When in Bloom
Southern Charm 4
Available everywhere on February 20th
Will the personal challenges of a former Army doctor and a brilliant florist get in the way of a chance at life and love?
Fighting type one diabetes since childhood, Jude Sebastian runs to prove he can live a normal life, until epileptic seizures begin to change his life. Even with Dawson, his medical alert Golden Labrador, at his side, Jude finds daily life difficult. He owns the floral shop Flowers in the Breeze, and designs everything from simple bouquets to elaborate themes for weddings and celebrations.
At the Shore Breeze Clinic, Jude comes across a man clearly suffering with a PTSD episode. A new arrival in the small town, Doctor Elliott Sheffield, a retired Army Ranger doctor, is looking for a second chance after what he saw in the Middle Eastern deserts.
Wanting a normal relationship, Jude tries to deny his disorder, but something is happening. He can’t regulate his sugars and his disorder worsens. When he returns to the clinic, Dawson alerts Jude to an oncoming seizure.
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes referencing PTSD, seizures and diabetes.
Outside, it was pouring. In sheets.
With a whimper, Dawson hid his face against Jude’s legs. He hated storms.
“Guess we can wait it out, bud.” Jude rubbed the Lab’s soft ears to comfort him.
When they were about to turn and head for one of the waiting areas, a figure outside ran hunched over through the pouring rain. He wore a full suit and tried to cover his head with a folder of some sort. It didn’t work. Jude snatched the door open in time for him to race through. He closed it against the whipping wind.
“It’s raining buckets out there. Thanks for the hand.” He shook his head like Dawson after a bath. Droplets flew everywhere. “Damn. What a way to ruin a suit.” He slicked his hands down the once elegant pale gray suit and jade silk tie. He flexed his foot, grimacing at the squelching noise.
“Guess this storm came out of nowhere off the Gulf. It happens this time of the year.” Jude lifted his gaze to cover the six inches in their height difference.
Handsome. Tall. Dark hair. Full lower lip I could suck on for hours. In the middle of his thoughts, Jude took a deep sniff. Damn, smells like heaven under all the rain. Please, oh please, let him be gay.
Several flashes of lightning filled the sky. Brief seconds later, overwhelming cracks of thunder echoed through the room.
Jude heard a muffled shout. When he looked back at the drenched stranger, he saw that his firm jaw was clenched and his shoulders hunched over.
“Don’t like storms?”
“I don’t mind the rain. Thunder…” With another rumble of thunder, he shuddered hard with the noise. “That’s another story. When it starts to rumble, I’m lost.”
“I’m Jude. Were you a soldier?”
Opening his eyes to reveal a gorgeous green-gray, a color unlike Jude had ever seen before, the stranger looked at him. “Yes.”
“What’s your name?”
Thunder cracked hard.
“Elliott…” he forced out between clenched teeth. “Son of a…”
“I’m going to touch you and lead you to the chairs,” Jude said. “Is that okay?”
Jude gently clasped Elliott’s hands within his, rubbed his fingers over the knuckles as he led him to the seating area. After a glance at Elliott’s drenched outfit and the leather chairs, Jude moved until they were in the middle. He took hold of the leather folder in Elliott’s hand and dropped it on a chair.
“I need you to sit all the way on the floor, keep your back to the window,” he said.
Shuddering with another roar, Elliott wobbled, but lowered himself to sit.
“This isn’t going to help your suit, but it’ll help you.”
“The suit is a lost cause,” Elliott muttered.
Settling down opposite Elliott, Jude curled his legs under him in a simple practice lotus position. Elliot remained taller to Jude’s delight, even with his shoulders tucked over. Rolling his shoulders, Jude whistled for Dawson to come closer. He directed the pup to curl around Elliott’s legs and put his head on one knee. “Okay. Elliott, tell me what you feel.”
“There’s something warm and furry against me.”