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On the Mend (Carolina Waves Series Book 1) by Tina Gallagher (1)

1

Sabrina

I shuddered at the memory. Even though ten years have passed since Dan uttered those words, just thinking about the conversation raises my blood pressure.

My supervisor must have been saying something while I was lost in the past, but I’ll be damned if I know what it was. Only her silence alerted me to the fact she was waiting for me to say something.

“Could you repeat the question?”

Jodi rolled her eyes. “You know the question.”

“I don’t think I’m the right person for this job. Dan and I, we have a history.” I added the last bit of information reluctantly. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jodi, but she has a tendency to gossip.

“Dan mentioned that. It’s one of the reasons he requested you.”

“It is?” I couldn’t hide my surprise. Dan and I hadn’t parted on the best of terms. I can’t imagine our past relationship would give me any extra points in the Who gets to rehabilitate Dan McMullen? contest.

“He’s seen you work.” Jodi sat forward and leaned her arms on her desk. “Granted, that was years ago, but it only stands to reason you’d get better with time.” I smiled in acceptance of her subtle compliment.

“Isn’t there someone else available?”

“Of course there is, but he asked for you. Personally, I might add.” The last few words were finished off with a saucy smirk that turned into a full-blown smile. “I’ve never spoken to a professional baseball player before, never mind a hot one like Dan.” She wriggled in her chair. “I get wet just thinking about it.”

I’m not surprised by Jodi’s reaction to Dan. His good looks and charm have captivated the sternest of females…myself included.

“What happened to his last therapist?” I asked.

“They didn’t get along.” Jodi shrugged. “Personality conflict, I guess.”

“Who was it?”

“Tim Rawlins.”

“He’s very good.”

“Yes he is,” Jodi agreed. “But you and I both know that if a patient isn’t happy with his therapist, the whole thing is a waste of time. Dan wasn’t willing to work with, or for, Tim, but he sounds more than eager to cooperate with you.” Jodi leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs. “So what do you say?”

“I say no.”

She looked shocked by my blunt refusal, but quickly composed herself. I didn’t like the look in her eyes. “I haven’t told you the best part of this whole thing.”

Her cocky tone put me on full alert. “What’s that?”

“If you do this, you’ll be made partner immediately following the assignment.”

I don’t believe it. I’ve been working at the Meyers Rehabilitation Clinic since graduating from college, and my ultimate goal has been to someday become a partner. Now it seems that goal depends on this one assignment.

“Why?”

“You know why, Sabrina.”

I did. In all the years I’ve been working at the clinic, this is the first time we’ve been approached by a big name athlete. While the patient load has nearly tripled in the past decade, said patients consist mostly of local high school and college athletes, and post-operative patients. A good word from Dan McMullen, All-Star center fielder for the Carolina Waves, would really put us on the map.

“Just think. A few weeks out of your life for a partnership you’ve been working toward for nine years.”

While I heard her words, my mind had already wandered back ten years. Back to one of the most humiliating nights of my life.

I rubbed my temples and groaned. “No one else can do this?”

“He wants you.”

I thought of the partnership and groaned again. Why does my future depend upon Dan, of all people?

“Do we have a file on him?”

I didn’t have to ask how Dan had injured himself. The video of him crashing into the center field wall of First Allegiant Bank Stadium as he chased a home run ball had aired on all major sports channels as well as the local news. The fact that he’d made the catch must be somewhat soothing to his ego.

Jodi waved a folder that had magically appeared in her right hand dramatically before handing it over.

“Do they have X-rays?” I asked as I scanned through various doctors’ reports.

“They have some, but I haven’t gotten them yet.”

“Good. I’ll want to see them before we start. When’s he coming in?” I was still studying the pages in front of me, but Jodi’s silence made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. As I lifted my gaze to meet hers, she turned to face the window and mumbled a reply.

“What was that?”

Jodi cleared her throat. “We decided it’d be best if you went to Dan’s house for therapy instead of him coming here.”

“We? Who we? Not me we.”

“Think about it.” Jodi’s business mask was fully in place once again. “Most of our clients will know who Dan is and once word gets out that he’s here, people will be milling around like crazy. Not to mention the reporters. It would be a disaster to have him come here, and you know it.”

“You have it all figured out, don’t you?”

A smug smile crossed her lips. “It’s my job to take care of the little details.” She pointed to the items in my hand. “The directions to his house are on the back of the folder.”

I flipped the folder over and had to agree with her statement. Jodi certainly knows how to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. The directions included mile markers, with street names and landmarks along the way. The precise description of the location of Dan’s house could have been used for a real estate listing.

“Pack enough for a month or so.”

“Pack?” I jerked my head up so fast, I nearly gave myself whiplash.

Jodi held her ground. “You didn’t think we’d expect you to commute every day, did you?” She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the desk. “That’s a good two hours each way, and God knows how long it would take you with all the construction going on now.”

Jodi’s patronizing tone nearly snapped my self-control.

“There’s no reason for you to commute,” Jodi continued. “Dan has enough room and all the equipment you’ll need. And since you’ll be in residence, theoretically you can work on his therapy twenty-four-seven. Which is a good thing, because he’s really eager to get better.”

“Twenty-four-seven?” I screeched. “Jodi, I have a life. I don’t want to be cooped up in a house with Dan McMullen.”

“I said theoretically.” Jodi sighed. “It’s not like you’re going to be held prisoner.” She chuckled. “Hell, if I was thirty, blond, and had a body like yours, I’d volunteer for the assignment myself.” She sat back in her chair. “Think of it as a vacation. He has a pool, a hot tub, and acres of land. It’ll be like being at your own private spa.” Jodi paused for, what I’m sure was, dramatic effect. “By the time you come back, we’ll have the partnership papers drawn up and ready to sign.”

“You expect me to agree to this?”

“I believe you already have.” Her tone was more confident than the look in her eyes.

“What about my other clients?”

“All taken care of.” My angst must have been apparent because Jodi’s look softened. “Sabrina, you have nothing to worry about. Everything will work out. You’ll see.” She flashed a brilliant smile. “As you said yourself, I have everything figured out. Right?”

I smiled sickly. “You seem to.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to ask the answer lady how I was going to survive living under the same roof with Dan McMullen. But of course, I didn’t.

* * *

Dan

I checked the clock for the fifth time in as many minutes. When Jodi told me Sabrina would be arriving today, I’d assumed she meant sometime in the morning. That just proves the old saying about what happens when you assume.

I still can’t believe that at some point today Sabrina Kelly and I will be in the same room together for the first time in ten years. My thoughts are scattering in so many directions, I’m not sure which one to focus on first. Not a day has gone by in the last decade that I haven’t thought about her, wanted to reach out to her. But it was never the right time. Or maybe I was just a coward.

Busting my knee may keep me off the field this season, but it’s also given me the chance I need to get Sabrina into my life again. After my team-assigned therapist and I had a difference of opinion on my rehab, I grabbed the opportunity to contact the rehabilitation center Sabrina works for and set things in motion. Her manager, Jodi, was more than willing to do anything necessary to make me a client. Without getting into detail, I told her that Sabrina probably wouldn’t be happy with the assignment, but Jodi assured me she’d take care of everything.

Maybe the fact that Sabrina agreed to do this means that she’s forgiven me. Or maybe it just means Jodi made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Either way, I’m going to do everything I can to make her mine again.

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