Home > Just One Look (Escape to New Zealand, #14)

Just One Look (Escape to New Zealand, #14)
Author: Rosalind James

 


Escape to New Zealand: Past Characters

 

 

Sir Andrew (Drew) Callahan, Hannah Montgomery Callahan. JUST THIS ONCE (Bk 1). Drew, a former blindside flanker (No. 6) for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks, and the two-time Rugby World Cup-winning captain of the All Blacks, is coaching rugby in the Bay of Plenty; Hannah is a marketing executive for 2nd Hemisphere knitwear. 3 children.

Hemi Ranapia, Reka Hawera Ranapia. JUST FOR YOU (Bk 0.5). Hemi, a former No. 10 for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks, coaches with Drew in the Bay of Plenty. 4 children.

Koti James, Kate Lamonica James. JUST GOOD FRIENDS (Bk 2). Koti is a centre (No. 13) for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks; Kate is an accountant. 3 children.

Finn Douglas, Jenna McKnight Douglas. JUST FOR NOW (Bk 3). Finn, a former No. 8 for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks, is strength & conditioning coach for the Blues; Jenna is a teacher. 5 children.

Nic (Nico) Wilkinson, Emma Martens Wilkinson. JUST FOR FUN (Bk 4). Nic is a fullback (No. 15) for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks; Emma is a knitwear designer for 2nd Hemisphere. 2 children.

Liam (Mako) Mahaka, Kristen Montgomery Mahaka. JUST MY LUCK (Bk 5). Liam is a hooker (No. 2) for the Wellington Hurricanes and the All Blacks; Kristen (Hannah’s sister) is a fashion buyer. 1 child.

Nate (Toro) Torrance, Allison (Ally) Villiers Torrance. JUST MY LUCK (Bk 5). Nate is a halfback (No. 9) for the Wellington Hurricanes and the All Blacks, and captain of the All Blacks; Ally is a climbing instructor.

Hugh Latimer, Jocelyn (Josie) Pae Ata. JUST NOT MINE (Bk 6). Hugh is an openside flanker (No. 7) for the Auckland Blues; Josie is a TV star and model. Raising Hugh’s two half-siblings, plus twin boys.

Will Tawera, Faith Goodwin. JUST IN TIME (Bk 8). Will is a first-five (No. 10) for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks; Faith is a novelist.

Iain McCormick, Sabrina (Nina) Jones. JUST STOP ME (Bk 9). Iain is a lock (No. 5) for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks; Nina is an international model.

Kevin (Kevvie) McNicholl, Chloe Donaldson. JUST SAY YES (Bk 10). Kevin is a wing (No. 11) for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks; Chloe is a ballet dancer. 1 child.

Marko Sendoa, Nyree Morgan. JUST SAY (HELL) NO (Bk 11). Marko is a blindside flanker (No. 6) for the Auckland Blues and the All Blacks; Nyree is a painter.

Rhys (Drago) Fletcher, Zora Fletcher. JUST COME OVER (Bk 12). Rhys is the coach of the Blues and a former All Black (flanker); Zora is a florist. 2 children.

 

 

1

 

 

Priorities

 

 

Atlanta, Georgia

Christmas Eve

“It’s not me, it’s you,” the man on the other side of the restaurant table told Elizabeth. That would be Kristoff Erikson, whose patients generally referred to him as a “Greek god.”

Question: why did that tend to mean you looked Nordic—blonde, built, and beautiful? Greeks weren’t Nordic. Anything but. Also, the part about the patients might be because so many of Kristoff’s patients were old ladies. When you were an occupational therapist, you tended to get lots of those, and to spend a lot of your time coaxing stroke survivors to squeeze the rubber ball for just a little longer. “Come on, Adele. Do it for me, OK?” Flashing your white smile and your blue eyes, showing them your charm.

Which was real. That was the crazy part. Kristoff was just that sweet and compassionate and disarming. Everybody loved Kristoff. Including her. For more than three years now, in fact.

Wait, though. What had he said?

“Come on,” she said. “That’s not even funny. I said I was sorry. I am sorry. All right, it’s Christmas Eve, and I said I’d be here two hours ago, but you’re used to that, and at least you didn’t cook anything, right? Plus, we’re getting Mongolian Beef. Your favorite.”

“You’re right that I’m used to it,” Kristoff said. “I learned that one the hard way all the way back at Johns Hopkins, the fourth or fifth time I blew out the candles and went ahead and ate the dinner I’d made. It’s also why we’re eating this dinner two blocks from my place, meaning I could wait to head over here until you actually told me you were on your way.”

“When you’re—” Elizabeth said.

Kristoff put up a hand. “When you’re involved with a neurosurgeon, you have to expect these things. Like, for example, spending the two days before Christmas by yourself. No Christmas traditions for you, because she was on call, and everybody travels at Christmas. Car accidents, kids out of school and doing ridiculous things, and everything else. And knowing she may well get called in tomorrow, too, when your parents are going to be visiting for a few days, seeing as they want to get to know her better. Except they can’t, because she runs out as soon as somebody—”

“Needs her,” Elizabeth said. “Excuse me? Social time, or life and death? How is that even a choice?”

Kristoff sighed, looking now like a very patient Greek god. Surely there was one like that, amidst all the thunderbolt-hurling and wave-churning and so forth. Elizabeth would have asked him, but now probably wasn’t the time. Did she know the answer herself? No, she did not. A neurosurgeon knew a whole lot about neurosurgery, quite a bit about surgery, period, and not much about anything else. Kristoff, though, was well-rounded. Hey, somebody in this relationship had to be.

“You’re right,” he said. “It’s not a choice for you. I get it. But it’s a choice for me.”

She might not be the best at paying attention outside of the OR, but she was getting a prickly feeling on her scalp. The kind you got when you saw that tumor on the films.

Oh, man. It was true. She was definitely getting a tumor-scan feeling. Not good. Not much like Christmas, either. Also, she was ravenous. She’d been in surgery for six hours straight. She could have eaten the tablecloth. If there’d been one.

“Pardon?” she asked, after a distracted moment of thinking that she should have ordered soup, because it would have been here already.

Kristoff said, “Have you ever thought that you should’ve gone with a doctor?”

“You mean as a life partner?” She was seriously starving. Would it be insensitive to interrupt the conversation to order that soup? Probably. “That’s why we’re so great together, though, because you don’t work my hours, and you also pay attention to the things I don’t. But what? Is this going to be a talk about how I don’t appreciate you or your job, because of money or status or whatever? Your work’s important. You help people. You help me. Also, you out-earned me for our first year together, remember?”

“Barely, and only because you were still a resident. How much are you earning now, again?”

“Hey.” She took his hand across the table. “You have all kinds of skills I don’t.”

Kristoff sighed. “How many times have we had this conversation? Elizabeth …”

“So many,” she said, “that I can’t believe we’re having it again. Hey. It’s Christmas Eve! Ho-ho-ho! You know what? Let’s go back to my place, turn the fire on, and do presents tonight. I can’t wait. What did you get me? Something good, I’ll bet.” Fortunately, she’d remembered to order him something, and she’d paid for it to come gift-wrapped, too, which meant it wasn’t still in the cardboard box. A monogrammed bathrobe and a very fancy toilet kit, suitable for taking to a resort, which was happening in March. See? Personal gift. She’d asked around. Monogrammed meant you cared, apparently.

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