The Medic

The Medic

Clarence Thunder may not be as young as he once was . . .

But is he as good once as he ever was? He hopes so. He’s been watching Tammy Tall Trees, the young single mother who works next door in the Child Care Center. He wants to show Tammy he can take care of her and her young son—but can he compete with the boy’s real father?

Tammy was crushed when her old boyfriend abandoned her after she got pregnant. Since then, she’s put her son first—which means no dating. Who would want a broke single mother, anyway? Certainly not Clarence—one of the best men on the White Sandy. Until one day, the older man starts making her coffee—and bringing her son toys. Can she put herself first—or will her past catch up to them both?

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NOTE: The Medic was previously published as Clarence.
Men of the White Sandy: Book 4
ISBN-13: 978-1-941097-12-0




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Praise

  • 5 stars! “Sarah M. Anderson took Clarence; a male nurse who has little patience, and made him the embodiment of everything a drool worthy romance hero should be”–Kame, The Book Palace
  • 4 1/2 stars! “This novella is perfect. A sweet, charming romance slowly builds between Tammy and Clarence.”–Danielle, The Book Palace
  • 4 feathers! “A sweet, well written novella about two people taking a chance on each other and not letting their pasts, or insecurities, keep them from what could turn out to be a real good thing.  I pretty much fell in love with Clarence within the first page, maybe second, of this novella and seriously, what isn’t there to love about him?”–Evermore Books
  • 4 stars! “I’ve enjoyed all the books in the series so far, and loved the little scene with Rebel and Nobody, and this is a wonderful little slice of life installment for two characters that we’ve gotten to meet and see throughout the series.”–Books n’ Wine
  • 4 stars! “A sweet romance that continues the Men of the White Sandy series that is very enjoyable.”–Ramblings from a Chaotic Mind
  • B! “The romance is kind of earthy and sweet, with just a right amount of sexy.”–Red Hot Books
  • 4 stars! “This is a very quick read but a sweet one.  If you’ve read the rest in the series you definitely want to grab this one and if you haven’t read the series..  well…. get moving!”–Books-a-holic Anon
  • 4 stars! “Even though this is a novella length read, the warmth, caring and sweet side of romance is all there and feels good.”–Tome Tender

Chapter One

Clarence Thunder pulled into the parking lot at the White Sandy Clinic and Child Care Center and shut off his truck. He yawned as he rubbed his eyes. Man, it was early. Not even six in the morning.

But the parking lot was empty. Just like he wanted it to be. He had a pound of some fancy flavored coffee, a Matchbox car, and a plan.

He got out of the truck and opened up the Clinic. So far, so good. He’d been half afraid that Nobody Bodine, the night janitor, might still be lurking around. If Clarence was going to make a fool of himself over a woman, he didn’t want an audience for it.

But the place was empty, so he got the coffee going. The whole time, he rehearsed what he was going to say when Tammy Tall Trees showed up.

“Hey, Tammy—I made you some coffee.”

But the more he rehearsed it, the weaker it sounded. Hell. He didn’t know what else to do, though.

For the last four months—ever since the Child Care Center had opened up right next door to the Clinic, Tammy Tall Trees had been arriving at six thirty every morning, along with her three-year-old son, Mikey. And the first thing she did was make coffee.

Clarence got to work about seven—give or take. He operated on Indian time, which meant that sometimes he got here at seven fifteen, sometimes he got here at eight. Didn’t matter much. He was the head nurse at the Clinic. It didn’t function without him.

At first, when Tammy had started getting here before him, she’d said, “Clarence, I made the coffee.” They’d exchanged pleasantries about the weather or people they knew. That was how Clarence found out that Dr. Mitchell’s sister, Melinda—the one who’d come out to run the Child Care Center—had somehow fallen for Nobody. Clarence still couldn’t figure that one out, but who was he to judge?

Then, after a moment or two of Clarence and Tammy chatting, either a kid or a patient would show up and Clarence would go to his side of the building while Tammy went to hers and that was that.

But recently, in the last month, Clarence had noticed a change in their little morning ritual. Instead of saying, “I made the coffee,” Tammy had started saying, “I made you coffee.”

And maybe that wasn’t much. One word. Three little letters. That didn’t say much about whether or not she was interested in him, did it?

Except . . .

Tammy had a way of looking at him now that he was pretty sure she hadn’t been doing back when she started. She’d hold her cup of coffee up against her lips and blow on it gently—she was a gentle woman—and then, she’d look up at him through her thick lashes and he’d see the corners of her mouth curve up at the same time a pretty blush would dust her cheeks and damn if it didn’t hit him like a ton of bricks.

That look combined with those three little letters—that had to mean something, right?

Clarence had never been particularly good with women. He was big, he could be mean when he had to be—all things that could appeal to women with a thing for bad boys—but he was a nurse. When he’d joined the Navy right out of high school and gotten off this rez for a decade, being a male nurse—a Lakota Indian male nurse at that—had not been the way to score with the ladies. It had been the shortest path between Clarence and a punch line.

But it was a job—a job he was good at. He didn’t have the head to be a doctor, but he was good with people and had a strong stomach. And because he had a regular job with a regular paycheck—hell, ever since Dr. Mitchell had come out and started paying him with real money, it was even a decent paycheck—Clarence had been able to save up a little and get some nicer things. Like his truck. The Dodge Ram was only three years old and it ran real good.

That had to be a point in his favor, he decided as he filled up the coffee pot. Clarence didn’t know much about whoever Mikey’s father was. Tammy’s sister, Tara—who was the receptionist at the Clinic—only referred to him as ‘that dickbag,’ which was a sentiment salty enough to make Clarence blush, old seaman that he was.

As far as Clarence could tell, Tammy was pretty much on her own. Well, sort of on her own. She lived with her mom, who helped take care of Mikey. Flo Tall Trees was more like Tara—brash and outspoken and not afraid to tell you when she thought you were screwing it up.

Tammy was different, though. She was quiet and shy. She had a way with the kids that she watched over—she was the one to soothe hurt knees and hurt feelings, whereas Melinda Mitchell was the loud, bouncy, fun one.

Clarence knew that because he’d taken to popping over to the Center when they had a lull—which wasn’t often, but still. He’d stick his head through the door and survey the chaos—or the story time, or the snack, or whatever—and there would be Tammy, right in the middle of it all, handing out hugs and encouragement and always with this beautiful smile on her face. Those kids could be crazy, but he’d never once seen her lose her cool.

“Hey, Tammy—I made you some coffee. And I brought Mikey a toy.”

Yeah, that was better. The toy car was a key part of his plan. Namely, he was banking on the car buying him five minutes of uninterrupted time to talk with Tammy. Ten minutes would be better. That was the best he could hope for. Ten minutes to try and figure out if she was looking at him like she was interested, or if she just really liked coffee.

God, he hoped she was interested.

He fumbled with the flavored stuff—vanilla bean, the label said. He was out of practice—Tammy had been making the coffee for months now. But finally, after one or two false starts, he got the water dripping. He checked his watch. Six fifteen. Perfect.

Clarence stashed his lunch and did a hurried version of his morning check. The Clinic was his home away from home and he liked to see that it was in proper working order. Shipshape and Bristol fashion, as his Navy supervisor was fond of saying. Yeah, the Clinic had seen better days, but it did what it needed to.

Clarence had been here for ten years, through five doctors. None had stayed as long as Dr. Mitchell. Of course, none of them had married the local medicine man, either—but Dr. Mitchell had. And then her sister had come out here and gotten together with Nobody Bodine, which was about the craziest thing he’d ever heard. Nobody Bodine could find love with a hot woman?

If a convicted felon—and a janitor, for God’s sake—could win a lady’s heart, why couldn’t Clarence?

Clarence didn’t like being nervous. But this thing, whatever it was, between him and Tammy was making him nervous. She was so quiet and kind—what if she wasn’t really sending him signals but was just taking pity on him? Poor old Clarence, the freak male nurse who joined the Navy even though he grew up in a sea of grass.

And if he screwed this up? Then he’d have to deal with Tara. She’d been the receptionist for about four years. She did a good job wrangling the patients, but if she thought that Clarence was screwing around with her little sister, she might cut him to ribbons.

“Good Morning, Tammy—I picked up some new coffee I thought you might like. And a toy for Mikey.”

No, no—too formal, too stiff. Because what if he was wrong? Aw, hell.

Six nineteen. Six twenty-four. Six twenty-eight. The seconds crawled by. Then it was finally six thirty—and she didn’t show up. The coffee finished perking and everything but no Tammy, no Mikey.

Panic rolled deep in Clarence’s stomach. He shouldn’t have tried the fancy stuff—then everyone would know that he’d done something different, that he’d been trying to impress a woman. Tara might cut him to ribbons anyway.

He was about thirty seconds from dumping the whole pot down the drain when headlights flashed through the windows. He sagged in relief as he watched Tammy get out of her rusty old Accord and then walk around to the other side to unbuckle Mikey. She lifted the boy out and hugged him to her chest, where he sleepily rested his head on her shoulder.

Clarence felt himself breathe at the sight. There was something so damn sweet about the woman that called to him. She was a lot shorter than he was and had very generous curves—the kind of curves that he’d heard other women make fun of, back when he was shipping out of San Diego.

But she wasn’t fat, not to him. She was . . .

Tammy was perfect, really. Warm and soft and just right for a man like him to hold.

Mikey kicked out of Tammy’s grip and went streaking toward the Center door.

Now was the time to make his move. His small, cautious move. He filled up two mugs and checked to make sure the car was in his pocket. He managed to get the door open without spilling the coffee down the front of his scrubs. “Morning, Tammy. I . . .” his throat almost froze up. He was forced to ‘harumph,’ which caused Tammy to pause and turn her full attention him.

Her eyes lit when she looked at him. They just lit up. “Hiya, Clarence,” she said in that soft way of hers.

“Mama,” Mikey screeched. “I need paper!”

And the light in her eyes—well, it didn’t fade but it redirected to her son. “Hang on, hon.” Tammy glanced back at Clarence. “One moment—I just need to get him set up.”

“No problem,” Clarence said. Then he remembered the car. “Hey, Mikey—I got you something.”

“You did?” Tammy asked, turning those big brown eyes back to him.

“Presents?” Mikey yelled as he came barreling up to Clarence. “Gimme gimme gimme!”

“Now, Mikey,” Tammy said in as scolding a voice as Clarence had ever heard her use. “Use your manners. Pleases and Thank Yous.”

“Pease Tank You for the present!” The little boy stuck out his hand and waited.

Clarence realized he was still holding both coffees. He handed one to Tammy and fished the little car out of his pocket. “Here you go, kiddo. Have fun.”

“A car? YAH!” Mikey grabbed the car and took off.

“Mikey, honey—say thank you!” Tammy called out after him, but the boy wasn’t paying attention.

Which was just the way Clarence wanted it.

“Sorry about that,” she said, turning those big brown eyes back to him. “He doesn’t get new presents very often. He’s very appreciative.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he replied, trying to be cool. He took a sip of his coffee and almost spit it back out. It was too sweet and vanilla-y and barely constituted coffee. He choked and started coughing.

Tammy looked alarmed. “You okay?”

“Fine,” he managed to get out. “It’s early, that’s all.”

She dropped her gaze and studied her mug. Oh, hell—had he screwed this up? But then she said, “You are a little early today.”

Then she looked up at him through her lashes, like she wasn’t sure what she would see. There was something in her gaze, something hopeful and cautious and nervous and sweet all at the same time.

If there weren’t a kid ten feet away, Clarence knew what he’d do. He’d tilt her chin up far enough that he could kiss her pretty lips, her neck, her . . . everything.

Vrooom!” This sound was followed by the noise of a car crashing into something.

So Clarence did not kiss her. Be cool, he thought. Be cool. “Figured, you’ve been making me coffee long enough. It was time I took care of you.”

Her eyes widened in surprise as a beautiful blush danced wildly over her cheeks. Too much? Not enough? Hell, he wished he had more practice.

She looked down at her coffee and took a sip. “Mmm,” she said, taking a longer drink. His gut tightened as he watched her lips open.

Okay, good. Great. Just the smell of this stuff was making his stomach turn, but if she liked it, he’d brew it every damn day for her.

Finally, when half the cup was gone, she looked up at him. “This is the good stuff,” she said.

Clarence grinned. She had a little drop of the coffee on her upper lip. He leaned forward. He couldn’t kiss her, not in the middle of the Child Care Center but . . . “You’re worth the good stuff.” He cupped her face in the palm of his hand and swiped his thumb over her lip. Her eyes were wide open again, but she didn’t pull away, didn’t turn her head. She just looked up at him, her lips lightly parted. Was she breathing heavily? Was that a good sign?

“There,” he said. His voice had gone all hoarse on him, but he couldn’t help it. She was warm and soft against his hand—and that was just her cheek.

What would the rest of her be like? Soft and warm and . . .

Without thinking, he licked his thumb. Instead of the overwhelming sweetness of the coffee, the taste was tempered with something more salty, more delicate.

Tammy.

She gasped as he tasted the tiny drop of her and coffee together. She was panting now, her breath coming in short, tight gasps—which did some things to her chest that he was having a hard time not noticing. But he couldn’t look at her heaving bosoms—he couldn’t look away from her eyes. All that stuff—the cautious, nervous, hopeful stuff? That was all still there. But it was suddenly buried underneath something else—sheer desire. She tucked her lower lip underneath her teeth and leaned back—not away from him, but so that her breasts were thrust out, as if her body was begging him to touch it. To take it.

Hell, yeah, his gut clenched hard. Harder. Other things clenched, too—which was going to be a problem real fast because medical scrubs were not exactly concealing.

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