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Straight from the Heart (Loveswept) Mass Market Paperback – July 31, 2007
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"Jace Cooper's coming back to town!"
Rebecca Bradshaw's hand slipped on the edge of the whirlpool, and she dropped her clipboard into the churning water. Water splashed up onto the newspaper her patient, Bob Wilkes, held open just above the surface and sprayed onto the front of her white smock.
"Hey!" Yanking his paper out of the way, Bob gave her an indignant look. "Jeez, Rebecca, what if that had been a radio or a hair dryer or something?"
She frowned, more at her reaction to the news about Jace Cooper that Bob had read aloud than at him. "You would have gotten a free hairdo. May I have my board back, please?"
Bob's wide mouth lifted in the comic leer he had used on her on a regular basis over the last few months of his physical therapy. "Why don't you come and get it, beautiful?"
Rebecca slanted him a look. "Fork it over, Romeo, or I'll put you back on the tilt table and spin that thing like a roulette wheel."
Wilkes handed her the dripping clipboard with its sheaf of soggy papers. "You're heartless, a sadist."
"Flattery will get you nowhere," she said. As she tried to blot her notes and her sweater with a towel, unbidden thoughts of Jace Cooper tormented her. She quelled the urge she had to pump Bob for more information.
But as if he'd read her mind, he went on. "It says here that Cooper's being sent down to the Mavericks. He'll be playing here in Mishawaka if he can get his knee back in shape." Wilkes shook his head. "How do you like that? The guy gives the Chicago Kings six and a half great seasons. He's been an All-Star, he's been a Golden Glove winner. Now he gets wracked up, and they pack him off to the minors without so much as a fond farewell. He goes from the big show back to Class A ball overnight. That stinks."
"I imagine they got sick of his shenanigans off the field," Dominique LeGault said as she worked with a patient on the mat table.
Rebecca glanced up at her coworker. Dominique was a woman of rare and exotic beauty. She was a long-limbed six footer, with skin the color of cafe au lait and almond-shaped eyes that reflected her mother's Cherokee heritage.
Dominique shook her head, her wild cloud of black hair bouncing behind her. "With all his partying, practical jokes, and publicity stunts, that man was in and out of more trouble than the rest of his team put together."
"What a guy does on his time is his own business," Wilkes declared. "Which reminds me, Rebecca, do you want to watch a movie with me tonight?" He chuckled mischievously. "Bimbos Galore is now available on videocassette."
"As much as I've been waiting for that, I'll have to pass," she said firmly. "You know I don't date patients, Bob."
"Bad policy," he muttered.
It was a policy Rebecca had adhered to strictly during her nine years as a physical therapist. The one exception she had made to that rule—Jace Cooper—had turned out to be the biggest mistake of her life.
She pushed the thought from her mind as she abandoned her ruined notes and went to a cabinet against the far wall of the exercise room to get out the toolbox and the coffee can of miscellaneous screws, nuts, bolts, and pins. She had a patient with a spinal cord injury coming in an hour to make her first attempt at using the parallel bars, and the bars had to be adjusted.
Rebecca told herself she had no time to reflect on the news that Jace Cooper was coming back to town. What did she care? She didn't. The news had just surprised her, that was all.
"Jace Cooper," Mrs. Krumhansle, Dominique's patient, mused aloud. She scratched a hand back through her steel gray hair. "Isn't he the cute one with the ash blond hair and the great fanny?"
Dominique's hoarse laugh filled the air. "That's him."
"Good glove. Swings a mean bat when he wants to. I'll have to renew my season ticket."
"It seems to me we're doing a lot more talking than working in here today," Rebecca said sharply.
Bob Wilkes gave a low whistle and hid behind his newspaper. Dominique's exotic black eyes focused on Rebecca's from across the room. Rebecca dodged the question in her friend's gaze.
Concentrating on the task at hand, she squatted down and began to work on the piece of therapy equipment. She certainly had better things to think of than some overage adolescent getting kicked off his team. She had her next patient to think of. She had the proposed expansion of the physical therapy department to think of. She wondered if there was any way she was going to be able to talk the hospital board into providing a separate hydrotherapy room. She wondered what Jace Cooper had done to his knee.
"No, no, Rebecca," she muttered under her breath, shaking her head so her glossy black hair swung back and forth above her shoulders.
It upset her that the mere mention of the man could throw her into such a mental tailspin. Jace Cooper had ceased to be a part of her life. She had accepted that fact, had dealt with it. It wasn't as if she'd been carrying a torch for him. She'd dated other men over the years, had enjoyed other relationships. Jace Cooper didn't mean anything to her. He didn't matter a whit, not one iota.
Not more than ten feet away from her, the door to the therapy room was pushed open by Dr. Cornish.
Rebecca's gaze landed on the man resting on crutches beside the doctor.
He had the lean, tough good looks of an alley cat who'd won more fights than he'd lost. His hair was a little shaggy, dark at the roots but gradually lightening to a distinctive silver blond at the ends. Navy blue eyes stared at her from beneath dark brows.
As her heart went into a frenzied dance, Rebecca bolted to her feet, hitting her head on the bar. She dropped her screwdriver and upended the coffee can. Hardware spilled onto the smooth floor. Nuts and washers skittered off in all directions.
A tiny smile lifted one corner of Jace Cooper's mouth. "Well, Becca," he said softly, "you never were the mechanical one in your family."
"No." Rebecca's eyes burned with an emerald fire as she stared at Dr. Donald Cornish.
At five feet ten inches, she had no need to lift her head to look the balding, middle-aged doctor in the eye. She wasn't intimidated either by his disgruntled expression or by the tag on his white jacket that identified him as head of orthopedics.
Even though Rebecca was only thirty, she was the boss in physical therapy and everyone at the hospital knew it. Besides, she thought as she glanced out the window of her office at the man who was holding court in the exercise room, she would have stared down the devil himself to get out of working with Jace Cooper.
She watched as he grinned and laughed at something Bob Wilkes said. Jace had the kind of charm that attracted people to him. Everyone automatically liked him. He was charismatic. He was dangerous.
A shudder skidded through Rebecca's body. At first she labeled it as loathing. No, she corrected herself, not quite able to tear her gaze from the man, she was coming down with something. A spring cold, she decided. She felt dizzy, weak, feverish, and chilled at the same time. She definitely felt a cold coming on. She stubbornly refused to accept the fact that the symptoms had appeared the instant Jace Cooper had hobbled back into her life after nearly seven years. He couldn't have that kind of effect on her, not after all this time.
"Dominique or Max can work with him, or he can go elsewhere. I don't want anything to do with him."
"Why not?" Dr. Cornish asked in a West Texas drawl that sounded very out of place in Mishawaka, Indiana. Already he had given up acting tough. Rebecca knew it just wasn't in him. Donald Cornish was by nature an amiable sort.
Why not, he'd asked. She glanced away once again. This time her gaze ran head-on into a pair of dark blue eyes. Why not? There were a million reasons she didn't want Jace Cooper as a patient, a million reasons she never wanted to see him again. There was a reason to go with each piece of the heart he had so thoroughly broken seven years ago.
Her logical, analytical mind was shocked at how fresh, how sharp, the pain seemed. She wasn't the kind of person who nursed a grudge, but seeing Jace again had wrenched open a door to the past she would rather have left nailed shut.
"Rebecca, do you have any idea who that is?" Cornish asked in a plaintive tone. "That's Jace Cooper, third baseman for the Chicago Kings. Do you have any idea how I love the Kings?"
"Donald, I don't want to hear about your personal perversions," she said with a hint of the dry humor he was used to hearing from her. "Take them up to the fifth floor. I'm sure Dr. Baxter could make room for you on his couch. As for Jace Cooper, I don't give a rat's posterior what he does. I'm too busy to work him into my schedule."
"I suppose it doesn't matter to you that he's going to be playing with the Mavericks until he gets himself back in top form. Do you know what that could mean to the Mavericks, your own hometown team?"
Her expression clearly told him exactly how much it meant to her. "Then let the Mavericks take care of him."
"You know full well the Mavericks' idea of a knowledgeable trainer is a guy whose brother used to empty bedpans at the VA hospital." Dr. Cornish affected a somewhat resigned air as he took a step away from Rebecca and shoved his hands into the pockets of his brown trousers. "Mr. Cooper specifically requested you as his therapist."
"Well, tough. Tell Mr. Cooper that for once in his life he isn't going to get what he wants. There are hundreds of qualified physical therapis...
Top Customer Reviews
The story itself is formula romance and that's exactly why I chose it. It works perfectly in it's genre. Definitely worth the time.
Seven years ago, Jace Cooper and Becca Bradshaw defined ‘hot couple.’ However, Jace had a chance at one of the major league baseball teams and he left Becca to follow his dream. Now he’s back with a serious knee injury that could sideline him forever – and he wants his former physical therapist to work her magic again.
Becca is not of a mind to walk down that path; once was enough. Jace promises that he has changed but Becca has a long memory and clearly remembers Jace’s trail of broken promises.
I just felt there weren't enough subplots to keep the story interesting. The story was predictable and slow moving.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was an easy read, not quite what i was looking for. I love Tami Hoag, but i prefer her wonderful thriller/ mystery novels. Just my personal choice!
I did not care for this book. i enjoyed other books by Tami Hoag, but I did not like this one.Published on April 28, 2014 by Lily Bridges
Love Tami Hoag's books.....didn't want to put it down...From the 1st page I was caught up in the intrigue. I recommend it.Published on January 11, 2014 by Susan McEwan
I have been a fan of Tami hoag for years! Always enjoy another one! Will be reading her books for a long time to come.Published on July 19, 2013 by Amazon Customer
it was too predictable and not as good as her mystery books. read 2 other of her romances and thought the same thingPublished on June 23, 2013 by Marta V Renna
It was pretty good but one of her best. Liked her mysteries better although I have read other romance novels by Tami that were greatPublished on May 25, 2013 by BOBBI MICHAEL
Hoag does it again! I found this author several years ago and I enjoy her tales. This is a must read!! Get it now!Published on February 24, 2013 by Zee