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Amen to Love

Amen to Love

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Amen to Love

157 Seiten
3 Stunden
Sep 17, 2016


Dr. Bond Bergstrom fights to save the life of a man shot near the lakeside path where he jogs. Later, when the hospital where Bond works as chief of surgery learns the shooter attempted to kill him also, the board insists on assigning security protection to him 24/7 until the killer is caught.

Bond is furious with the decision. Former Navy SEALs, he argues, can protect themselves better than anyone in the world. Not so, counters former Delta Force operative Rory O’Shea. He’s the hot, sexy Irish-American who owns the agency providing the hospital’s routine security.

Bond grudgingly gives in, unaware that O’Shea has an ulterior motive in assigning himself to spend nights with the doctor as his personal bodyguard. Will O’Shea prove he has what it takes to satisfy Bond -- both in and out of the bedroom?
Sep 17, 2016

Über den Autor

For Carolina Valdez, books and writing have been a major pleasure in her life. Multi-published and winning awards in nonfiction and fiction, Valdez had no idea what she was writing until a member of her critique group mentioned her “romance.” Enthralled by that genre, she has focused on it ever since. She is a member of RWA-PAN (the Published Author Network of Romance Writers of America) and RWA's Orange County, California, and Pasic chapters. Suspense and murder crop up in her romances because she's also a member of the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime. She and her husband reside in southern California, only minutes away from mountains, desert or beach. For more information, please visit

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  • As he drove home, he thought again about how much he enjoyed being a doctor. Had loved it, even in that tent in the desert, because his skills could mean the difference for a hostage or a warrior between being maimed for life or dying.


Amen to Love - Carolina Valdez


Chapter 1

Gunfire. Four shots. There was no mistaking the sound.

Bond dove off the jogging path and belly crawled to hide in the mountain forest’s undergrowth. The leaves had begun to turn fall colors on some trees and drop, but the firs and pines here were thick and green. He lay flat with his ball cap bill pulled low to hide the reflection of his skin until he heard a car peel out and its motor grow fainter and fainter until it disappeared.

Realizing he hadn’t been the target, he duck walked out of the trees and scanned the lake and shore. A fully clothed man lay in the sand near the lake’s edge, curled in fetal position with his back to Bond. Footprints across the tan sand indicated he’d been running to escape his attacker or attackers.

With no vehicles or people in sight, Bond took off running and then jammed his knees in the sand as he dropped beside the man. Are you hurt?

Shot, the man groaned. His face was tight with pain and wet with sweat and tears. The corners of his mouth were red with blood. He was dressed in jeans and an ordinary sweatshirt of faded green.


Chest. Gut. I’m dying.

We’ll do our best to prevent that. I’m a physician. Let me see. Gently, he helped the wounded man roll onto his back. Blood seeping from his belly and chest wounds had soaked his shirt and discolored the fine gray sand. The acrid, coppery smell permeated the clean mountain air.

Jesus, it’s Afghanistan all over again.

I’m Bond Bergstrom. What’s your name?

Will…Hammond. So hard to breathe. He coughed up a trickle of red liquid.

Bond was already yanking his damp T-shirt over his head and off. He balled it up. We need to stop this bleeding in your abdomen, Will. This may hurt more than you do already, but we need to keep pressure on it.

He pressed the ball over the hole in the man’s belly and pressed.

It was a tough call. If he supported the man’s torso against his kneeling thighs he might breathe better, but then it would be harder for blood to circulate life-giving oxygen to his brain. If his lungs were filling with blood—and he hoped to hell they weren’t—without a chest tube he might suffocate anyway.

Raising Hammond’s legs to improve blood flow to the heart would simply drive more of it into his belly and out the wound. It was six of one and half dozen of the other.

Hell, I only have one hand anyway and need to staunch the heaviest bleeding.

He had no choice but to wait for the paramedics. With his free hand, he thumbed 911 on his cell.

The victim continued to moan and cry out in pain.

Hang in there, Will. I’m calling for help.

Nine-one-one. What is your emergency? a woman’s steady voice asked.

This is Dr. Bergstrom, on the east side of the lake near the Serrano Bridge with a male GSW victim. Profuse bleeding abdomen and chest. Send paramedics, ambulance, and sheriff. Red lights and siren. He’d reassured the man about his condition, so Bond hoped he didn’t understand the call for red lights and siren meant hurry because life hung in the balance.

When the operator told him to keep the line open until help arrived, he agreed. What’s the ETA?

In moments the estimated time of arrival came—four minutes.

Maybe this man will make it after all.

To the patient, he said, Help’s coming soon. Hang with me.

Will’s pulse raced; his breathing was shallow and rapid with air hunger. He was slipping into shock. When Bond asked who had shot him, he lifted his arm and pointed. They did. He lost consciousness.

Damn it all, who is they?

At the sound of an approaching vehicle, Bond turned his head expecting paramedics, but instead saw a rifle barrel protruding from the back window of an SUV. Without thinking, his Special Forces training kicked in and he flung himself flat over the victim and held his breath. The crack as the rifle fired and the whine as the bullet passed too close over his head sent his heart rate into paroxysms. Shaken, he thanked God the attacker was a lousy marksman.

Sirens wailed, then grew louder. The SUV motor gunned loudly and raced off before a second shot could be fired. Bond pulled up to sit on his knees, one hand keeping pressure on the wound, the other still clutching his phone.

Dr. Bergstrom, are you all right? the operator asked.

Through it all, he’d kept the line open. I’m okay…shot missed. Tell the sheriff’s department a dark SUV’s speeding away east around the lake. That’s the only description I have.

The sound of the sirens died, and a red truck braked to a stop on the jogging path. A fire truck and a county sheriff’s car pulled in behind it and two uniformed officers in dark green uniforms stepped out. The medics are getting out of their rig now. I’m hanging up. Thanks for your help.

He stood and stepped back to let three men and a woman in dark blue uniforms take over.

Thank God you’re here. This patient needs a helluva lot more care than I can give him.

Three of the paramedics unzipped duffel bags and rapidly took over applying pressure on Will’s wounds, checked his vitals, started oxygen and IV fluids.

I’m David, Dr. Bergstrom, the lead paramedic firefighter introduced himself.

Bond lifted his bloody hands. I’d shake, but—

David handed him a bottle of water and some paper towels. While Bond washed his hands, dried them, and finished with alcohol gel, he listened as the firefighter set up the radio and contacted the ER’s mobile intensive care RN to report the procedures they’d implemented and discuss the victim’s EKG tracings and vitals with her.

Bond knew the MICN would report the findings to the ER physician.

In moments David said, Dr. Goodman, sir, and handed the receiver to Bond.

You’ve got a nasty one there, Bergstrom. What’s your call?

Stan Goodman was an excellent physician, and Bond was glad he was on duty. I’d medivac him to a trauma center. We don’t have a thoracic surgeon on staff, and I doubt we have a general surgeon who’s experienced with gunshot wounds that might involve major organs. I could assist, but my specialty—

Is orthopedics.

Right. I don’t recommend me despite my battlefield experiences. At times, he’d had to do it all because it was him or no one. It’s your call, Stan. The ER doc is always in charge.

From what I’m seeing on the readouts, I agree a helo trip is his best option. The MIC nurse is ordering it now. You okay?

Other than having almost peed my pants at being shot at, I’m okay.

Goodman laughed. Well, if he survives, he’s damned lucky you were there, he said, and signed off.

The paramedic suggested flushing Bond’s eyes with normal saline in case any blood had gotten in them. He didn’t protest.

As he patted them dry with a gauze square, he began to feel the letdown in the aftermath of the emergency setting in. Exhaustion followed. By the time he’d answered the deputies’ questions, waited for, and repeated his story to detectives named Wilson and Johannsen, he was ready to go home.

Before getting in his car, he used the lakeshore’s foot shower to rinse blood and sand off his shoes, feet, and legs. His shirt—still on Hammond’s belly and reinforced with bandages and secured with tape—would fly to the ICU in the valley and would become evidence. He could kiss it goodbye.

He stuck his wet shoes in the trunk. Torso and feet bare, he drove home.

After he’d parked in the garage and secured it, Bond unlocked the door leading into the service porch. He poured liquid soap in the washer and stripped, thinking to wash the blood, dirt, and sand away. Oh, to hell with it, he said, and strode outside in his birthday suit to dump it all in the bear-resistant trash bin at the rear of the house. Huff Vernon, who owned the house behind his and was his closest neighbor, was away and there was no one to see him.

After walking naked through the dark, quiet house to the upstairs bathroom, he stepped in the shower and lathered every inch of his body head to toe. The warm water, verging on hot, rinsed away the lather and fatigue. He felt halfway revived when he emerged from the bathroom clean and dry.

He selected a pair of hospital scrubs from a drawer and pulled them on. Although the hospital provided them in the surgeons’ dressing room, he kept his personal supply at home because they were so comfortable to lounge in around the house. He was ready to head down to the kitchen when his cell rang.

Marshall, one of the area’s only plastic and reconstructive surgeons said, Are you okay? On the seven o’clock news, they’re calling you a hero.

Bond couldn’t squelch the groan escaping his throat. Hero, like hell. All I did was call 911. We don’t even know if the guy’s gonna make it.

The video shows your gorgeous torso shirtless while you talk to the cops. What were you doing out there? Swimming?

Since this was an attempted murder, he was reluctant to discuss it. I was jogging.

Marshall nodded. I hear you covered him with your body when they shot at you and the victim again.

Bond let out a grunt of disgust. You know how the media sensationalizes things.

His new acquaintance laughed his agreement. I have pizza and beer, and I’m not on call. Care to share?

Only if you come here. Nothing but salads in my fridge, and after ten hours in surgery, then jogging and tending a wounded man, I’m beat. A little surprised because they didn’t know each other that well, he nevertheless wasn’t going to turn down an offer of food. He was exhausted and starving.

I bet you are. See you in fifteen.

When the front door buzzer sounded in three minutes, Bond started toward it, his feet still shoeless. Since it was too soon for Marshall, he used the peephole before opening. An unfamiliar woman paced in front of the steps to his storm door. If it hadn’t been locked, he got the feeling she and the man behind her with the camera and big light might have barged in uninvited.

Parked on the street was a blue van with a dish antenna on top and the name of a Los Angeles news channel stenciled on the side.

Crap. Double, double crap. All the way to Black Bear for this? They must be hard up for news, he thought.

He crept backward step-by-step, grateful the only light on in the house was a small one at the back in the bathroom upstairs. Making his way down to the basement, he texted Marshall. News crew in front. Park next street down. Man behind me not home. Come through his yard, creep to basement door.

The basement was fully furnished and well insulated against winter snows or summer heat. Bond plugged in a couple of nightlights, which wouldn’t show outside with the heavy black draperies closed.

* * * *

Marshall tapped three dots, four dashes with a dot, and ended with three dots. SOS. Bond laughed as he recognized Morse code for Save Our Ship. Opening the door just long enough for the almost too thin form of the shorter Marshall to slip inside, he closed it quietly behind him and stuck a twenty and ten

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