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Summer with the Doctor

Summer with the Doctor

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She’s a jilted bride on the run. He’s a doctor seeking escape. Will a simple summer fling turn into something more?

Includes a town map and a story-inspired recipe!


  • Left at the altar
  • Afraid to commit
  • Second chance
  • Small town
  • Later in life
  • Mystery treasure hunt subplot


She’s a jilted bride on the run. He’s a doctor seeking escape. Will a simple summer fling turn into something more?

Cleo Carson has only ever wanted one thing. To get married. When she’s left at the altar, she takes off, wedding gown and all. She’s lost on a beach in who-knows-where when a stranger asks if she’s okay. Turns out he’s not a stranger at all, but her first love and the one who got away.

Dr. Caleb Robinson has had a distinguished career in surgery until his marriage fell apart and he lost someone dear to him. He resigns from his position and wants to figure out how to move on when his past catches up to him, literally, while he’s taking a walk on the beach.

Years ago, Cleo and Caleb had a whirlwind summer romance while on a Christian service mission trip, but life took them in different directions and ultimately left them each with broken hearts. When they get a second chance at love, they discover a message in a bottle. Could it lead to treasure or is what they seek already in front of them?

This is book 6 in the Blue Bay Beach Reads Romance series. Each story stands alone but reading them in order provides a deeper, richer experience. It is a sweet, small town, “clean and wholesome” romance, is faith-friendly, and contains a happily ever after.

Chapter 1 Look Inside

Chapter 1: Cleo

After making a big, life-changing decision, Cleo Jane Carson expected dread to pool in her belly, causing her limbs to go numb and making her knees feel weak.

Wearing what could only be described as a confection of a wedding gown, she wasn’t experiencing that at all as she walked along the sandy street in a town she’d never visited before. Blue Bay something or other. She only vaguely registered the sign on the edge of town when she’d passed.

Instead of dismay and anxiety, she was feeling relief. Like she’d dodged a bullet. No, she’d evaded a missile. A digital video game missile, but one all the same.

It would devastate most women to be left at the altar.

Although technically, she was the one who’d fled. She’d have to deal with the fallout with her family on that score later. For now, she felt free.

Cleo lifted her arms in the air, feeling the strain on the lace sleeves of her custom-made gown. Sparkling stones encrusted the fabric. They glinted in the sun. She looked gorgeous, but sweat pooled everywhere she didn’t want it to. The gown had a V-neck and ruffles at the seat, giving way to a long train. It was a work of art. A sweat-inducing work of art.

She whooped at the sea, the seagulls, and the open air.

“Heavenly Father, thank you for helping me out back there. For giving me the strength to walk away,” she added. “I don’t know what on earth I was thinking.”

Brian Baker, her fiancé, was a video game junkie. He lived and breathed epic battles on the screen. He worked in the industry and had to “Test out the merchandise,” as he’d said.

It made sense in a way. It would be hypocritical for him to sell games and not have any firsthand knowledge of what he was talking about. However, he’d also said that he was in the best industry in the world because “Vids sold themselves.” Oh, he was a class-A hypocrite alright.

When he wasn’t working, he played them morning, noon, and night. However, she’d been to his office a few times, and he often had a controller in-hand there too.

When she’d stop by his apartment, he’d have his headset on, and the reflection of explosions and gunfire would shine in his eyeglasses.

On paper, he looked great. A high-level executive at a booming gaming company. A pedigree family who would pass down their wealth to him.

He’d been a trust fund kid but went to college and got a job.
In Cleo’s opinion, he didn’t work all that hard. Mostly, he seemed to play. He didn’t make any meaningful difference in the world. But she tried to look past all of that. She wanted to get married and have a family more than anything.

She thought she wanted to be Mrs. Baker, but she now saw it would only result in hurt and humiliation. As awful as the last hour of her life had been, she could already see it was for the best. Or maybe it hadn’t quite sunk in yet because her mother would be outraged. Not that Winona Carson liked Brian much. No, she liked his bank account.

That wasn’t why Cleo wanted to get married.

She wanted to share delicious dinners and engaging conversation. Long strolls on the beach. To travel and see the world through each other’s eyes. To help those less fortunate. To have a family.

As she hiked up the full skirt of her gown and plodded down the road, she still felt the glee of escaping what would’ve been a terrible marriage, but she wasn’t sure where she was going.

Maybe that was the point.
On one side of the road, mansion homes surrounded by gates and greenery reminded her of where she’d come from.

On the other side, the ocean stretched broad and endless. A sailboat bobbed in the distance, and a seabird dove into the placid water.

A dusty sedan pulled up alongside her. “Excuse me, miss. Do you need a ride?”
She’d grown up in South Carolina and had moved to New York when she’d started high school. But she never forgot her manners. Nor did she forget her city smarts.

It was an older couple. He was bald. She had poodle-like white hair. They seemed friendly enough. Even if she took them up on the offer, she didn’t have a destination in mind.

When she didn’t answer right away, the woman leaned over the center console and asked, “Miss, is there anything you need?”

Yes. She needed a husband. A family. The clock was ticking.

Cleo pulled her mind from the ditches of her most frequent thought to address the matter at hand. She gestured to her wedding dress. “Oh, you mean because of this? As you can see, I am not getting married today. I will not be taking the last name, Baker, either. I thought I wanted to, but see now that was a foolish decision.” She huffed. “I think I’ll walk this off, but thank you very much for your concern.”

She nodded to let them know she was indeed okay.

The words she’d blurted to the kind older couple sounded slightly unhinged.

“If you change your mind, we live nearby. Just take a right near the fire station. If you reach Coco’s Cones, you’ve gone too far.”

“That’s mighty kind of you. I appreciate it.”

They hesitated but then pulled slowly away.

Cleo carried on and reached the fire station as the kindly couple had mentioned.

However, she continued to walk right past Coco’s Cones, Beach Waves Salon, and then Blond and Blue Boutique.

All the while, passersby stared at her. No surprise, considering her attire. If she had her wallet, she’d have purchased a change of clothes. Despite the cost of the dress, she wasn’t one to stand out. But it had been her wedding day and her mother had insisted on over the top, which was normal for Winona.

A woman walking a labradoodle approached on the sidewalk. “Are you okay, miss?” she asked when she was closer.

Cleo thumbed behind her. “He left me at the altar. I left my wedding.” She heard how that sounded. “Just taking a walk.

You know.” Yep. She sounded like she was a sheet short a layer cake. She gently placed her hand on the woman’s forearm. “Thank you for asking.”

“If you need anything, I live just up that way. Sandpiper Lane.”

Cleo nodded her thanks and carried on.

As she approached the church, the pastor was waving goodbye to a father and his daughter. Cleo felt the clergyman’s gaze fall on her. He strode down the path in front of the church and lifted his hand for her attention.

“Miss, can I help you?” His face was serene and without judgment. In fact, everyone she’d met so far had been especially kind.

She nodded slowly. “Yes. Probably, but I’ll have to get back to you.” She winced.

“Then I won’t press, but you know where to find me.” He pointed over his shoulder toward the church.

Cleo thanked him and then carried on, passing a souvenir shop and Auntie M’s Candies. The town was beachy and welcoming with its tree-lined sidewalks, decorated shop windows, and classic small-town vibe.

On her right was a grand bed-and-breakfast and on her left, a beach rentals shop. It seemed like a wonderful place to visit or settle down.

She crossed to the boardwalk and the beach. Couples, families, and groups of friends gathered, sunbathed, and picnicked. Sandcastles were being built, seagulls wheeled in the sky, people were laughing and splashing in the water. It was the picture-perfect scene on a perfect summer day.

A little girl wearing a polka dot bathing suit rushed up to her, calling, “Mommy, Mommy, look, a princess.” Her face lit up.

Cleo, already scorching, felt her cheeks heat. How could she possibly explain? How could she possibly ever have a little girl or boy or two or ten of her own? She’d always wanted a big family. The chaos, the love, and the excitement of it thrilled her, filled her, and made her wake up each day hopeful.

As far as she could tell, that lifelong desire was not to be.

Turning in the sand, she had to get away from there. Away from the stark reality that her dreams were not going to come true.

As she rushed back to the quiet beach by the mansions where she’d whooped at the ocean, the last hours of her life chased her and then caught up.

The hour before she and Brian were to get married, they were standing on opposite sides of a door—the whole don’t see the bride in the gown tradition.

Brian was talking to his friends.

She had the stupid idea that she’d hear him confess his excitement for their nuptials.

Her sisters crowded behind her, listening.

For the last year, the wedding and her future were the only things she could think or talk about. Brian let her handle everything. Naturally, her mother took the reins and helped...or more accurately, mother-of-the-bridezilla-ed.

Cleo wasn’t a bridezilla, but her mother had become overly involved and demanding.

Together with her sisters, they got her under control. But just before the ceremony, they were all giddy and excited as they listened in on the conversation among the guys.

From the other side of the wall, Brian’s phone rang. It wasn’t his usual ringtone. It was a rap tune about big butts.

Cleo had felt her stomach twist. She’d heard that particular tune come from his phone once or twice before but didn’t think anything of it. Brian and his buddies had an overall immature sense of humor, but Cleo understood that marriage meant overlooking little things and focusing on the big stuff—the love they shared, the way they each contributed to the relationship, and how they lived out their values.

His friends chuckled. From the little snippets she could overhear, Brian had met a girl online. Mandy. Username Mandilicious. As Cleo stood there, she caught snatches of the conversation among the guys.

She was also a gamer.

They’d hang out virtually and play video games together using headsets.

They were dating on the sly.

He was a cheater.

Cleo didn’t know to what extent, but Brian’s behavior made a crushing kind of sense.

The late nights at the office.

The canceled dinner dates. His long trips. The constant attachment to his phone.

With the devastating recent memory, Cleo’s pace slowed as she walked back the way she came along a street called Mansion Mile. The harsh reality caught up with her just then.

Their wedding was a result of Cleo pressuring Brian. She’d dropped not-so-subtle hints about the future. She was getting older. Not that old, just in her early thirties, but still. All of her sisters and best friends were married and having kids.

She wanted that.
It was like each day she could see her window of opportunity closing inch by inch. Since she was a little girl, she’d always dreamed of a wedding and had a notebook with everything planned out, right to the last detail. Of course, her tastes had changed over the years, and her mother had taken over planning, meaning everything about the nuptials had gotten out of hand and was over the top. But the future she saw of herself involved a ring on her finger and kids tugging on her skirt.

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