Perfect Fit (Serendipity's Finest) - By Carly Phillips Page 0,1
beautiful skin, it didn’t affect her good looks at all. Wavy auburn hair curled naturally around her face, adding to her youthful appearance.
“Hey, family!” His sister Erin’s voice sounded from the entryway.
“In here,” Mike called back, then winced because his father was sleeping.
“Dad’s snoring,” Erin said, striding into the kitchen with a box in hand. “A hurricane couldn’t wake him.”
“That’s because I gave him a painkiller a little while ago. His back was hurting,” Ella said.
Mike pushed past the fear in his throat. The old man was strong. He would pull through. “What kind of cake did you bring?”
“Angel food. Dad’s favorite.”
Of course. Erin was always the good girl, doing the right thing without being asked. Mike could barely remember to get himself someplace on time, let alone bring something with him.
His sister placed the white bakery box on the counter. “Hi, Mom,” she said, pecking her cheek. “Big brother.” She grinned and pulled him into a hug.
She nudged him in the ribs with her elbow. “Jerk.”
“Enough!” Ella yelled at them like they were naughty kids, and Erin laughed.
“It’s just so easy to fall back into it.” She shook her head and grinned. Erin was a true mixture of both parents. Their mother’s once-dark hair was now auburn with reddish highlights, and Erin’s was naturally so with Simon’s hazel eyes. Eyes that now danced with laughter. “So where’s Sam?” she asked.
“Your brother isn’t here yet.” Ella glanced at the clock on the oven and frowned. “He’s late, and that’s not like him. Is he working a shift today? Maybe he got held up.” She looked to Mike for the answer, since he was now his brother’s boss.
“Not that I know of, unless he switched with someone.”
“Well, let’s sit down in here for a little while and wait. Give your father some more time to sleep.” Ella gestured to the Formica table and they all grabbed a seat, same chairs they’d each eaten in growing up.
“How’s Dad doing?” Erin asked. “You mentioned back pain?”
Ella nodded. “The doctor said he might try radiation this week instead of waiting until later on. It’s supposed to shrink the tumor and help with the pain. But he’s handling the chemo well enough. And his spirit is amazing,” she said with obvious pride.
“What about you?” Mike asked his mother, reaching for her hand.
She immediately waved him off. “I’m fine, Michael. I’m not the one who’s sick.”
Mike shot his sister a knowing look. Their mother acted like Superwoman, stepping up and handling everything without complaint. Perfection personified, Mike thought. But he knew she had to be exhausted. He opened his mouth to argue that she needed rest too, but Erin shook her head, telling him to let it go.
Fine, he’d listen for now, but at some point his mother would have to give in and let someone else help her out for a change.
Suddenly the telephone rang, and Ella rose to answer it.
“Don’t pressure her. She likes feeling needed,” Erin whispered as their mother spoke on the phone. “I’m coming over to sit with Dad one day this week so she can go get her hair done. Sam promised to play chess with Dad one afternoon this week. She’s getting breaks.”
“Why didn’t anyone ask me to help out?” he asked, too petulantly for his liking. The fact that he hadn’t thought to relieve his mother had him feeling out of sorts and selfish. As usual, he’d fallen short compared to his siblings. So what else was new?
“We figured you had your hands full taking Dad’s place and getting up to speed,” Erin said.
“It’s been a month. I’m as up as I’m going to get. The rest depends on everyone accepting how I want to do things.” He’d have made time for his mother. He was about to say as much when Ella returned.
One look at her pale face and Mike shot to his feet. “What’s wrong?” he asked, placing a bracing arm around her shoulder.
Erin came around her other side. “Mom?”
“Sam’s been in an accident.”
Heart pounding hard in his chest, Mike eased his mother into the nearest chair. “What happened?”
“That was Cara,” she said of Sam’s partner. “His car crashed into a tree. He’s at University Hospital now.”
“Cara was with him?” Mike knew for a fact they weren’t on duty today, but it wasn’t surprising they were together. Those two made a mockery of the notion that men and women couldn’t be just friends.
It was Mike who couldn’t just be Cara’s friend, not after an explosive