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Unshakeable Pursuit

Sonoma series, book #4.2


Originally published in Sealed with a Kiss, a novella anthology with Janet Tronstad, Margaret Daley, and Lacy Williams. 

Doctor Geoffrey Whelan was in Japan when the tsunami hit, killing his cousin and grandmother. He has worked in medical missions for years to assuage his survivor’s guilt, and now that he’s back in Sonoma to help his family, he can’t figure out why he still feels so wounded and God feels so far away.

Then a mysterious young woman warns him that he and nurse Maylin Kinley are in mortal danger.

Maylin notices that Geoffrey is not the same arrogant doctor she met years ago in Los Angeles. Now that they are working together again in a clinic in Sonoma, she fights her attraction towards him because his confident, forceful personality reminds her too much of her abusive ex-boyfriend, who called himself a Christian. 

She has been steering clear of her handsome coworker—until Asian hit men attack the clinic and they are forced to run for their lives. Now they must race to figure out how the threat is connected to a young teenager whose life they saved—before everyone they love is caught in the crossfire.

** In Unshakeable Pursuit, those of you who have read Stalker in the Shadows will find out what happened to Monica and her Free Children's Clinic, and Liam, whom readers met in Narrow Escape, also makes an appearance. Check out Liam's story in Treacherous Intent!
Order print book:
Right now you can only order a print copy of Unshakeable Pursuit in the Sealed with a Kiss anthology, but I'll be releasing a print copy in early 2015. If you're on my email newsletter, you'll be sure to hear when it's available.
Sealed with a Kiss (Inspy Kisses) (Volume 2) on Amazon

Buy Ebook:
Kindle
iBooks
Kobo icon
Nookbook icon
Smashwords

Unshakeable Pursuit extras

Excerpt

“Are you Doctor Geoffrey Whelan?”

Geoffrey looked up from the chart of the ten-year-old boy he was perusing. The woman approaching him wore nurses’ scrubs, but they weren’t the colorful, cartoon-speckled ones of the other nurses at the Sonoma Free Children’s Clinic. Instead, they were a solid washed-out gray color that matched the pale color of the young woman’s face, with the letters KSN embroidered in red on the pocket. He didn’t remember seeing her here at the clinic before.

There was an expensive Rolex watch on her wrist. A graduation present? She was very young, barely out of nursing school. But then again, lately most of the nurses seemed extremely young to him. The events of the past few years had made him feel old.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

The young woman edged closer down the clinic hallway toward him, and he realized that her eyes were wide with … fear.

“Are you all right?” he asked. “What is it?”

“I have an urgent message for you and Nurse Kinley,” she whispered. She glanced behind her, then around him toward the other end of the hallway.

Geoffrey turned, but saw no one. He looked back at the young woman. “You mean Maylin Kinley?”

She nodded.

Geoffrey knew who Maylin was—in fact, he’d first met her years ago when he was doing his residency at the Merlyn Memorial Hospital down in Los Angeles.

He’d been a different man back then.

But Maylin was the same as he remembered her, still beautiful, still wary of him. She had good reason to be.

“What kind of message? Are you in trouble? I can help.”

The young woman shook her head with a kind of despair in her tightly closed eyes. “It’s you and Nurse Kinley. You have to disappear.”

“What?”

The girl gripped his arm with slender fingers, strong and faintly trembling. Her brown eyes pierced him. “You’re both in danger. You have to run away. It’s the only way you’ll escape from them.”

***

Maylin Kinley glared at the harmless green sticky note stuck to the chart of a six-year-old girl who had come into the Free Children’s Clinic with a bad cough. The scrawling handwriting on the note was just barely legible: “See G. Whelan if ?s about ABX.”

Her coworker, Thea, sighed. “I’d have guessed it was Dr. Whelan just from the sticky note.” She pointed to the logo of the Oliver Medical Supply company at the top. “These are new, though. Last week he was using orange sticky notes from Diggle Surgical Tools.”

It was a running joke among the nurses that Dr. Whelan preferred leaving notes because he was too snooty to converse with the lowly nurses. Maylin might have believed it of the arrogant Geoffrey Whelan she’d known when she first met him at Merlyn Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles years ago. He’d only paid attention to nurses if they were pretty—everyone else were people he ordered around. A pathetic part of her had been flattered he’d seemed so attracted to her, but even in his flirting, he had that air of condescension that set her teeth on edge. He had seemed to flirt with her even more because she rebuffed him, which made it harder for her to get over her attraction to him.

But since he started volunteering at the Free Children’s Clinic a few months ago—helping out until the full-time doctor position was filled—she’d noticed that he was different than he had been before. He was still too handsome for his own good, but the past several years had drastically changed something inside him. He still clipped out orders in that low, confident voice, but he no longer flirted and he’d lost that condescending tone.

Perversely, now that he wasn’t paying any attention to her—or any other woman—Maylin found him more fascinating. It seemed as if something haunted him—she could see the shadow of it in his green-streaked brown eyes. It puzzled her. She would have assumed that he’d spent the past few years partying with his doctor friends down in Los Angeles or some other big city.

“I think he leaves these sticky notes to keep us in line,” Maylin muttered. Dr. Whelan had been the same way with sticky notes when she worked with him before. Not everything about him had changed.

Thea tilted her head to the side. “Hmm, that’s a thought. He’s a bit of a control freak.”

“Hey, Thea!” An X-ray technician, Laurel, hurried down the hallway toward them. “Felicity and Moira are coming with us tonight, too. I can’t wait to try out the new menu at Rock Love …” Laurel broke off as she suddenly realized Maylin was standing with Thea. Her cheeks went pink.

Thea gave Maylin an uncomfortable glance. Maylin wanted to tell her not to be embarrassed, because she already knew her coworkers thought she was odd. She was used to being the outsider, being alone. It had always been that way with her family, in school, at work. Besides, she had only started working here four months ago, and the women staff in the clinic had already been very good friends long before that.

But Maylin’s mouth never seemed to catch up to her brain, and before she could say anything to ease the situation, Thea said in an uncomfortable voice, “You’re welcome to come tonight, too, Maylin. The Rock Love is really trendy.”

Was it a music bar? She tried to think of something to say, but the only thing that came out was, “Rock Love?”

“You’ve never heard of it?” Laurel’s surprise was incredulous. “In Napa? Food and wine critics have been raving about it for the last six months.”

Yet more proof for these women that she was odd. She didn’t keep up with trends—she’d rather bike through the vineyards after work, or spend a weekend up north hiking in the redwood forests.

“No, thanks,” she finally managed to say. She wanted to say something about how she appreciated them asking her, but before she could formulate the words, Laurel had left to head back to the X-ray lab and Thea said she had to check on a patient.

In frustration, Maylin peeled off the sticky note from the chart in her hand and crumpled it.

As if in response to her violence to the innocent sticky note, Dr. Whelan’s voice sounded from the other end of the hallway. “Nurse Kinley.”

She turned quickly to him, hiding the crumpled sticky note behind her back like a child caught stealing from the cookie jar. “Yes, Doctor?”

She had always thought he was handsome, with his angled face and firm mouth. The years had added fine lines to the edges of his eyes, but that only seemed to make him more attractive. She noticed a softening of his expression that hadn’t been there when she first knew him. Before, he’d always seemed to be on the verge of a smirk, but now his smile was more genuine. As he drew closer to her, she was again struck by the sadness that shadowed his face.

“Could I speak to you in private for a moment?”

“Certainly.” She followed him into the staff break room, an airy space with lots of windows on one wall looking out over the parking lot. A police squad car was pulled up to the curb. Maylin studied it for a moment, noting an officer sitting inside. He seemed to be waiting for something. A police car at the clinic wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but it wasn’t too unusual, either.

Dr. Whelan gestured for her to sit at one of the small circular tables. “Can I get you any coffee?” He took a step toward the coffeemaker on the counter.

“None for me, thanks.”

“You don’t mind if I eat, do you?” He went to the refrigerator and removed a container of strawberry yogurt.

Now that she thought about it, she didn’t even remember him taking a break for lunch. The nurses had gone on a short break at two, but he’d still been talking to the mother of a boy with a broken clavicle. “Did you get a chance to eat at all?”

He had gotten a spoon from a drawer near the sink and sat down across from her. “Does a Snickers bar count?”

She sighed. “Doctor Whelan—”

“It’s just us. You can call me Geoffrey.” He looked at her over his container of yogurt with bright eyes, at this moment more green than brown.

She flushed. When they’d first met years ago, he’d half-heartedly flirted with her and she’d rebuffed him easily because she’d disliked his playboy personality. But now, his innocent remark sent her heartbeat blipping erratically.

She’d been alone for too long, that was all. “I hope you’re going to eat more than that yogurt.” She deliberately didn’t say his name, whether Dr. Whelan or Geoffrey.

His expression looked faintly guilty.

She got up and went to the fridge. “I have half a sandwich left over from lunch. Would you like it?”

“If you’re sure …”

As Maylin opened the fridge, she realized she still held the crumpled sticky note in her fist. She hastily dropped it in a nearby trash can and got out her turkey bacon sandwich, wrapped in a paper napkin.

“Thanks.”

His smile made faint dimples peep out, and Maylin swallowed, then concentrated on sitting down again without doing something stupid like blushing.

“With my luck, I’d pass out from low blood sugar just as I was treating a child who had diabetes.” He dug into the sandwich with gusto.

Maylin tried not to look at him anymore. She was looking at him too much as it was. Her gaze fell on the cop car outside, and saw that the officer was talking in a friendly fashion with two Asian men wearing dark suits and ties. They seemed a little out of place here at this country clinic.

“I had a strange conversation in the hallway a few minutes ago.”

That’s right, he had needed to speak to her about something. She half-expected him to be annoyed at her inattention, but he wasn’t. His face was serious, but also … confused. “A girl came up to me—no, I suppose she was a young woman. She looked like a student nurse.”

Maylin frowned. “But we don’t have any student nurses.”

“She didn’t have the same scrubs as the nurses, either. Hers was pale gray with ‘KSN’ in red on the pocket. And she wore an expensive Rolex.”

Maylin didn’t know any nurse who had a Rolex. “Who was she?”

“She didn’t say. She just said she had a message for me and for you.”

Maylin straightened in her chair. “For me?”

“She said that you and I were in danger.”

Maylin blinked at him in surprise for a long moment. Then she realized her mouth had fallen open, and she closed it. “I don’t understand.”

Dr. Whelan—Geoffrey—shrugged. “I don’t either. She said we should disappear, because ‘they’ were after us.”

“Who’s after us? And why?” This sounded so ridiculous. She gave a short breath of laughter. “This is a joke, right?”

Geoffrey shook his head. “She looked serious. She looked scared.”

Maylin stilled. “What was she afraid of?”

“I asked her, but she didn’t answer. She kept looking around as if she didn’t want to be seen talking to me. Then one of the nurses entered the hallway and called to me, and the girl turned and left.”

“So that’s all she said?”

He nodded.

They stared at each other for a minute. Geoffrey looked as puzzled as she did.

“Why would anyone be after us?” she said.

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Geoffrey looked away from her. “I’ve spent the last several years in Japan.”

That surprised her. “What were you doing in Japan?”

He hesitated before answering. “Medical missions with a Christian relief organization. After the tsunami.”

She stared at him. Volunteer medical relief work was the last thing she’d have expected. “That must have been hard,” she said softly. She could only imagine the devastation, the loss he’d witnessed among the survivors.

His jaw clenched, but then he gave a tight smile. “It wasn’t so bad.”

The way he gave his neutral answer reminded her of her ex, Sebastian, with his iron control over his feelings and over everything else around him. Maylin sat back in her chair, putting distance between them.

Geoffrey hesitated, then added, “I have extended family in Japan, too, so I got to see them quite a bit.”

Yes, that made sense. His high cheekbones and something about the shape of his eyes had made her suspect he was part Asian. “What have you done since you came back to the States?”

“I came back to take care of my mom. My brother is an architect, so he’s building Mom’s house, and I’ve been helping with that when I’m not volunteering here. I’ll have more time to help her when Monica fills the physician position here.”

That’s right, the nurses had mentioned that Monica Grant, who started this Free Children’s Clinic, was some distant cousin of Dr. Whelan. It was one of the reasons Monica had been able to get him to step in so quickly to the vacated physician position.

He cleared his throat. “So whatever that girl was referring to must be something that happened recently, in the four months I’ve been back in the U.S., but I can’t think of what that would be.”

She turned her thoughts back to the “threat” against them, away from her unreasonable fascination with Dr. Whelan’s history. “The girl said you and me, right? But the only contact we’ve had has been here at the clinic.”

“But there have been hundreds of patients we’ve both worked with.”

“Should we tell the police?” She said it hesitatingly. It seemed like such an improbable story.

“What can we tell them? They’d get a warrant to see our patient records, and it might make the clinic look bad. Monica has had to work hard to get this clinic up and running. I don’t want to cause bad publicity, especially when we don’t have much to go on.”

“I see your point, but it seems wrong to do nothing.” She nodded at his half-eaten food. “You should finish that before you get called to another emergency.”

He gave a half-smile as he turned back to his lunch, and the laugh lines crinkled at the corners of his eyes. Maylin had to force herself to look away. Hadn’t she learned her lesson with Sebastian?

At that moment, one of the triage nurses, Felicity, appeared in the doorway to the break room. “Oh, good, you’re both here.” She lowered her voice. “There are two FBI agents who want to speak to the two of you.”

Maylin was so shocked she couldn’t speak for a moment, just staring at Felicity. Then she glanced at Geoffrey, who looked as confounded as she felt.

He asked Felicity, “Did they say what they want?”

She shook her head. “They seem pretty impatient. I put them in your office, Doctor.”

Geoffrey looked as if he wanted to ask her more, but Felicity was jiggling her foot, and Maylin remembered she was the only triage nurse on duty today. “Thanks, Felicity.” Maylin stood. “We’ll meet them there.”

Felicity nodded and hurried away.

Maylin’s stomach curled as she followed Geoffrey to his office. She’d spoken to some of the Sonoma policemen, but never to the FBI. Now, the girl’s words to Geoffrey about them seemed more ominous. But maybe the agents could clear up what was going on.

The two men seemed to fill the small office, with their broad shoulders and dark suits. They were the same Asian men in suits whom she’d seen talking to the policeman outside the clinic just a few minutes ago. But something about the way they stood seemed … rumpled. More casual than she’d have expected from FBI agents. Or maybe she had watched too much TV? But even the policemen who came to the clinic on special cases carried themselves with more uprightness. These agents seemed to almost slouch.

They both flashed their badges. The taller of the two said, “Geoffrey Whelan and Maylin Kinley?” He had a strong Chinese accent.

Maylin’s shoulders tightened. Her mom was from Hong Kong, and Maylin was almost positive the accent was Cantonese.

“What’s this about?” Geoffrey’s voice had a tightness to it. Perhaps he also could sense there was something odd here.

“You come with us. We have a urgent matter to talk about.”

Definitely Cantonese. FBI agents were supposed to be American citizens. If he’d earned his citizenship, would he still speak in such broken English? No, there was something wrong here. Should she just outright accuse them of posing as FBI agents? She looked to Geoffrey. He already seemed to sense something was not right, but he also seemed to be sizing up the strength of the two men.

“Why can’t you talk to us here?” Geoffrey said.

“Sir, it’s private topic.”

Geoffrey shook his head. “I’m the only doctor on call today. I can’t just leave.”

Without warning, the large agent attacked Geoffrey, slamming his head against the wall with a dull thud. Geoffrey crumpled to the floor and didn’t move.

Maylin was too shocked to scream. When she moved toward him, the shorter agent grabbed her arm in a painful grip.

He snarled at her, “You come with us now.”