Teaser Tuesday: His Texas Heart

Texas Hearts Book Six

Time was running out for Cole Rivers.  He may not have been born in the United States, but Texas was the only place he'd ever called home.  He had just weeks to find the proof he needed, or risk being deported.  All he needed was a little help from the daughter of the local doctor who'd treated him years ago.  He didn't count on Dr. RaeAnne Daniels being so difficult to work with.  But despite his own troubles, and the distraction this beautiful woman became with each passing day, how could he leave her in her time of need?

RaeAnne Daniels never knew why it was so important for her father had set up his medical practice on the border of Mexico instead of working in a thriving Texas city like the one she practiced in.  But when her father died and left RaeAnne in charge of cleaning up his office, she found it hard to leave the border town and people she'd always resented growing up.  Cole Rivers had been her father's patient and he had problems of his own.  The break-ins at her father's clinic and the drugs being stolen were her problem.  But that didn't stop her from falling for the devastatingly handsome cowboy with a heart of gold...or stop him from showing her how wonderful true love could really be.

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“The office is closed. Unless it’s an emergency, you’ll have to come back in the morning.”

The woman calling out to him was clearly annoyed by the after-hours intrusion. And who could blame her? It was a hundred and fifteen degrees outside and probably just as hot inside. But a closed door had never stopped Cole Rivers before. The truth was, he’d lived a lifetime with doors slamming in his face.

Undaunted, Cole stepped into the office and took a quick look around. He had no memory of ever being here, although if today were his lucky day, he’d find evidence to prove it.

The sound of tools being hastily moved around in a box pulled his attention to the back room. He slowly walked down the narrow hall toward the source of the noise. That’s when he saw the woman.

“Air conditioning out?”

Startled, the woman turned around quickly and fell on her backside from the crouched position she’d been in.

Looking up at him through the sweaty hair that had fallen in front of her face, she said, “You wouldn’t happen to be an electrician, would you?”


She heaved a sigh as her shoulders sagged. “I was all ready to barter services with you if you were. Sorry, the office is closed.”

“I heard you from the other room,” he said.

She pushed her hair away from her face and tilted an eyebrow. “And you decided to ignore me and come in anyway?”

“That’s right.”

She grunted her frustration. “Look, I’m really busy. If this isn’t an emergency, I really need you to come back tomorrow.”

“What’s wrong with the unit?”

She squinted her dark eyes, making them even harder for Cole to see them. “Excuse me?”

“Your air conditioner, what’s wrong with it?”

“If I knew that, I could fix it. But right now it’s all guesswork.”

“Mind if I have a look?”

“You said you’re not an electrician.”

“I’m a jack-of-all-trades, also known as a ranch hand. I’ve fixed everything from tractor motors to washing machines when I had to.”


“Yes, ma’am.”

She took a step aside. “Be my guest then.”

He looked down at the box on the floor and picked up a butter knife with a mangled tip, most likely the result of using it as a makeshift screwdriver.

“It helps when you actually have tools to work with.”

She cocked her head to one side. “You don’t say? It also helps when you have a medical practice that actually has patients who can pay their bills. But since this isn’t one of them, we make do with what we have.”

Cole felt his lips lift to a smile despite her sarcasm and the uncomfortable temperature inside the building. He liked her spirit. Up close, he decided he liked the woman’s full lips, too. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d noticed golden flex in a woman’s eyes, but she had them as well, and they were a sharp contrast to her eye’s dark brown color.

“Do you have a name to go with all that sass or do you just scare people off before they have a chance to find out?”

She gave him a bashful smile. “Rae, ah, Dr. RaeAnne Daniels.”

“I see. I’m going to need a little room here to pull this apart. Do you mind taking a few steps back, Rae?”

She moved out of his way. Cole brushed against her leg as he got into position in front of the air conditioner.

Using the butter knife, he unfastened the screws on the front of the air conditioner unit and put them in his pocket for safekeeping. “Good Lord, when was the last time you cleaned this filter?”

Her face turned crimson. “I’m guessing it’s been a long time. I don’t know how often my father did it but he passed away last year. I’ve been working at the Hawk Pass clinic a few months digging out, ur, through his files.”

He gave her a half grin. “Well, if this isn’t the problem, it’s certainly contributed to it. Do you have a vacuum?”

“Yes, in the closet. Let me get it.”

Cole took the few minutes it took for Rae to collect the vacuum to inspect the innards of the air conditioner. She came back with the small vacuum that was probably about as old as she was, and had seen better days.

“Have you cleaned out the bag in this thing?”

She cocked her head to one side again and gave him a sarcastic look. “This morning.” Then she made a face. “I was sucking up spider webs in the back room.”

“At least we know the vacuum works.”

Rae plugged in the vacuum and Cole went to work sucking out all the dust that was impeding airflow from the air conditioner. When he was done, he gave the inside a quick inspection to make sure no wires were pulled away. Then he popped the cover back on and turned the unit on.

A small amount of residue dust blew out through the vents as it turned on. Within a minute, it was pushing out cool air along with the dust.

After the dust cleared, Rae bent down and put her face in the stream of air and quickly pulled back.

“It smells awful.”

“I’d say it’s time to get a new unit.”

“Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards right now. This practice isn’t exactly making a profit.”

“It’s working now but I can’t guarantee it’s going to make it for very long.”

“I’ll squeeze as much time out of it as I can. Thank you so much for doing this. I was about ready to take a sledge hammer to it.”

She rushed to the door of the small room they were in and closed it. “This should help it cool down quickly. I might actually be able to get some work done.”

Turning to Cole, she said, “I can’t thank you enough.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Now, what was so urgent that you needed to see a doctor after hours?”

“I don’t actually need a doctor. I needed to talk to Dr. Raymond Daniels.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I was one of your father’s patients.”

She pulled back slightly, surprised by his admission. “Oh, it must have been a long time ago.”

“Yes, it was.”

It may have been a year ago that her father died, but the emotion was still very strong and showed in her expression when she talked of him.

Cole did his best to squash down his disappointment. It paled in comparison to her loss.

“I’m sorry to hear that. I’m sorry for your loss,” he said.

“Thank you. I don’t know if there is anything I can do to help you.”

“I was hoping he’d remember me. But since he’s passed away, I guess I’m out of luck.”

* * *

Terrific. She’d been down in this godforsaken border town for two months and she had yet to meet a single person who’d been born in this country. She looked at the man’s face. She’d been drawn to his dark eyes from the moment she’d looked at him. He was a handsome man, but in a rugged sort of way that she wasn’t used to. Unlike most of the men she’d met during med school and her residency, this man was an outdoor man. His skin was bronzed from the sun and his hands—yes, she’d noticed them, too—were calloused on the palms. He wasn’t afraid of hard work.

But that didn’t make him like all the other people she’d met since she’d arrived in Hawk Pass. Maybe he wasn’t from around here.

Rae crossed her arms over her chest and sighed, trying not to show the impatience she felt. Her practice these days consisted of patients who wanted to pay for their services through bartering. She didn’t need a goat, not that anyone had offered. But she did need someone to help her repair the damage neglect and age had caused to the building.

The only problem was she couldn’t trust any of the people who’d walked through that door to help her do it. Most of the people who’d come and gone wanted day work and a paycheck. The next day they were a no show on the job, leaving her with a mess bigger than the one she’d had when she’d arrived.

“I’m sorry for your troubles. I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do to help you.”

“On the contrary. I was told that your father, Dr. Daniels, was one of the few border doctors who kept meticulous records of all of his patients. I’m hoping I can get copies of my medical file, if it still exists.”

“Who told you something like that?”

“I’ve done my research. It doesn’t matter who told me.”

“What matters to me is that if someone is out there spreading rumors, I want to know who it is. If I’m to be of any use to anyone at this clinic, then I need to know what’s going on down here.”

“You mean your father never told you?”

Irritation bubbled up inside of her. Secrets and more secrets. How many times had she heard her mother ask her father about the time he spent here only to have him close himself off. Her father had lived a lifetime of secrets, and she and her mother paid the cost.

No, her father had never thought revealing his life here was necessary. He’d encouraged Rae to go into medicine. That is, when she saw him. And that wasn’t very often at all. Why her mother had stayed married to him all those years, Rae never understood.

But Rae knew the answer to that question all too well. Her parents had loved each other. She’d seen it with her own two eyes. When they were together, it had been like nothing Rae had ever seen with any other couple she’d met. It was something she longed for herself, but had yet to feel.

“My father ran this clinic his way. I do things a little different. When was it that you last saw my father?”

“It was a long time ago. I was still very young. I was counting on him still having the records though.”

Rae knew that if this man had actually been here any time during the thirty plus years her father had his practice, it meant those records were here somewhere. Her father never threw out anything, which is why the place was such a mess. Finding those files was just a matter of unearthing them from “the vault”.

“I’m sorry. I can’t help you. I have way too much work to do to get this office looking anything that resembles a real clinic and right now I’m all there is. I just can’t spare the time to look through the files unless they are from my father’s current clients.”

He considered her for a moment.

“It is really important that I have access to those records if they exist.”

“I understand. My father had a lot of patients. Thousands. The vault, uh, the storage locker has records from years ago. But my father’s only obligation was to keep records for his current patients. I’m sorry. There’s just too much work for me to do around here to go searching for ancient records.”

“What do you need to have done here?”

“Excuse me?”

“What do you need to do to get this place running?”

“Well, for starters I need to make repairs to the building. I need to find a contractor who can work for next to nothing and work miracles with the materials I have and then show up every day to work instead of disappearing on me after a day’s work. I need to log what is here and still in working order and then order new supplies, that is, if I can afford them. The windows in the back of the exam rooms need to be glazed because the office was broken into. Oh, and I have to find some money somewhere to get an alarm system put in so the clinic doesn’t get broken into again. And that’s just for starters. So you see—”


She blinked. “What?”

“I can make a list of the repairs that need to be made to the building and start working on them tomorrow. If you already have the glass for the windows, I can glaze them. I don’t know anything about alarm systems but I’m sure we can find someone within a twenty mile radius of Hawk Pass who knows a thing or two about them, or where to get someone who can install one.”

She shook her head as disbelief filled her. “Why are you doing this?”

“I need that file. Sooner rather than later would be best.”

He spoke directly and soberly.

“How soon?”

“Fifteen days.”

“So no rush then?”

He smiled then, although she was sure he found no amusement in his situation.

“I’m good with a hammer. I’ve done ranch work for years. And I’m the best price in town.”

She shrugged with a smile. “And what’s that?”

“Can’t get any better than free.”

Rae took a slow look around the office. It was a mess. She’d been here two months and although it looked far better on the inside than it had been when she’d arrived, the exterior was still a disaster. She needed to step up her game and get the clinic open again. She needed patients who could pay and make this a thriving practice.

On his deathbed, her father had begged Rae to give one year to the clinic, sort out what she could, and then see about getting another doctor in to replace her when the year was up. Filled with despair over losing her father, she’d made a promise to him to commit to a year. And each day of the two months she’d been here, she’d wondered why he gave up life with his family for this.

“I guess you can start by telling me your name.”

Rae was rewarded with a wide smile that hinted of the playfulness of a young boy. But this was no boy. This man with dark eyes and rich brown hair that made a woman’s fingers itch to comb through it was probably about her age. His shoulders stretched the fabric of his shirt tight against a wall of muscles on his chest. It annoyed her that she’d noticed at all.

Dark eyes. Warm eyes.

“I’m Cole Rivers.” He held out his hand and waited for her to slip her hand against his palm. The simple act of flesh on flesh made her head dizzy. As a doctor, she touched strangers all day long. But this was…different.

“Pleased to meet you, Cole Rivers.”

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