Grace glanced up as Dr. Randal Chase walked into

“Grace glanced up as Dr. Randal Chase walked into the examination room of the medical office he shared with her father, her medical chart in hand. “Unfortunately, no.” She gave him a smile as wane as her body felt. “The nausea seems to come and go in waves. It’s strange, really. One moment I feel fine, and then the next I feel like I’m going to lose what’s in my stomach. I’ve been light-headed as well, and my body feels achy.”

He adjusted the gold wire-rimmed glasses on the bridge of his nose and offered a warm, sympathetic smile. “While I do a quick, routine examine, I’ll have Marcie pull your lab report to see what the tests we did a few days ago reveal. Hop up onto the examination table.”

Grace did as he ordered, sitting on the edge of the narrow table covered in a thin layer of tissue paper. Setting her chart on a nearby counter, he poked his head out the door, gave Marcie instructions to bring him Grace’s lab report, and returned to his patient. Using his stethoscope, he listened to her heart and lungs, proclaiming everything clear and in order.

“Stick out your tongue and say ahhh,” he said, withdrawing a tiny flashlight from his white lab coat pocket. Flattening her tongue with a wooden depressor, he checked her throat and tonsils. “Everything looks fine. Lie down on the table and I’ll check your stomach.”

Marcie delivered the requested report, setting it on the counter, then disappeared again. Grace reclined back on the stiff table, and the doctor slipped his hands beneath her blouse to continue his examination. “Have you been feeling bloated?”

“A little,” she confessed, then sucked in a breath when his chilled fingers touched her belly.

“Sorry ‘bout that. My hands are a little cold today.” His fingers moved efficiently and impersonally over her, probing gently. As he continued, he said absently, “I hear that furniture has been delivered to that monstrous house out at Cutter Creek.”

Grace’s stomach rolled at the mention of Ford’s property, which was now common knowledge among the residents of Whitaker Falls. Closing her eyes, she swallowed the nausea rising in the back of her throat.

“Hmmm,” she replied non-committally, suspecting his idle comment was an attempt to keep her mind on his verbal exchange, and not his exploring fingers. The vacant house at Cutter Creek was the hot topic of conversation in town, as was speculation of Ford McCabe’s return.

Ford had been gone for almost five weeks, and she was beginning to wonder if maybe her fluctuating “flu” was possibly some kind of stress disorder. She dreaded his return, thought about it constantly, and agonized incessantly over the fact that he’d deceived her. His duplicity was never far from her mind, nor was her own gullibility—without a doubt, she’d been a fool to fall back into his arms so easily. Considering she hadn’t heard from Ford since he’d left, she’d determined that their night together hadn’t meant as much to him as it had her.

She groaned when Dr. Chase poked at a particularly tender area near her uterus.

He frowned, his touch lightening. “Am I hurting you?”

“It’s just a little uncomfortable,” she acknowledged.

He motioned for her to sit up, and made a few notations on her chart, his back to her. “Marcie said she saw a champagne colored sports coupe heading down the gravel drive toward the house this morning on her way to work. It seems your father’s nemesis has returned.”

Ford was back!

Grace pressed her fingers to her temple in an attempt to stop the spinning in her head—from sitting up too fast or that last bit of unsettling news, she wasn’t sure. Even after four and a half weeks, she still hadn’t come to terms with the fact that Ford McCabe would be living in Whitaker Falls permanently.

Dr. Chase turned back toward her, his demeanor turning professional once again. “Physically, everything seems in order.” He opened the file with her test results. “Let’s see about your lab report.” His index finger skimmed down the page. “Your thyroid looks good, blood sugar is fine, cholesterol is right where it should be . . .” His finger stopped and he glanced up at her, undisguised surprise in his eyes. “This says you’re pregnant.”

“You tested for pregnancy?””