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“Yes, can you believe it?”

“Do you want me to intervene?”

“I can’t ask that of you,” Bridget said, her heart rate increasing exponentially. Maybe she could.

“Yes, you can. Go home and let me handle this.”

“I’d better do this shift at least. I can’t leave them in a lurch.”

“I’ll walk you up. So anyway, I thought Mary said you went to Kabul? Why were you in Kandahar?”

“The civilian hospital was short staffed and they were desperate.”

They caught up on the elevator ride to the OR and made a date to have coffee in the morning. At the automatic doors, they kissed goodbye.

“We’re not getting involved,” Bridget said, walking backward away from him. “I can’t.”

“Do you love the father?”

“No. But I feel a loyalty to him now. He’s going to raise the baby while I’m gone. I owe him some fidelity.”

“Well, I’d say he’s the luckiest guy around then. But you’ll still have coffee with me?”

“I’ll still have coffee with you.”

The night flew by. They had a craniotomy when some idiot ran into the guy while he was changing a tire. Bridget left the unit and Mary waved to her. “See you tonight at seven,” she said.

Bridget smiled and said under her breath, “Don’t count on it.”

She was sitting at a diner in Oceanside, having breakfast with Alex Elgrim when her phone beeped.

“Crap. It’s the hospital.”

“It’s all good, sweetheart. Jennifer Bailey owes me big-time and all she did was tell Mary her quota of officers to civilian nurses was off. They needed another officer to balance the scale.”

She looked at him sidelong and answered the call.

“It’s Mary. You will not believe this.”

“What did I do now?” she asked, winking at Alex.

“I need you on days, pronto. The Inspector General is coming through next week and we need more officer RNs on staff. I’m switching one of the civilian nurses to nights.”

“Oh, she must be thrilled with me!”

“She’s okay with it. Something about a babysitter issue. So come back tomorrow, seven a.m., okay?”

“Okay! See you tomorrow.”

She ended the call and sat back, satisfied. “Wow, Alex. Thank you so much. I even believed the story.”

“I do feel kinda guilty because they’ll be busting ass to get the OR ready for an inspection.” He took a drink of coffee. “So. Tell me about your guy.”

She had to dig a little bit because truthfully, she hadn’t allowed Luke’s wonderful qualities to make an impression on her. Making it about that, about how kind he was, the artist in him, those kinds of things were easy to repeat to Alex. His eagerness to take on the role of father and caregiver when he didn’t know her from Adam had made an impact.

“He loves me too, and we will be friends. Right now, I can’t say it will ever be more than that but it might change. I could fall in love with him.”

“Wow, he must really love you then. Most guys would have told you to fuck off, I’m afraid.”