Dangerous Love                                        ​​

He’s fighting to forget his past while she struggles to remember hers…

Doctor Josh Parker lives with guilt about his wife’s death every day. He believes himself incapable of ever loving again, but when a mysterious woman arrives in the Emergency Room, brutally beaten and left for dead, he starts to feel something he hasn’t felt in far too long: hope. 

Alessandra Matthews has no memory of the events that led to her being hospitalized. Worse, she has no idea who hurt her or why. Although she’s uncertain of who she is, she is fully aware of one thing—she’s falling for her doctor. Sometimes, what you don’t know can kill you…

As Josh and Alessa work to solve the mystery surrounding her past, she soon realizes just how much danger she’s really in, but Josh refuses to let her face the darkness of her memories alone.

With each of them struggling to put their pasts behind them, theirs is a DANGEROUS LOVE.​

Title: DANGEROUS LOVE
Series: Mending Hearts Series
Author: Kara Leigh Miller & Jody Holford
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 306 pages
Release Date: April 15th, 2015
Imprint: Anaiah Romance
ISBN: 978-0-9909085-6-2

About the Authors
Also in this series
Kara lives in Upstate New York with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. When she's not busy writing romance novels, she's spending time with her family or attending one of her many writers groups. Kara is also Managing Editor for Anaiah Press' Surge and Romance Imprints. She absolutely loves to hear from her fans and fellow authors, so feel free to drop her a line anytime!
Jaded Love
A Mending Hearts Book

They can pretend they’re fine… 

Moving to NYC is supposed to be the fresh start Kristy Andrews so desperately needs, but she can't seem to shake the after-effects of having been kidnapped last year.

Detective Jackson Reed never meant to kill an innocent man, but knowing that doesn’t change the guilt he lives with every single day.

But they can’t hide forever…
More...

Jody is a wife, mom, reader, and a writer. She is also a blogger and follower, a word twister, and a gemini.

Dangerous Love

Excerpt
Copyright © 2015 Kara Leigh Miller & Jody Holford

  
CHAPTER ONE

The long, drawn out beep of the heart monitor silenced the room. “Call it,” Dr. Parker said, his voice strained and low with defeat.

“Time of death, eleven twenty-four p.m.” Nurse Renee pulled the sheet over the patient’s head.

Dr. Parker walked out of the room. Once in the hallway, he leaned against the wall and lowered his head. Losing a patient sucked, but knowing he had to go tell a waiting room full of friends and family that their loved one was dead made it much harder. He rubbed his hands over his face and blew out a long breath. The smell of antiseptic and blood still permeated his senses.

“You did everything you could, Josh,” Renee said, joining him in the hallway and patting him on the back.

“Thanks.” He smiled weakly. “I’m going to go tell the family.” Dr. Parker headed down the hall toward the bank of elevators, the sound of his dress shoes clapping the linoleum. He hated this part of his job. Working in the ER was good to keep his mind busy, but it was taking its toll. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. Not to mention, it always seemed when he was on duty, there was at least one death. He couldn’t handle much more.

Josh pushed the down button and waited for the elevator to arrive. The idea of opening his own practice was becoming more and more appealing. The doors slid open, and he stepped inside, forcing himself to breathe deeply. Pushing the button for the lobby, he made a decision to take a short break and grab some coffee, maybe a sandwich from the deli across the street.

The elevator dinged, the doors slid open, and because he had no other choice, he stepped out. As soon as he came into view, the boy’s parents stood. The patient was a twenty-year-old college student who’d been out partying with his friends, drinking, and was in a car accident that left two of his friends in critical condition and him dead. It was such a senseless waste of life and a prime example of why drinking and driving, in any amount, is harmful.

“Doctor, how is our son?” the mom asked.

Josh’s stomach lurched, making the words catch in his throat for a moment. “I’m sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Sutton, but Jackson didn’t make it. There was a lot of internal bleeding. We did everything we could.” Mrs. Sutton shook her head, denying what Josh said. Her husband’s face crumpled as he reached for his wife, pulling her into his arms. She let herself fall into him, and Josh looked away in an effort to give them some privacy. After a few moments, Josh said, “I’m very sorry for your loss. The hospital has grief counselors on staff if you’d like to meet with one of them.” His words did nothing to ease their pain, and he knew it. He knew firsthand just how empty they were, how daft and cold they sounded, but they were protocol.
With a sad nod, Josh left the family to grieve. He needed some air that didn’t taste like the hospital. Stopping at the nurses’ station, he said, “Renee, I’m going to go out for a bit. Page me if you need me.”

She looked up from the chart she read and gave him a weak smile. Concern shone from her dark, quiet eyes. She knew him well, had worked beside him many times. “You look tired. Try to sneak in a nap.”

“Thanks.” He smiled, but there was no emotion behind it. He often wondered if he had the ability to feel emotions anymore. Ever since Laura . . . He shook her name from his mind. Thinking of her would only bring his mood down even more than it already was.

He stepped out into the cool, evening air and took a deep breath, letting his eyes close momentarily. His stomach had been in knots all night, and he didn’t know why. There was a sense of unease, restlessness coursing through his body. It was wreaking havoc on his ability to concentrate, and he couldn’t help but wonder if his lack of concentration led to a mistake in the ER—a mistake that had cost that boy his life.

“I did everything I could,” he muttered to himself, not finding any solace in the words. Josh took several steps toward the road, toward the deli when his beeper went off. “Shoot.” He jogged back inside and met the EMTs as they wheeled a stretcher into the ER. “What do we got?” he asked.

“Young woman, early thirties, beaten unconscious, trauma to the head, stomach, and chest,” the EMT ticked off the woman’s injuries. “Possible broken ribs, too. Breathing is shallow.”

Josh pulled a tiny flashlight from his pocket and checked her eyes. They were reacting to light. That was a good sign. Unhooking his stethoscope from around his neck, he checked her heart. Slow, but steady. “Do we know her name?”

“Alessandra Mathews.”

“Okay, Alessandra,” Josh said in a soft voice. “My name is Dr. Parker. You’re at Metro General Hospital. Can you hear me?”

On the stretcher, she groaned in pain. Tears fell from her bruised and swollen eyes. Dried blood coated her face. Dear God, she looked horrible, so scared and weak.

“We’re going to take care of you now. You’re safe.” Josh put his hand on her shoulder in an attempt to soothe her. It unsettled him to see this woman so shaken, perhaps more than it should. He kept his hand light on her but with enough pressure for her to register that he was there, that she wasn’t alone. “Okay, let’s get her into room four. Renee,” he motioned for her to follow, “we need to get her into a gown and cleaned up.”

At the count of three, the EMTs lifted her from the stretcher and onto the bed. Josh went about checking her from head to toe. There were several deep lacerations on her face and neck that would require stitches. There were also defensive wounds on her hands and arms. Who would do this to her? And why? The depravity of mankind would never cease to disgust him.

“Laceration above her left eye needs sutures. Abrasions on her lips, along her jaw, on her cheek.” Josh lifted her eyelids, checking her pupils against the light again. “Possible concussion.” He moved down her body, inspecting for further injury. “Ribs don’t appear to be broken, but we’ll need an X-ray to be sure.”

Renee efficiently scribbled each one of them down, nodding to confirm she’d heard and noted them.

“A rape kit will need to be done.” He hated having to even think that let alone say it, but in this type of situation, it was a bleak reality. “And get a tech up here with a portable X-ray, STAT.”

He would not lose another patient tonight. He couldn’t.

* * * *

“Laura! Laura, baby, come on, open your eyes for me,” Josh pleaded through tears. He dropped his forehead to hers. No, she wasn’t dead. She wasn’t. He turned so his ear was near her mouth.

She was breathing, wasn’t she? Or was that just the frigid breeze playing tricks on his senses?

“Sir, you need to let us take her,” the man said.

“No!” Josh swatted the men away. “You can’t take her. She’s alive. She’s breathing.”

Josh awoke with a gasp. His heart raced, and he was covered in sweat. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, he rubbed his hands over his face. He hadn’t had that particular dream in over a month. What prompted its return now?

Alessandra.

He tried to disregard the nagging voice in the back of his mind. A patient shouldn’t be bringing up personal demons, but he couldn’t shake the thoughts of her any more than he could push the dream from his mind. He shook his head and glanced at the clock. Only two hours left of his shift, and then he could go home and pass out for a few hours before he had to be back here. In the meantime, he had rounds to make.

Josh left the solitude of the doctors’ lounge and headed back up to the ER. He stopped at the nurses’ station. “Hi, Renee. I take it things have calmed down a little.” His pager hadn’t gone off in over an hour.

“A little. The police were here investigating that woman who was brought it. Ms. Mathews. They wanted to speak to her, but she still hasn’t regained consciousness.”

His stomach twisted at her words, knowing that was not a good sign. He tried to attribute his agitation to fatigue. Tired was acceptable, worry was understood, but this bone deep concern was something more. Clearing his throat and trying to hide his distress, he asked, “How are her vitals?”

“Stable. Other than the fact she looks awful and hasn’t woken up, she seems to be doing fine,” Renee said in her usual no nonsense tone.

Josh was convinced Renee saved that tone specifically for the doctors because she was sweet as pie toward the patients. “Do you have her chart back there?”

Renee swiveled in her chair, grabbed the chart, and handed it over her head to him. He took it and left with a quick thank you. He quietly slipped into her room, hoping she’d woken up since Renee last checked on her. No such luck. He busied himself with checking her vitals, even though they’d just been checked less than half an hour ago. Heartbeat, blood pressure, temperature—all within normal ranges. She baffled him.

“Why haven’t you woken up yet?” He gently stroked the hair from her forehead.

His own heart rate quickened as a frightening possibility set in. Did she have some sort of brain trauma that he’d missed? Well, there was only one way to find out. He had to get her downstairs for a CT scan. Not wanting to waste time, he picked up the phone in the room and called down to the lab himself.

“I’ll send an orderly right up to get her,” Brian, the lab tech, said.

“No, I’ll bring her down.” Josh hung up before Brian could question him. It wasn’t normal for an ER doctor to transport a patient for a routine test like this, but Josh was worried about handing her off to an orderly.

Josh made sure the metal bars on either side of her bed were locked into place, and then he unlocked the wheels so he could push her out of the room. But he paused for a moment, studying her, wondering why he felt so protective of a woman he knew nothing about.

Whoever she was, there was something special about her. He could feel it deep in his gut. She had auburn colored hair with what appeared to be dark brown highlights. Her complexion was dark–not black. Native American, maybe, or possibly she was just well tanned. It was hard to be sure when most of her face and arms were either bandaged or discolored from her bruises. There was no denying that beneath all her injuries, she was a beautiful woman.

* * * *

Josh sat in the doctors’ lounge, feet propped up on the coffee table, head resting against the back of the couch, and eyes closed. Alessandra’s CT scan had been clean—no abnormalities. He expected to feel relieved, but he didn’t. If anything, he felt more uneasy now than he had earlier. The last thing he did before his shift ended was schedule her for an MRI first thing in the morning when the tech arrived.

Even though she was stable, he couldn’t bring himself to leave and go home. Why should he? There was nothing at home for him anyway except an empty bed and painful memories. Nope. He’d rather spend an uncomfortable night dozing on this couch. Josh made it a point to let the head nurse on the fourth floor, where Alessandra was admitted, know that he would be on hand should her condition change. More accurately, he told the nurse if anything happens, he was to be paged immediately. That was another thing—he’d made himself her primary doctor.

He stretched out on the couch, tilted his head back to stare at the ceiling. Perhaps if he could actually fall into a restful sleep, he wouldn’t have to think about why he was so caught up with this particular patient. He forced himself to close his eyes and keep them closed, listening to the silence that seemed louder, to him, than the ER. He’d managed about five full minutes of rest before his pager buzzed. He’d left it on the coffee table, just out of reach, which meant he had to sit up to grab it.

Not about Alessandra.

He shook his head to try to clear away the disappointment he felt.