Soon, her day was bustling as her patients arrived, and she took her time with each and every one of them, some with minor symptoms of dementia, and some in the later stages of the cruel disease. It didn’t matter where they were in their prognosis, she treated each the same, giving them her undivided attention.
Amira was with her last patient of the day when the elevator indicated a new arrival. She didn’t look up as Mrs. Clemens, a seventy-three-year-old woman in the middle phase of dementia, told Amira about her trip to Cancun with her husband . . . on their honeymoon . . . fifty years earlier. She remembered it to the very last detail.
“Oh, Amira, the water was so blue, and the fish would swim around us as we snorkeled in the water. I’d never been out of Washington before I married Harry, and I was like a kid in a candy store as he whisked me off to a tropical paradise,” Mrs. Clemens said with childlike wonder in her sparkling brown eyes.
“I’ve only been there one time, and I fell in love with the water as well,” Amira told her patient.
“Oh yes, Harry took me back again and again, but that first trip was the most special of all.” Tears filled her eyes. “I miss him so much.”
Amira felt her own eyes fill at the pain radiating from her patient. “I know you do, and I’m sure he’s still looking out for you just as he always did in life,” Amira said.
Some doctors might fault Amira for her faith, but she ignored them. Whether there was an afterlife or not, she liked to believe her patients would be reunited with their loved ones. She’d rather give them hope than see the sparkle fade from a patient’s eyes if they thought there was no prospect of being reunited with the people they loved the most.
“Oh yes, I feel him hold me when I sleep,” Mrs. Clemens told her.
“Are you sleeping well?” Amira asked. They were sitting in Mrs. Clemens favorite area of the room next to the back windows that overlooked the park below. Being able to view the giant water fountain from the room, which performed its act year-round, seemed to put many of the patients at ease.
“I think so,” Mrs. Clemens said. “My daughter takes very good care of me.”
“Yes, she does,” Amira said. Mrs. Clemens was one of the lucky ones who had a lot of family members taking turns to keep her busy and helping remind her of who she was. Not all families could do that, not all patients had enough family to be there for them. Those were the cases that broke Amira’s heart the most.
“Well, aren’t you just a beautiful drink of water,” Mrs. Clemens said as she looked past Amira’s shoulder and beamed at someone behind her, a new sparkle lighting the woman’s eyes, taking twenty years off her face as she blushed.
“I was thinking the same of you, beautiful,” said a rich, deep voice that sent chills down Amira’s spine. She knew that voice well, had dreamt of that voice, had fantasized about things that voice would say to her. She despised the power of that voice, and how it flustered her.
“Are you joining us?” Mrs. Clemens eagerly asked.
“I’d love to if you don’t mind,” Smoke said as he stepped into Amira’s view.
Smoke, aka Tyrell Rice, had haunted Amira’s dreams and waking thoughts since she’d met him on the small, private island in Fiji a month before. He was beautiful, there was no denying it. Standing at five-foot-ten in flat shoes, and six-foot-one in her beloved Louis Vuitton heels, Amira towered over most men — but not Smoke.
When she was next to Smoke, she felt delicate and feminine, not something she often got to feel. The man stood at six-foot-four, had incredible brown skin that was just a couple of shades darker than her own, and was built like a brickhouse with muscles in all of the right places, and arms that were made to wrap around a woman.
She blinked her eyes and cleared the instant lust from her brain, ignoring her rapidly beating heart from his entrance into her personal space. He might be finer than an exquisite bottle of brandy, but he was also arrogant and far too macho for her liking. On the rare occasion that Amira did date, she wanted to be mentally stimulated. Sex could come and go, but she wanted a man to be able to challenge and inspire her intellectually. She didn’t think Smoke was capable of doing that.
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