It Must Be Fate
By Lacey Wolfe
Sometimes the past becomes the future.
Sandy Collins hadn’t thought about him is years. Not since their engagement had been broken. She’d built up her life and was a successful nurse. She didn’t lead the most exciting life, but she was happy. However that all changed at one staff meeting.
After the passing of his grandmother, Daniel and his daughter Keri have moved back to town and take up residence in her house. Things are looking up after several rough years, and on his first day of work at his new job, he gets an unexpected surprise—in walks a nurse he could never forget.
When Sandy comes to face-to-face with the man who tore her heart apart all those years ago, she finds herself in a mix of emotions. As much as she tries to fight it, the attraction is still there. Daniel makes it’s clear that he’s sorry and he wants another shot, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes.
Can Sandy resist when it seems as though fate is stepping in?
Read Chapter One:
A cool shiver swept up Sandy’s spine as she dipped her big toe into the lake behind her house. Removing her foot, she took a deep breath, enjoying the scent of morning flowers. The sun warmed her face.
She turned and glanced around, as she always did, before slipping her robe off for an early-morning swim—naked. This was her secret—a way to let loose from her usually tightly scheduled life. Sure, she could wear a swimsuit, but being completely nude just felt so enlightening. Freedom perhaps.
For the most part, her property was private. She lived at the end of the road. Only one house was next to hers, and it had been vacant for quite some time. The lawn was full of tall weeds, the bushes overgrown. A few of the windows had boards over them. The house sat there all alone and forgotten.
As usual, no one was around to observe her private daily ritual. Sandy removed the robe, tossed it behind her, and grinned as she always did. Entering the chilly water at a leisurely pace, she waited until she was waist deep before beginning to swim. As the water engulfed her body with each stroke, she felt free from life’s everyday demands. She needed this—it was her way of coping with her work roster. The unpredictable shifts, on constant rotation, were doing nothing for her love life.
In fact, when was the last time she’d been on a date? A month ago, maybe two? She kicked her legs faster. It had probably been longer than that.
Once she was in the middle of the lake, she began to tread water and float in place. She closed her eyes for a few moments. When she reopened them, she gazed at the trees swaying in the breeze and finally back toward her home. Something caught her attention at the house next door. A girl stood on the back porch looking right at her. She appeared to be about nine, maybe ten.
Sandy wiped her eyes, wondering if she was really seeing someone over there. When she looked back at the house, no one was there. Had she imagined it? Letting out a sigh and feeling creeped out, she swam back quickly. If someone were over there, she would need to get out of the lake and inside her home before they came out to chat. Imagine that—her butt-naked and having new neighbors wanting to come introduce themselves.
As she made her way back to shallow water, she said a silent prayer no one would see her as she climbed out and wrapped her robe around her. Without a backward glance, she sprinted to her house, up the back steps, and inside to safety.
* * *
“Well, what do you think?” Daniel turned toward his preteen daughter, Keri.
“It’s nice, but did great-grandma die in here?”
“No, honey, she didn’t. She lived a long and wonderful life. By the time she got sick, she was already in the nursing home, which is where she passed away.”
“It was probably a better environment than mom had at that ice-cold hospital.”
Taking in a deep breath, he nodded. Janet had been gone for two years now. His heart had mostly healed from the loss, but he was never really sure how Keri’s was doing. One day she was happy and the next she wasn’t. And it didn’t help one bit that she was hitting those years when she really needed a woman in her life to explain all the things happening to her body.
“I think it’s nice. It’s private and quiet out here. Though, a woman was swimming in the lake a little while ago. I think she was naked.”
“Don’t be silly. Who in the world would swim naked in a lake?”
She shrugged. “It’s what I saw.”
“Maybe you need to get your eyes checked.” He kissed her forehead. “Let’s go. I need to get you to school and contact the movers.”
“All right. But my vision is perfect.”
He gave her a stern look. “No need to argue.” He was not looking forward to the teen years one bit.
Two hours later, he had everything scheduled with a company that could pack up their stuff the next weekend and deliver it. They’d still drive back to make sure things went smoothly, but he was ready for this transition to be over. He did miss his grandmother deeply, but he also couldn’t wait finally to have a place for him and Keri to call their own.
Hopefully they were on their way to a new start. Daniel couldn’t believe he had landed a job so quickly. It felt as though everything was finally lining up just right.
Speaking of jobs, he was due to stop by and formally meet the staff. It was an hour until lunch. To get on his new team’s good side, perhaps he’d stop and pick up a few pizzas. He was all about making a good first impression.
After finding a pizza shop, he drove a block to his new work. He entered the office, and a woman behind a glass window perked up. “Oh my, that smells really good.”
“I’m glad. I’m here to deliver lunch.”
“Well, let me get out of this chair and open the door for you.” The door opened right away and as he stepped through, he heard the woman holler toward the back of the clinic. “Hot delivery man on his way, ladies. Line up for a look!”
Daniel laughed. “Which way to the employee room?”
“Three doors to your left. I’m going to go put up a sign that I’ll be back momentarily. I intend to get some of that food before it’s gone.”
Entering the employee workroom, he glanced around for a place to set the food. He spotted a large table near a whiteboard. He laid the boxes down on a faux wood table, then nervously tapped his fingers on the hard surface while waiting for the staff to arrive.
The woman he’d met up front walked into the room. “You’re not a delivery boy, are you?”
He shook his head, not wanting to say too much if Dr. Hancock hadn’t said anything. “No.”
“Let me go see what the holdup is. Not sure how the smell of this food doesn’t have them flocking in here.” She disappeared out the doorway.
A pretty brunette with a rounded belly entered and made a beeline for the pizza without sparing him a second glance. Moments later, several others followed. No one said anything; they just took their seats and stared at him. This was getting uncomfortable fast.
Then came Dr. Hancock. “Ah, Daniel, you shouldn’t have. But, I’m glad you did. I’m starving.” The older man turned to his staff. “Eat.”
“Is everyone here?” Daniel asked.
“Ah, all but Ms. Collins. I swear I just saw her. Wonder what’s keeping her.” Dr. Hancock put several pieces of pizza on a plate, then took his seat.
“Want to tell us who this man is, Dr. Hancock?” The pregnant one took another bite of pizza.
“This is Dr. Jacobs. I’ll be retiring soon, and he’s taking my place.”
“What!” A curvy woman exclaimed.
“I’m getting old. I want to travel.” Dr. Hancock brought a slice of pizza to his mouth.
“I’m very excited to be joining this team. I’ve heard wonderful things.” Daniel stood back as the staff got their food. “I’ll tell you a little about me. I’ve got a child who keeps me busy when not working. We’re in the process of moving from out of state. And I’m a huge college football fan. Please, introduce yourselves.”
“I’m Kim. You met me already.” The one from the reception gave him a nod. “And I like football as well as baseball.”
The pregnant one raised her hand. “I’m Molly, and I currently have a future soccer player in my stomach. That pretty much sums up my life at the moment.”
“Theresa.” The curvy woman held her hand up. “I’m not into sports at all. Though, I will watch the race every now and then.”
“All we’re missing is…” Dr. Hancock started, but then Daniel lost all focus when she walked in.
She hadn’t changed a bit in the past few years. Her long blonde hair was tied back in a dangling ponytail. Her green scrubs hugged her perfect body. Her blue eyes bore back at him. She must have recognized him as well.
“Daniel.” Sandy spoke in a whisper.
“Do you know our new head doctor?” Kim asked.
“Yeah, Dr. Hancock is retiring.”
Before Daniel could speak, Sandy raced out of the room.