A family of heroes, all in dangerous jobs, all irrevocably tied to those they love. Read about the Marino clan in this fast-paced, emotional new series, To Serve and Protect, by NYT bestselling author Kathryn Shay.
Connor Marino has always been an upstanding guy. Even in his youth, he was good-natured and upbeat. So it’s no surprise that when becomes an adult, he joins Doctors Without Borders to help those in dire circumstances. There he meets Calla Gentileschi, also a doctor, but also a…real princess. And because she comes from a royal family, whose customs and ways are old-fashioned, her life is not her own. Calla loves Connor but she loves her family and country more. Will the decisions Calla has made destroy their love for each other?
In NO OTHER LOVE, get a glimpse at the difficult work of doctors overseas, travel with Connor and Calla to her exotic foreign home country, and experience their undying love for each other.
Heat consumed him as he walked into the hut. Connor had been sweating all day from the relentless sun beating down on the unsubstantial roof. As it was only June, the worst was yet to come. In December, the opposite happened, and it was cold here. The conditions in medical outposts kept getting worse with the constant bombings. And even though he’d been in Syria six months, he still wasn’t used to how the weather drained him or chilled him depending on the season. Five boys sat on a cot next to each other in the exam room to greet him in this tiny village on the outskirts of Aleppo. “As-salāmu ʿalaykum.” The children responded in kind.
He picked up one boy’s arm and winced. The angry sores oozed with pus. He pointed to the boy’s wound area and the other four boys lifted arms affected by the same rash. He could tell this wasn’t poison ivy, impetigo, fungus or shingles. What the hell was it?
“Bug bites.” The words came from behind him. He turned to see a vision amidst all the squalor and sickness. Black as night hair, pulled back in thick knots. Raven brows arching over huge nearly black eyes. “I said those are bug bites. I had a rash of them, pardon the pun, on the Eastern side of the city.”
“A salve of…” She went on to give him the ingredients but he was distracted by her husky voice. “Doctor, are you listening to me?”
“Um, no. Who are you?”
“Calla Gentileschi. Dr. Calla Gentileschi. I’ve been transferred to your area.”
“How do you pronounce your last name again?”
“In Italian, it’s Gen-tee-less-ski. But most Americans use till for the second syllable.” She smiled. “We’re from a sovereign state off the coast of Italy.”
“You don’t have an accent.”
“Our schools teach English in addition to Italian.”
“And you came to this village to help out?”
“Yes. You lost some personnel this week, I understand.”
“We did.” They’d put in their time for the grueling work. Connor himself had signed on for a year.
She said, “I brought my translator, too.”
“Oh, thank God. I’m drowning here. And not being able to communicate is part of the reason.”
“His name is Razim. He’ll be right in…oh, here he is.”
A tall, skinny Arab man walked up to her. Razim had dark hair like the beautiful doctor and sported even darker eyes. He said to her, “I cannot find the supervisor.” His English was accented but perfect.
She smiled at the young man and he smiled back. “Razim, this is Doctor…what’s your name?”
“Marino.” Connor held out his hand. “Connor Marino.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Supervisor’s here,” someone called from outside.
“I will be right back.” This from Razim before he left them.
“Where are your supplies?” Dr. Gentileschi asked. “I’ll make the salve for you. I’m assuming you’re equipped like we were and have the materials on hand.”
“We got restocked yesterday. We were lucky the planes got in.” He couldn’t help but grin at her. “But I should learn, so come on, I’ll show you where the room is.”
He yelled to a nurse across the way. “Could you keep an eye on these guys while I make a lotion?”
The nurse stepped to the tables.
He led Dr. Gentileschi to the back and unlocked the storage room, which was the size of his walk-in closet back home. It held medical devices, drugs, vaccines, and even condoms to distribute to the men here.
The door slammed behind them.
Connor grabbed onto the woman.
The room shook!
Again. And again.
She clutched at him.
A cacophony of noise exploded.
They both startled.
It lasted only about a minute. Dirt and concrete rained down on them. She sneezed and Connor coughed.
She looked at him. “An attack, right?”
“Oh, no. Razim is out there.”
Connor whipped open the door and they both raced through it. Shambles. Noise from around them: some shouts, some crying, some low and mournful moans spreading over the whole compound. The concrete and dirt had formed a small hill separating them from the treatment area. Connor leaned down. “The debris is hot. Be careful.” He took her hand as they climbed over it, only to find nails and glass and other rubble.
“Those were barrel bombs,” she said as she went with him.
They finally got back to the examining area.
Callandra Gentileschi gasped.
He murmured, “Dear Lord in heaven.”
She grabbed onto his shoulder and buried her face in his back. He couldn’t witness the ravaged bodies of five boys and the nurse for long, either. Turning, he took her into his arms, felt her grasp his shirt and bury herself in his chest. Connor shut his eyes, closing out the misery.