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Authors: Bonnie Blythe

Dearly Loved

BOOK: Dearly Loved
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Dearly Loved
Bonnie Blythe
(2008)

The lovesick daydreams of Meredith Ambrose's teenage years for neighborhood heartthrob David Steller have faded into uncomfortable memories-until he lands in a hospital bed in her unit where she works as an R.N. David came to the Northwest to look her up-he just didn't plan on their reunion occurring with him on a gurney. Can he prove he's really changed after all these years? (Christian romance)

The lovesick daydreams of Meredith Ambrose's teenage years for neighborhood heartthrob David Steller have faded into uncomfortable memories-until he lands in a hospital bed in her unit where she works as an R.N. David came to the Northwest to look her up-he just didn't plan on their reunion occurring with him on a gurney. Can he prove he's really changed after all these years?

 

 

DEARLY LOVED

 

a Christian romance novel by

 

Bonnie Blythe

 

 

 

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

 

Cover by Magyar Design

Cover photo ©Robert Brown | Dreamstime.com

© William Moss | Dreamstime.com

 

 

Kindle Edition

Copyright 2010 by Bonnie Blythe

All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I trust in your unfailing love
.

Psalm 13:5

 

 

One

 

“Kiss me, Merrie.”

Meredith Hope Ambrose widened her eyes—her heart beating hard.
Is he serious? Or just teasing me again?
She was used to David Steller’s outrageous remarks—designed as they were to get a rise out of her.

She looked down at the eighteen-year-old, where she sat next to him, and let out a wistful sigh. He lay on his back, chewing on a blade of grass and gazing into the leafy summer boughs of the old maple tree. The afternoon sun filtered down through the leaves, dappling his long, athletic figure with lacy patterns of light.

The very first time she saw him, she thought of David the shepherd boy of the Bible—
he was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features
. Her David fit that description, and then some. His liquid brown eyes, fringed with thick lashes, sparkled with mirth, and tawny colored hair curled shamelessly around his face.

If only he meant it about the kiss. Why can’t he ever be serious?

David removed the grass from his mouth and rolled onto his stomach. He looked up at her with a familiar teasing glint in his eye.

“Well?”

Meredith reminded herself he was joking. Gazing at his beguiling expression, she was tempted to call his bluff. But before she could respond, David sat up next to her and pressed his lips against her own. Involuntarily, her eyes fluttered closed as she surrendered herself to the soft, sweet feelings his touch stirred within her.

Her first kiss.

Too soon, David raised his head. He sent her a curious look. Dazed by the experience, Meredith lowered her eyes to conceal her bewilderment. She felt a telltale rush of heat spread over her cheeks. He’d managed to get a reaction out of her once again.

It never failed.

When Meredith looked up at him a moment later, the twinkle returned to his eyes, along with the endearing dimple that appeared whenever he smiled. Whatever she thought she’d seen in his eyes had gone. Perhaps she’d imagined it.

And she did entirely too much imagining when it came to David Steller.

Meredith smiled at the bittersweet memories while grabbing her bag and purse off the passenger seat of her car. Oh, the adolescent angst of a sixteen-year-old female. She walked across the parking lot to Cedar Hill Community Hospital, wondering what reminded her of David after all these years. Perhaps it was the way the evening sunlight filtered through the trees, making her think of that day under the old maple. That kiss had been the first of many they’d shared, along with whispered words of love and promises…

What does a teenager know about love? What a joke!
Meredith shook her head. Once school started, David had dumped her and pursued other girls-girls of the cheerleader, prom court strata—not quiet, studious types such as herself.
Sorry, Merrie. No hard feelings, huh?
The realization that he’d been biding his time with her until something better came along had made her sick with heartbreak and rejection.

Meredith pressed a hand against her chest, amazed that memories of David could still cause a spasm of pain in the region of her heart. All those wasted tears. She grimaced. What had then felt like a tragedy on par with Shakespeare’s
Romeo and Juliet
now was just an embarrassing relic of memory.
I’ve long since gone on with my life. The last twelve—okay eleven—years without him have been productive and meaningful
. Good grief, what even brought him to mind?

Inhaling the perfumed summer air one last time before entering the climate-controlled conditions of the hospital, Meredith firmly dismissed all thoughts of the past. She walked down a hallway adorned with glossy framed photographs of the doctors who had privileges at Cedar Hill, heading to the staffing office for her unit assignment. Meredith expected to be assigned to the Med-Surg unit, but knew she could be floated to ICU, Pediatrics, or even the ER, in case of staffing shortages.

At the office, she learned she was assigned to her usual duties—caring for patients suffering from illnesses or recovering from surgeries. She went into the break room to store her purse and workbag before beginning her shift. After closing her locker, Meredith clipped her name badge to the front of her pastel print smock, draped her stethoscope around her neck, and slipped on her nursing clogs. Once prepared, she craved a cup of coffee to fortify herself upon entering the nocturnal world of the night shift. Meredith stifled a yawn.

Why am I so tired tonight? Too much gardening? Busy summer schedule with the American Red Cross?
Usually she felt more refreshed after her four-day break. Working as a float during the weekend in twelve-hour shifts gave her more time to recoup.
At least that’s what I’d hoped for
. She shrugged and tried to mentally prepare for the people she’d be working with.

The door of the break room opened, and Rosa, a lively, tanned brunette who she attended church with, entered and plopped down onto a fake leather chair.

“What a day!” She looked over at Meredith and smiled. “You’re smart to work when everyone’s asleep. After giving all the day nurses grief, the patients are too tired to bother the night shift.”

Meredith smiled. “You figured out my secret.” She went over to a small counter where a coffeemaker sat in the corner and chose from an assortment of mugs. Most had pharmaceutical logos on the side. One said
I’m saving myself for Justin Timberlake
. Meredith wrinkled her nose and picked a plain blue one, filling it with black coffee.

Rosa heaved a noisy sigh before pouring a cup of coffee for herself. “Well, you might find tonight’s work a little more interesting. Seems we have a celebrity patient. A soccer star named David Steller.” She turned and fanned herself with a packet of powdered creamer. “Ever heard of him?”

Meredith froze, the cup of coffee poised in front of her lips.
Huh?

Rosa gave her a coy look, her brown eyes sparkling. “He’s a honey, but got smashed up in a car accident. You’ll have the whole night to make his owies all better.” She made loud, smacking noises with her lips.

Meredith set down her cup.
David? Here? Cue the Twilight Zone music!

“Hello, anybody home?”

Meredith blinked.

“So, have you heard of him?”

“Um, I—”
Was the Lord preparing me for this by bringing up those memories? There can be no other explanation!

Rosa stretched her arms above her head. “You know, he’s that pro soccer player who blew out his knee right before the Major League Soccer play-offs. It’s been all over the news tonight. I heard he’s here in town to take the job at KVL news as the sports anchor. I gotta keep up on all the sports stuff to attract a guy, you know.”

Meredith furrowed her brows. “Blew out his knee?” Images flickered through her memory—David as a high school athlete flushed with yet another victory…David confident with the knowledge he’d soon be drafted to a college team…and from there, into a professional league.

How can all that be over? Poor David!
Her voice sounded far away when she spoke. “How serious are his injuries?”

Rosa twirled her pony-tail. “He wasn’t my patient but I gathered he was in emergency surgery for six hours or so, for internal injuries and damage to his leg. After being in ICU for a few hours they moved him to a private room, although I have no doubt it was because a coronary patient needed his bed.” She groaned. “How many years have they told us they’re going to remodel and expand this unit? I’m tired of playing musical beds with the patients. Every time they begin to remodel one unit, I ask when will the Med-Surg unit get done? ‘Next year’ they say. It’s always ‘next year’. Has been forever.”

“Uh, thanks, Rosa.” Meredith hurried from the break room and went to the nurses’ station. With shaking hands, she found David’s chart. Scanning the information, she felt the blood drain from her face. Fracture of the femur, lacerated liver, hematoma of the spleen, pneumothorax due to rib fracture.

Meredith closed her eyes, breathing a silent prayer. She returned the chart, eager to get to his room and see him. A nurse waved her over to report off for the night so Meredith could organize her assessment schedule first.
Rats. Reality check
.

It was an hour before she made it to his room.

Saying a quick prayer for strength, Meredith slipped into the dim space and approached the side of his bed. David lay as still as death. His face was swollen and bruised. The pulse oximeter monitor next to the bed beeped, displaying his pulse and oxygen rate, the only noticeable signs of life.

A sudden rush of long-buried feelings boiled to the surface. She pressed her fingers against her mouth to stop from crying out.
Whoa, what’s wrong with me?
Forcing herself to be calm, she began her routine check—blood pressure, temp, pulse, respiration, the IV bag, and his surgical incisions with trembling hands.

When she’d performed her duties, she allowed herself a few moments to reminisce—there had been a few good moments sprinkled in with the bad all those years ago. Her gaze lingered over his face. Although she easily recognized him despite his condition and the fact he was older, he just wasn’t the same David without his teasing eyes and confident grin. The memory of him so vital and alive jarred with the shadowed, motionless form in the bed.
I know this is not a coincidence, but God, why is he here? How do I fit in?

She grazed the side of his face with the back of her hand, feeling the coolness of his skin. Taking his hand in hers, she bent near his ear.

“David, it’s me, Meredith Ambrose. I’m going to help take care of you, okay?”
I doubt if he even remembers me.

He was heavily sedated so she wasn’t surprised when his broken body remained as still as before. Swallowing, she squeezed his hand before turning to leave the room. Several other patients waited.

The remainder of Meredith’s shift passed by in a blur. Normally, she enjoyed the dim, hushed world of the night shift. The slower pace allowed her a little extra time with each patient. Tonight, wanting nothing more than to stay at David’s side, every question, every patient summons, every task, made her grind her teeth.
I’m just worried about him, that’s all. He’s an old friend of the family
.

At the end of her shift, after reporting off to the day staff coming on, Meredith went into the break room and splashed cold water on her face, trying to cool her heated emotions. The door burst open. Meredith looked up as Ellen, a pretty, blonde staff nurse, flung open her locker door and grabbed her coat.

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