Authors: Lietha Wards
Lance and Tammy
Published by the author. Distributed worldwide by Amazon
This book must not be copied or printed unless the author has given written permission for personal printing. It must not be sold in digital or printed form nor offered free or for sale on any website other than amazon.com
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This is the seventh installment of the Series.
It has been a long awaited book, but I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did writing it for you. Now, on to Lance and Tammy.
Tammy shut her alarm off and got out of bed to have a shower. It was seven thirty in the morning, late by her standards. She usually rose at around six if she had a shift at the hospital. Today she was heading out to the Lansdowne Ranch.
She dressed quickly in casual jeans and a blue blouse with a ruffled front, and then checked her messages. She’d turned her ringer off in the evening when she needed sleep, but left her answering machine on. She didn’t own a cell phone because she found them too expensive and distracting.
She lived in a one bedroom apartment with a comfy couch, an older television without cable, and a small table that sat two, next to the kitchenette. There was also a small table with a lamp beside the couch and a worn coffee table. The floors were old hardwood that could probably use some refinishing and the walls had flowery wallpaper covering throughout the entire apartment, including the kitchen. Yes, it was small and outdated, but modest and warm in the winter. It was one of two apartments above the local grocery store. A social worker lived across the hall and was quite pleasant. She was certain they kept the same hours because she’d only saw her half a dozen times since the other woman moved in two years ago.
The furniture belonged to the landlord. Tammy had no use for material things because she didn’t spend much time there or care to own much of anything. Besides, if she had to move suddenly, she could leave with two suitcases of clothes and not worry about leaving anything expensive behind.
She pushed the blinking button on her answering machine. It was old, like everything else in the apartment, but it worked. There were two messages from the hospital offering a choice of casual shifts; one evening, or one night shift. She phoned back and took the evening one. That would cut her day a little shorter with her favorite client, but she’d understand. Besides, Debbie was doing much better over the past few weeks and they spent more time visiting than she did assisting her. She smiled to herself and quickly combed her hair. She was pleased to see an improvement in her.
Tammy was a workaholic, and she thrived on it. She was driven by a deep compassion for her profession. So much so, that she currently had three jobs. She worked part-time as Doctor Hartley’s nurse at his private practice, casual in the emergency room at the local hospital, and two days a week out at the Hartley ranch helping Doctor Hartley’s sister in law, Elaina Hartley, with her mother. People told her she’d burn out with that kind of schedule, but she never did, and she’d been doing it for almost five years.
It wasn’t just her passion though. She always had the determination to prove something to herself and give back. It made her happy—helping people. It wasn’t just for others. It was enjoyable for her to see the accomplishments and personal growth she’d achieved through this helping profession. It fulfilled her.
Unbeknownst to others including her closest friends, she was raised completely different than the working class. No one knew of her childhood, or really where she came from. She left home at eighteen after she graduated high school, and went into nursing. It was a big disappointment to her parents who had her whole life planned right down to which colleges she was going to, what profession she was doing, and to who and when she was getting married, but she didn’t let that stop her. They completely disapproved of her career choice and her response was to distance herself from her family. So, besides a brief phone call now and then, she stayed away. Not because she didn’t love them. She just couldn’t be what they wanted her to be and her mother especially, wouldn’t let up about certain things. When people asked her about them, she was evasive and was always able to redirect the subject successfully. She never really let anyone get too close about her personal life.
Elaina Hartley was probably the only person who knew her best, and she didn’t pry into Tammy’s past unless she volunteered information, which she didn’t. It was the way Elaina was. She didn’t like people knowing about her private life or struggles either, so she understood. Yet it didn’t stop her from lecturing her about working too hard.
Elaina was one of the most unselfish people she ever met and Tammy adored her. She’s spent most of her young life looking after her mother when her father died, and nearly let the love of her life get away. Elaina would say it was Tammy that helped her and Colton Hartley get back together, but Tammy would disagree. Elaina was funny, smart, full of life, and not to mention, utterly gorgeous. Colt was already in love with her, but Elaina kept pushing him away. It wasn’t until Tammy finally figured out why, Elaina opened up to her. After that, she told Colt the truth, and instead of turning her away like Elaina thought he would, he married her. They were probably the happiest couple she’d ever seen. Well, Tess and Jacob, Doctor Hartley, Colt’s older brother, seemed to be blissful too. It’s just as well, those Hartley men were ridiculous heartthrobs. Now, only one remained unmarried.
She had watched with a hidden longing at the girlfriends that came and went over the past few years. It was the hardest thing she ever had to do. It was not easy seeing him with women when she pined for him. It served her right though. She should have said something. Now it seemed as too much time had passed, and if anything were to happen between them, it would have occurred by now. She knew she missed her opportunity, if there ever was one. She had no idea on how to even flirt, so what could she do? He also seemed completely oblivious of her feelings, or her, for that matter. The only solace she did have was that when he was with another woman, he wasn’t openly affectionate in public. She was grateful, unsure how she could handle seeing that. She could probably hear her heart shatter if she witnessed it. Honestly though, since when wasn’t she confident and outgoing? The Tammy everyone knew would have said something by now. Yet, again, not many people knew the real her. She should have tried to forget about him due to the extended time of nothing happening, but something kept dragging her emotions back to that man. She really wasn’t one to indulge in a false reality, but Lance was too darn irresistible.
When she first met him, Lance Hartley seemed stoic, intelligent and enigmatic. That hadn’t changed in her eyes over the years. He kept to himself except for the subtle gestures to the ones he loved, his family. He also seemed so at ease with their children. Tammy thought it was one of the few times he’d seemed so relaxed—more revealing. It was blatantly obvious that he loved children. It was one of the rare times he melted that unreadable expression and showed emotion. It made her wonder why he hadn’t settled down to have a few of his own.
Still, the first impression of him stayed with her as clear as today’s weather.
It was in New York where she worked as a surgical nurse and Tess Hartley was her patient. Well, she wasn’t a Hartley yet, but soon after. Lance strode down the hall of the floor where she was working with a steady confident stride, but his expression held tenacity. He was a striking image; tall, handsome, and flanked by two equally handsome men. Jacob, the oldest, wore a dark three piece suit like Lance, and Colton, wore expensive cowboy gear. All three could not hide their expressions of concern—even Lance, who rarely gave anything away in that steeled expression, gave her a brief view of emotion when they were inquiring about Tess. It was obviously that she was well loved. She later found out that she grew up around the three of them. She was as much as family to those men. Tammy was envious of the affection they displayed toward her patient because she never had the privilege to experience it. Yet, after getting to know Tess, it didn’t take long to figure out why they loved her. Tess was kind, and even though she had a rough go, always tried to be positive. She was also beautiful with that natural sun bleached blonde and bright blue eyes that could narrow so efficiently and show her inner sassiness. Jacob didn’t have a chance.
After a briefing by Tess’s doctor, Jacob started barking orders at the staff, making demands in regards to her care and the tests he wanted done. Money was no object. And Lance, foreboding and serious in the background, just dared anyone to countermand his brother. Considering most of the staff on the floor was female, they didn’t have much of a resistance to begin with.
Yes, he was incredible to look at, but he had humility about him despite his profession, and his good looks, that made him sexual magnet to the opposite sex. He was a lawyer, which she’d met plenty of, but not like him. Most lawyers she knew were grease-ball backstabbing thieves, and she had enough experience dealing with men like that. She had first-hand experience in fact. Lance was different though. He had integrity which she thought was rare in his profession. Yet, it was all about love for his family. He wouldn’t disrespect those he loved by being dishonest in any way. This is what she’d come to learn about the Hartley men. Family came first, everything else came second. If one was going through something, the rest rallied around them. She envied that. She was never privileged to know that type of adoration.
She knew they broke a lot of hearts on her surgical floor when they took Tess and went home. Not too long after she got a phone call from her offering a job at her now husband’s office. Are you kidding? She jumped at the chance to be around Lance again. A new opportunity, and a change of scenery. It took some adjusting to country life, but now she knew she’d never leave. She could never trade the rolling grasslands and stunning view of the mountains for the concrete jungle again. If you needed to quiet your mind you could walk in any direction and be alone with your thoughts. She loved it. She loved Lance.
Lance just looked like a regular cowboy around the ranch. In fact, at a distance, you’d think he was an employee. Close up, it was easy to see the status he possessed just by the way he carried himself. When he left for work, his private practice in town, he dressed immaculately. It was then he actually looked like an Attorney. He usually wore darks suits. It probably was purposeful because of how striking that made his eyes. They seemed to exacerbate that piercing intelligent stare he possessed. He could melt the heart of a stone angel, she was sure of it. Every time he looked at her, her heart would leap in her chest. Yes, she was sure it was deliberate because he, like his brothers, knew their vital assets and how to use them well. He was smart, sexy and oh, so out of her league.
He was quiet most times, but she heard he was a shark in the courtroom. As far as she knew, he had a big practice in Billings years ago, but downsized since then. She was sure he’d had enough of being away from his family and the ranch. At least that’s what he told Tess. She was one of the few people that he shared personal things with besides his brothers. As far as Tammy knew, he still had a stake in that law firm because he did leave for a few days out of the month. Maybe it was on a consult basis, but he obviously still had a part of city life.
Tess, however, thought he came home due to other reasons despite what others thought. Like it was something deeper, to do with a woman, but Lance never spoke of anything along those lines. Tess had known him forever so she came to her own conclusions. Tammy decided to put faith in Tess’s instincts because of her knowledge of the Hartley men’s history. Regardless, Tammy still felt like she didn’t know much more about him then when she first met him.
And whose fault was that?
she scolded herself.
People, who knew her, would find her reservations surprising because she was not shy. She was quite easy to get along with and very sociable. Folks in Sulphur Springs would say she was very likable and she made friends easily. She could agree with that most times, but they really didn’t know the real her.
More than once she had to advocate to an arrogant doctor about their patients’ needs, so she was assertive. She just wasn’t assertive for her own needs, or, with men, well, a man. Okay, a man that she was in love with. It was a side of her that no one knew, except Elaina, and Tammy had unselfish reasons for letting her in on her secret.
Elaina needed someone to confess to, and understand her, or she was going to end up alone even though she was in love with Colton. She was as closed lipped as Tammy when it came to her personal life. It was one of the rare times Tammy said anything about her feelings, but she did it out of concern for another. Elaina needed it and it worked. That statement caused the other woman to open up and let Tammy in on her most intimate secrets. After that, Elaina finally told Colton the truth. It turned out he blamed himself more than her for the pain and suffering that she’d endured, told her he loved her, and married her.
Tammy knew she should listen to her own advice and say something to Lance, but she froze up around him every time. It was the only time in her life she felt like a gaping idiot.
Around everyone else, Tammy was witty and articulate and always encouraged others against the odds. She always found the positive aspects of a negative situation. Very rarely would she let herself feel depressed about something. Yes, she was alone, she worked very hard, and she’d pretty much abandoned her family back in New York, but she refused to have regrets. She honestly believed that there were always positive circumstances for the choices you made in life. That was a choice she had to make, for her own personal freedom.
Tammy was a tall leggy redhead, not flaming red, but more of a dark auburn. She was more slender than she wanted to be, but she was in great shape due to her constant working and always being on her feet. She’d cut her hair a few months back. It was longer in the front than the back, but just above the shoulders. Surprisingly, it turned out better than she thought. She used to have it past her shoulders, but long hair just seemed to get in the way when she was working. It was a pain in the butt to keep pulling it up. Then there was the risk of getting something splashed in it, and body fluids were not a nurse’s friend. She was no stranger to those episodes, so the hair had to go because it was getting tiresome pulling it up. Elaina said she loved it. Lance lifted a brow when he noticed it but didn’t say anything else. She sighed inwardly. Maybe she should have shaved herself bald. That would get a reaction—perhaps.