By Geri Krotow
Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Books S.A.
“I’m going to miss working with you.” Lucas looked at her over his cup of tea. Their morning briefings usually included Tanya, but she was off-island for the day.
“I’ll miss you, too.” Val was grateful her voice didn’t crack. Their professional-only relationship would never be enough for her.
She took a sip from her mug before she opened the case folder in front of her. She perused it, then slid it across her desk toward Lucas.
“It’s a family of two—a mom and her young son. He hasn’t been able to trust another adult besides his mom, and they’ve had some issues with him in kindergarten. His dad died two years ago.”
“Most of the families we’ve worked with come here sooner after their loss.”
“Our clients come when they’re ready to come.”
His gaze lingered a beat longer than necessary on her face.
Damn. Her distress at his leaving, their undeniable attraction for one another, her frustration at not being able to expect more from him, was coming out sideways.
“I sound like a complete bitch. I’m sorry. I’m not being fair. You’ve seen as much as anyone here. You’re right. This family waited a long while. “
He smiled and she forgot what they were talking about it.
“It’s not just you, Val,” he said. She wanted to grasp a deeper meaning in his words but didn’t dare.
Lucas sighed. “I’ve spent the last three years dealing one-on-one with returning vets who’ve suffered unimaginable losses and traumas. I’m used to getting in and treating the mental damage as fast as possible, before it has a chance to become debilitating. It’s still hard to shake my urge to lean toward going for the ‘quick fix,’ even after several months at BTS.”
“You’ve done wonderfully. It’s almost as if you were meant to be here.”
Her words seemed to hang there, and she blushed.
“I’m not saying—”
“Don’t explain, Val. I understand.” He stood up. “Mind if I take this and study it for the next half hour before we meet with them?”
“Of course not. That’s why I pulled it. Here are the three additional families we’ll be welcoming this week, two tomorrow and one on Wednesday.”
“You said the pace would stay fast and furious when I arrived six months ago. It’s only increased over the spring.” There was that maddening smile again.
“Good thing you love what you do.”
“You’ve got me there.”
Lucas turned and left the office, and Val let her attention drift down to his backside.
Two more weeks.
She’d be able to relax again, not constantly on vigil against her feelings for Lucas.
Of course, he’d be gone then, possibly forever. There’d been no talk of any future together and realistically, they faced too many obstacles. She knew all that. And yet…
She spoke to the empty office; Maggie was out of sight. San Juan Island in the twenty-first century wasn’t Regency England, but she needed a chaperone. Only two weeks until Lucas’s contract was fulfilled. She suspected he’d be gone as fast as the weather changed on the island. At least she’d be able to breathe again. Staying professional while fighting her attraction to Lucas had become too difficult.