A force so unwavering it attracts two atoms and then marries them with a strong (covalent) bond, to form a single molecule.
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer...”
--Sun-Tzu 400 BC
Chemical Attraction 74,000 words, Romantic Suspense
2012 Golden Heart Finalist, Romance Writers of America
University College Hospital
“Mrs. Gallagher?” a woman’s demure, accented voice asked. “Can you hear me? Please open your eyes if you can hear me.”
Whoever Mrs. Gallagher was, she wasn’t being cooperative. But then anyone stupid enough to marry Dr. Devlin Gallagher couldn’t be firing on all cylinders.
“Sophie honey, can you hear me?” a man’s voice asked.
They were talking to her now, but it was still wrong. The voice sounded…well, it sounded like Dr. Gallagher’s. What an odd dream she was having. At least she was cognizant that she was having a dream.
“Why won’t she wake up?” the Dr. Gallagher sound-alike complained.
“I think she is awake, she just hasn’t opened her eyes.”
Someone squeezed her hand, rubbed a warm thumb over the tops of her fingers. It felt so real for a dream. How strange was that?
“I’m worried.” The man did sound worried. His voice carried an edge of panic.
“Dr. Gallagher, Sophie will be just fine.”
Now that did not make any sense. Dr. Gallagher didn’t care about her.
“Sophie darling, please open your eyes. The baby is fine, you’re fine…”
Baby? Sophie’s eyes flew open and met Devlin Gallagher’s emerald green irises surrounded by dark purple shadows. Did he have a pair of black eyes? His left arm was in a sling. Usually from his shined shoes to his thick blue-black hair, there was complete perfection. This rumpled, beat up man facing her was completely wrong.
Relief calmed his tense expression and a moment later, he carefully leaned down and kissed her cheek, making Sophie flinch.
Finding her voice, she asked, “What are you doing?”
“I thought I’d lost you.” His fingers carefully caressed her hand and then her arm. “But you’re fine. You and the baby are fine.”
“I don’t understand.” She looked from the too handsome face of Devlin Gallagher to the woman in a white nurse’s uniform.
“Mrs. Gallagher, do you remember the accident?” the nurse asked.
“Accident? What? No! My name is Sophie Rus—, Beaumont. I’m not married to him, I’d never marry him.” Devlin flinched with each one of her painful words.
“We’ve been married for three years, Sophie,” Devlin said, the muscles of his jaw tensing. “Don’t you remember?”
“I would never marry you. I hate you…” The room began to move around her in gentle circles gaining velocity with each lap. Laying her head back on the pillow, Sophie shut her eyes and let the darkness carry her away.
The Offices of Gallagher Chemical
New York, NY
At precisely 9:00 a.m., Dr. Devlin Gallagher pushed through the massive glass doors, which opened into the modern chrome and granite lobby of the company that bore his name. Despite the attention the wickedly handsome man was drawing from every female in the vicinity, his attention fell to the one woman who politely ignored him.
“Good morning, Sophie.” Dr. Gallagher offered a crooked smile that enhanced the dimple in his right cheek as he breezed past her desk. It forced her attention on this Monday, the fourth week of her employment at Gallagher Chemical.
“Good morning, sir.” She smiled a smile that pained her. There would be another day of menial activity ahead, which did nothing to stimulate her gifted mind. In the time she’d observed Dr. Gallagher in his environment, she’d been careful to always have a smile on her face and remain aloof. Few of her co-workers knew much about her except that she’d moved to New York in search of a big city adventure.
Following her normal protocol, she grabbed a pad and pencil, stood and followed her suit clad boss, today in gray pinstripe with azure blue shirt and matching sapphire silk tie, into his ultra modern black leather furnished office. Taking a deep breath, she gave herself the internal pep talk that fueled her with enough courage to face another day of working for a murderer.
“Would you like some tea this morning, sir?” she asked, her tone laced with saccharine.
Pausing at her question, he lifted his black Mont Blanc pen and rolled it smoothly between his fingers like a fine cigar. With calculation, his monstrous green eyes slowly rose to meet hers. “I’m impressed you came back. I worried all weekend.”
The teasing. Again.
She hated it when he said these kinds of things to her. And he said these kinds of things to her several times a day. He was trying to fluster her, trying to get a reaction out of her. The more he tried to shock her, the more resolute she became.
Raising a single eyebrow, she said, “I’m still employed, aren’t I?”
“Of course, but I still can’t believe you’re mine,” he admitted with deadpan seriousness. “I’m always anxious that I’ll come in to find you’ve gone. You’re too good for me and too smart to stay in this position. Someone will snap you up and I’ll be a forgotten memory. My heart breaks at the thought.”
She bit her lip. “Sir, someday I will leave you and you will survive. Now, how about I get you some nice herbal tea, while you think about your schedule for the day?”
“You know, I almost got a real smile out of you. I was this close.” He held his thumb and index finger an inch apart.
“It’s nice to have goals in life, sir. How much sugar would you like?”
“More than I should have,” he said, showing his dimple.
With a shake of her head, she turned and headed toward the break room speculating that if only she had a little rat poison or some of that slug bait her mother was always using around the roses, she could flavor his tea all right. Unfortunately, there were too many people fluttering around the break room at nine thirty in the morning who could bear witness to her bad acts. She wondered what would come to mind in time for his mid-afternoon natural cane cola with crushed ice. Of course she would have already visited his eco-friendly dry cleaner and run his other, random personal errands.
Thankfully, plotting his murder kept her mind sharp. Unfortunately, her revenge wasn’t going to involve Dr. Gallagher’s physical death. She’d quickly dismissed the idea of spending time in jail for murder. No, she planned to murder his posh, selfish lifestyle and his company right along with it.