All He Desires - Nate & Eliza (Crossroads #12)(8)

By: Melanie Shawn


Her comment and behavior were both raising red flags. She was extra on edge today.

“What’s going on, Nana?” he asked firmly.

“I’m going to be late for my appointment thanks to your snail’s pace.”

“Did you call and tell them you’d be late?” The question was one he already knew the answer to. Ada Holmes was the epitome of etiquette and would never be late for any appointment without calling to let someone know.

“Of course I did,” she responded curtly.

Instead of asking a direct question, which he was sure she would dodge, he went for a more indirect approach. “The last time I’ve seen you acting this squirrely was when you were planning the surprise party for dad’s fiftieth. You couldn’t look him in the eye for two months.”

Nana “tsked” dismissively as she reached her hand and pressed the radio icon. “You need some tunes on. Music is joy. You should always surround yourself with happiness.”

The dashboard lit up as “P.Y.T.” began playing from the speakers.

She pointed to the screen displaying the name of the song and artist as she exclaimed, “Now that’s what you need!”

“I need a boy band from the sixties?” he teased.

“This is just Michael, not the Jackson 5, smarty pants.” She swatted his arm playfully. “You’re lucky I don’t have a newspaper.”

Growing up, whenever he or Neil had misbehaved under Nana’s watch, she had rolled up a newspaper and smacked them with it. He’d only been on the receiving end of a rapping once, when he was eight, and it was a case of mistaken identity. She’d thought she was disciplining Neil, who had taken a twenty from her purse without asking.

He’d never told her that she’d disciplined him and not Neil. It would’ve broken her heart. She had a tough exterior, but inside she was as gooey and soft as a melted marshmallow. That would’ve devastated her to her core. Not just because of the unjust swatting, but more so because she hadn’t been able to tell the two of them apart. She’d always prided herself on being the one person that could tell the twins apart. Even his parents got them mixed up all the time.

The truth was, she was just the only person that he and Neil never corrected. He wasn’t sure what Neil’s reasoning was, but Nate had never wanted to make her feel bad.

“No, smarty pants. You need a PYT. A pretty young thing,” she unnecessarily clarified.

“I know what PYT stands for, Nana,” he replied flatly.

“You may know what it means, but you don’t have one.”

“I’m still seeing Bailey,” he shot back.

That was another perk of their arrangement. He could use her to get his family off his back and vice versa. She had four siblings, all of which were married with kids. They’d mutually agreed to serve as each other’s significant other decoys. So far, it’d worked wonders with her family and his parents. Nana on the other hand wasn’t buying it. She had an uncanny bullshit detector and had never bit when he threw out the “I have a girlfriend” line.

“I’m not talking about a booty call, Nathanial Edwin Holmes. I’m talking about love.”

He sat up straighter at the use of his full name. It was a Pavlovian response.

“She’s not a booty call, Nana,” he uselessly defended.

“Fine then I’m not talking about friends with benefits,” she clarified.

He couldn’t argue with that.

“I’m talking about something real. A commitment. The girl that you’re going to grow old with.”

She was talking about something that he didn’t deserve. He’d forfeited the right to any happiness in his personal life a decade ago at Whisper Lake when he’d betrayed his brother and the only girl he’d ever loved…





Chapter 3


“So these are all current patients?” Eliza asked Jarmen as she scanned the floor to ceiling shelves of files in the hallway between her office and the front desk.

“Yes.”

“Has anyone ever looked into getting them transferred to a digital platform?” Eliza was careful as she phrased the question.

The last thing she wanted was for the staff to feel like she was going to come in and change everything on her first day. This was a successful business with bright, competent people who clearly had systems that worked for them. She didn’t want to rock the boat…she just wanted to steer it towards New Technology Harbor.

“Yes,” Jarmen enthused. “I have. Several times. I even wrote a report on the benefits of electronic versus paper that included sections on storage, legibility, access and security. But Dr. Lewis liked to hold files in his hands and was never convinced that the cost of upgrading the computers and software was worth it.”