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Seaside Heartbeats

Sometimes love shows up when you least expect it.

After years of hard work, architect Lana Summers just wants a relaxing vacation in the beach town of Kittle Falls. Instead, she suffers unexpected heart problems, and finds herself in the office of a gorgeous cardiologist—who only makes her heart work harder.

Brayden Hunter left his successful cardiology practice in Dallas to be closer to his aging parents. Focused on building a health care clinic in his hometown, he doesn’t want any distractions. However, the beautiful Lana is one he can’t seem to avoid.

As their attraction grows, they stumble upon a 160-year-old mystery. Brayden catches her adventurous spirit as they chase after answers, and he can’t help falling for her. But can he convince her to stay in the small beach town and with him?

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Excerpt

Brayden knocked on the door before entering the exam room. He stopped when he saw the only person in the exam room was the gorgeous blonde from the waiting room. He hadn’t paid attention to the age of the patient on the paperwork.

“Lana Summers?” he asked.

She smiled and stood, extending her hand. “Yes. Nice to meet you, Dr. Hunter.”

Brayden shook her hand. Her skin was so smooth and soft, and she smelled like tropical flowers, reminding him of his last trip to Hawaii. It took him a moment to find his voice. “It’s my pleasure. Have a seat, please.”

Lana sat back down in the patient chair, and Brayden sat in the plush wheeled chair. He rolled it over closer to Lana. Usually, he stayed by the desk to look over the nurse’s notes on the computer. “Tell me about your SVT,” he said, looking into her beautiful blue eyes. They reminded him of the ocean during the summertime.

She leaned forward, bringing the scent of her perfume to him. He took a deep breath, loving it. “Well, it just started the other night when I was sleeping. My family’s spending the summer in Kittle Falls in a house on the beach. I woke up because my heart was pounding so fast I didn’t know what was going on. I was afraid I was going to stop breathing.” The fear in her eyes showed she wasn’t exaggerating.

Brayden looked over the file. “It says here when the paramedics arrived, your heart rate was two-thirty-three.” He raised an eyebrow. “I’m surprised you didn’t pass out.”

Lana’s beautiful eyes widened. “Me, too, Dr. Hunter. But I was determined to stay awake.”

He gave her a reassuring look. “I’m glad you’re okay, but rest assured SVT is rarely deadly.”

“Rarely? So, it can kill people? I looked it up online today and didn’t see anything about that.”

“Usually, only the elderly—and rarely.”

“What if I have another attack?”

“Episode,” Brayden corrected. “There are several ways to lower your heart rate on your own. One is to stick your hands under cold water. A lot of people find that works. Others cough or even hold their breath. And if you ever feel faint, you can try putting your head between your legs.”

She stared at him for a moment. “You mean it’s that easy?”

“Most of the time. Though I wouldn’t call it easy. It’s scary to have an episode from what I understand. I’m sure I’d be scared, too.”

“But what if that doesn’t work?”

“In most cases, it’ll just resolve itself like it did for you.” He looked at the file again. “By the time you got to the ER, it looks like your heart rate was in the normal range.”

“Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again?”

“You can avoid high levels of caffeine and alcohol. Eat well and stay active—general heart care will help to keep it strong and healthy. I don’t believe there’s any scientific proof, but I’ve noticed SVT episodes happen more in the warm weather, so try not to get overheated.”

“No caffeine?”

“That’s not what I said.” Brayden smiled. “Just don’t overdo it. Small amounts should be fine, though you might want to avoid it for a while after an episode.”

They spoke for a little while until Lana appeared to feel better about the whole thing.

“All in all,” Brayden said, “if you’re going to have a heart condition, it may as well be SVT. Can I get your blood pressure?”

Lana nodded. “The nurse took it before you came in, though.”

“I understand, but I like to check it myself.” Brayden stood, and walked to the other side of the room. “I’ll need to wrap this around your arm, and the machine will do the rest.”

“Okay.” Lana walked over to him, standing only an inch away.

Brayden wrapped it around her arm and then he pressed the button for it to start. “Your blood pressure is high. Is it usually high when at rest?”

“I…I’m not sure.”

“Let’s try this again.” He readjusted the strap around her arm, trying to ignore how soft her skin felt against his. He pushed the button, and it came up with the same high number.

“Hmm. You can sit back down.” He flipped through the chart and saw that her heart rate had been normal when the nurse had taken it before he came in. “I’ll be right back.”

“Okay.”

Brayden went into the hall. He got the attention of Eugene, one of the most experienced on the nurse staff. He explained the situation, and sent him into the room to take Lana’s blood pressure again.

He studied the chart before going back in.

“Everything is normal,” Eugene said.

“Let me see that.” Brayden walked over and looked at the machine. Sure enough, it showed numbers within the normal range. He turned to Lana. “Mind if I give it a try again?”

She shook her head.

Brayden wrapped the strap around her soft arm again, and then he started the machine. The numbers came high again.

He frowned. “We’d better get this serviced. Eugene, can you take her to another room to use another machine?”

“Sure thing, doctor.”

***

Lana Summers stopped in front of a fountain near the hospital entrance.

That had been the most embarrassing experience of her life. Cardiologists had no right to be that hot. None at all.

Every time Dr. Hunter touched her arm to get her blood pressure, Lana’s heart pounded, nearly exploding out of her chest. She was so glad that neither he nor that nurse had figured out why her numbers were so drastically different when Dr. Hunter was there.

He was tall, well-built, and had a smile that could melt an iceberg. And he smelled heavenly. She could stand there all day with him adjusting her arm.

She needed to drop coffee cold turkey and stay out of the sun. Whatever it took to keep her SVT under control. There was no way she could face him again. Dr. Hunter would either figure out that she was attracted to him, or he would think she broke all of his equipment.

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