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“Eleven a.m. We ask that you arrive fifteen minutes before your scheduled time.”

“Okay.” Whitney listened to the rest of the preexam instructions, then disconnected the call. Sliding her feet back into her ballet flats under her desk, she headed toward her boss’s office. She rarely asked for time off, so she shouldn’t be as nervous about it as she was.

What excuse could she give for needing the day off when they were right in the middle of contract negotiations with the producers and designing the calendar for the upcoming year? Admitting to a doctor’s appointment would cause concern, and a personal day always raised suspicion.

She paused outside the mayor’s office door that was slightly ajar. Hearing voices inside, she turned to leave, but she stopped at hearing Scott speak.

“I’m just not sure I’m ready to take over this responsibility yet.”

Whitney’s pulse raced, and she leaned closer.

“Of course you are,” Mayor Rodale said. “With your degree and experience, you are the most qualified candidate—it’s a no-brainer decision.”

“I’ve only been back here for six months…how will it look to the residents here?”

She held her breath.

“Everyone in town loves you. They love our family. They also see the need for some changes around here, and so do I.”

Shit. What was going on? Had Scott used her mistakes to steal her job? Or had the pitch presentation solidified him as a more capable head of marketing and tourism? Either way, it certainly sounded as though she was soon to be replaced.

“Whitney…um, I think they are in a private meeting,” Kim said behind her.

She turned quickly and hurried away from the door as Kim stepped forward to close it.

Obviously, the mayor’s niece knew what this private meeting was about. And she didn’t want Whitney hearing it. “Oh, yeah…I can talk to her later. It’s not important,” she said, rushing past the receptionist and back into her office.

At her desk, she forced several deep breaths.

Just relax. They can’t fire you for no reason or over a few mistakes.

Had Scott told his mother that she was sick? She never should have let her guard down and trusted him. How many times in her life did she need proof that she could depend on no one before she stopped taking chances on people?

She sat straighter and reached for her cell phone.

Forget taking the day off, she was now more determined than ever to prove she was still the best at her job. She’d get those contracts back toRace Across Americaby lunch and then design the entire calendar herself before she left for the day.

Dialing the medical clinic, she waited for the options.

“…to cancel an existing appointment, press two…”

Whitney pressed two.

Arriving back in town just in time for football practice, Trent grabbed his gear from the back of his Jeep and climbed out.

Wes’s truck pulled into the lot next to him, and he waited for his co-coach. “You made it,” Wes said as he got out and locked the doors.

“Yeah, the errand didn’t take as long as I thought it would.” Marla and Dr. Taylor at Rejuvenation had been relieved at the decision to hire a personal nurse for Lydia, and paying the full year’s cost had been more than appreciated by the senior facility. He felt really good about the decision. He just needed to find the best way to tell Whitney so that she didn’t freak out and get upset with him.

It had been a risk doing it without consulting her, but he hoped it was one of those times when the crime could be forgiven based on the sincerity of the intent.

“Hey, man, unfortunately I’m not going to need your help with the new location renovation after all,” Trent said as he and Wes crossed the football field.

Wes frowned as he readjusted the duffel bag on his shoulder. “Decided not to buy?”

“For now.” Eventually he’d still like to expand, but there was no rush now that he’d relieved some of Whitney’s financial burden a different way. “Just think it’s probably best to focus on the locations I have,” he said. He didn’t want to tell anyone where the savings had been relocated to. It wasn’t anyone else’s business.

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