She couldn’t be late, she thought, not for this interview. She’d finally convinced the hospital to consider changes to the emergency room procedures—mostly to add a new position for an overnight intake nurse—and the woman who had first proposed, and held, that position in a New York hospital was in town for a conference.
Mary Stanton was willing to sit down with Thea for an hour, and only an hour, between sessions. And Thea had underestimated how long it would take her to get out of the hospital and down to the Convention Center.
She raced across the yellow light at Georgia and Burrard and down the hill toward the brand new Convention Center. She kept her head down, battling her umbrella, and cursing the heels she’d put on to impress Ms. Stanton.
“Damn,” she whispered, as she stepped off a curb, splashed into a puddle, and fell into the arms of a giant.
A strong arm pulled her back off the street and a low, dark voice spoke into her ear. “Are you okay? You almost took a tumble there, right into traffic.”
Thea looked up, way up, into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen.
“I’m fine,” she said. “But I’m going to be late,” and she took off, wobbling a little on her heels, one of which felt a bit loose. She’d forgotten to thank the man but she didn’t have time to turn back. She raced across Thurlow on another yellow light, feeling but ignoring the large presence behind her.
A big, warm hand came from behind her, reaching to tuck her arm in his. “Where are we going?” he asked, pleasantly.
“We are going nowhere,” Thea insisted. “I’m going to a meeting at the Convention Center.” She glanced down at her watch. “And I’m late.”
“Come along, then,” he said, and helped her push through the umbrella-laden crowds until they reached the Convention Center. “Where’s your meeting?”
Scanning the crowds, Thea spotted a woman standing next to the coffee bar. “There.” She pointed at the woman.
“I’ll wait here,” the man said. “How long will you be?”
Against her better judgment, Thea smiled up at him and said, “An hour.” She turned back once to see him leaning against a pillar, his arms crossed over his chest, and a patient look on his face.
He would wait. She was certain of it.
Gabe grinned as the woman raced across the carpet. He suspected she often ran late, and was quite certain she was always in a hurry. Exactly the opposite to him and that was likely a good thing. His partner often chided him for standing when he should be moving.
But Gabe had learned patience from his grandfather, learned that there were times when thinking, when waiting, when avoiding action, was as good a move as racing into something.
And that had stood him in good stead when he decided to join the police force, and had helped propel him into the organized crime division. He wasn’t hasty, far more tortoise than hare, but his partner, James?
He was the hare, no question.
James ran sprints rather than marathons, and always wanted to leap right in rather than contemplate the possibilities. He talked fast, ate fast, fell in and out of relationships with the speed of light, or at least he used to fall in and then right back out.
They made a great team.
Gabe had just flown back to Vancouver from Calgary where he’d been best man at the wedding of James and Gretchen. James had known her all his life and, though he’d never spoken to Gabe about it, had pined for her since high school. It had taken him almost fifteen years after high school to ask her out, and only six months after that to convince her to marry him.
Moving to Calgary to be with her wasn’t even a question. He’d submitted his resignation the moment she said yes, and now, when Gabe wanted to see him, he’d have to fly across the Rockies to do it.
James had already managed to get Gretchen pregnant and their excitement at starting a family was almost—but not quite—tempting Gabe to think about doing the same, or at least considering it as a possibility. But his job was dangerous, not to mention the long hours and total disappearances when he was undercover, and no woman in her right mind would be interested in getting involved with him.
His partner had been smart enough to get out of it as soon as he saw the possibility of a long-term committed relationship.
Maybe, Gabe thought, somewhere there was the woman for him. But he’d been sampling for a long time and hadn’t even come close to finding her. He’d given up on the idea of a permanent relationship and settled for the temporary.
And the woman he’d run into on the street?
She was exactly his type.
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