A Time for Us - By Amy Knupp
First and foremost, a big thank-you to everyone who has picked up a book by me and read it. Without you, my excitement to write would seriously wane.
A special thanks to those who have written to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed one of my stories. Your words never fail to motivate me.
Thank you to Dr. Elizabeth Peck, who I’ve known for too many years to mention, for your patience and responsiveness in answering my medical/hospital/doctor questions for this story.
Thanks once again to Jim Davies for yet more answers to my still more questions about firefighting and emergency medicine.
Thanks to my mom and dad for being supportive of my writing aspirations ever since my second-grade teacher mentioned I had a knack for it. Mom, thanks for always being willing to brainstorm when I’m stumped, and Dad, thanks for being the comma patrol for all those years. Something somewhere must have stuck.
Thanks to my two boys for being amazing kids who have learned to cook and have saved me numerous times from having to stop writing to feed the fam.
Last and definitely not least, thank you, Justin, for being the person you are—understanding, patient, unselfish and the ideal partner in life for me.
CALE JACKSON SWORE he saw a ghost.
He blinked hard and looked back down the emergency room hallway from outside the big sliding door.
It was Rachel Culver, he realized, and started breathing again. Doctor Rachel Culver, it appeared.
Even once he identified her, he couldn’t help thinking she was a striking woman. She was the shorter-haired, serious version of the woman he’d loved. It seemed as if he knew Noelle’s twin sister better than he did because Noelle had talked about Rachel so much, with the pride, frustration and love only a twin sister could experience.
Once he recovered from his initial shock, he urged himself forward, helping his partner roll their patient from the ambulance into the hospital. Directly toward his once-almost sister-in-law, who was too absorbed in her clipboard to notice him.
Even though Rachel’s chin-length hair was shorter than Noelle’s had been, it was the same shiny golden color. Rachel’s current intense, focused expression had seldom been found on fun-loving Noelle’s face, but they’d shared round cheekbones, a narrow nose and those eyes....
Rafe Sandoval, who’d recently been promoted to paramedic captain on San Amaro Island, started briefing the triage nurse on the accident victim, who was currently in stable condition, as they walked. They wheeled him toward the room at the end as directed, then transferred him to the gurney. Cale slipped outside to start on the paperwork.
Rachel remained at the nurse’s station, her hair tucked behind her ear, attention focused on the papers in front of her. He walked up to the opposite side of the counter and debated with himself whether to call her by her first name or Dr. Culver. Before he could decide, she looked up.
Cale braced himself for the deep blue-green gaze, but still, it struck him like an electric current when their eyes met. Beautiful eyes so achingly familiar they made something inside him twist into a tight coil.
Rachel did a double take and put a hand to her chest. Her face registered shock for an instant before she was able to mask it, and she lowered her hand. Threw on a too-wide smile.
“Cale,” she said in a voice reminiscent of Noelle’s but...lower in pitch and volume. More restrained. Restrained wasn’t a word he’d ever used to describe his fiancée.
Rachel glanced at the emblem on his uniform shirt. “I didn’t realize you were an EMT.”
“I’m still a lieutenant for the fire department most days. We do medical rotations once a month.” He wasn’t sure why he had to throw in that he was an officer. As if he needed her to respect him or something. Some E.R. doctors tended to look down on EMTs, and he didn’t want that to be an issue between them. “And you finished med school. Congratulations.”
“I did. Mostly intact, even. I’m living at home with my mom for a while, though, so some days it seems like I’ve regressed.”
“Same thing happened to me whenever I used to go home to see my parents on the ranch. And that was only for a few days at a time.”
She frowned sympathetically, but Cale suspected that what she