One Night with the Doctor Online - Cindy Kirk Page 0,1

some unheard tune. A cheerful fire crackled noisily in the hearth of a massive stone fireplace. Conversation and laughter wafted pleasantly in the air. Poppy exhaled a breath and the tension in her shoulders eased.

“I heard you scored a job with social services.” Travis’s eyes held a look of admiration. “They’re lucky to have you.”

“I’m the lucky one.” Poppy adored children. The opportunity to help foster kids, while challenging, had been a dream come true.

The melodious chimes of the doorbell sounded and Travis cocked his head. A rueful smile touched his lips.

“You’ll have to excuse me,” he said smoothly, giving her arm a gentle squeeze. “I’m on door duty.”

The other late arrival, Poppy thought.

“Tend to your guests.” She waved to several women across the room. “I’m in the mood to mingle.”

Travis took several steps then turned back and called over his shoulder. “Check out the mistletoe.”

Mistletoe? For a second she was puzzled. Christmas had been a month ago. Then Poppy remembered the retro party the Fishers had hosted last fall, right after she’d returned to Jackson Hole. Tiny sprigs of little red berries and shiny green leaves were everywhere.

When she’d asked, someone told her that mistletoe had been a big part of Mary Karen and Travis’s courtship and they hung it at every party.

Taking Travis’s words as a warning, Poppy glanced up, trying to spot any troublesome berries or waxy leaves. There might have been one in the beamed ceiling but she couldn’t be sure.

A delicious aroma of cinnamon mingled with evergreen while the hum of conversation and laughter wrapped around her shoulders like a favorite sweater. Her lips lifted. Poppy had been invited to several Christmas parties but had declined all offers. She wished now that she’d accepted.

“Poppy,” Mary Karen Fisher shrieked, rushing over. “I’m so happy you made it.”

The intensity and underlying warmth of the greeting made Poppy smile. She chatted easily with Travis’s petite, pretty wife who looked adorable in a sapphire blue tunic dress, her blond hair falling in a mass of curls past her shoulders.

When one of the catering staff asked for a moment of Mary Karen’s time, Poppy meandered over to the tree. It was real, she realized with a start of pleasure, fingering the soft needles of the fir, inhaling the intoxicating scent.

She’d been much too busy to put her own tree up this year. If there had been someone to see it, Poppy might have gone to the effort. But her mom and dad had remained in California for the holidays. They lived in Sacramento now, just down the block from Poppy’s sister and brother-in-law and their three children.

Knowing this would be their oldest daughter’s first Christmas since she’d relocated to Jackson Hole, her parents had offered to make the trip to Wyoming. But Poppy knew how much they’d been looking forward to seeing Aimee’s children open presents on Christmas morning. If her dad were here, he couldn’t dress up as Santa for the grandkids, like he’d done for her and Aimee.

Poppy had seen no option but to inject a hint of regret into her tone and tell them she’d already made plans to celebrate the holidays with friends.

Her parents’ relief had been almost palpable. They believed her, of course. After all, she’d always had a wide circle of friends.

Poppy’s mouth lifted in a wry twist. For as long as she could remember she’d been the pretty, popular older sister. Yet, it was Aimee who now had what Poppy had always wanted: a fulfilling life that included not only a rewarding career but a loving husband and children.

When Poppy had married eight years ago, she’d been certain it would last forever. Never had she imagined that her husband would cheat on her. Or that she’d be divorced, childless and starting over at thirty-four.

“I almost didn’t recognize you,” a deep voice murmured.

An involuntary shiver slid up her spine at the sound of the rich baritone. She snagged a glass of champagne from a passing waiter’s silver tray before turning to meet Dr. Benedict Campbell’s steely gray eyes.

As usual, the man looked positively delectable. Tonight he wore brown trousers, a cream-colored button-down shirt open at the collar and shiny Italian loafers. His razor-cut dark hair was short enough to be professional but long enough to tempt a woman to run her fingers through the chestnut strands to see if they were as silky as they looked.

Benedict was an orthopedic surgeon and a darn good one if public opinion could be believed. He was also