IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS by Mona Risk

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Yes, Mom, I’ll be in time for Christmas dinner, Sylvia Reynolds texted, her heart reeling from guilt. Not that it was her fault she’d been assigned shifts during the Christmas holiday and missed the last two family reunions. Instead of accusing her of selfishness, why didn’t her dear relatives understand that a resident in pediatric couldn’t afford to protest the hospital sacrosanct schedule?

Without slowing, she surveyed the walls for monitors. And gasped when her foot suddenly wobbled and twisted.

“Ouch.” Arms flailing with her carryon and handbag, she stumbled and sprawled on the carpeted floor.

Baby cries echoed her scream.

Right away strong hands lifted her from the floor. She turned her head and stared into the most dazzling deep-ocean-blue eyes she’d ever seen, so close to her face.

“Are you okay?” the man asked in a worried voice.

“I don’t know. I think so.” How could she think with his arms holding her against his solid chest?

The baby’s screams grew louder.

Almost carrying her, her rescuer helped Sylvia to a chair.

“Excuse me.” He picked up a pink rattle off the floor, wiped it with a tissue, and gave it to the baby fretting in a nearby stroller. “It’s the culprit responsible for your fall.” His apologetic smile did wonders to soothe the pain in Sylvia’s ankle. “Let me look at your foot.”

“It’s not hurting as much.” She pulled her boot and sock off, wiggled her sole and toes, and winced at the surge of pain.

“Allow me.” He crouched in front of her, grabbed her heel in his palm, and massaged her ankle. “How does it feel?” Concern rang in his voice.

“Huh… okay.” It felt so good she wanted to beg him not to stop.

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