Catching Serenity

Catching Serenity by Joann Durgin Read Free Book Online

Book: Catching Serenity by Joann Durgin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joann Durgin
breathe!” Pocketing the pad, she gathered her in a bear hug. “Why, honey, don’t you look prettier than ever! I heard you were back in town. Bet your dad’s pleased as punch to have you home.” She turned her attention to Jackson. “And I understand you’re the man they’re calling Doc Jack. Welcome to Croisette Shores. I heard you were coming to take over Doc Rasmussen’s practice. Nice to meet you.” She looked from one to the other of them. “Imagine you two sitting here together, making nice.” Nancy had a hearing problem, and she’d raised her voice at least ten decibels. Evidenced by the prevalent hush in the diner, her words must have carried across Martha’s Cup & Such. Wonderful.
    Thankfully, the handsome psychologist and the friendly waitress kept the conversation flowing as if Nancy hadn’t just fired up the old gossip train. “To be fair, Nancy, I’m not exactly taking over Doc’s practice,” Jackson said. “Phil’s been a mentor for me, and we both felt it best if I moved here now and got my practice established before he officially retires.” Listening to their conversation, Serenity envied the kind of instant camaraderie where two people—those who’d never met or even talked before—formed an automatic bond and chatted away like fast friends who’d seen each other the day before. How was that possible? It didn’t take a genius to see Jackson was the type of guy to make friends easily. She’d always admired that quality.
    Hearing her name hollered from the kitchen, Nancy frowned and called over her shoulder. “I’m coming, Harold! Hold on to your britches. So,”—she turned back to them—“what can I get you two?”
    “ I’ll have regular coffee, please,” Serenity said. Coffee was her one vice, and she’d missed her morning cup. “With two creamers.”
    “ I’ll have the same, but no creamer. Want to share a slice of cherry cheesecake?” Jackson asked her. “I have it on reputable authority it’s very good here.”
    Nancy grinned. “Oh, it’s better than good, Doc. You two enjoy yourselves and get acquainted. I’ll get your coffee and the cheesecake’s my treat.”
    Thanking Nancy, Serenity straightened in the chair and smoothed her hand over the shiny, black tabletop. “So, are your parents still card-carrying Green Peace devotees?”
    “ No, but I’m sure they support it one way or another. Are yours still jazz-loving, quasi-hippies?”
    Focusing on the antique neon wall clock, Serenity wondered why she’d continued the same conversation when they needed to discuss business matters. “Dad’s a retired fireman and slowly killing himself with cigarettes, and Mama hasn’t been seen or heard from in almost five years.” She almost gasped. What on earth possessed her to say so much to a man she’d known only a few minutes? Jackson straightened in his chair, but—to his credit—he didn’t look the other way, grunt or appear shocked. Of course, he probably heard all sorts of things in his practice and was experienced at hiding his gut reaction.
    “ I’m sorry,” she said, warmth invading her cheeks again. “I don’t know where that came from. I apparently inherited my bluntness from my father, and some of his cynicism.” She couldn’t blame Jackson if he bolted and avoided her the rest of his days, although it might be difficult in a town the size of Croisette Shores if he intended to stick around.
    “ It’s an honest and real response,” he said. The compassion lacing Jackson’s words surprised her, doctor or not. It seemed to come from somewhere deep inside, more than mere words meant to placate her. “I’m sorry about your mom, Serenity. I can’t imagine how tough that must be. I noticed you talked about her in past tense. If you ever feel like talking about it, I’m a decent listener, or so I’ve been told.”
    “ I imagine you are.” She hadn’t meant to sound flippant. “I mean, being a psychologist, I’m sure you spend a good

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