Author Katie Mettner

Chapter One ~ From the Moment We Met ~ M.L. Broome




From the Moment We Met
Chapter 1


Jacob



If one more person walked past him and said, “better luck next time” or “you should have won,” he’d punch them in the throat. Externally, Jacob fit the picture of a dignified, gracious actor. But internally, he was seething.

He wheeled his suitcase towards the airline gate, returning to London defeated instead of a celebrated victor. Granted, most folks wouldn’t see it that way.

Jacob was the definition of a Hollywood success story—lead roles in blockbuster films, million-dollar endorsement deals and adoring fans who would endure a hailstorm for an autograph. Despite these accolades, he felt like an utter failure.

He was snapped from his reverie by a squeaky voice at his side. “Excuse me, Mr. Edmonton, may I have your autograph?” Gazing down, he saw a girl of about six with a wide toothless grin; she reminded him of his niece, Elizabeth.

For the first time in the last twelve hours, his smile was genuine as he knelt by the little girl. “I'm honored. What’s your name?”

“Susan.”

Jacob chuckled as it came out “Thuthan”, skewed by a lack of front teeth. His gaze drifted to Susan’s mother, ogling him like an alligator eyeballing a ribeye. He always enjoyed a good romp, and she looked like a willing participant, but Jacob was in no mood, even for sex. Ignoring her carnal stare, he signed Susan’s paper, adding a smiley face below his signature.

The little girl beamed, first at the autograph and then at him. “My mommy says you’re the most handsome actor ever and she wouldn’t have dumped you for that Latin singer.”

Jacob glanced back to the mother, her face paling at her daughter’s candor. “Come Susan, let’s leave this nice man alone.” With a nod, the duo departed down the airport corridor.

Jacob arrived at his gate and slumped into a seat, pulling his hat over his dark blonde curls. He hoped the beard and long hair would disguise him from the public eye, but his attempt was moot. His reputation in the last few months preceded him, thanks to the relentless media tracking his every move.

His life wasn’t always media fodder. Jacob spent years training to be a serious actor whose primary—and only—focus was his craft. Then he met Victoria, and life as he knew it unraveled.

Victoria—one of the biggest names in show business—was a larger-than-life singer both on and off the stage. It didn’t matter that her talent was mediocre; Victoria was a marketing legend. Her entourage tailed her everywhere, with assistants fulfilling every whim from applying makeup to walking her teacup chihuahua.

Her personality was exhausting and demands relentless, but Victoria epitomized beauty. She was an Amazon at six feet, with platinum waves cascading over her silicone implants. But it was her eyes, emerald green too bright to be natural that stopped you dead in your tracks. And Jacob should know, she hooked him the moment their eyes connected at a charity event.

Jacob's friends bombarded him with warnings when he returned from the bar with Victoria by his side. Her reputation as a femme fatale was well deserved. She possessed an extensive line of past lovers, and once they outlived their usefulness, were swept into a black hole beyond moral and critical reprieve. God help anyone who angered her; she had a legion of fans serving as ruthless foot soldiers, defending her honor at all costs. It was her very own teenage, hormonally-charged Mafioso.

But it didn’t matter. Warnings from friends fell on deaf ears once Jacob tasted her forbidden fruit. Her sexual prowess should have been a red flag for Jacob, she had more tricks than a prostitute. It was a relationship built on pure lust, as fiery and superficial as the town in which they worked.

Their romance burned out within months, and the media buzzed around the dying carcass before Jacob knew the cause of death. It turned out monogamy was only a requirement on his end of the deal. Victoria had screwed at least six other men during their courtship.

He swore he would never fall prey to the wiles of a woman again, his life would be filled with unforgettable films and nameless fucks, a rotating lineup of starlets and models. The rotating lineup was easy enough. He never wanted for company, but after a couple weeks in bed with a different woman every night, the thrill was gone. To get even with Victoria, he behaved exactly as she had, but it left him cold and empty. Hell, he couldn’t even be bothered with the last woman; he sent her packing from his hotel room only fifteen minutes after her arrival. She was as stimulating as a post-it note.

Time to refocus on what was important, his acting career. But he soon realized the awful truth; the world now considered him a media darling instead of a serious thespian.

Jacob was the shoo-in for the Best Actor award. His latest movie was box office gold; a fast-paced adventure about a doctor working in Africa amongst the toils of revolution. The movie grossed 150 million dollars the first week, while critics and fans alike raved about the film and its leading man.

However, his breakup with Victoria surfaced in the tabloids, along with eyewitness accounts of Jacob pleading for a second chance. It didn’t matter that he never begged Victoria to return; the media concocted their version of events and the public ate it up. His reputation, carefully sculpted through the years, was over.

Jacob’s buzzing phone interrupted his mental pity party, but he shut it off without looking at the screen. He wasn’t in the mood for a pep talk with his agent. A few seconds later, it buzzed again, and once again Jacob shut it off without a glance. Only after the phone vibrated a third time, with palpable urgency, did he look at the screen.

It was Audrey, his sister-in-law. Why in hell was she calling? She made no secret of her contempt for Jacob and his egoist lifestyle. They were close once, in fact, he convinced his parents that his sister could still be the quintessential daughter with the white picket fence and 2.5 kids, even with a wife instead of a husband.

Sighing, Jacob answered the phone. “Yeah?”

“Jakey? It’s Janie. I misplaced my phone, and I wanted to check on you.” His baby sister, Janie—the kindest soul he’d ever known—choked out her words.

Sitting straighter, he adjusted the phone. “Janie, are you okay? You sound out of breath.”

“I’m hiding from Audrey. If she sees who I called when I borrowed her phone—” Janie broke off in a flurry of coughing.

Jacob chuckled at an image of Audrey chasing Janie down a London street, yelling about contemptible siblings. Janie’s innocuous cough cut his laughter short, bringing him back to the conversation. “Are you sick?”

“Who knows? I’ve had this awful cold for the last couple weeks. I can’t seem to shake it. Mum made me her famous ginger concoction. Remember when she used to feed us that mess? I swore the virus would run away screaming at one whiff of that glop.”

“Mum was never renowned for her culinary skills, or her nursing ones. Have you been to a doctor? You might need an antibiotic.”

Jacob could see Janie shaking her head in disgust; her opinion of Western medicine hovered on an even par with the flu virus. “I’ll be fine. Enough about me, how are you? I can’t believe they chose Howard Banks over you. That movie was atrocious. Who cares about a colony of mutated humans on Mars, anyway?”

“The Academy Board, apparently.” Jacob smiled in spite of himself; Janie always cheered him up, even in his bleakest moments. “It’s fine, Janie. I’ll be in London for the next month; get to spend time with family.”

“I would love that Jakey, Elizabeth misses you so much. You haven’t seen her in two months, since Boxing Day. I miss you too, so does Audrey.”

“Like hell I do.” Audrey’s voice cut into the conversation, her tone biting.

“Audrey!” Janie hissed, but once Audrey opened her mouth, there was no closing it.

The line jostled, and Audrey’s voice boomed in Jacob’s ear. “Sorry to hear about your loss; perhaps now that you’re one of us commoners again, Elizabeth might finally get to see her uncle? Or will you be too busy flitting around the globe with another silicone-filled floozy?”

Jacob's jaw gritted, but his tone remained even. “No floozy globe flitting for the next several weeks, Audrey. You’re in luck, I’ll be only a few kilometers from you.”

“I can hardly wait.” Her sarcasm was unmistakable. “You’ll have to explain to Elizabeth who you are since she so rarely sees you.”

Jacob had a biting retort at the tip of his tongue when his sister wrestled the phone from her wife’s hands. “Jakey I’m sorry; Audrey is so tired with the business and Elizabeth, and now me being sick…she doesn’t mean what she says.”

“Yes, she does, Little Bit, she means every word. I’m about to board. I’ll call you when I land at Heathrow.”

“Sure Jakey, I love you, big brother—”

Jacob stared at the phone. He ended the call before he could return the sentiment. He adored his sister, but he wasn’t demonstrative. Victoria had been an exception to the rule and look where that landed him. His public affections toward her had cost him his career; a mistake he wouldn’t make again. It was far safer to keep his feelings buttoned up with his head down, nose to the grindstone.

The ticket agent’s voice boomed through the seating area. “Our first-class passengers are now welcome to board, first-class passengers only.”

Sighing, Jacob grabbed his bag and headed to the plane.


Lilly



“I assume that’s nursing related?” Lilly smirked at her co-worker behind the nurses station.

Sabina shoved the newspaper into a drawer, her hands fluttering to her face in mock surprise. “Of course, Ms. Staver, what else would I be reading during my shift?”

Lilly chuckled, pulling the paper from the drawer. “Hmm, the stock market crashed again, bombing in Iran, Jacob Edmonton loses acting award to Howard Banks—you’re catching up on your market analysis, aren’t you?”

Sabina snatched the newspaper, smoothing it in front of her. “I don’t understand how he lost. Aces High was one of the highest grossing movies last year, and Jacob is so sexy, it ought to be illegal.”

“Which movie was this again?”

“Which movie?” Sabina gasped. “He’s a handsome doctor fighting a jewel cartel in Africa; he even learned Krio. Did I say how sexy he looked?”

“You might have mentioned it,” Lilly chuckled as she perused a patient chart. “I can’t keep those movies straight; they’re all the same to me. Same plot, same premise, same tired sex scenes.”

“Hmm. Jacob Edmonton is a fine piece of ass, even if he is a little too skinny for my taste. But damn, that mouth; he could kiss me anytime…and anywhere.” Sabina cooed, fluffing her mane of tight curls.

Lilly burst out laughing, hiding it behind her hand. “Good to know.”

“Do you even know what he looks like?”

Lilly shrugged, flipping through the patient chart. “I think so? He’s tall and blonde, right?”

“He is more than tall and blonde; he is a Grecian god.” Sabina thrust her phone under Lilly’s nose. The display showed a man with piercing blue eyes and a smile that could melt an iceberg.

Lilly tried to appear disinterested in the photograph, but the actor was mouthwatering. Something about his potent gaze made her weak in the knees, and this was only a picture. “I’m not into blonde men,” she lied.

“Is that a fact? Then why are you blushing? What kind of naughty thoughts are you having about Mr. Edmonton right now?”

Lilly felt her face go bright red. “Shush! I’m not having any dirty thoughts.”

“Right, not picturing him butt ass naked, six-pack on display, pushing you against a wall and having his way with you?”

I’m picturing much more than that, but hell, it’s a start, Lilly thought, focusing her gaze on the patient chart.

“You’ve read that same page for the last five minutes.”

Lilly snapped the binder shut, yanking out another patient chart and flipping through it with aimless abandon. “Quiet, or I’ll make you work overtime.”

“Admit it, he’s hot as hell.”

“I told you, I don’t like blonde men.”

“Girl, how are we friends? You’ll overlook all his perfection because of his hair color? I’ll buy him some black hair dye; does that help?”

Lilly giggled, hugging her friend around the shoulders. “We’re friends because I’m the only one who actually supports your dreams of karaoke stardom…and I’ll take your word on Edmonton’s sex appeal.”

“When I’m a karaoke star, I’ll be sure to remember you and all the little people.”

“At the rate you’re going, you might wind up in the looney bin first.” Lilly closed her chart. “Back to our dull, dreary and Jacob-less lives; any emergent cases in the operating theater?”

“My friend in Accident and Emergency said a cardiac patient tanked down there about thirty minutes ago.”

“Odd we haven’t heard anything.” Lilly glanced at her pager as it went off. “Ask, and ye shall receive. Emergent open-heart patient being prepped in OR 5 as we speak.”

“Who’s doing the surgery? Is it that beautiful new surgeon, or haven’t you noticed Cary Grant’s doppelgänger either?”

Lilly’s brown eyes narrowed. “I assume you mean Dr. Torres? Sabina, I’m selective, I’m not dead. He’s gorgeous. But he’s also a surgeon, and you know what they say about surgeons.”

“And what is that exactly?” A baritone voice reverberated behind her, causing Lilly to flush bright red.

Pointing in the voice’s general direction, Lilly mouthed to Sabina, ‘Dr. Torres, right?’, getting her answer when Sabina collapsed into giggles.

Turning, Lilly smiled at the young surgeon, hoping he missed the first part of her statement. “Dr. Torres, I was headed down to the OR Theater. Are you assisting with the emergent case?”

“I’m the lead surgeon actually. I wanted to speak with you, Ms. Staver, before I scrubbed in for surgery.”

Walking from the nurses station, Dr. Torres and Lilly were met by Ben, the hospital’s administrator. Ben and Lilly maintained a long-distance friendship for twenty years, and it was at his behest that Lilly was working in the UK. St. Luke was expanding from a community hospital to a trauma facility, and their fledgling critical care team needed an experienced manager to get the unit up to speed. It didn’t hurt that Lilly needed an escape from New York at the exact same time. The situation was kismet for both parties.

“Ben, is there a problem?” Lilly looked up at her friend, his face unreadable.

“This case is complicated,” Dr. Torres began. “The patient is young, but I’m not sure what the outcome will be after surgery. She may require a balloon pump, perhaps even a VAD.”

Lilly’s face paled; doctors only used these devices for the sickest heart patients. “A congenital defect, I’m assuming. How old is the patient?”

Ben squeezed Lilly’s shoulder. “She’s 34 and in otherwise perfect health, which is to her advantage. But our nurses are not equipped to handle this case without supervision. That’s where you come in; we need you to recover the patient until she’s stabilized.”

Dr. Torres smiled at Lilly. “Ben tells me you’re the best nurse at this hospital. Besides, I’ve watched you work, you know this specialty inside and out.”

Lilly pushed a lock of straight brown hair from her face and chuckled. “Ben is biased, but I’ll gladly supervise this case.”

“Thank you, I feel better knowing that.” There was a solemnity in the surgeon’s dark eyes. This case was weighing on his mind.

“Never a problem. I’ll go get changed, skirt and heels are a bit of an overstatement at the bedside. Ben, I’ll catch up with you in a few minutes?” Lilly walked into the locker room, grabbing surgical scrubs off the cart. She thought she was alone, save for a few knapsacks and random pairs of shoes.

“Lilly.”

Lilly turned to see the young surgeon only inches behind her; his dark gaze focused on her face. “Yes, Dr. Torres?”

He held up a necklace. “You dropped this.”

Lilly’s hand flew to her neck. “I didn’t feel it fall off, thank you so much! That’s my talisman, it’s so important to me.” She reached her hand out to grasp the chain, but he held it out of her reach.

“Turn around, I’ll put it on you.”

Lilly’s heart beat faster, but she obliged, pulling her long dark hair over one shoulder. She trembled when his fingers slid along her neck, pushing a few errant strands out of the way. “Thank you.”

“You smell amazing, I always meant to tell you. Absolutely intoxicating.” He leaned in closer, his lips hovering at her ear.

Now Lilly’s heart raced like a freight train. “I’m not wearing anything.”

She felt his breath against her skin, his lips barely brushing her neck. “It’s you that’s intoxicating.”

Lilly’s mind went blank as she struggled to think of some response, any response. His fingers were warm against her skin, and Lilly’s body reminded her how many months it had been since she last engaged in any type of sexual activity. She turned to face him, their bodies mere inches apart. “I’m just ordinary, Dr. Torres.”

He ran a finger along her jaw, a smile drawing up the corners of his mouth. “Lilly, there isn’t anything ordinary about you.”

Damn, but he was beautiful. His dark, almond eyes, perfectly chiseled face, thick, dark hair—a perfect specimen. “I’m afraid you’re mistaken, sir,” Lilly murmured.

Dr. Torres chuckled. “I’m never wrong about these matters, and I think you’re gorgeous too, Lilly.”

Lilly’s flush increased. He had heard her statement to Sabina about his classic good looks. “Oh God, you heard that.”

“It made my day. I’ve been dying to get to know more about you since my first day at St. Luke.”

“Me?”

“Yes, Lilly, you.” He drew closer, and Lilly realized he was going to kiss her—in the middle of the damn locker room. Do I want to kiss him? Her body screamed in the affirmative, but her heart balked at the action.

“Lilly, are you in here?” The door flew open, and the couple jumped apart. Ben stood in the doorway, a knowing smirk on his face. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

Lilly sent her friend a look of death, her face turning fifty shades of red. “Of course not—”

“Lilly dropped her necklace. I returned it to her,” Dr. Torres interjected, a rueful grin on his lips. “I need to get scrubbed in for surgery. I’ll see you both later.”

Lilly averted her eyes from Ben’s stare. “Can I help you with something?”

“I didn’t realize you and Enrique were so friendly,” Ben chortled.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” God, she was an atrocious liar.

“Sure, you don’t. I figured the good doctor had a thing for you.”

Lilly huffed. “He doesn’t have a thing for me.”

“You were kissing just now.”

Lilly spun on her heel, mouth wide open and gaping, as she searched for a retort. “We weren’t kissing!”

“You would have been kissing in another five seconds. I’ve got impeccable timing,” Ben quipped.

“We weren’t—”

Ben pulled his friend into a hug. “I’m all for it. The man is gorgeous, brilliant, talented and single. What’s not to love?”

“It’s not a match-up. Anyway, why don’t you pursue Dr. Torres if he’s such a catch?”

Ben leaned close, whispering, “I’m not his type, he prefers petite brunettes.”

“His loss, then. You’re an even better catch,” Lilly grinned. Ben had only recently opened-up about his sexuality after 38 years of hiding in plain sight. Lilly was as determined to find him a perfect match as he was to find her a husband. “I’ve got to change, now scoot.”

Ben placed a hand on her arm. “Thank you, I know this will be a long day for you. I hope it isn’t cutting into any plans.”

Lilly laughed, shaking her head. “My cats will be sorely disappointed, but they’ll forgive me after a can of tuna.”

“One last thing—and I know how you feel about this—the patient is a VIP. She’s getting the largest room.”

Lilly scoffed in disgust. “All patients are VIPs, I don’t see why one deserves preferential treatment. But, if they want to pay the fees for added amenities, that’s their prerogative.”

“Her brother is a famous actor, and the family wants to avoid the fanfare that will accompany his arrival.”

Lilly nodded in agreement. “The last thing the staff needs is a bunch of fans blocking corridors.” She glared pointedly at Ben. “Are you going to give me some privacy?”

Ben smirked. “The same kind Dr. Torres gave you?” He ducked out the door, narrowly missing the t-shirt Lilly volleyed in his direction.



Lilly changed and walked back to the nurses station. She cast a glance at Sabina who looked ready to faint. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

“Do you know who this emergent case is? It’s Janie Edmonton, Jacob Edmonton’s sister. Jacob Edmonton will be in our unit!” She fanned herself as if every mention of his name raised her blood pressure.

“Oh, wonderful,” Lilly muttered, ignoring the squeeze in her stomach at the realization. “Don’t get too excited, he might not even show up.”

“It’s his sister. Holy shit, I wish I’d put on makeup this morning.”

Lilly shot her a stern but loving look. “Sabina, this woman is sick. Our focus has to be on her recovery, not some Hollywood actor.”

Sabina straightened, her smile fading. “Is that why you’re recovering her? Is her case that complicated?”

Lilly’s expression was somber, but her voice maintained a positive tone. “Dr. Torres is an excellent surgeon. Let’s hope it isn’t too difficult when he gets in there.”

She had recovered countless surgical patients, but something about this case felt different. She couldn’t put it into words. The severity coupled with a Hollywood actor creating chaos at the community hospital was more than Lilly bargained for on a Monday afternoon. She only hoped her frayed nerves resulted from an overload of caffeine and not a premonition of the future.



About the Author 


M.L. Broome is a self-proclaimed bohemian spirit, carrying along her New York sarcasm and New England spirit wherever she travels.

A writer since childhood, she spent years creating stories and characters—that lived exclusively in her mind. It was only recently she garnered the courage to publish any of her works—with the assistance of her wonderfully supportive friends and family—and she is eternally grateful for the kick in the ass.


When she isn’t nurturing nature, rescuing fur babies or communing with faeries, she loves spending hours by the ocean. An island native, she knows there is nothing more soothing than the sound of the waves and the salt on her skin.

She’s a spinner of stories, a believer in love and a lover of life. “You’ll climb as high as you dare believe you are capable. The stars are only as far as we imagine them to be, and time is neither friend nor foe. Magic is everywhere. Life is a thing of beauty.”

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2 comments

Dana said...

This sounds like a great read, Katie! I loved the first chapter.

Katie said...

I thought so too! Thanks for stopping by :)