Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online

Book: Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
doing my own patch for sixty years—”
    â€œAnd you’ll do it another sixty,” he finished for her, setting the blood pressure cuff aside. “Nobody in the county grows better tomatoes, but if you don’t ease up, your bones are going to ache.” He picked up her hands. Her fingers were wiry, not yet touched by arthritis. But it was in her shoulders, in her knees, and there was little he could do to stop its march.
    He completed the exam, listening to her tell stories about her family. She’d been his second-grade teacher, and he’d thought then she was the oldest woman alive. After nearly twenty-five years, the gap had closed considerably. Though he knew she still considered him the little troublemaker who had knocked over the goldfish bowl just to see the fish flop on the floor.
    â€œI saw you coming out of the post office a couple of days ago, Mrs. Driscoll.” He made a notation on her chart. “You weren’t using your cane.”
    She snorted. “Canes are for old people.”
    He lowered the chart, lifted a brow. “It’s my considered medical opinion, Mrs. Driscoll, that you are old.”
    She cackled and batted a hand at him. “You always had a smart mouth, Brady Tucker.”
    â€œYeah, but now I’ve got a medical degree to go with it.” He took her hand to help her off the examining table. “And I want you to use that cane—even if it’s only to give John Hardesty a good rap when he flirts with you.”
    â€œThe old goat,” she muttered. “And I’d look like an old goat, too, hobbling around on a cane.”
    â€œIsn’t vanity one of the seven deadly sins?”
    â€œIt’s not worth sinning if it isn’t deadly. Get out of here, boy, so I can dress.”
    â€œYes, ma’am.” He left her, shaking his head. He couldhound her from here to the moon and she wouldn’t use that damn cane. She was one of the few patients he couldn’t bully or intimidate.
    After two more hours of morning appointments, he spent his lunch hour driving to Washington County Hospital to check on two patients. An apple and a handful of peanut butter crackers got him through the afternoon. More than one of his patients mentioned the fact that Vanessa Sexton was back in town. This information was usually accompanied by smirks, winks and leers. He’d had his stomach gouged several times by teasing elbows.
    Small towns, he thought as he took five minutes in his office between appointments. The people in them knew everything about everyone. And they remembered it. Forever. Vanessa and he had been together, briefly, twelve years before, but it might as well have been written in concrete, not just carved in one of the trees in Hyattown Park.
    He’d forgotten about her—almost. Except when he’d seen her name or picture in the paper. Or when he’d listened to one of her albums, which he’d bought strictly for old times’ sake. Or when he’d seen a woman tilt her head to the side and smile in a way similar to the way Van had smiled.
    But when he had remembered, they’d been memories of childhood. Those were the sweetest and most poignant. They had been little more than children, rushing toward adulthood with a reckless and terrifying speed. But what had happened between them had remained beautifully innocent. Long, slow kisses in the shadows, passionate promises, a few forbidden caresses.
    Thinking of them now, of her, shouldn’t make him ache. And yet he rubbed a hand over his heart.
    It had seemed too intense at the time, because they hadfaced such total opposition from her father. The more Julius Sexton had railed against their blossoming relationship, the closer they had become. That was the way of youth, Brady thought now. And he had played the angry young man to perfection, he remembered with a smirk. Defying her father, giving his own a lifetime of headaches. Making threats and

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