep her distance.
Susie Tate is a General Practitioner now but has also spent years in hospital medicine. When she's not working she's looking after her four yummy boys under six (okay, well one is actually over thirty-six but it's the mental age that counts!).


It may be a bit unusual for a doctor to be writing contemporary romance, but she wanted to use her experience to write what she hopes are funny, occasionally heartbreaking stories with a real insight into what goes on behind the scenes in medicine.
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