Second Chance with the Island Doc - Chapter 1

Fifteen years earlier

Patricia Cohen lay almost completely submerged in her bathtub. The water had long since cooled; the knees that stuck above the liquid surface were icy and had already dried. Still, she didn’t move, her eyes going to the edge of the tub. Getting out meant she would have to do something about…that.

And right now, she didn’t think she could bear it.

The guy she’d had a crush on all through school had finally noticed her. On graduation night. Neither of them was interested in attending a slew of parties. Instead, she and Dax had sat behind the school and talked about future dreams until after midnight. And when he’d leaned over and kissed her, she was lost. Even knowing he was soon leaving for college in Antigua didn’t change how that kiss made her feel. They were inseparable the rest of the summer. Had made love as often as they could during the tropical nights.

Eight weeks ago, he’d left, taking her heart with him.

And today…she glanced at the stick that could change both of their futures. And the phone that sat beside it, Dax’s number on speed dial.

She gritted her teeth in agony. He wanted to be a doctor. Had talked about it incessantly. Said he could catch babies and she could work beside him as a nurse. Or a midwife, since Patty hadn’t decided which she wanted to be yet. She herself was taking a year off to work and earn money. Then she would join him at school.

At least, that had been the plan.

How ironic that a baby—their baby—could stop that dream in its tracks.

No, it wouldn’t stop her dream…but it could stop his. She could choose to terminate. And no one would be the wiser. They could go on with school. Get married in a few years. Become the husband and wife team that they’d talked about.

But she couldn’t do it. This was Dax’s baby nestled inside her. A man she loved more than life. A man she’d give up anything for. She knew him well enough to know he would come back to St. Lucia the second he heard about the pregnancy. Be a father to this child. How could she ask him to do that, though? The openings at the school he was attending were few and far between. To drop out now, when he’d barely started… Who knew if they’d let him back in when the time came?

No. Her aunt Grace lived on one of the neighboring islands—St. Victoria. She could go there for a little while and try to figure things out.

And not tell Dax about the pregnancy?

If she told him and then lost the baby after he rushed home…what then? It would have all been for nothing.

She would wait. Wait and see what happened. Wait and examine her options.

There was time.

She stood, water sloshing everywhere. Shivers took hold of her, making her a little unsteady. As she stepped over the rim of the tub, her toes hit the edge where her phone was, sending it and the pregnancy test into the cold water. The phone sank while the test floated, its pink stripes reminding her of decisions and their consequences.

So much for calling him. Or her aunt.

All she could do was take a few deep breaths, retrieve her phone…and wait.