The passage struck a chord deep within. He’d remained so angry with Rebecca after the way she’d destroyed his reputation at the University Hospital in Madison. Telling his boss and the hospital leadership that he’d sexually harassed her when, in fact, she was simply upset because he’d broken off their relationship. She’d cost him his job. No matter how much he’d tried to deny her allegations, he knew there was no way to recover from the stigma.
It was her word against his, and he’d lost. Big time.
Shaking off the past, he focused on the pastor’s sermon. According to Pastor John, if he wanted to find peace, he first had to cleanse his soul. And that meant forgiving Rebecca.
Could he really do that? He knew he should, but saying and doing were two different things.
The organist began the closing hymn before he’d even realized the service was nearly over. And he was even more surprised that he hadn’t been watching the clock, the way he used to. In fact, he’d enjoyed the service.
“Thanks for bringing me, Gabe,” Larissa said softly. “That was exactly what I needed this morning.”
“My pleasure,” he responded. “Don’t tell my sister, but I liked it, too.”
She laughed, and the sound reminded him of picnics at the beach. Or maybe that was just the last time he could remember being happy. Odd that he felt more lighthearted and relaxed around Larissa.
“How would you like to go out on my boat this afternoon?” he offered. “I know the lake will be busy considering it’s the Memorial Day holiday, but we can still have fun.”
Her blue eyes glowed with excitement and surprise. “Oh, I’d love to do that. You have no idea how horrible it is sitting inside the apartment while everyone else is out having a good time.”
“Great. How about we grab some lunch and then head over to my place. Unless you need to go home first for some reason?”
“No, I’m fine.” She blushed. “And I was thinking of stopping at Rose’s Café, anyway.”
“Rose’s Café it is.” He was glad she’d agreed to come with him, even though he wasn’t exactly sure why he’d brought the idea up in the first place.
Nothing had changed. Larissa was still a nurse at Hope County Hospital, and he was still vying for the medical director position. He couldn’t afford to get emotionally involved with someone he worked with. Yet he could relate to where she was coming from. Sitting at home alone didn’t hold a lot of appeal for him, either.
He would just have to make sure that spending the day with Larissa was about being friends and nothing more.
Larissa told herself that being out on Gabe’s boat didn’t mean anything. Even though Josie had wagged her eyebrows when she’d noticed Larissa and Gabe together. Larissa tipped her face to the sun and tried to calm her racing heart. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea she’d ever had.
So why had she said yes?
The logical answer was that she’d been bored and hadn’t wanted to sit around in her apartment. But the real reason was that she liked Gabe. As a person, not just as a physician she worked with.
And she hadn’t liked a man in a really long time.
For the first time, she realized that she’d been running away from her past. As much as she learned to love Crystal Lake, the fact of the matter was that she would have worked anywhere that wasn’t Chicago Central.
Gabe wasn’t Rolland. She’d made one bad decision, but did she have to live with that one bad decision forever? Maybe it was time to forgive herself. Wasn’t that what Pastor John had suggested?
“I brought you here to relax, not to be stressed out,” Gabe said as he slowed the boat, banking gently around a curve.
She hadn’t realized that her distress had been so evident and cleared her features. “Sorry about that. I guess I was wallowing in the past. You’re right that being out on the water like this is very relaxing. You must come out here whenever you have a day off, weather permitting.”
“I don’t come out often enough,” he admitted. “I tend to lose myself in running instead.”
She grinned. “Yes, I know.”