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Trusting In Forever by Ali Holt (The Forever Love Series Book 1)

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Trusting In Forever by Ali Holt (The Forever Love Series Book 1) Online And Download

Overview: With her professional life in shambles and her love life close behind, the always practical and professional DR. EMMA CUNNINGHAM relocates to Boone Heights, Maryland. Tasked with running the small town medical clinic while her long lost uncle tends to personal matters, Emma meets eligible bachelor NICK EWING when he brings in his injured nephew in for stitches.

Expecting to see the same physician he's seen his entire life, Nick is shocked to find Emma in the clinic. His shock quickly turns to attraction and with well-meaning meddling and encouragement from his family, Nick and Emma allow the attraction to evolve into much more.

Will the past haunt Emma and ruin her new relationship before it even has the chance to begin? Can Nick unlock the gate that protects Emma's heart, and build a solid foundation for a love that lasts forever?


Trusting In Forever by Ali Holt (The Forever Love Series Book 1) Read Online And Download Epub Digital Ebooks Buy Store Website Provide You.
Trusting In Forever by Ali Holt (The Forever Love Series Book 1)





Trusting In Forever by Ali Holt (The Forever Love Series Book 1) Read Online Chapter One


“This cannot be happening.” Nick Ewing tightened his white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel of his Suburban as he raced through Boone Heights, Maryland.


“I’m sorry, Uncle Nicky.” Teddy’s voice peeped from the backseat. Strapping his crying and bleeding five-year-old nephew into the car seat had already broken his heart, and Teddy’s sweet apology shattered the pieces that were left. Nick worked to control his panic as they drove down Main Street, passing A Novel Idea (the town bookstore) and Knit and Stitch (the craft store owned by the Kipling sisters.) 


“How’s it going back there, buddy?” Nick looked into the rearview mirror, thankful that his brother had recently switched Teddy into a front-facing car seat. If he’d had to drive to the clinic without being able to see his nephew’s face, it would have haunted him in his sleep. 


“Okay, I guess,” he sniffed. “It hurts, though, and I think it’s still bleeding, but I can’t tell too good.” 


Nick brought Teddy with him to work that day, something they loved to do together. The pair would usually find themselves knee-deep in a dirt pile, checking on projects and looking at all the tools and equipment. They’d never ended up in a situation quite like this one.


This time, Teddy found a shovel in one of the piles and grabbed at the blade without realizing that it was broken. The jagged metal sliced into his skin before Nick could even call out a warning, and there was only so much he could do to handle such an injury without a proper first aid kit. An active construction site without a first aid kit infuriated Nick, and he made a mental note to deal with that problem later. He had pulled a clean tee shirt from his gym bag and wrapped it around Teddy’s hand in a quick attempt to stop the bleeding, which also worked to hide the wound from the boy, helping him to calm down.


As if an injured nephew wasn’t stressful enough, Nick was also rehearsing the ways he might explain the whole thing to his older brother. He was going to have to admit that Teddy got hurt on his watch, and Nathan was going to kick his ass. Then again, he was already beating himself up—what were a few more blows?


Nathan—Nick’s older brother, his partner at Ewing Brothers Construction, and a single father—left for Baltimore early that morning to pick up some custom supplies for a project, leaving Teddy with Nick for the day. The Ewing siblings were all blown away when Stephanie walked out on Nathan and Teddy and had done their best ever since to help care for Teddy and fill the boy’s life with enough love to make up for the fact that he didn’t have his mom. A boy needed his mom in a situation like this—bleeding and afraid in the backseat of a car.


“Hey buddy, I heard you met Aunt Sarah’s new puppy yesterday.” Teddy desperately needed a distraction, and Uncle Nicky knew that talking about his sister’s new puppy was his best shot. Sarah was the baby of the family and worked as a veterinary technician for Dr. Krenshaw—the Boone Heights’ one and only veterinarian, who had to be close to one hundred years old by now. It was the perfect job for her; Sarah was a total animal lover and was always bringing home strays.


“Uh huh,” Teddy said, perking up a little to talk about the newest Ewing. “Sadie was so tiny! All she wanted to do was lick my face and try to sit in my lap.”


“Puppy kisses are sweet.” Nick shot up a thankful prayer that his distraction technique worked. A few minutes away from the clinic, he realized he hadn’t called ahead and wondered how long the wait would be. Then again, how busy could a small town doctor be on a Wednesday morning? 


As they pulled into the parking lot of the Boone Heights Family Clinic, he was relieved to find the place mostly empty—except for one car with a Massachusetts state license plate. An out-of-state plate would normally have sparked some curiosity in him, but not today. He had other things on his mind.


Nick unbuckled Teddy and lifted him from his seat. “Let’s try to keep that shirt wrapped up tight, okay, buddy?” He carried the boy inside quickly, but not so fast that he might scare him even more. Teddy was starting to look a bit pale, and Nick was worried about blood loss and other horrific things that might have caused the color loss in his nephew’s face. A mind could drift to crazy places in times of stress, especially when it came to an injured child. He’d seen plenty of accidents in his time working in construction, but nothing compared to his own nephew being hurt. 


“How can I help you?” A petite blonde welcomed them from behind the reception desk, wearing bubble gum pink scrubs that seemed to match her personality. 


“I got a boo-boo,” Teddy said.


“Yeah, we had a bit of an accident this morning. Little man needs to see Doc about this cut on his hand,” Nick explained. “He’s been so brave today, and I’m so proud of him.” He hoped that Teddy would hear his words and feel encouraged.


“Go ahead and fill these out,” she said as she handed a clipboard over the counter. “I’ll go back and get a room ready. Just give me a minute.” Nick sat down with Teddy on his lap and made his best effort to fill out the paperwork. Parents deserved a hell of a lot more credit for these things.


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“Holy hotness,” Katie said, walking into the exam room where her best friend Emma sat charting notes from their last patient.


“What?” The doctor asked.


“The most beautiful specimen of a man is out there with the cutest little boy.” In true Katie form, she dropped her shoulders for dramatic effect. “Why are all the good ones taken?” She paused. “Come to think of it, I didn’t see a wedding ring. He could be a single dad. We’d be okay with that, right?” Katie went on and on, never stopping to make sure that Emma was even listening.


“I still have no clue what you’re talking about.” Emma tucked her falling curls behind her ear, still laser-focused on the computer screen in front of her. She’d tossed her hair into a loose elastic that morning, running late to get to the office. Now, her natural curls did their best to break free. “Is there a patient out there?” 


Katie turned to Emma with hands full of gauze, tape, and antiseptic wipes. “Aren’t you listening to me? Yes, there is a patient—an adorable little boy with some sort of cut on his hand. Dad is filling out paperwork now.”


“Just bring him back. If he’s already a patient, we probably have all the information we need.” Emma loved her best friend but hated the way an attractive male could grab her attention so quickly and completely. “No need to make a kid wait.”


Katie had always been boy-crazy, and Emma never understood why. Surely, a girl should have outgrown that phase by thirty—not that Emma ever had a boy-crazy phase of her own to outgrow…not one that she could remember, anyway. As the only child of a doctor and a lawyer, she spent most of her time studying and squeezing in some quality time with her parents when their schedules allowed. 


The girls grew up in Boston, graduated from high school together, and even went on to share a dorm room in college. When Emma moved on to medical school, Katie went out “to sow her wild oats”—although Emma never thought that Katie’s oats were as sown up as they should have been. In that time, Katie managed to finish her nursing degree, which proved to be an added blessing when Emma moved to Boone Heights to take over a clinic that happened to be in need of a physician and a nurse.


Emma’s life blew up—seemingly overnight—just a few months before, leaving her with no clue what would be left of the medical career she’d worked for her entire life. On top of the professional chaos, the grenade seemed to turn her love life into shrapnel. When a teenage delivery boy arrived on the steps of her parents’ front porch with an envelope—a certified letter that required a signature—Emma never would have predicted what would come of it. 


Standing in her parents’ wide-open gray and white kitchen, she pulled a stack of papers from the manilla envelope. On top was a handwritten note that looked like a chicken scratch at best, signed by one Milton Oliver—a name that she had never heard before—that simply asked her to read through the enclosed documents with an open mind. So, she did.


Milton Oliver turned out to be a doctor in Boone Heights, Maryland, and—according to him—Emma’s long-lost uncle. She never knew the man even existed, and all of a sudden, he was writing to ask that she come to Boone Heights to run the “family clinic” while he tended to some personal matters—none of which were explained in the paperwork, of course. 


After consulting with an attorney who decided that the contract seemed above board, she called and spoke with someone at the Boone Heights Family Clinic who lightly mentioned that they were also in need of a nurse. Desperate for a change of scenery, Emma signed on the dotted line agreeing to become the doctor of record at the clinic. Her first task would be to convince her best friend, Katie Zeigler, to make the move with her to fill the vacant nurse position.


Emma snapped back into the present as Katie walked into the exam room, followed by a frantic-looking man who carried an adorable little boy.


“It’s okay, Uncle Nicky. I’ll be alright.” The word uncle forced Katie’s eyebrows into an excited arch, which Emma seemed to feel too. 


Uncle Nicky was distractingly handsome and—as Katie mentioned—was not wearing a wedding band. Emma usually didn’t find his type of ruggedness to be so swoon-worthy, but his dark brown wavy hair seemed a little longer than he might have intended for it to be, the scruff on his face made it seem like he’d just crawled out of bed, and his brown eyes reminded her of her favorite dark chocolate filled with caramel. The tight jeans and flannel shirt—while usually not her thing—completed the package. 


“Um, hello there,” Emma said. Her parents hated when she began sentences with ‘um’ and had forced her to break the habit years before. Apparently, a little scruff on a handsome man caused her brain to malfunction.


“Good morning. I’m Doctor Cunningham. What happened, buddy?” There it was—the professionalism she prided herself on.


“Hi, Dr. Cunningham. I’m Teddy, and this is my Uncle Nicky. I had an accident at his work. I know I shouldn’t have picked up the big shovel without asking, but I wanted…well, I just wanted to help.” Emma looked at Katie with a smile, knowing she was just as captivated.


The tall, dark, and handsome man—oh, what a cliche she was—spoke up. “Yes, hey. I’m Nick Ewing, and this is my nephew, Teddy. He’s hanging out with me for the day while his dad is out of town. We were going to stay at the office, but something came up, and I had to take him over to one of our construction sites—which I know wasn’t the best idea. He found an old shovel and somehow cut his hand. I don’t know why we don’t have a first aid kit in the office—but don’t worry, I’m going to fix that as soon as we leave here. I found a shirt in my gym bag to wrap around it to try and stop the bleeding. It’s a clean shirt, I promise. It was just bleeding so much, and I didn’t know what else to do. So, I just wrapped it up and got him here as fast as I could.” He finally took a breath. “Wait,” he said as if a lightbulb went off in his head. “Where is Dr. Oliver?” 


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Holy shit. When did I become such a rambler? And who is this woman? Where is Doctor Oliver? Why is my brain not working? 


Dr. Cunningham didn’t seem phased by his rambling. While she listened, she unwrapped Teddy’s hand to take a look. A tear dropped from Teddy’s eye when he saw the blood, and Nick’s heart sank. How was he ever going to make this up to Teddy?


“Alright, kiddo. It looks like the cut isn’t very long, but it is pretty deep. After we clean it up, I think you’ll need a couple of stitches.” Dr. Cunningham stood and turned to Nick. “Has he had a tetanus shot?”


“I don’t know. I mean, I assume so. My brother is really on top of things. He’s like a super-dad…but I don’t know that stuff. Maybe I should just call him and ask.” Nick reached into his pocket for his phone.


“No need for that,” Katie waved. “I can go and check his records. I’m assuming Dr. Oliver has seen him before?”


“Yes. Doc has taken care of our family for as long as I can remember. Where is he, by the way?”


“I’m here for a few months while he takes care of some personal business,” Dr. Cunningham answered before turning to her nurse. “Katie, go ahead and check his vaccination records while I get ready for sutures. Uncle Nicky, would you like to hold Teddy’s other hand? Unless, of course, blood makes you feel faint or something.” 


“I’ll be fine,” he said rather abruptly. He wasn’t about to let the doctor think he was afraid of a little blood. 


“Is this going to hurt?” The fear in Teddy’s voice pulled at Nick’s heart. 


“Well, kiddo, I won’t lie to you…it doesn’t feel good. I’ll give you some medicine to hopefully make it hurt less, but I can’t promise you that it won’t hurt at all. I always like to tell my friends the truth—and we’re friends now, right Teddy?” Dr. Cunningham had the most soothing voice Nick had ever heard. He wasn’t sure where this woman came from, but she was stirring something up in him that he hadn’t felt in quite some time: feelings that certainly shouldn’t have been stirred up while his nephew was hurt. 


“And, you know what? Since we’re friends, how about you call me Emma.” Teddy nodded again, and Nick found his head bobbing along as well, wanting to be friends with Emma Cunningham in a big, big way. 


“I’m going to need you to be super brave for me, and we’ll get this over with as fast as possible, okay?” 


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Katie returned with a large tablet in her hand. “It looks like the youngest Mr. Ewing is up to date with that tetanus shot.”


“That’s good news,” Emma smiled while she managed her tools. On a tray, she handled a syringe with a needle that made Nick shutter. She laid out the gauze, tape, and antiseptic wipes that Katie had prepared earlier and approached Teddy with a kindness in her eyes that would help anyone feel calm. She laid his arm out and set his hand down on the rolling tray she’d pulled from the corner of the room, and draped a new cloth over it. 


“This part might sting a little, Teddy,” she said as she opened a package of antiseptic wipes. 


“That’s okay, I’m really brave,” Teddy said. 


“Of course you are,” Emma said. “I just wanted to give you a warning. And remember, even when you’re brave, you can cry, or tell me that it hurts—okay? You don’t have to keep anything hidden to be brave.” Emma always hated the idea that by crying or letting on that something hurt, a child would be viewed as any less brave. She wanted to teach every child out there that bravery wasn’t the absence of emotion but facing something through that emotion. Emma knew all about bravery.


When she started to clean the cut, Teddy gasped at the sting of the antiseptic. As a family physician, Emma loved being able to treat and help patients of all ages. While she knew that what she was doing was exactly what Teddy needed, it was still hard to help someone heal in a way that was painful for the patient—especially a little kid. 


She pulled a liquid into the syringe. “Okay, Teddy. Now, this is going to pinch, but after that, you won’t feel anything, and I’ll be able to stitch up your cut without it hurting.” 


Teddy’s eyes widened at the sight of the needle, and the grip on his uncle's hand turned his little knuckles stark white. Nick rubbed his nephew’s back in slow, calming circles. 


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Hearing Teddy wince at the needle prick felt like salt in Nick’s wounded heart, but Emma quickly finished with the numbing injection and worked on stitching up his cut. When she wrapped the gauze around his tiny hand, Nick finally began to relax.


Family was everything to the Ewings. Ross and Nell still expected their five grown children to return to the Blue House every Sunday night for a family dinner—and there was an active group text with constant participation to remind them of such things. Even their father—who hated the idea of cell phones in general—was in on the group messages, although he only did so to please his wife. 


Nick was actively avoiding the group text message for now. He would need to tell them what happened eventually, but he was still beating himself up over the whole situation. He wasn’t ready for the wrath he would get from his younger brother Tyler or for the way his older sister Natalie would come to his defense. He didn’t deserve her defense. Besides, the first person he needed to talk to would be Nathan, and that wouldn’t be through a family-wide text. Teddy’s father at least deserved a phone call to hear that his child needed stitches. 


“Excuse me, Mr. Ewing,” Emma interrupted his thoughts. “Mr. Ewing? Teddy is all ready to go. Katie is going to print out some instructions for you on how to take care of the wound, but for the most part, you just need to keep it clean and dry. If it’s easier, you can just have your brother give me a call. He’ll need to bring Teddy back in ten days so we can take those stitches out.”


“Okay. Thank you,” Nick said. 


Katie returned and handed the paperwork to Nick. “I’m sure Dr. Cunningham already explained, but you’ll need to change the dressing every other day—so I put some supplies in this bag for you. Otherwise, just keep his hand clean and dry. Of course, if you need any help, just give us a call.” She topped off her flirty smile with a wink. Katie was attractive, no doubt about it, but Nick wasn’t interested—not in her, at least. He was more interested in Emma. 


“Thanks,” Nick said, taking the brown paper bag from the nurse. “Alright, Teddy, time to go. I need to call your dad and then Grams and Pops. We can go wait for your dad at the Blue House.” Teddy hopped down from the table, putting a bit too much pressure on his bandaged hand. 


“Ouch,” he cried. Tears welled up in his eyes, and Dr. Cunningham sprang back into action. 


“Alright, buddy,” she said as she lifted Teddy back onto the exam table. “Let’s ice that hand. You might want to rest it for a while, okay? Maybe you can ask for help with things—like getting down from an exam table.” She wiped the tear that fell down his cheek and rested a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s go find that ice pack.”


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Katie stayed behind to clean the room for the next patient while Emma took the boys to search for an ice pack. With an extra dose of her kid-friendly personality, she had Teddy join in. 


“We’ve got to crush this up to get it cold. Do you think you can help me out with your good hand?” Teddy was eager to help, and Emma loved seeing the joy he got from crushing and shaking the ice pack, noticing as it went from room temperature to ice cold as he worked. 


“This feels so much better. Thank you, Emma.” Teddy leaned into her for a hug, and her heart nearly burst. “You know, I like Dr. Oliver, but I think I like you better. Plus, you’re way prettier. Isn’t she, Uncle Nicky?” 


Emma held her breath until he answered, wanting to know if Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome agreed. She mentally chastised herself for thinking that his opinion mattered but perked up when she heard his reply. 


“Yes, Teddy,” Nick said. “She’s very pretty. I mean, prettier than Dr. Oli-yes, she is pretty.”


“Well, thank you,” she said with a smile. “I think you’re both very handsome as well.” Nick smiled back, sending butterflies through her stomach and a rose blush to her cheeks. “Ah…alright, you two. It seems that you have some calls to make and a…blue house to visit?”


“That’s Gram and Pops’ house,” said Teddy. “It’s bright blue. Pops says he hates that color, but Gram loved it, so that’s the color it is. My dad says it’s because Gram and Pops have a forever love.” 


“That does sound like true love,” Emma agreed, turning to Nick. “Don’t forget to have your brother call me for that follow-up appointment.” She pulled a notepad from her pocket and a pen from a nearby table. “Here’s my cell phone number, so you can reach me anytime. I know Teddy scared you today, but you did the right thing—bringing him here. He’ll be perfectly fine. Don’t let Gram and Pops spoil him too much tonight.”


“Thanks,” Nick said, reaching for the paper and sliding it into his pocket. “And I…uh, I really appreciate your help. I guess we’ll be seeing you around—at least until Dr. Oliver gets back.”


“See you around.” She waved and smiled as Nick reached to open the door. 


“Bye,” Teddy said as they walked outside. 


When the door closed, Emma let out a long breath. Meeting Nick Ewing made life in Boone Heights seem a bit more interesting. It was too bad that he couldn’t possibly fall into her list of priorities. She wouldn’t be here forever.



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