Because of her previous ER experiences? Or from something more personal? He was surprised by the flash of anger at the thought of someone hurting Larissa.
He signed Annie’s discharge orders, unable to get the thought out of his mind. From the moment he’d first met Larissa, they’d connected on some sort of subliminal level. He was attracted to her, not just because of her pretty face and soft, wavy, blonde hair. But because they were both extremely dedicated to their patients and shared the same interests, like running. He’d caught sight of her several times when he took to the running trails, always giving her a nod of recognition but never stopping to chat.
He’d had to work hard to keep his distance from her. Romance and work did not mix, a lesson he’d learned the hard way.
He’d come to Crystal Lake a year ago, his pride battered and his reputation tarnished. After a year, he’d gained the respect he’d so desperately needed. Soon, he hoped to win the position of medical director for emergency medicine, putting his painful past away once and for all.
He refused to even consider a personal relationship, especially with one of the nurses.
But as he watched Larissa give Annie a brief hug and escort her out the door, he couldn’t help wishing that he’d met Larissa under different circumstances. That she wasn’t a nurse working in the ER with him.
Because he liked her, far too much.
Larissa finished off the rest of her twelve-hour night shift, grateful when the steady stream of patients slowed to a mere trickle. Between her deep concerns over Annie Hinkle and her ridiculous awareness of Gabe, she was physically and mentally exhausted.
Outside, she paused to stare in awe at the rising sun sliding up the horizon in the east. The beautiful sight helped restore her sense of peace.
Church services would be nice, too, even though it was Saturday she knew Crystal Lake Church always held an early morning service. She slid into her car and headed in the direction of the small, beautiful, white church steeple clearly visible between the leaves of the trees. She was glad it was Memorial Day weekend as she had the next two days off before she had to return to work. As painful as the twelve-hour shifts were to endure, the extra days off were wonderful.
At the stoplight, she yawned so wide her jaw popped. Her eyelids became unbearably heavy, and she pried her eyes open with an effort. Maybe it was better to forgo church services and head home since she was likely to fall asleep anyway. Her apartment was only a few miles away. Thankfully, she made it home without a problem.
Inside, she set her alarm to go off in five hours, so she could try to get back on a day-shift schedule. The worst part about working nights was switching back to day shifts on her days off.
When her alarm blared five hours later, she groaned and staggered over to shut it off. Every cell in her body craved more sleep, but she forced herself to stay upright.
A cup of coffee and a light breakfast helped clear away the lingering fog hovering along the edges of her mind. She stared outside at the bright sunlight. What she needed was a good rush of adrenalin. She tugged her running gear on, pulled her wavy hair back into a ponytail to keep it off her neck. A visor helped block the harsh rays from the sun as she headed outside.
The first half mile was the hardest, but once she hit her stride and wound her way along the jogging trail, shaded by towering trees, she felt every one of her muscles relax into an exhilarating rhythm. Other than being in church, these were the times she felt the closest to God, and she silently recited a prayer as she ran.
Distant sounds of laughter wafted up from the lake, where locals and tourists were enjoying the water. She lived in a small apartment building outside of town without direct access to the lake, although buying a small house on the water was one of her goals.
Maybe next year, she thought with a smile. She’d come to Crystal Lake to escape a bad relationship and to get far away from the high crime rate of Chicago. The night the cops busted up a drug deal going down in the apartment across the hall from hers had pushed her over the edge.
So far, she absolutely loved it here in Crystal Lake.
Her peaceful run was abruptly interrupted by the harsh roar of a motorbike. She hugged the side of the trail, peering over her shoulder to make sure she saw the cyclist before he came upon her unexpectedly.