The One Real Thing Page 68

It was pretty straightforward so I wasn’t concerned I’d mess it up.

“I’ll just be five minutes while I speak with Mona.”

I was looking over the booking system, familiarizing myself with how it worked and when new guests were arriving (and sneaking a peek at what lucky devils would be taking my room when my vacation officially ended), when the bell over the door jingled.

I glanced up, smiling to greet the new guests.

However, a lone woman stood in the entrance, sweeping her gaze around the inn. When her eyes fell on me she tensed.

I walked around the desk. “May I help you?”

The woman walked toward me, drinking me in from head to toe, examining every inch of me with a scrutiny that immediately rubbed me the wrong way. She was a very beautiful woman, and it pained me to be openly measured by anyone, let alone someone so gorgeous.

That irritation only grew when she gave me a satisfied, smug smile. The smugness, however, didn’t detract from her beauty. She was a little taller than me, slimmer, with a tanned, toned athletic body. Her shoulder-length brown hair framed her face attractively in waves and was lightened near the ends with caramel-blond streaks. Her eyes were ice blue and had an exotic tilt to the corners. A perfect little nose matched symmetrical perfect lips and went well with her high cheekbones. I didn’t think I’d met anyone quite as beautiful as her.

She stood in front of me in a white summer dress that clung to her toned curves and showcased long, lean legs. I suddenly had this horrible feeling in my gut.

“Are you the doctor?” she said.

“I am.”

Her gaze narrowed. “I’m Dana. Cooper Lawson’s wife.”

That feeling in my gut worsened.

This . . . this was Cooper’s ex?

Bailey had not been lying when she described her as outrageously gorgeous.

Holy crap.

I felt a wave of insecurity roll over me and instantly resented it.

“Ex-wife, you mean.” Bailey appeared, striding out of the dining room into reception. She did not look happy, and that was putting it lightly. “What the hell are you doing here, Dana?”

Dana flicked Bailey a dirty look before turning back to me, all wide-eyed with faux innocence. “I’m just here to warn Dr. Huntington away from Cooper. It’s a friendly warning, believe me, because he’ll only break your heart.”

I narrowed my eyes on the she-witch. She was everything I’d heard and more, and I couldn’t believe she’d had the audacity to show up to spook me. “And why is that?” I said, making sure I sounded bored.

“Because he and I have unfinished business. I made a mistake and I’m going to try to make up for it. If you were any kind of good person you’d take a step back and let me fix my marriage.”

She said it like it was completely reasonable.

I was shocked. Beyond shocked. Plus, I was growing more than a little concerned this woman was going to be a problem for us.

Bailey, however, opened her mouth, looking so outraged, I knew the put-down of all put-downs was about to come out of her. I gave her a quick shake of my head, a silent warning to leave this to me.

She clamped her mouth shut.

I stepped toward Dana and she took a step back in surprise, before trying to cover her surprise with a look of feigned nonchalance.


She was hoping I was going to be a pushover.

Well, I’d faced bigger and badder things in this world than Cooper’s ex-wife and there was no way I was giving him up so easily. Not when there was so much possibility between us. Cooper made me happy and right now I was too invested in that happiness to have it taken away from me.

“Let me get this right: you cheated on a good man—with his best friend in the whole world, no less, thus stealing that friendship from him as well as betraying him—and you come here warning me away from him? If you have any decency left in you, you’ll let Cooper be happy and leave him alone.”

“Cooper loves me.” Dana tilted her chin up in defiance. “We have history. You can’t beat history. I want him back and I warn you, I always get what I want.” She smirked at me. “Final warning: I am going to get Cooper back and I also don’t care what I have to do in order to get him.”

Fury rushed through me, not only at what she was suggesting but at the idea of her hurting Cooper. My protective instincts had me facing up to her in a way I knew she hadn’t expected. “Are you threatening me?”

Something like uncertainty flashed in her eyes before she quickly hid it. “Just a warning.” She shrugged and then gave me a sharklike grin. “May the best woman win.”

The bell tinkled above the door as she swooped out of the inn.

Bailey and I stood in shocked silence for a few seconds.

Then . . . “What. The. Hell?” Bailey said.

I felt more than a little sick at the thought of already having an enemy in my new town.

“You’re not going to break things off with Cooper, are you?” Bailey said, visibly concerned.

“Heck no.” I screwed up my face, feeling the stubborn determination fire my blood. “That horrible witch hurt someone that I care about and there is no way she’s going to do that again on my watch.” My voice softened as I thought of him. “The truth is that I really believe there’s something special between us and I really believe he thinks that, too. I won’t take this away from him because of one spoiled little brat.”

Bailey grinned. “Good.”

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