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wouldn t take advantage of her desire.
She eased off his lap and knelt down in front of him, caressing him through his dress pants. She kissed
her way up his leg, wishing they could close up shop and go home for the day. She wanted to please him.
He deserved every bit of her attention.
A loud knock rapped on the door.  Liam, you in there?
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They both jumped. Elisa shot to her feet, exchanging a concerned look with Liam. When had Justin
arrived? Why wasn t he at the hospital?
Another knock.  Answer me if you are, man. I need to talk to you. It s important.
They hurried to straighten their clothing and regain their composure. Elisa s heart pounded. Her
brother s voice had only contained that much doom twice before long ago when she d told him she was
pregnant, and a week ago when he had burst into the hospital after Laura had gone into premature labor.
She prayed nothing had happened to Caleb.
 Yeah, come on in, Liam called.
Justin appeared in the doorway, looking so disheveled that Elisa wondered when he d last taken a
shower. His face fell even further when he saw her standing there, but he seemed too distracted to care
about the unprofessional implications of her being in Liam s office with the door closed.
 I need you to leave, he said promptly.  I have to talk to Liam.
Uh-oh. Maybe her brother did suspect something.
 Justin, I 
 Go! he barked.  Don t even think about arguing with me. You re lucky you still have a job.
Dark circles shadowed Justin s eyes, and he looked like he hadn t shaved in a week. Liam forced
himself to stay in his chair despite the way Justin paced, rubbing his eyes and then his chin. After the way
he d kicked out Elisa, Liam wasn t sure he wanted to be on the receiving end of whatever his boss and he
hoped, still his friend had to say next.
 Liam, man& I don t know how to say this.
 Look, if it s about Elisa, we 
Justin waved.  I don t care about that. In fact, if it were any other time, I d be thrilled. That s not why
I m here.
What was going on in Justin s head if it had nothing to do with his relationship with Elisa? If the bad
news involved Caleb, she would have been included in the conversation.
Liam leaned forward.  Why don t you sit down? You ve got a lot going on. There s no need to beat
around the bush.
Justin stopped pacing and raised his hands in despair.  That s just it. I need you at the clinic right
now, and I have to do something awful to you.
His heart beat a little faster. Had Justin changed his mind about the partnership?
Finally, Justin sat.  All right, look. There are rumors going around town.
A nauseating taste settled in Liam s mouth. He didn t know people well enough to be included in the
grapevine, so he hadn t heard what they were saying beyond Mrs. Dale s refusal to let him treat Rainbow.
But he had seen a few nasty looks thrown in his direction, the ones he kept hoping he d imagined.
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Please, don t let this happen again. Not after I lost my mother. Lost my child.
 Your reputation is in the dumpster, Justin continued, his voice pained.  That s why a lot of our
regular clients have stopped coming in. It s not my business who you re seeing, but I ve heard a few of
them saw you at the Fourth of July party with both Alexis and Elisa. At that point you were interesting
enough to cyber-stalk, so they looked you up and found the story about the girl at the university. Are you
telling me you haven t heard any of this?
Liam was nauseous. He hated the way technology no longer let a person have a private life or leave
anything behind. He began to understand why Elisa wasn t thrilled with life in Windy Flats.
He plunged a hand through his hair.  I can t say that I have. I ve been in here most of the time,
running the clinic while you ve been away. You know things have been slow? The guy didn t need this
when he had a newborn son in the hospital.
 I ve seen the books. I know you and Elisa didn t want to bother me, but I ve been checking up on
things. Justin sighed and collapsed against the back of the chair.  This mess& it s killing our business,
Liam.
His stomach dropped.  You don t believe that garbage, do you? I told you the truth about what
happened to me. And I d never screw around on Elisa. I haven t screwed around with a twenty-year-old
since I was a kid myself.
 It s not that I believe the rumors. I don t, actually. The problem is that everyone else in town does.
People really think you could be some criminal who hurt that girl and got away with it. Most of the time
this is a great place, but the people here are pretty conservative. You get on their bad side, and it s&  He
gestured an explosion in midair.
 All right, I get it. It s fine if you want to hold off on legalizing the partnership until this blows over.
Justin s expression turned sick.  It s not just that. I need you to& I need to ask you to resign.
 What? For how long? But Liam hadn t even needed to ask the question. The look on Justin s face
said it all.  You want me to leave. For good.
 I m really, really sorry. Any other time maybe we could work something out, but I ve got a wife and
three kids to support. I ve got a baby in the hospital and medical bills through the roof. We ve lost more [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]