Matters of The Heart
Madeline ‘Eden’ Jenning’s life is in upheaval. Growing older is perilous for her career. Aging gracefully does nothing for her if it means losing out on all she’s worked for. Plastic surgery becomes her obsession— finding the fountain of youth, a way to hold onto the persona she’s emulated for three decades. Desperation makes her beg her dearest friend for the best surgeon known in their area. She doesn’t expect him to be someone from her past. Tanner James Thornton, a well-known plastic surgeon, takes only the worst of all cases, those needing his skilled hands to give them a semblance of normalcy once again. When he promises a friend he’ll assess a new client, immediately he knows being her surgeon won’t work. Not only is he attracted to her, but he remembers who she was before the glam. He has the answers she needs that don’t revolve around Hollywood’s superficial reasons for body augmentation.
Rain pelted down on the morning of her appointment. Umbrella shielding her, she moved to the doors of the clinic. In her email box, she’d received a confirmation of appointment, was given a questionnaire and advised what to expect. Eden clicked her umbrella to close and shook off excess drops of water, and then entered the establishment.
A warm ambience greeted her. She’d expected the building to be a high rise. Pleased, she walked up to the receptionist’s desk.
“Good Morning, I’m here to check in for an assessment.”
“Name?” The receptionist asked while fielding phone calls from her headset.
“You’re a bit early, please fill out these forms, front and back, and don’t forget to include insurance policy numbers, if you decide to have surgery, payment options will be discussed, including monthly payments, should you qualify. One second please.” She paused, “Thank you for calling the Thornton clinic, please hold.” She shifted her attention back to Eden. “When you’re done please bring back the clipboard and the top document, the rest will go with you.”
“Thank you,” Eden said, as she found a plush seat to fill out the requested health assessment forms.
“Eden Jennings?” A nurse called from the opening of a private set of doors, leading to examination rooms.
“Yes,” Eden picked up her purse, tucked it under her arm and rose, following the nurse to the back.
“I’m Carmen, I’ll be joining Dr. Thornton during your physical. Please follow me.”
“Okay.” She eyed the efficient nurse and followed her past the doors leading to the back.
“Very. Is it obvious?”
“Normal. Anyone contemplating surgery should have a level of nervousness.”
Carmen’s warm smile made it easy for Eden to relax.
“Dr. Thornton’s door is two doors down on the left.”
Eden opened her mouth to speak.
“Thank you for the report, Mrs. Hatfield. I’m pleased to hear your son’s healing well. Don’t forget his check up in two weeks. No, daily reports aren’t necessary.”
“It can’t be.” She stopped dead still just before his office. Her heart lurched. One coincidence was enough, now two? She didn’t believe in such things. On the other side of that door sat TJ.
“Is there a problem Ms. Jennings?” Carmen said as she touched her arm lightly.
“I’ve made a mistake.”
“Panic is common, let’s go talk to the doctor and we’ll see if this is for you, okay?” She encouraged her.
“I—I can’t go in there. “Do you have another doctor?”
Carmen shook her head. “Doctor Thornton doesn’t have a partner, Ms. You did request him. I’m not sure why there’s a problem. I assure you he’s the best surgeon on the West coast.”
Bile rose in her throat. No way could she go in there and ask her first lover to augment her body.
“Carmen, bring my appointment in please.” A timber voice ordered over the intercom.
Eden darted a nervous glance at the door and began backing up toward the reception desk, her throat dry, hands shaking. She couldn’t very well explain why to the nurse. The sooner she made it out the door the better. Turning on her heal she made a break for the door.
Tanner James sure did know how to use her name like no other. His warm whiskey voice brought her to a screeching halt. Pasting a false smile on her she assumed face she turned. Her heartbeat spiked. His large body was leaning in the doorway. “Tanner James.” Who was the woman whispering his name on an airy breath?
“I thought we had an appointment. Are you backing out on me?
“I—uh.” She looked over at Carmen who watched the byplay with a look of interest.
“No,” she squeaked, not willing to give the satisfaction of him calling her a coward, as his eyes belied.
“Good. Today would be nice, now—even better.”
“Coming,” Eden said, blushing furiously at her choice of retort. A lot of time had passed since she’d been called Madeline. God, he even smelled the same. Time had taken away the youthful athlete and in its place stuck a debonair man. Her brain screamed run, her body screamed you’re home. Warring with what to say, she bit her tongue and sauntered toward him, determined not to let him find another reason to comment. Drat, that man and his chuckle.
“Carmen, please cancel the rest of my appointments for the day. Reschedule them and apologize for the short notice.”
“You don’t need me here?”
Bless her soul. The nurse wasn’t going to leave her alone.
“Maddy and I have some catching up to do, don’t we?” He dared her to disagree, in the tone of his voice. Melting like butter, Eden swallowed and shook her head no.
This was a great short story filled with lust and love. I loved the movie star angle to it and the whole body image problem the lead heroine faced. Laughed out loud when she started naming all the stuff off she didn’t eat and was like wow I wouldn’t be able to survive. Oh and TJ can we say NUMMY! I will never look at a desk or plastic surgeon the same way again.
I want a friend like T she seems like a really cool chick. As always I am pleasantly pleased with this wonderful author and left wanting more. The whole idea of writing a story off of a tarot card was a great one and hope she continues to write them.