One Night with the Doctor Online - Cindy Kirk

Chapter One

Golden beams of light shone through the windows of the two-story house situated in the mountains overlooking Jackson Hole. Although Christmas had been a month earlier, garlands of greenery and wreaths with plaid ribbons still adorned the large wraparound porch.

Poppy Westover added her serviceable Ford to the dozens of cars already parked in the clearing east of the house. Tiny snowflakes danced across the well-scooped path as she began the trek to the front steps of the house she’d passed only moments before. Ducking her head, she forged onward. The brisk north wind slapped her cheeks and ruffled her hair.

Lights might illuminate the walkway, but the dark of the winter evening still closed in around her. By now, the party had been going on for an hour, almost two. She prided herself on being timely, but a last-minute call to secure an emergency foster placement had delayed her leaving the office.

Poppy reached the steps of the beautifully decorated porch just as a sleek black Mercedes drove slowly past. Another late arrival. The thought that she wouldn’t be the last to show up buoyed her spirits even as she grimaced at the familiar lines of the vehicle.

Though this was a newer version and a different color, a similar CL550 coupe had been her ex-husband’s pride and joy. Even with public transportation readily available, he’d insisted on driving the car to social functions. And there had been lots of such events. As a prominent Manhattan neurosurgeon, Bill Stanhope had been on everyone’s must-invite list.

Poppy had grown increasingly weary of socializing with his associates and people he’d wanted to impress. People who lived an extravagant and loose lifestyle; married men and women who took lovers as easily as another glass of champagne.

This evening would be different. Tonight she’d be among people who shared her values. Friends. Former schoolmates.

Dr. Travis Fisher, the host of the party, had graduated from Jackson Hole High with her. Back in the day, they’d even dated briefly. Now he was married, the father of five and one of the top ob-gyns in Jackson Hole.

Poppy rang the bell then jammed gloved hands into her coat pockets and hunched her shoulders against the wind. Thankfully she didn’t have to wait long. The door opened and a flood of warmth and delicious smells spilled out.

Frowning at her chattering teeth, Travis motioned her inside and shut the door firmly against the winter chill. An efficient young woman dressed all in black offered to take Poppy’s coat.

After shrugging off the soft cashmere, Poppy murmured her thanks then held both hands out to Travis. “Thanks for inviting me.”

“We were determined to hound you until you accepted one of our invitations.” He gave her fingers a firm squeeze and coupled the gesture with a warm smile. There was something intrinsically likable about the tall doctor with sandy-colored hair.

“You look lovely this evening,” she heard him add.

Poppy glanced down. She’d dressed in such a hurry that for a second she didn’t recall what she’d pulled from the closet. Though she knew most women used the party as an excuse to wear something new they’d gotten for Christmas, this year her family had sent money rather than gifts.

Unfortunately her new job kept her far too busy for shopping. Because of that, she’d been forced to call into service a red cashmere turtleneck dress from several seasons back and last year’s black-heeled boots.

The dress had been purchased the first year after her divorce. Her ex considered bold colors “gauche.”

Poppy smoothed her hand against the ruby-colored cashmere. The fabric molded against her body, gently hugging her curves. Stylish. Feminine. Gauche. She smiled. “I’d never have worn something like this back in high school.”

She’d been preppy then. Seriously preppy. Plaid jackets. Diamond pattern sweaters. Pearls. How she’d loved those pearls.

As if remembering his own questionable fashion sense during those years, Travis grinned. “Those were good years. Good times.”

When his smile slipped Poppy remembered Travis’s parents had been killed at the end of his senior year, leaving him in charge of his seven siblings. Yes, she mused, looking too far back probably wasn’t advisable. For him. Or for her.

Travis placed a hand on her elbow and guided her through a foyer rich with the scent of evergreens. They stopped at the edge of a large room where elegant women in stylish dresses mingled with men in dress pants and sport coats.

The star at the top of an enormous, brightly lit Christmas tree winked on and off as if pulsing in time to