Christmas in the Billionaire's Bed(6)

By: Janice Maynard

She was glad to accept his support behind her shoulders. The world swam dizzily. Vaguely, she heard the wail of sirens.

Shortly after that, brisk strangers loaded her onto a gurney and lifted her into an ambulance. Though she protested as much as she was able, no one seemed prepared to listen to her. Her scarf had slid halfway over one eye. She was fairly certain her leg was bleeding.

The EMTs wasted no time. The vehicle moved swiftly, cutting in and out of traffic. Closing her eyes, Emma winced as a pothole caused fresh discomfort. Fortunately, the hospital was not far away. Before she knew it, she had been whisked inside and tucked into an emergency room cubicle. The dizziness was getting worse. She had enough presence of mind remaining to wonder if she was in any kind of serious danger.

A nurse came in to get vitals. Suddenly, the same deep voice with the bark of command sounded nearby. “How is she?”

“She’s conscious. We’ll have to get her up to X ray.”

“I’m fine,” Emma stated, her determination diluted somewhat by the high, wavering condition of her voice.

The nurse left. Though Emma’s eyes were closed, she sensed the man standing nearby. His presence had a narcotic effect. She felt if he were keeping an eye on things.

“Don’t go to sleep,” he snapped. “Let’s get this damned scarf out of your face.”

She felt him untie it and draw it free. And then he cursed. “What the hell? Emma?”

She struggled up on one elbow and stared at her white knight. Instantly, shock flooded her already compromised nervous system. Oh, God. “Aidan. I didn’t realize it was you. Thanks for helping me. I’m sure everything is okay. You can leave now.” The words tripped over each other as her limbs began to shake.

He’d gone white, his eyes wide with what appeared to be a combination of disbelief and horror. “What are you doing here?”

A smile was beyond her. Tears threatened to fall, but she blinked them back. This was not how she’d imagined seeing him again. Not like this. Not without warning. She swallowed hard. “I live here,” she whispered.

“The hell you say. Is this some kind of a joke?”

The outrage in his voice and on his face might have been tinged with a hint of panic.

His fury was one blow too many. With a whimper of surrender, she fell back onto the exam table as the world went black...

* * *

Aidan strode out of the hospital at a pace little less than full-blown retreat. His heart slugged in his chest and his hands were ice-cold. Of course, that might have been the weather. He’d left his gloves in the car.

Emma was here. And Danielle was not. Emma. He repeated her name in his head, still seeing the look of dazed comprehension that filled her wide-set gentian-blue eyes. He was very familiar with those beautiful eyes. Not to mention the porcelain skin, the perfectly curved pink lips, the patrician features, and the silky, fine blond hair that fell past her shoulders. Emma...Good Lord.

The buzzing in his ears was probably a factor of the wind. But then again, his blood pressure might be in the danger zone. His emotions were all over the map. And how ironic was that? He’d made a science of becoming the superficial guy with no real emotions.

The lie had been practiced so deeply and so well, he’d begun to believe it himself. But a chance encounter on the street had cut to the heart of his charade. He was injured, bleeding deep in his gut, raw with pain.

Yet Emma was the one in the hospital.

He had no obligation to go back inside. He’d done his part. She was in the hands of professionals.

Standing beside his car, he slammed a fist on the hood...hard enough to bruise his fingers. He’d known that coming home at Christmas would be a test of how well he had healed from the past. But never in a million years had he imagined a confrontation with Emma Braithwaite. She was supposed to be in England, happily married to Viscount Supercilious. Raising upper-crust rug rats with Harry Potter accents and carelessly chic clothes.

Damn, damn, damn...

What would happen if he merely walked away? If he didn’t ask for explanations? Could he pretend that the last two hours were a dream? Or a nightmare?

Another ambulance zipped into the admitting area. The flashing lights and ear-piercing siren shocked him back to sanity. He’d left Emma passed out on the exam table. True, he’d notified a nurse immediately, but after that he had fled. What would his brothers think if they could see him now?

They already teased him about his city polish and his propensity for take-out every night of the week. Even Liam, who dressed as befitted his position as co-owner of the prestigious Silver Beeches Lodge, was most at home clambering about in the mountains. He’d already taken Zoe camping and made a new convert.

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