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Authors: Donna Clayton

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The Doctor's Medicine Woman

BOOK: The Doctor's Medicine Woman
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She’d never in her life seen such fierce hunger.

Such concentrated intensity.

Travis had moved her. Affected her. Diana had realized it almost from the very moment she’d met him. She’d vowed to suppress the attraction. Extinguish it completely. But it kept rekindling itself, like the embers of some smoldering fire that were fanned and brought back to blazing life by its very presence.

And she’d been certain that he, too, had meant to crush any visceral urges he might have. She’d witnessed his determination to deny the attraction he felt.

What she was feeling was only a whim. A whim that could be conquered. That
would
be suppressed.

Otherwise, both their lives were bound to change forever….

Donna Clayton’s
SINGLE DOCTOR DADS
series:
THE NANNY PROPOSAL
(SR#1477)

THE DOCTOR’S MEDICINE WOMAN
(SR#1483)
RACHEL AND THE M.D.
(SR#1489)

Dear Reader, There’s something for
everyone
in a Silhouette Romance, be it moms (or daughters!) or women who’ve found—or who still seek!—that special man in their lives. Just revel in this month’s diverse offerings as we continue to celebrate Silhouette’s 20th Anniversary.

It’s last stop: STORKVILLE, USA, as Karen Rose Smith winds this adorable series to its dramatic conclusion. A virgin with amnesia finds shelter in the town sheriff’s home, but will she find lasting love with
Her Honor-Bound Lawman? New York Times
bestselling author Kasey Michaels brings her delightful trilogy THE CHANDLERS REQUEST… to an end with the sparkling bachelor-auction story
Raffling Ryan. The Millionaire’s Waitress Wife
becomes the latest of THE BRUBAKER BRIDES as Carolyn Zane’s much-loved miniseries continues.

In the second installment of Donna Clayton’s SINGLE DOCTOR DADS,
The Doctor’s Medicine Woman
holds the key to his adoption of twin Native American boys—and to his guarded heart.
The Third Kiss
is a charmer from Leanna Wilson—a must-read pretend engagement story! And a one-night marriage that began with “The Wedding March” leads to
The Wedding Lullaby
in Melissa McClone’s latest offering….

Happy Reading!

Mary-Theresa Hussey Senior Editor

The Doctor’s Medicine Woman
DONNA CLAYTON

Books by Donna Clayton

Silhouette Romance

Mountain Laurel
#720

Taking Love in Stride
#781

Return of the Runaway Bride
#999

Wife for a While
#1039

Nanny and the Professor
#1066

Fortune’s Bride
#1118

Daddy Down the Aisle
#1162

*
Miss Maxwell Becomes a Mom
#1211

*
Nanny in the Nick of Time
#1217

*
Beauty and the Bachelor Dad
#1223


The Stand-By Significant Other
#1284


Who’s the Father of Jenny’s Baby?
#1302

The Boss and the Beauty
#1342

His Ten-Year-Old Secret
#1373

Her Dream Come True
#1399

Adopted Dad
#1417

His Wild Young Bride
#1441

**
The Nanny Proposal
#1477

**
The Doctor’s Medicine Woman
#1483

DONNA CLAYTON

is proud to be a recipient of the Holt Medallion, an award honoring outstanding literary talent, for her Silhouette Romance
Wife for a While.
And seeing her work appear on the Waldenbooks Series Bestsellers List has given her a great deal of joy and satisfaction.

Reading is one of Donna’s favorite ways to wile away a rainy afternoon. She loves to hike, too. Another hobby added to her list of fun things to do is traveling. She fell in love with Europe during her first trip abroad and plans to return often. Oh, and Donna still collects cookbooks, but as her writing career grows, she finds herself using them less and less.

Donna loves to hear from her readers. Please write to her care of Silhouette Books, 300 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017.

Chapter One

“W
e have decided to permit the adoption—”

Travis Westcott felt pure and utter joy rush through his body as he stood before the Kolheek Council of Elders.

“—but there is one, very small—” the speaker paused, her bronze, wizened face showing little emotion “—catch.”

His stomach lurching with sudden suspicion, Travis couldn’t keep the dismay from his voice as he repeated, “Catch?” His brow furrowed, his head tilting a fraction. “What sort of catch?”

He’d worked so hard to prove himself worthy to these people. He’d traveled from Philadelphia to the northern Vermont reservation four times over the past two months in order to appear before the Council to plead his case, to explain to the Elders that his single status would not keep him from being a good father to the five-year-old twin brothers, Jared and
Josh. And just when he thought the boys would be his, he was being presented with yet another obstacle, yet another mountain to climb. He couldn’t help but worry how high and steep this one might turn out to be.

“Dr. Westcott,” a second member of the Council of six men and women spoke up, “maybe we shouldn’t say ‘catch.’ The word has such an underhanded connotation attached to it. What we should say is
stipulation.
And please know that this…condition was decided upon with our best intentions and the boys’ best interests in mind, we assure you.”

“The boys’ best interests were all that ever concerned me.” Irritation tinged his quiet tone, cloaking Travis’s fear of disappointment. Becoming the twins’ father had become so important to him. More important than he’d ever imagined.

“If this has something to do with the fact that I’m not married,” he said. “I’ve already explained—”

“No.” The first Elder shook her head.

Travis couldn’t believe that the state and federal governments of the United States had no say in this matter. But he’d learned that the Kolheek were totally in control of who did or did not adopt the orphans from their small tribe. The Council had complete authority in the matter.

“This has nothing to do with the fact that you cannot provide the boys with a mother.”

Guilt swept through him when he heard the situation voiced in those terms. He’d thought he could give the boys everything they needed by way of a parent. Resolve made his spine straighten. He
could
give Jared and Josh all they needed. He was certain of it. And if this catch, this stipulation, they were suddenly presenting him with, didn’t have to do with his marital status, then the Council, too, thought he could give the boys all they needed.

Then what? he wondered. What was this condition they were hinting at?

Patience,
he silently chided. If he’d learned nothing else over the months of dealing with the Native Americans, he’d learned that they revealed their thoughts, plans and opinions in their own good time. No matter what kind of hurry or rush anyone else might be in.

“You’ve made your arguments,” the elderly woman said. “You’ve convinced us that you will love the boys. Provide for them. And the fact that you are half Kolheek only served to help your cause. You showed us just how much you cared by seeing to it that the boys were provided with the medical attention they needed two years ago. Their heart conditions might have killed them were it not for your intervention, Dr. Westcott. We know all these things.”

The second Council Elder continued, “The boys will be six soon. And you know that with each day, each week, each month that passes, their chances of being adopted diminish. It is a sad but true fact that couples want to adopt impressionable babies, not adolescents already on their way to being grown. We
want
you to adopt Jared and Josh. We believe the three of you will make a happy family. If we didn’t, you wouldn’t be here today.”

“Then what is it?” Travis leveled a steady gaze
on the group, his impatience thinly, if at all, veiled. “What’s the catch?”

Attempting to intimidate the Elders was futile. It was apparent that these people had lived long, full lives. They had endured hardships, pain and sorrow the likes of which he would never know. They had experienced happiness, laughter and tranquillity. These six men and women were the dignitaries of their tribe. Only the oldest and wisest could sit on the Council. Their vast life experiences showed in their proud faces. In the set of their shoulders. In the unmistakably enlightened glints of their dark, deep-set eyes.

“There is no easy way to present the problem we see,” the woman told him. “We find it disturbing to know that you will be taking the twins far from the reservation. Far from their home. Far from The People.”

Travis frowned, finding her words quite alarming. “But you knew from the beginning that I lived in Pennsylvania. You don’t expect me to move here to Vermont? Here to the reservation? I have a medical practice in Philadelphia…”

She shook her head in silent answer, somewhat calming his rising panic. “But we are concerned that the boys will lose touch with their heritage. Their past. Their ancestors.” Her voice grew soft and gentle as she added, “Dr. Westcott, you are ignorant in the ways of The People.”

Although he realized that the woman tried to relay her concern without insulting him, he bristled at what felt like an ugly criticism. Ignorant was not a word that would normally describe him. He was a successful
physician. Co-author of a textbook widely used by medical colleges all over the world. He was a sought-after speaker at conventions and seminars. Because of his dogged determination and his knowledge of the workings of the human body, he’d saved lives. As these facts rolled through his head, Travis knew he wasn’t being conceited. He was simply being honest about himself and his accomplishments.

However, if he were to continue being honest, he’d have to concede to the Council woman’s criticism. For her observation was true. He knew nothing of his Native American heritage.

His mother, a full-blooded Kolheek, had left the reservation as a teenager when she’d married his father. She had never returned. She had gladly adopted her husband’s culture, his religion, his whole way of life. And she had never attempted to reveal anything about her Indian background to her two sons. Even after her bitter divorce, Lila Westcott had never returned to the reservation. Travis had grown up thinking of himself as nothing more than a…proud American.

“I love those boys.” He silently thanked heaven that his voice didn’t break with the tremendous emotion welling inside him. The idea that he could lose the chance to be their father distressed him mightily.

He wasn’t used to making himself vulnerable to others, but at this moment he felt it was necessary. He could think of no other response to the woman’s accusation. He did love Jared and Josh. And he planned to be the best father he could be. He wanted to give them everything. But how could he give them something he didn’t have? He couldn’t offer the boys
knowledge of the past when he didn’t know it himself. He couldn’t furnish them with the wisdom of a culture of which he was unfamiliar.

The old woman’s eyes softened in her wrinkled face. “We don’t doubt your deep affection for the children, Dr. Westcott. We know you will feed and clothe them. We know you’ll provide them with a safe home, a good education. With tremendous emotional support.” She inhaled, her chin lifting a fraction. “But we feel they need more.”

“Due to their medical condition, they have lived in a state orphanage,” the second Council member added. “Like you, they know little to nothing of their heritage, of the Kolheek ways. They need a link to their past. And we’ve found just the person who can give them that. Our Medicine Woman.”

Diana Chapman sat in the waiting area outside the Council room. The last thing she wanted to do was spend two months in the home of Dr. Travis Westcott—
single
Dr. Travis Westcott.

But her grandmother, the senior member of the Council Elders, had asked Diana to make this trip, to prepare a set of five-year-old twin boys for their naming ceremony, as a personal favor. Diana had been taught to grant all her Elders the utmost respect, and she’d have at least considered the request no matter which Council member had approached her. But she loved her grandmother dearly. She’d move heaven and earth if doing so would please the woman who had raised her.

Diana knew that the doctor was a successful man. Someone who could afford to raise and educate the
young twins. A man who took his responsibilities seriously. And he was half Kolheek. These had been the facts that had swayed the Council to allow their own to be adopted by someone living off the reservation.

But the thing that concerned Diana was Travis Westcott’s single status. With her heart barely mended from her difficult divorce, she didn’t relish the thought of being cooped up in a house with a man who was most probably “on the hunt.” Since returning to the reservation ten months ago, she’d been pursued by every bachelor within the reservation boundaries, and even some outside them. She’d turned down more date invitations than a Christmas turkey had feathers. Why couldn’t men take no for an answer without getting their pride all knocked out of joint?

Her grandmother had told Diana that her worry about suffering the doctor’s attentions was like interest on a loan she may never owe. Then the woman had gone on to assuredly say that she felt Diana could handle herself in any situation. “If the need arises, simply be honest with the man,” her grandmother had suggested. “Just as you’ve been with the others.”

So Diana had decided to do just that. She’d help Jared and Josh, and she’d do her best to steer clear of Travis Westcott.

However, she couldn’t help but wonder how the doctor was going to react to the Elder’s condition of having a Medicine Woman live in his home for a while. Men were strange creatures who didn’t take very well to ideas that weren’t their own. Diana’s
mouth quirked up at one corner. Her grandmother—amazing woman that she was—would convince him that the stipulation was necessary, Diana was certain of it.

Just then the door opened, and she was summoned into the Council room.

The air was thick, and one look at Travis Westcott’s face told her he wasn’t happy. He wasn’t happy at all. But even with a frown marring his high, intelligent forehead, she couldn’t help but recognize that he was a handsome man. A
very
handsome man.

Surprisingly, her knees turned rubbery and her stomach churned as if it had been invaded by a slew of fluttering butterflies. This anxiety bewildered her. Was she worried because the man was so obviously irritated? Or because he was so startlingly handsome?

What nonsense, she silently chided. She stood a little straighter. Never again would she be intimidated by an angry man. Or a handsome one, either, for that matter.

His displeasure seemed tempered, even if only for a moment, as his jet-black gaze perused her face. Something lit in his eyes. Surprise? Appreciation? Interest? Mere curiosity? Diana couldn’t tell. But she felt her mouth draw into a hard line. She refused to be concerned with his curiosity, his appreciation
or
his interest, and she immediately averted her gaze, focusing her attention on the Council members. More specifically, her grandmother.

“Dr. Westcott,” her grandmother said to the doctor, “I’d like you to meet my granddaughter, Diana Chapman. Diana, Dr. Westcott.”

The doctor met her halfway and reached out to shake her hand.

His grip was firm and warm and…secure.

She had to force herself not to step back in surprise at the thought. Why would that descriptive term come to mind? But she didn’t have time to linger over the unsettling question.

“Please,” he said to her softly, “call me Travis.”

She offered him a professional smile. “Only if you’ll call me Diana.”

He nodded, holding onto her hand for what she felt was a little longer than necessary. Then every inch of her skin prickled with awkwardness and her palm felt distinctly chilled when contact between their hands was broken.

“Congratulations on the successful adoption of Jared and Josh,” she said.

“Thanks.” He then added, “I think.”

Was the aside his attempt at good-natured teasing? she wondered. His own self-doubt? Or was he rebelling against her presence being forced on himself and the boys?

“I’m not sure yet that the adoption
is
successful,” he said.

“Be assured—”

Diana looked toward the Council table as her grandmother spoke to Travis.

“—the adoption is complete. Now that you have agreed to accept Diana’s help, we are happy to release the boys to you.”

The doctor’s immense happiness seemed to fairly pulse from him, Diana observed. But the frown on his brow quickly returned.

“For how long?” he asked.

The Council, as a whole, looked confused by his question. But it was Diana’s grandmother who continued to speak on their behalf.

“Forever,” she told him. “Or at least until Jared and Josh reach maturity.”

“No, no,” he said. “I wasn’t referring to the boys. Um…no offence to Ms. Chapman—”

“Diana,” she softly reminded him. Surely they could be on a first name basis and still act professionally toward each other.

At her prompt, his mouth curled slightly at the corners as he cast her a quick glance, and Diana got the nerve-racking and overwhelming sense that, if this man were to ever truly smile at her, his face would be transformed from merely handsome to utterly and breathtakingly gorgeous.

He directed his gaze at her grandmother. “Just how long will I be expected to…” His words trailed into a brief and awkward pause. He tried again. “How long will Diana be with me and the boys?”

The elderly woman nodded her understanding. “In two short months the boys will turn six. It is the Kolheek tradition to hold a naming ceremony on—or close to—a child’s sixth birthday.”

Diana watched Travis shake his head.

“Naming ceremony? But the boys already have names.”

“Kolheek names,” the Council woman explained.

Knowing she could clarify in a way he would understand, Diana offered, “Long ago, the infant mortality rate was very high. Parents discovered it was best to wait—”

BOOK: The Doctor's Medicine Woman
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