Kaycee Wilder is an award winning documentary filmmaker sent on a mission to bring a rural Appalachian medical clinic to life on film. She's expecting Dr. Daniel Chase to be a crotchety old country doctor, but when he turns out to be tall and hunky, with bedroom eyes, the sparks fly. He's stubborn and dominant, she's independent and feisty, he likes rules, she likes to break them, and neither can deny the physical attraction that's at war with their opposing personalities. It doesn't take long before Kaycee learns that butting heads with Dan lands her over his knee! But just as Kaycee and Dan are finding common ground, Kaycee uncovers a conspiracy that is making the local children sick, and all the evidence points to Dan covering it up. Does she follow her heart or the evidence to find an Appalachian Cure? If you like spanking romances, you'll love this book.
BDSM category: spanking only
NO EXPLICIT EROTIC SCENES but not suitable for under age 18
Kaycee Wilder rolled her head for the umpteenth time in the last three hours as the bus hit another rut in the rural Kentucky road. Her shoulders and head ached, and her back was really starting to bother her. It had been way too long since she visited her chiropractor. Why hadn't she gone before starting out on this summer project? She had taken a bad fall suffering a compression fracture in her lower back, and ever since had chronic back pain.
It was one of the reasons she had decided to leave her job as a fulltime documentary producer for PBS and take a teaching job at a small private college in Wisconsin. She loved working with the students, and the film department in the school was excellent. Plus she could still take on documentary projects, but she chose the subject and set her own pace.
As yet another huge pothole tortured the bus's suspension and sent a shockwave of pain up her spine; she asked herself again, "what was I thinking taking the bus from Lexington?" She should have gone with her first instinct, rented a four-wheel drive vehicle and driven herself. But as she berated herself again for 'Going Greyhound', she remembered the words of her contact at the Appalachian Development Commission.
"Oh honey, you get lost or break down in the back hills of eastern Kentucky you might never see civilization again. Just fly down to Lexington and then take the bus to Harlan and Doc Chase will pick you up there and take you to the clinic in the hollow. That's the best way--that's what we do with all the med students we send him." Gloria had said.
"And this doctor knows he's getting a filmmaker instead of a medical resident this summer?" Kaycee had asked.
"I sent your whole file down and told him personally your specialization was different from anything he'd had before."
Kaycee wondered once again through her fatigue what this doctor was like. She imagined he was older and figured he had to be someone special to spend 10 years working in the poorest region of the country trying to keep a clinic open. She didn't know much more about him or the people of the hollow because she'd had so little time to research her topic. Normally she spent several weeks on research before taking on a documentary project, but this was an exception.
She eased her head back on the headrest and thought back to the circumstances that had brought her here. She still had a bitter taste in her mouth. This was not what she had planned for her summer.
Kaycee had been so excited about the project she'd been working on since January. She usually decided on a topic for her creative projects in the spring semester and did her research and set-ups. Then she'd shoot over the summer, and write and edit in the fall. She found doing just one project a year, rather than the three to four she had typically done for PBS was much more fulfilling. Now she was able to do much more of the work herself. Sometimes she'd have a photographer help her with the shooting, especially with her back, but most of it was a one-woman-show. Her college had been extremely supportive with resources and the documentaries aired on the PBS station run by the communications department at the college. This would have been her third project as an independent producer, and both of the other two had been award winners. They also had aired on many of the other PBS affiliates across the network.
Damn, she was disappointed. She had spent three months setting up her inside look at the juvenile justice system in Wisconsin. She had finally received permission to follow two juveniles from arrest through the Milwaukee court system and into juvenile detention, if that's what happened. No one had ever been granted the access she was going to get. She had imagined the follow-ups she'd be able to do five and ten years later. She was all set to go three weeks ago, when she was shut down. She could still hear her Dean's words.
"Kaycee, I'm so sorry. We just don't have the funding for you this summer. Every department's had to cut at least five percent from its budget. I won't cut positions, and that means a chunk of funding for creative work and research is getting the ax. You've had generous support the last two years, and I have to spread what little money there is around this summer."
Kaycee had been shocked and then had argued hard for her project. She had tried to explain this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. She was sure the film would go network when it was done, which meant the school would recoup most of its costs. But the dean was adamant.
"If you can find other upfront funding, go for it. But I'm sorry. It's not coming from here."
Yeah, like she was going to find 20-thousand dollars just lying around. Even if she contacted her old colleagues at the network, she knew no one could come up the funding in three weeks. It was practically the end of the fiscal year. Budgets were always tight at PBS the last two months of the budget year. It had taken very delicate negotiations to get access to juvenile cases and a delay would blow the whole thing.
Then she learned the real reason her funding was being cut, instead of someone else's. "I do have an alternative for you," the dean had said.
"The Appalachian Development Commission is offering a substantial grant for someone to spend the summer in eastern Kentucky, documenting the work of an amazing medical clinic down there. Normally the grant goes to a medical student or resident to intern at the clinic, but no one applied this year, and the ADC thinks if the clinic and its doctor received a little publicity, it might get more applicants next year, not to mention more federal funding."
"I did my time in Kentucky, including covering the coal mining towns in Appalachia. One tour of duty down there is plenty. No thanks," she responded adamantly. She had been a reporter at a Lexington TV station right out of college. Kaycee shuddered at the poverty she had seen in eastern Kentucky when she'd had to go down into the region to cover a coal mine disaster or a strike. She had lived a very sheltered middle class life, surrounded by a loving family. She was completely unprepared for the things she saw in her first years as a reporter, before she moved into documentary work. The worst of it was the human suffering in eastern Kentucky. The children especially tugged at her heart and their faces still haunted her in rare quiet moments.
"Now, Kaycee, don't be so quick to dismiss this opportunity. I happen to have a friend at the ADC, and we have the inside track on this grant if I can guarantee you on the project. You do know we haven't asked you to bring in any grant money since you've been here--we've been more than generous with your prior projects. I can say with certainly that landing this grant would go a long way toward guaranteeing you tenure in two years when you go up for it," the dean had said pointedly.
So there it was, academic politics at its best. It was Kaycee's first head-on collision with the political wall that was part of every college and university. Needless to say, she'd come away damaged. At first she had been furious, now she was just resigned. It certainly was a generous grant--$50,000 to the college or university the medical resident, or in her case faculty member, came from, and all expenses paid, plus a small stipend for the three months spent in Crystal Creek Hollow. In fact as she learned more about the program, she was really surprised there had been no applicants this year. When she had asked Gloria about that, the ADC woman had been a little vague.
"Well, it's not exactly a summer at the beach you know. These days' medical students and residents all have stars in their eyes--they want to specialize and work with the most high tech equipment and challenging cases. Getting them to think about family practice in small rural communities is getting tougher and tougher. That's why we need to show them what a difference they could make."
Gloria's plea had been impassioned, but Kaycee had sensed there was something the woman wasn't saying. "And????" Kaycee had asked.
"Okay, well, Doc Chase is a bit of a task master. He's a great teacher, but he doesn't tolerate incompetence and is sort of set in his ways. He's there first as the desperately needed doctor, and only secondly as a mentor for the med students. But hey, you won't have that problem, because you're not a med student!" she had added cheerfully.
Kaycee groaned as she recalled Gloria's description of this Dr. Chase. Forget what she had been thinking earlier. He was probably some crotchety old guy who would be a pain in the butt to work with. Little did she know that he was going to be a pain in the butt alright, literally.
She decided she would get the job done as quickly as possible and get out of there. Maybe she could still salvage some of her summer, if not her summer project. She turned to look out the window. She had forgotten how beautiful the mountains of eastern Kentucky were. But that beauty hid such poverty and hopelessness. She remembered going into some of the small communities to cover stories and thinking she'd stepped back in time. Some homes had no electricity, some even no indoor plumbing. Many families grew much of their food and kept animals for eggs and milk. The men worked the mines the same way their fathers and grandfathers had. And when the mine shut down in a town, the town often went with it, for in mining towns, the mining company owned everything: the houses, the store, the town government, and people's livelihoods.
The bus headed into the valley that snuggled the city of Harlan. It was one of the larger cities in eastern Kentucky and looked much the same as any small city with its white steepled church, brick city hall, and a McDonalds on the corner. Kaycee was relieved to see the bus station in sight. She only hoped that the final ride to Crystal Creek wasn't too much further.
Three hours on this bus had already strained her back and thinking about how she ended up here had strained her mood. She knew she needed to shake off her negativity and frustration. She was normally a very positive person. It wasn't the fault of anyone here that she wasn't in Milwaukee right now. Besides she had to admit this was a worthwhile project. She had the chance to do some good and bring the plight of these people to public attention. Maybe she could send away some of the shadows that still troubled her from her first experience in this region more than a dozen years ago.
Dr. Daniel Chase leaned casually against a pole in the bus depot arrival area. He whittled away at a small piece of wood. He had a bemused expression on his face as he recalled the parting words of his longtime medical partner.
"Now be nice to her, Dan. I know you hate it when the ADC sends women medical residents, but I'm sure she'll be fine. Just remember, I'm a woman and manage to deal just fine!" Glenda Williams did manage to deal just fine. She was in her forties and had four children to look after. Her husband was a mining engineer and had been killed years ago in a mine collapse near Harlan. She had come back to the hollow to be with her family. She had been a nurse practitioner in Harlan and was the only medical care around when he came to the hollow to start the clinic. They'd built up the clinic together, and she'd been with him ever since, which meant she knew exactly how to deal with his moodiness.
"You mean you manage to deal with me just fine!" he said chuckling. "You know why I don't like women residents--the last two we had were more interested in learning how to get me into bed, than the patients out of bed!"
Glenda laughed. Her boss had a very dry sense of humor. It was true the two young women who had come in the last seven years of the ADC program had developed instant crushes on Dan and drove him nuts. Of course, she could understand why. The 37-year-old doctor was one of the best looking guys she had ever seen. He was well over six foot, with an athletic, muscular build honed from the years of outdoor life in the hollow. He had thick dark wavy hair that he wore on the longish side, and he typically had at least a day's growth of beard. And then there were those eyes--deep brown that would hold your gaze with intense interest. He was the definition of ruggedly handsome.
Glenda had often thought to herself if she hadn't been grieving the loss of the love of her life when they met, she'd have been attracted to Dan. But instead he became a good friend in a time of need and she became his partner in the clinic. They were the only medical help for 60 miles around, and given the difficulty of traveling those 60 miles, they were the only medical help period.
Glenda looked again at this quiet man who gave so much to the people of the hollow, and wondered at his own dreams. She hadn't seen him show real interest in any woman since he came here ten years ago. It was all about the work. He was a taciturn, sometimes downright cranky man, except with his patients. Then she saw a caring she couldn't describe. It was like he felt their pain and knew instinctively how to make it better. When he lost a patient, as happened in the hollow, it was like he lost a piece of himself. She guessed she probably knew him better than anyone, and even she didn't know him that well.
But she did know him well enough to know he wasn't thrilled with ADC sending him another woman. They always welcomed the help of the med students or residents, and Dan considered it a chance to entice another doctor to rural, family medicine where the need was so desperate. But it was hard, serious work here, and he had little tolerance for complaints, emotions and certainly not flirting.
"I'm just saying, keep your ego in check Doc, she may not fall at your feet drooling as soon as she sees you! Give her a chance and don't growl at her the whole trip back here." Glenda had teased him. He had laughed out loud at that. The sound warmed Glenda's heart, she didn't hear it often enough.
"Okay, you're right. I guess that did sound a little arrogant. Hold down the fort Glenda, if the bus is on time, we'll be back in about three hours." He headed to the old pick-up truck and hit the road, a smile on his face.
Now he looked up as the Lexington bus pulled in. Okay here we go Glenda, she gets one chance, but the first inkling of flirting ... he thought.
Kaycee grabbed her well-worn briefcase and slung it over her shoulder, wincing again at the pain in her back as she absorbed the weight of her laptop and other paperwork, plus all the digital video tapes she'd need. She had decided to bring the small digital video cameras instead of shooting film because they were lighter and more maneuverable and she had no idea if there was any place to get her film processed around here. She stepped down off the bus, looked around briefly and then went over to get her bags.
Dan watched as she walked off the bus. At first he didn't think she was the one he was waiting for, but almost wished she was. She looked like she could still be in her twenties, but her eyes held the experience of more years. She was dressed very practically in jeans, a t-shirt and a long sleeved denim overshirt, and hiking boots. But her dress did nothing to hide the fact that she was stunning. She had shoulder length jet black hair that fell around her face in a chaos of curls and reflected the sunlight like the sheen of oil after a fresh rain. She was tall and curved in all the right places. Her eyes were a magnificent green that no emerald could match. He saw her smile as she took the last step to the ground, as if nothing could make her happier at that moment, than being off that bus. She looked around briefly and then moved to the side of the bus where the driver was unloading bags.
Dan sighed, surprised at his reaction to the woman. He hadn't felt that jolt of attraction in a long time, not since Lisa had died. The last ten years he had simply thrown himself into his work at the hollow, and healing others had healed his own wounds at the loss of his young wife. He shook his head to clear those memories and continued to watch the passengers leave the bus. He was startled when he realized she was the only woman among the dozen or so people on board. She just seemed too old to be a medical resident. Well, maybe she had come to the profession late.
Kaycee was standing with all her gear, suddenly unsure what to do next. She really didn't want to haul it all into the terminal by herself with her shoulders and back aching. Then she saw him walking toward her. It was hard not to stare at the man headed her way. Tall, dark and handsome didn't begin to describe him. Check that--make it tall, dark and intense. This certainly was no crotchety old country doctor. Those eyes held her nearly hypnotized until he spoke.
"Dr. Wilder? Dr. Kaycee Wilder?" he asked, the rich timbre of his voice washing over her.
Then she came crashing back to reality when she realized what he said. "No ... no ... I mean, yes, I'm ... just call me Kaycee. You must be Dr. Chase," she was completely flustered and making an idiot of herself, she thought crossly. Why had he called her doctor? Shit, Gloria had promised her he knew he wasn't getting a medical resident this year.