The Stubborn Suitor_ Book 1

By: Alexa Wilder

1





CAMI





“Hey, Cami,” Ashley said, leaning over the counter of the nurses’ station. “It’s slow right now. Why don’t you go ahead and take your lunch break?”

Cami glanced at her watch and was surprised to find that it was already after noon. She was over halfway through her ten-hour shift and well past due for a break. The Emergency Room of Sacred Heart Hospital, where Cami Hendricks worked as a nurse, had been unusually busy for a Tuesday morning, and the time had gotten away from her.

“Sure,” Cami said with a smile, knowing that Ashley wouldn’t be able to take her own break until after Cami had returned from hers. “I won’t need the full half-hour. I’m just going to grab a snack and a protein bar.”

“No need to rush!” Ashley called from behind her as Cami made her way towards the staff locker rooms. “And you’ll need more than a protein bar to make it ‘til five. Take your time.”

Cami nodded absentmindedly before turning the corner. In the locker room, she grabbed her purse and immediately checked her phone. As a single mother of a three-year-old, Cami was always worried about her daughter. If it wasn’t against hospital policy, she’d keep her cell with her at all times in case of an emergency.

But for now, her mother knew the direct number for the ER nurses’ station, where Cami spent most of her time. If something went wrong at home, or there was any issue with her daughter Madison, Cami had no doubt that her mother would be able to easily contact her. Still, like any mother, she worried.

She smiled as she looked at the picture on her phone’s lock screen, a beautiful photo of Madison greeting her. The girl’s strawberry blonde hair was quite a bit lighter than Cami’s own fiery red, but the vibrant green eyes of her daughter matched her own, as did the mischievous smile of the three-year-old staring back at her. Every time Cami picked up her phone and looked at the picture, her heart lurched a little, swelling with pride and love. Before Madison, Cami hadn’t known that it was possible to love someone this much.

After smiling down at the picture for a moment, Cami swiped to unlock her phone. She couldn’t help but groan a little in frustration. Instead of any calls or texts from her mother—who often sent her picture messages of Madison throughout the day, even if Cami could only see them on her breaks—there were two missed calls and a text from her ex-husband, Ken.

Call me! was all the text read. Cami rolled her eyes, really not wanting to deal with whatever the irresponsible bastard had to say during her short break. It was Ken’s turn to take Madison this Friday, and he was probably trying to get out of it. He only had her every other weekend, but he still ended up canceling half the time. As much as she didn’t want to talk to him now, Cami knew that if she waited until after her shift, she’d definitely be too tired to deal with his crap.

Instead of calling him back immediately, Cami made her way towards the cafeteria. Once she was armed with strong coffee and a protein bar, she found a secluded area outside to make the call. Steeling herself, and aided by a much-needed caffeine and sugar boost, she dialed the number of her ex.

“Hey, Cam,” Ken said instead of hello.

His voice was a little too chipper, and Cami immediately knew something was up. She also hated the intimate way he still referred to her, despite the hostile divorce. It was like the last two years had never happened.

“What’s so important, Ken?” Cami asked, not bothering to keep the exasperation out of her voice. “You need to make this quick. I’m on my break.”

“Do you have a moment to talk? If not, I can call back later. There are a few things I need to talk to you about.”

“I won’t have time after my shift,” Cami replied flatly. “I’ll be tired and I’ll have Madison. Just tell me whatever it is that you need to talk to me about so badly.”

“Okay, yeah,” Ken replied, but then said nothing else.

“Just spit it out, Ken,” Cami demanded, growing even more frustrated. Her break was dwindling, and she didn’t have time to waste on yet another bout of her ex’s shit.

“I just wanted to let you know—before you saw it on Facebook or something—that I asked Natalie to marry me last weekend. And she said yes.”

“Oh,” was all Cami could think of to say.

Ken had begun dating Natalie almost immediately after their split. In fact, Cami had a sneaking suspicion that he’d begun seeing the blonde even before Cami had finally left him.

Natalie was everything Cami was not. She was tall and thin, where Cami was short and voluptuous. While Cami had always been proud of her curves, Ken had often made comments about her needing to lose weight—especially after the birth of Madison. That was only one of many reasons why she’d eventually decided to divorce him. There had also been the drinking, the partying, and—if her suspicions were true—the cheating.

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