All He Desires - Nate & Eliza (Crossroads #12)(4)

By: Melanie Shawn

She’d met Nate on the first day of freshman year in human physiology. Nate was shy, brilliant and cute. Really cute. She’d had a huge crush on him from the moment he’d been assigned as her lab partner in Mr. Hawkins’ classroom. There were so many times that she’d thought he was going to kiss her, or at least make some kind of move. It was a constant stream of mixed signals. He’d do an incredibly thoughtful and grand gesture or drop these amazingly sweet compliment bombs and after they detonated she’d wait in anticipation for something, anything, to happen, but nothing ever did. His face would remain blank and that would be that. But, she always believed that one day that would change. She’d worked up this whole fantasy world where he’d confess his undying love for her and they would ride off into the happily-ever-after sunset together.

In fact, when Neil originally asked her out the summer between ninth and tenth grade, she’d said yes because she thought it was Nate. It hadn’t been until he pulled out his jersey that she realized that she’d just agreed to date Neil Holmes, the star quarterback of the football team.

That was something that she’d never admitted to anyone.

At first, when she realized her blunder, she planned to just go to the movies anyway to save herself from the embarrassment of having to explain the mix-up. But, Neil hadn’t made it easy to do that. He’d made her laugh and since he looked exactly like his twin brother, he wasn’t too hard on the eyes. One date turned into two, two turned into three, a month turned into a year and a year turned into three. Over the time that she and Neil were together she’d thought that her crush on his twin brother was gone. That is, until that fateful night at Whisper Lake on her eighteenth birthday when a Freudian slip changed everything and the reality of her true feelings came crashing down on her like a piano in a cartoon.

“Dr. Youn…sorry, Eliza.” Jarmen smiled widely as she knocked on the open door before entering. “Your nine a.m. just called and said that she couldn’t make it, her daughter is sick with a cold. But, we filled the slot with an emergency call we just got with a loose crown. She should be here in about fifteen minutes”

Since she’d agreed to take over the office she’d been in contact with the staff from Oklahoma. This transition was only going as smoothly as it was because Dr. Lewis had such a strong team working for him. They were making the metaphoric passing of the baton as seamless as possible. Eliza was stepping into a well-oiled, well-run machine. Her life may have fallen apart, but she was all about silver linings and if you looked up silver linings in the dictionary, a picture of her new staff would be there.

“Great.” Eliza looked up at the pretty brunette who had worked for Dr. Lewis for the past five years but then she realized what she’d said. “I mean, not great that the crown is loose, but glad we were able to fit her in.”

A knowing grin spread on Jarmen’s face as she crossed the room and handed Eliza a manila folder. “Here’s Mrs. Holmes file, in case you want to look it over—”

Eliza’s stomach dropped like a lead balloon and a sense of dread swept through her.

“Mrs. Holmes?” she repeated over the large lump that had just formed in her throat as she silently prayed that she’d misheard the patient’s name.

Neil’s mother Mrs. Leonora Holmes had always intimidated Eliza. She was very protective of her boys, especially Neil. Leonora had never made it a secret that she didn’t think Eliza was good enough for her son.

The Holmes family had moved to Harper’s Crossing right before the twins started high school. They lived in the only upscale neighborhood in town. It was a small community of mini-mansions nestled between the golf course and a large manmade lake.

Eliza had grown up in a normal middle-class family and lived in a 1200 square foot house, a house that she loved. She’d never forgotten the look on Leonora Holmes’ face when she’d dropped Eliza off after Neil had invited her to dinner to meet his family. Her expression had been equal parts horror and disgust that her son was mixing with the lower class.

Eliza knew that she would inevitably run into the woman, since Harper’s Crossing was such a small town, but she hadn’t considered the idea that she’d have to treat her. Or that Leonora Holmes would be her first patient.

Jarmen’s face lit up as she nodded, her chestnut hair falling over her shoulder as she did. Her smile was filled with warmth and her tone affectionate. “Yep, she’s quite a character. Dr. Lewis always referred to her as an ornery handful. But don’t worry, her bark is much worse than her bite.”