Read Long Time Running Online

Authors: Hannah Foster

Long Time Running

Long Time Running

 

Hannah Foster

 

 

Copyright 2013 Hannah Foster

License Notes: This copy is intended for the purchaser of this e-book only. No part of this e-book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed
in any printed or electronic form without prior written permission from For Good Publishers.

ISBN 978-0-9919886-0-0

All rights reserved.

This e-book is a work of ficiton. Names, characters, places and
incidents are products of the author's imagination and used fictiously. Any resemblence to actual events, places, locales or persons, living or dead, is enitrely coincidental.

www.hannahfosterromance.com

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Ebook formatting by
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Table of Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

 

~

To family. And to those who read and commented along the way.

 

Prologue

Seven years earlier

Rays of light slivered through the curtains and softly
warmed the room. As his fingertips brushed against her breasts, Nathalie sighed sleepily and smiled. "Haven't you had enough?" she asked, her eyes still closed as she snuggled close to the warmth of his body.

Nuzzling her neck, he breathed in her heady scent. "Don't you know by now there is no such thing as enough where you're concerned?"

The young doctor rolled on to her back, her long, dark
blonde hair fanning out against the pillow; her green eyes dancing. "You are incorrigible."

"I know." His hand traced a small pattern across her torso. "It's our first day off together in over a month and I think we
should spend it in bed." Eric softly sucked on her ear lobe, "Do you agree?"

Nathalie's stomach pitched and rolled. Whether it was from nerves or the reaction she always had to his touch she was unclear. She wanted
nothing more than to get lost in him - lost in his deep blue eyes, his soft full lips and his lean muscular body but there wasn't time for that. There was a conversation she had been avoiding for weeks but it could not wait any longer.

Swallowing the lump in her throat at the uncertainty of things to come, Nathalie recognized that she was potentially about to blow their world apart. As Eric pressed kisses down her throat, she focused on how this felt, this moment when they were perfect. There had been so many moments
like this between them and if this was going to be their last perfect moment she wanted to savor it.

"I've missed you," he whispered gruffly as his lips met hers.

Their lives, as fourth year residents, were hectic and time alone together was rare. They had an unspoken rule that when they were alone they kept the real world at bay as much as they could.

"I know." Her response boarded on breathless.

Guilt was swirling under the surface with the knowledge the extra shifts she had volunteered for over the past month had taken away whatever chance they had for time together. But lately being at the hospital
had been easier than being with Eric.

Nathalie had loved Eric for so long and so completely that she rarely remembered what her life was like before him. They had met on the first day of their residency as a sleep-deprived and over caffeinated Nathalie
spilled her drink on his fresh white lab coat. Inseparable almost immediately, they had become the golden couple of their program. Both smart and sexy, they competed hard inside the OR to be the top neurosurgeon but left it all at the
hospital.

They had talked about marriage but agreed to table it until they had established themselves as doctors. They also shared a dream of working overseas, giving back with their time and their talent. There were so many
adventures waiting for them, all they had to do was get started.

Sensing her distraction, Eric broke their kiss to look in her eyes. "Hey, you ok?" he asked softly as he smoothed her hair gently from her forehead.

She nodded as her eyes filled with emotion. Words danced tantalizingly on the tip of her tongue - words that needed to be said but she couldn't quite bring herself yet to break the moment.

"I just love you so much."

"I know you do. And I am going to show you how much I love you."

A cocky grin tilted the corners of his mouth before his lips crashed back to hers. Nathalie allowed herself the momentary reprieve of
sinking into his kiss before forcing herself to push gently away. The fire between them had always been all consuming but right now she was simply delaying the inevitable.

"Can we have breakfast first?" she asked.
"I'm famished."

Eric smirked and shook his head as he kicked back the covers. "You've been starving a lot lately. Got hollow legs?" he teased.

"Nah," she replied with a sultry smile. "You
just know how to make me work up an appetite."

Chuckling, he lightly bussed her lips as rose from the bed and reached for his shorts. "I forgot to tell you," he began, "I was so excited to see you last night that I forgot to share the little piece of
gossip that reached my ears."

"Oh?" she asked, propping herself up on her arm and drinking him in. At almost 6 foot 4 and perfectly proportioned he was a striking figure and one she could stare at for days.

"Rachel is pregnant."

"Pardon?" she asked, her heart thumping loudly inside her chest.

"Rachel and Greg are going to have a baby. It's all
over for them."

Sitting up with a start, the sheet dropped and pooled around her hips, she tightened her jaw.

"What do you mean it's all over for them?"

Hearing the tone in her voice, he gave her a curious look.
"I mean that Rachel isn't doing her fellowship. She's going to take time off to be with the baby. All those plans that they had - to move to Europe and travel - they're all gone. What a waste."

"It's not a waste" she protested more intently than she wanted. "They may not get to do what they originally planned to do but they are getting something wonderful. Maybe a child means more to them
than traveling?"

Leaning against the door he studied her carefully.

"Nat," he began slowly, "I'm happy for them if this is what they want but I would hate for them to resent their child down
the line when they realize what they gave up to become parents. Oops babies can derail a person's life and they can end up taking their anger about that out on the child."

A rueful smile formed on her lips and she exhaled slowly.
"I know babe, but not everyone is doomed to repeat the mistakes of their parents."

Eric's had not been an easy childhood, his parents had been distant and cold. His father, a domineering man who was never satisfied, had
berated and belittled his son to the point that by the time Eric was a teenager he was clear about never wanting to be a father.

None of this was news to Nathalie. She knew his feelings on the subject of parenthood and had never once tried to change them.

He shrugged. "I hope not. I'm just glad it isn't an option for us. It would feel like a nightmare if I were in Greg's place. I feel sorry for him."

"You don't think he's happy about this? They are in
love and have been together almost as long as we have," she said softly.

"What's he supposed to say?" he quipped. "Only a jerk would tell people this was awful news or not take
responsibility. I know they didn't plan it but he's kind of trapped now." Turning towards the door, he missed the dark clouds that passed through Nathalie's eyes. "Anyways - pancakes and bacon sound good?"

"Yeah" she replied distractedly as his words
echoed through her mind.

As he left the room she flopped back against the pillows and sighed heavily as her eyes filled with tears. Her hand came to rest against her still flat stomach and her mind began to churn. While she had long known his
feeling about children she had never really imagined she would be forced to choose between the man she loved and the child she never expected to have.

 

Chapter 1

Seven years later

Sitting on a bench, soaking up the late spring sunshine,
Eric watched as Jack scrambled up to the top of the jungle gym. The young boy stood at the top and waved excitedly before sliding down the long, winding silver slide. As his feet touched the sand underneath, he scurried over towards him.

"Did you see me, Eric? Did ya?"

Smiling, he nodded. "I sure did Jack. That must be your fastest slide yet."

"I'm gonna go down on my tummy!" the seven year
old exclaimed.

"I don't know buddy, I think that's an invitation to bang your head."

The young boy jammed his hands in his pockets and chewed thoughtfully on his bottom lip. "But you're a head doctor - the best head
doctor - you can make me all better!"

Eric's cheeks tinged brightly at the compliment and reaching out, he ruffled his thick brown hair. "Maybe but I'd prefer not to have to work my magic on you, okay? No tummy slides."

His bottom lip jutted out in a tiny pout and his green eyes betrayed his disappointment only for a moment before he inhaled and smiled. "Okay Eric - you gonna watch me?"

"Always" he replied, watching as he ran off back
towards the jungle gym.

Reclining further against the bench he let out a long, slow breath. It was his green eyes that always took his breath away. They were a reminder - often a painful one - of what he was missing. Even after all these
years he had not come to terms with how things ended. If he could even call coming home to an empty apartment an ending at all. He had tried to move on - he had even moved cities, from Chicago to New York, for a fresh start but it
was simply not possible to outrun the past.

There had been other relationships, some casual and some serious, but he could never find anyone to make him feel the way she had. The hold she had on his heart was proving impossible to shake and despite the
willingness of more than a few women to create a family with him, he just didn't seem capable of it. She had been the only family he had needed and without her, it looked like it would be just him and Jack. Time may heal
everything in the end but he wasn't sure how much longer he would have to wait.

A steaming cup of coffee was shoved into his hand and without taking his eyes from the slide, he smiled.

"It took you long enough. How many phone numbers did
you manage to get in the process?"

Andrew rolled his eyes and flopped beside him on the bench, cradling his own coffee in his hand.

"Please" he dismissed. "Baristas aren't my
thing."

Cocking his head to the side he gave his friend a skeptical look. "Oh really? When did you start getting standards?"

Andrew smirked in response as he cocked a perfectly arched
eyebrow over chocolate brown eyes. A move he had patented as a notorious ladies man. He also happened to be commitment phobic, a neurosurgeon and Eric's best friend.

"I've always had standards, they're just minimal. And
baristas don't make the cut."

Smiling into his coffee, Eric simply shook his head. "I learn something new every day."

They had met as children at summer camp, and had had each
other's backs ever since. He was also the only person in his life who knew the whole story. That knowledge was both a blessing and a curse.

"Where's the little man?" Andrew asked, looking around.

Jerking his head in the direction of the slide, Eric smiled.
"He's miffed that I wouldn't let him slide down head first."

Stretching out his lanky frame against the bench Andrew shrugged. "Dude, he's seven. This is what seven-year old boys do. They like
to see how hard, how fast and how high they can go. You can't wrap him in bubble wrap."

"Yeah well, I don't particularly feel like putting stitches in his head, okay?"

"Eric, he isn't going to break."

Falling silent at the rebuke, he turned his attention back to the slide where Jack was preparing for yet another descent. It wasn't that he thought he was going to break but it was the thought of him being hurt at
all that drove him to be a touch on the protective side. He just reminded him so much of her and he wanted - needed - to keep him safe.

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