Just One Night - Josh & Bailey

By: Melanie Shawn

(Crossroads #13)

Chapter 1

“Come on, baby.” Bailey spoke in a soothing voice as her hand softly caressed the smooth, hard surface. “You can do it. Do it for me.”

Her fingers tightened and she flicked her wrist.

There was a click…but nothing else.

“Come on, Buford!” Bailey turned the key in the ignition of her late grandfather’s 1960 Ford pickup truck once more and held her breath, willing the engine to turn with all her might.

All her might fell short.

She let out a huff of frustration. If the definition of insanity was repeating the same action and expecting a different result, then Bailey Rossum was certifiable. That wasn’t actually the definition. Still, there was a better than good chance she’d fall in that category anyway. Case in point, she was currently sweet-talking an inanimate object. One that she’d inadvertently named when she was three years old by asking if she could ride in Grandpa’s “boo Ford.” Translation: blue Ford. Sure, it was a beloved inanimate object, but still not the actions of a sane person.

“Please! I’ll do anything. Just start.” Her head fell back as she bargained with God, the universe, a genie in a bottle she didn’t possess, whoever, or whatever was listening.

Bailey wasn’t sure what was out there and she wasn’t arrogant enough to rule anything out. In her profession, people were often accused of having God complexes. As a surgeon, it was sometimes easy to feel like an all-powerful being when holding life and death in your hands in the most literal sense. She had a few colleagues that certainly fit that profile, but she wasn’t one of them.

Her foray into medicine was not born out of an over-inflated ego, which for many seemed to be a prerequisite in her chosen career path. No, her decision to become a pediatric surgeon was due to an extremely personal experience. At a very young, impressionable age, she’d witnessed a surgeon perform a miracle and from that moment on, her destiny was sealed.

Days like today, the ones when she lost a patient and had to walk into a waiting room and deliver the worst possible news any parent could ever receive, she knew the profession had chosen her and not the other way around. There was no way she’d have aspired to do this. It was her destiny.

But lately, she’d been worrying about herself. She could feel herself slipping away and she was concerned that if she didn’t do something soon, the Bailey she knew would be lost forever. She was self-aware enough to recognize that she was disconnecting and hardening out of self-preservation. Each time she experienced a day like today, which thankfully wasn’t often, she could feel herself growing more detached.

That worry was why she was stuck in the middle of nowhere. The only parental figure she’d ever had that was worth a damn was her grandfather, Amos Rossum. He’d passed away when she was twelve, but her best childhood memories had been with him. Buford, his blue Ford, was his pride and joy. Whenever she was confused or upset, she’d drive Buford to try and feel close to him.

Bailey looked out over the dark, rolling fields and a sense of belonging washed over her. Two weeks before her sixteenth birthday, she’d left the only town that had ever felt like home and she’d sworn she’d never be back. Cut to six years ago, when her father passed away and she inherited her grandpa’s house. That’s when she’d made the difficult decision to come back to Harper’s Crossing.

Growing up she’d moved a lot. Every few months she’d find herself in a new town, in a new apartment or trailer. Her dad worked construction on good months and odd jobs most other months. They moved where the jobs were. The only constant that had been in her life were the times she’d come to visit Harper’s Crossing and stay with Grandpa Rossum. Then, the summer before seventh grade, they got a call that she’d never forget. Her beloved grandpa was gone and he’d left his home to her father.

Her family moved to the small town she’d always loved visiting and although she’d missed her grandpa, she’d hoped that there would finally be some stability in their lives. And there had been. The three years she lived in Harper’s Crossing had been the best of her life.

Melancholy rolled over her, and just like she always did whenever the past reared its ugly head, she ignored it.

She grabbed her phone and checked it once more, but there was no change from two minutes ago. She still had zero reception and now she was two minutes later for the annual Harper’s Crossing Community Hospital Fundraiser.

She’d already missed the dinner portion of the evening, thanks to an unpleasant turn of events. Two hours ago, the man that she’d been seeing for the past two months called to inform her that he wasn’t going to make it because he’d just found out his wife, his wife, was pregnant.

He was married. And she was pregnant.

As a single, thirty-four-year-old woman who was perpetually a contestant in the dating game, nothing should shock her at this point. Somehow, though, people still managed to surprise the hell out of her, and not in a good way.

She stared at the numbers illuminated on her screen and knew that willing things to be different wasn’t going to help the situation. If she didn’t check into the event by 8 p.m., the hospital could lose thousands in pledges.