Below is an excerpt from my contemporary Christian romance, A Heart Held Captive. Emily met Cole during a physical therapy appointment for a foster kid she recently took under her wing.
It took a while, but she finally responded to his interest in her and the following scene is one of their first dates – a picnic lunch at Cole’s PT clinic. Enjoy!
What am I doing? Emily shook her head as she gazed into the bathroom mirror on Friday morning. How had she gone from seven years of solitude and contentment to suddenly longing to see a man whom she had only met a month ago? Was this really what God wanted for her? She wasn’t sure, but the fact remained, she was enamored with Cole.
While a batch of cookies baked in the oven, she assembled sandwiches and put fruit, chips and bottled water in a small cooler for their lunch date. She arrived at PT Possibilities as Cole was giving a goodbye fist bump to a young girl in the entryway. The girl left, and Cole smiled at Emily. “Perfect timing. Do you mind if we eat outside?”
“That would be great. It’s a beautiful day.”
“Okay good. There’s a picnic table out back. One sec.” He turned to the receptionist at the front desk. “Shannon, can you add these notes into Megan’s file and make a copy of this form for me?”
The woman nodded as she took the papers from Cole. “Thanks. By the way, I’m clocking out for lunch now.” Then he turned toward Emily. “Alright, let’s head out.”
They walked to the back of the facility and out a rear door Emily didn’t realize existed. She spotted the picnic table, and though it wasn’t exactly picturesque next to a dumpster, it would do the trick. After placing her cooler on the table, she unloaded the food she’d packed. Out of nowhere, two hands gently slid around her waist from behind.
“I didn’t get a proper hello.” Cole’s voice was lighthearted as he leaned his chest against her back, squeezing her tight.
“Ah, I was not aware of the rules. My apologies.” Emily’s breath caught in her throat at the unexpected backwards hug. Her hands stilled as she leaned back to enjoy the moment. “I hope you like turkey sandwiches.”
Cole removed his arms and walked around to the opposite side of the picnic table. “Oh yeah, I’m not picky. Thanks for doing this, by the way. My coworkers noticed I was unusually excited for lunch today.”
Emily suppressed a giggle, then handed him a paper plate and gestured toward the food. They loaded their plates and sat to eat. “How’s your day going?”
“Pretty good. Though I gotta tell you, one of my favorite clients is no longer coming on Fridays. So, it will be kind of a let-down when I get to the end of my shift.”
Emily raised an eyebrow. “One of your favorite clients? Should I be worried?”
Cole laughed. “Okay, okay, you’re my favorite. Hands down. There, I said it.”
Physical therapist Cole Pearson has had his share of shallow relationships. But after a year of soul searching, his eyes are opened to what he really wants in life—and in a relationship. When he learns that ER nurse Emily Jenkins has volunteered to pay for a foster child’s therapy, he is instantly drawn to her generous spirit. If only he can convince her to take things beyond their casual conversations at the clinic.
Emily is a prisoner to her past mistakes and insists on paying a price God never asked her to pay. When she finally allows herself to grow closer to Cole, her flawed beliefs are exposed and her wounded heart begins to mend. But when tragedy strikes, Emily is sent into a tailspin. Can Cole help her move past the guilt and grasp the freedom of God’s grace, or will she revert back to the captivity of her old ways and shut Cole out of her life for good?
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