Chapter One

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A/N: Just want to welcome all my new readers and dearest repeat customers! I'm so happy you're willing to take another fictional journey with me. Like my other titles, this one features characters of a certain age. As a woman pushing fifty, I feel compelled to write smart, sexy fiction that represents my demographic. If you're looking for boy bands or back-stabbing cheerleaders, then I'm afraid you've come to the wrong place. 

Fingers crossed that you enjoy this new tale. I struggled horribly with writer's block during my last novel. I now feel ready to move forward and create new worlds for new characters with honest emotions and realistic stories to tell. 

Now then...let's go fall in love!

Suzy

Arms folded, he took several steps back and examined the small tree with a satisfied expression. The white lights on the tiny branches created a warm glow that their living room lacked in the daylight. He locked on the fireplace and the menorah resting quietly on the mantle. It always made him smile, seeing their opposing beliefs in the form of holiday decorations. He crossed to the wall of windows that framed the view from their highrise and studied the city beneath him, wondering if and when his wife would make an appearance.

"It's a little warm for a fire, don't you think?" Her voice startled him as she entered the room.

"Not when it's Christmas Eve." He turned, immediately noticing the leather briefcase in her hand.

"Listen, the hospital just called and..." She started, but he cut her off.

"You just walked in the door three hours ago. It's a holiday." He protested.

"Only for you Gentiles."

"Which means what? Business as usual for all good Jewish doctors?" He tried not to sound sarcastic.

"I really don't have time to argue with you." She checked her watch.

"Of course you don't. You just pulled a sixteen hour shift."

"It's not like I have a choice." She said with a heavy sigh.

"That's where you're wrong. You do have a choice. You can pick up the phone, call them back, and tell them to get someone else."

"They're my patients, Jay. They need me."

"And I don't?" He snapped.

The cell phone in her briefcase rang, blowing the whistle on what was beginning to escalate into yet another fight.

"Dr. Rosenberg." She answered.

He turned his back and focused again on the city. But the lights below him blurred and he concentrated on the reflection of his wife instead. Her tone was firm and business-like as she rambled off a string of directives mixed with medical terminology. He couldn't deny it. She was brilliant. And brazen. And beautiful. Yet the aura that surrounded her when she slipped into her white coat always elicited the same question in his mind. Who the hell is this woman? Her detached professionalism was a sharp contrast to the captivating physician who stole his heart six years earlier. The dark-haired, skillful surgeon that saved his best friend's life. It was all very innocent at first. Phone calls. Flowers. Dinner. Within a year of their first meeting they were sharing closet space. Fast forward another year and after months of negotiations, he finally convinced Dr. Hope Rosenberg to add one more specialty to the end of her title: wife.

The last nine months their marriage had been tested in ways he never imagined. With the Chief of Staff on the verge of announcing his retirement, rumors swirled that Hope would be tapped to be his replacement. Her fifty hour week work was closer to seventy. She was never too tired for the hospital. When it came to their marriage however, he doubted she had the energy to save what feelings, if any, still existed between them. Of course, he wasn't blameless. Business had taken him away from her numerous times. But one monumental difference existed between them that Jay couldn't deny. At the end of each work day, he wanted to rush home to her and their comfortable life. When he turned the key, he rarely found her waiting. She was only at home within the confines of a surgical theater. Sitting alone nursing a drink was standard operating procedure for Jay Avery most nights.

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