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Beginnings


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The dust swirled in the air as Lauren McNeill swept the kitchen. "How will we sell this cabin? It's filthy."

Her sister, Emily, rubbed her huge baby bump while eating a bagel. "We'll manage. We always do."

"Did Dad have to live out in the middle of Nowhere, Montana? I think his only neighbors were the deer. He should've lived near me in New York City."

"And cramp your single lifestyle?" Emily shook her head. "We had a whole guest house for him, and he could've become a true cowboy in Texas at the neighbor's ranch, like he always wanted to be. But Mr. Stubborn had to be alone to grieve Mom's death. He would've been better near people, rather than having a car accident up here in the middle of the woods. At least he's in the hospital where he can't do any more damage." She walked closer to the window. "The lake is gorgeous but so desolate. Maybe he wanted to get back to nature?"

Lauren joined her sister, seeing the ice covering the lake and the forest floor covered in old snow. It was so pretty and made her wonder why she didn't leave the city. "This is definitely nature. There's no doubt about it."

The door opened and Emily's husband, John, and their little three-year-old daughter, Brynn, walked inside, carrying bags.

"Mommy!" Brynn yelled, then threw her arms around Emily's legs. "Hold me?"

"Mommy can't," John said, putting the items away in the kitchen. "We shouldn't even be here."

A man peeked around the corner. "Hi."

"Who's this?" Emily asked.

"I had help," John said, then ushered the man inside. "This is Dr. Mark Scott, and I met him at the market. He lives on the other side of the lake."

Lauren had to move closer, just to get a glimpse of the eye candy standing in front of her. He had dark brown hair with a stunning face and muscular body, looking like a male model.

Emily shook his hand. "You married?"

"Em!" John said. "You don't ask things like that to someone you just met."

"I'm trying to fix up my desperate sister." She shot Lauren a snide glance.

Emily was something else, making Lauren realize she'd moved to New York for a reason. The farther away from her meddling sister, the better.

Lauren walked up to Mark and shook his hand, the warmth from his fingers hitting her hard, while his gorgeous light blue eyes almost twinkled in the light from the small lamp. "I'm Lauren, Emily's sister, but I'm not desperate. She's just moody."

Mark stared an extra moment. "You both look so much alike. Even your blonde hair and blue eyes match completely."

"We're twins," Emily said. "But I have a life. That's more than I can say for Lauren."

Frustrated, Lauren walked back into the kitchen and kept sweeping, lifting her eyes to see Mark periodically. He was so handsome, and she wished she could take his picture to see him on her computer wallpaper back home.

"When are you due?" Mark asked Emily, glancing downward. "I'm a general practitioner and it looks like the baby's dropped."

"Naah," Emily said. "It's twins, which is why I'm so big. I have two months yet, we think."

"We think?" Mark's eyebrows rose, and even though Lauren tried not to be nosy, her gaze kept going toward the man.

"Yeah," Emily said. "I have a midwife. We kind of guessed at the birth month."

Mark glanced toward John, his mouth opening in surprise.

John lifted his hands in his defense. "Don't ask me. I'm only a pastor. I have no idea about such things."

Mark pointed out the window, glancing toward Emily. "You do realize we're to get two feet of snow starting today and it's already started. If you go into labor, you couldn't make it to the hospital."

Lauren stopped sweeping and headed toward the living room picture window. "It's snowing? But I was to fly back home after we got the papers signed tomorrow morning. I have a flight."

"So do we," John said.

Mark glanced around the cabin. "Do you have a phone here?"

"Yes," John said. "But we disconnected it. We're getting it ready to sell."

"I have a cell phone." Lauren lifted it in her hand.

Concern grew on Mark's face. "That won't work up here. We're not close to any cell towers." He walked closer to Emily. "May I?" He nodded toward her stomach.

"Sure. Everyone else just touches and doesn't even ask."

He smiled, then put both hands on her stomach, his brow wrinkling as Emily sucked in a breath. "Braxton Hicks," she managed to say as she grabbed the wall.

"No, that's labor." Moving his hand away, Mark glanced over at John. "I think the midwife's estimate might be off. I have a feeling there might be some babies here before tomorrow."

"I'll get the car," John said, then headed toward the door. "How close is the hospital?"

"Twenty miles. By the time you get there, the snow will be really bad." Mark turned toward Emily, who was blowing out a few breaths with her head lowered. "How close are these pains?"

She took a few more deep breaths and straightened up. "They've been going on all day, but I thought it was just from all the work."

"But you haven't done any work," Lauren said.

Emily gasped, bending even more.

"That's definitely labor," Mark said. "And it looks like it'll be fast, too."

"It hurts," Emily whined.

"Let's go to my place. I can handle it better there." He glanced over at John. "Two cars. Lauren, you're with Emily and me, and John, you bring Brynn. I don't want her upset."

"Yes, sir."

They bundled up and went outside. Lauren and Emily sat in the back of Mark's Jeep, while he drove through the snow, which had started to cover the road. He slid a few times, but Lauren didn't care. She was stuck helping Emily breathe through the pain while her sister squeezed her hand.

"I haven't delivered a baby for two years," Mark said. "This'll be fun."

"For you, maybe," Emily screamed. "This is murder! I had painkillers last time. Never again do I want this pain!"

"I bet," Lauren said. "But when those babies are born, you're going to consider this a blessing. Just focus on what they'll look like."

Emily squeezed Lauren's hand. "That's easy for you to say!"

"You don't have to kill me!" Lauren yelled, pulling her hand from her sister.

"Sorry." Emily panted. "I'm handing the pain to you instead."

Mark chuckled from the front seat and Lauren joined in. He turned onto the drive that led up to his huge log home, with a clinic off to the left. With Lauren's help, he helped Emily inside to a bed, then ushered John and Brynn into the waiting room.

"I need your help with this," Mark said to Lauren as they got supplies in a closet. "I think John might pass out."

"Me?" She took a step backward. "I know nothing."

"Don't worry about it." They grabbed supplies and headed for Emily's room. "Besides, I want to talk to you."

"About what?"

He smiled then winked. "You."

"You're flirting with me? My sister's in labor and you're flirting with me?"

"Yeah. There aren't many single women out here and I'm as desperate as you are. If we talk while she's in labor, it'll take her mind off the pain while she tries to fix you up."

She laughed at him. What a way to break the ice.

Within a short amount of time, Mark held the first baby in his hands, cut the cord, then handed him to Lauren, who cleaned the screaming baby off, wrapped him in a blanket, and placed him into a warming bed Mark kept in stock. They repeated the process for the second baby, then checked the babies over. When done, Lauren invited the rest of the family members in to see Brynn's baby brothers. After John offered a prayer, Lauren and Mark left the room and went into Mark's kitchen.

"You're did a great job in there," Mark said, sitting beside her at the kitchen bar. "Are you a nurse?"

"No." She felt so comfortable around him, a calm man with a heart of gold. "I work at an online business finding community services for people around the world."

"So you could work anywhere?"

She nodded, wondering what was really keeping her in the city.

He reached over and held her hand. "I'm ready to move on with my life and it seems like you're snowed in. Want to date me while you're here?"

She smiled, thinking it through. "Yeah."

Reaching up, he stroked her cheek, then leaned in and kissed her. The warmth from his lips paled in comparison to the heat she felt racing throughout her body. He backed off, resting his forehead on hers. "I'm so glad I met you. I'm going to enjoy being snowed in now."

"Me, too." She leaned in for another kiss. This could be the beginning of her new life.


 




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