Gracie Mae escapes the madness of an abusive husband when she and her children, Ella 4 years of age, and Jacob, only 18 months old, move back to Gracie’s home town of Sanford, Illinois where they take shelter with her sister and fiancé, Greta and Frank. The attraction to Dr. John Azzari was immediate when a visit to the pediatrician office became necessary due to Jacob’s ear infections. As a receptive pediatrician, John sensed this family was running from something, or someone. When Gracie Mae confides in the gracious doctor, the magnetism between them is amplified to a new level.
Whenever Gracie finally felt she could live a life of happiness with her small children, her feelings of hopeful contentment were crushed by threats from her husband, Rich, which eventually became a horrific reality.
Targeted Age Group:: Over 18. Although, it is not inappropriate for younger ages.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
There isn’t a particular person or event that inspired me to write Gracie Mae. All of my books include believable characters, romance and passion, and true to life family issues. As for Gracie Mae, I wanted to add a twist by including a bit of suspense in the story, as well.
Who are your favorite authors?
Sandra Brown, Nicholas Sparks, and James Patterson
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters and story of Gracie Mae are fictional. After giving my characters a name, which is one of my favorite parts of writing, I begin to add personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. When completing this book, I became inspired to find a way of helping victims of domestic violence since Gracie Mae includes the horrors and ramifications of such cruelty . So, I have committed to donating a portion of my royalties to a shelter for families in need of safety, a warm bed, counseling, and whatever else is needed.
She could hardly breathe. The weight of his naked body over hers took her breath away…not in a lustful way, but repulsively. The aroma of the liquor from his mouth, his nose, could make her vomit. She pried herself from his drunken, comatose like body to slip from the weight of him.
Thankfully, the young children did not hear the horror as they safely slept in their shared room just down the hallway. Gracie knew it was time to get away from the man who made her life a living hell for five years. Sitting on the floor of the shower stall silently weeping not to wake him, she allowed the spray of the water to rinse her soap lathered body, finally washing away the stench of his sickening sweat.
The height of flu season was evident in the waiting room of Weston Pediatrics. Babies fussed for desperately sought comfort. Listless children clung to parents. Sneezing, coughing, tears of distress, the children were indeed awaiting Dr. Azzari for a very good reason.
Gracie entered the crowded waiting room as Jacob whimpered tears of discomfort, his head pressed in the nook of his mama’s neck, his finger plugged in his ear attempting to comfort his own pain. Four year-old Ella continued grasping tightly onto Gracie’s leg with no intention of letting go.
“Let’s go home, Mommy.”
The child, who was a picture of her mother, clutched her baby doll close to her chest while she shuffled her tiny feet with every step that her mother took.
“Jacob needs to see the doctor. Let’s sign in our name and then we can find a place to sit and wait,” she assured her children who were obviously less than thrilled to be in a doctor’s office.
“Name, please?” the receptionist asked.
“Grant…Jacob Grant,” Gracie replied as she signed the registry log.
“Can I have your insurance card, Mrs. Grant?” Before Gracie could answer, the receptionist continued, “…and, here’s some paperwork to fill out since this is your son’s first visit with Dr. John.”
“Dr. John?” she asked with a look of confusion.
“Are you not here to see Dr. John Azzari?”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she smiled. “I didn’t know his first name.”
“All the kids call him Dr. John. It takes away the formality,” the receptionist explained. “Now…about that insurance card?”
“At the moment, I don’t have health insurance,” she answered, finding it difficult to balance Jacob in her arms while she grabbed the clipboard of paperwork with her free hand.
“Hmm, no insurance,” the receptionist murmured. “You understand that payment for today’s visit will be expected in full, do you not?”
Embarrassed by the woman’s less than tactful tone, Gracie asked, “Do you mean that I cannot partially pay today, and then be billed for the balance?”
“That’s exactly what I mean, Mrs. Grant. It’s our policy. See the sign?”
The sign read PAYMENT REQUIRED AT THE TIME SERVICES ARE RENDERED. The receptionist stared at her as she rudely snapped her chewing gum.
“It’s policy…sorry,” she repeated once again.
Why is she doing this to me? Isn’t everyone at a pediatrician’s office supposed to be happy and friendly? I can’t use Rich’s insurance card. He can’t know about anything going on with the kids. Insurance bills from here will give him more information than he needs to know.
As her thoughts consumed her for a moment, a young, handsome man emerged from nowhere and approached the receptionist. With one hand resting on her desk, the other on the back of her chair, he whispered something in the receptionist’s ear. The polished charm of this noticeable gentleman immediately seized Gracie’s attention. He was dressed in dark blue jeans and a crisply pressed white buttoned down shirt thinly striped in blue, with sleeves slightly rolled back. Noticeably on his right hand was a gold band ring with a smooth black stone. Within a moment, he grabbed a folder and slowly walked away.
Still rudely chewing and snapping her gum, the receptionist said. ”I guess we’ll work something out. Find a seat if you can and we’ll call you when we’re ready for your son.
Fortunately, a seat opened for Gracie and the kids. Jacob positioned himself on one of his mom’s knees and cuddled flaccidly against her chest. Ella sat facing forward on Gracie’s other knee, leaning back against her as she paged through a children’s book. Although it was difficult, the struggling mom managed to write down most of the requested information. There wasn’t much to recall. She was a good mother, always on schedule with their doctor visits and immunizations. Her babies were everything to her.
After completing the paperwork, she put the clipboard and pen to the side and rested her head back against the wall while she patiently waited to hear her son’s name called. Her thoughts began wandering two weeks prior, when she first came to be on her own with the children.
“Greta, do you hear me?” Gracie Mae softly whispered to her sister as she sat on the floor of her closet not to be heard.
“Gracie, it’s two in the morning. What’s going on? I could hardly hear you.”
“I’m leaving Rich…right now, I’m taking the kids and coming up to Sanford,” she began to cry in a soft hysteria. “I can’t let him hurt me and my babies any longer. I’m on my way,” she continued to sob.
“Listen to me. Settle down and pull yourself together. Are you sure you don’t need to call the police first?”
“What good has that ever done? He is the police. All of his friends are cops.”
“Okay, okay. Where is he right now?”
“Passed out on the bed.”
“Then, just grab the minimal amount of things you need and get the hell out of there.”
While her intoxicated husband continued to sprawl passed out and naked across the bed, Gracie gathered as much as she could before placing the sleeping children in the car to drive home to upstate Illinois. She had been degraded and abused enough to finally run away from the man who made her life a living hell for five years. She knew her sister would be waiting with open arms. Time and time again, Greta pleaded with Gracie to leave her abusive husband and live with her.
Gracie immediately halted her unpleasant reminiscent thoughts to gather her things; the diaper bag, her purse, eighteen month old Jacob, and Ella’s little hand. She followed the nurse into an exam room where she closed the door behind them. At least the nurse, who was wearing a white jacket printed with teddy bears, had a pleasant face and better attitude, more so than the receptionist.
“Mrs. Grant, you can undress your son down to his diaper.”
After weighing the child and taking his temperature, the nurse proceeded to ask the usual standard questions; the symptoms, the appetite, the sleeping habits, etc. After obtaining all of her necessary information, Gracie and the children were left alone until there was a faint knock to the door before it slowly opened.
It was the same gentleman who whispered to the receptionist earlier. With an incessant smile, he looked directly into Gracie’s eyes for a lingering moment before extending his hand to shake hers. For the life she just left behind to make a safer home for her children, never would she have thought of noticing another man, no matter how wonderfully handsome he was…and, Dr. Azzari was just that, very polished and attractively handsome. His eyes smiled, which is what she noticed about him at first. The casually dressed doctor was of average height with a well-built physique. His short hair was modernly spiked in a somewhat messy look, giving him more of a model-like appearance rather than a pediatrician.
“Hello, I am Dr. Azzari, or Dr. John as most the kids call me.”
“I’m Gracie,” she softly replied.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Gracie.” Barely removing his eyes from hers, he asked, “And, who do we have here?” He warmly took one of Ella’s hands, and one of Jacob’s as well. With fear in their eyes, the children each pulled away and fearfully grasped onto their mother. After a few peek-a-boos with Jacob, the child gave the doctor a second look. However, Ella buried her innocent face into Gracie’s lap with obviously no intention of looking up at the strange man who was playing with her baby brother.
The concerned mother explained her son’s symptoms of illness; the intermittent fevers, pulling on his ears, waking often in the night. While she held him on her lap, the doctor took advantage of his stillness and examined his ears with the otoscope. The skeptical child became more amused as the doctor playfully shined the light of the instrument tip back and forth, bringing a tender smile to his face. As Dr. John softly spoke to the boy with what seemed to be a special knack of warming up to the child. He also attempted to add conversation to include Ella who continued to avoid any eye contact whatsoever. Even so, the doctor seemed to have a special way with children just as a pediatrician should. However, he would have to do much more coaxing to get on the little girl’s trusting side. After listening to the baby’s lungs with his stethoscope, he held his hands out to Jacob who surprisingly lunged into his strapping arms.
For a few moments, he carried him in his arms and quietly spoke to the child while pointing at various children’s drawings taped to the walls. After placing him on the exam table, he continued to softly speak to him, slowly but surely winning over his trust. When his exam was complete, he picked up the child, gave him a kiss on the top of his head and placed him back on his mother’s lap. Ella watched every move, but still was too frightened to unlatch from her mom. On the other hand, Gracie was greatly impressed by the doctor’s way with the children.
He sat on a rolling stool just next to the lost family with a chart in his hand. He looked directly into Gracie’s beautiful brown eyes as he spoke.
“Jacob seems to have an infection going on in both of his ears. It’s pretty red in there.” He was about to write a prescription before pausing, “You know, I think we have some antibiotic samples that would be perfect for his diagnosis.”
He immediately exited the room and returned only a moment later with the child’s antibiotic.
“It seems that your daughter is sniffling a bit as well. If you would like me to check her out, I can do so off the record. We’ll just include it in Jacob’s fee for today.”
“Thanks. But, I think she just has a little cold,” Gracie stated, embarrassed to be the recipient of any further charitable actions. “She hasn’t been complaining about her ears like Jacob. Besides, I don’t think she’ll let you anywhere near. Men are not her favorite gender these days,” Gracie looked at the doctor with wounded eyes of her own.
There were a few moments of silence before either of them spoke. John Azzari had a feeling about this woman. His intuition told him she was running from something, or from someone.
“Are you new in town?” he asked, attempting to get more information from her.
“Yes. We’re from down state. Actually, I’m originally from here, but moved away when I married. Me and the kids are back now.”
It was obvious to John that she was on her own with the children. However, he didn’t want to continue prying. There was something about her, however, that intrigued his interest. She was a beautiful woman, plain but attractive. Her brown hair was pushed back in a headband leaving her face to radiate a clean glow of sweetness. Her lovely brown eyes were sincerely charming, but filled with worry and sadness. Not only was she a stunning young mother, it was apparent she had a heart in need of mending.
“If Ella begins having any problems that need attention, just give me a call,” he assured her as he wrote his cell number on his card before handing it to her. It was very seldom that he would give such information to a patient. “Don’t worry about today’s visit. It’s on me.”
“I couldn’t let you do that. I can pay for it, just not all in one day.” She began to explain, “My job will hopefully begin soon. If hired, I’ll be working three or four nights a week at St. Marion’s Hospital as a Unit Clerk.”
“Once you’re hired, maybe we’ll meet up there sometime. I’m the house pediatrician one to two nights a week,” John stated.
Gracie’s uncertainty in offering more conversation than was needed was obvious as she refrained from responding to his comment. He may have been a reputable doctor who cared for her baby, a noticeably handsome man who gave all indications of being a caring person on the surface. However, her skepticism could not be prevented as the man she was running from was also caring on the surface, or at least had been at one time. It would take some time before Gracie could bring herself to trust any man who crossed her path, for her emotional pain was too deep.
“I do insist on paying for this visit. And, thank you for the samples. I really appreciate your kindness.”
“That’s quite alright,” the handsome doctor replied with an explainable need to help this family further as he looked in the eyes that were tugging at his heart for some unknown reason.
As they were about to exit the exam room at the same time, Jacob held his arms out for the doctor who smiled and welcomed the child in his embrace. He carried him to the door just before the crowded waiting room. Before John gave little Jacob back to his mother, his eyes connected with Gracie’s once again in another silent gaze until the less than tactful receptionist interrupted to hand Gracie some paperwork.
“Thank you again, Doctor.”
“No problem. Take care.”
While raising four sons along with my husband, my days can be quite engaged while also working full time for a local home healthcare office in a Chicago suburb. Whenever my diligent schedule allows a spare moment, I spend that time writing as a freelancer for various marketing companies or composing upcoming novels. Other favorite pastimes of mine include reading, glass painting, cooking, and spending time with my family.
When reading one of my novels, it is obvious that my main writing objective is to create credible characters with believable stories. Such writing is tailored to include relatable family issues, as well as heartfelt love and genuine passion.
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