No. She was perfectly all right.

Though when Jake walked into her office at lunch-time—without knocking, this time—she had to admit the headache was still bad.

'Radiology. Now.'

'Jake, there are such things as queues.'

'This is an urgent referral. Hell, if I have to, I'll pay for it to be done privately, here and now.'

Her chin came up. 'I can afford to pay my own way.'

'I know. Your bank account's a lot healthier than mine. But...' He shook his head in seeming exasperation. 'Vicky, I'm worried about you. Seriously worried. And I'm damned well not going to let anything happen to the woman I love. Not when I can do something about it.'

She stared at him in shock. He'd said it. The woman I love.


He stared at her, unsmiling. 'Yes?'

'I...' She couldn't say it. Not when he looked so serious. As if he was scared spitless and was putting a brave face on.

'Radiology,' he said softly. He took her hand and tugged her out of her chair. 'We'll do the questions on the way in. Any metals in your body?'

'Just fillings.'

'OK, they don't count. Any bullet or shrapnel in your body?'


'Joint replacement?'


'Any drug allergies?'


'Any chance you could be pregnant?'

They'd been careful. 'I don't think so.'

'You can do a test while I'm filling out the questionnaire. Just to be safe.'

And what if she was pregnant? What then? She pushed the thought away. That was more than she could deal with right now. 'You're being very bossy.'

He stopped in mid-stride. 'Because I've got a gut feeling about this, and it isn't good. Now, will you please answer the questions? Claustrophobia?'

'No. And I know what the procedure involves. I've referred patients myself.'

'That isn't the same as going through it yourself.'

She knew that. Did he think she was stupid? She was about to yell at him when she saw the worry etched in his face. No, he didn't think she was stupid. He was being abrupt because he was panicking. 'Jake, we can't queue-jump.'

'We're not. They're expecting you.'

'You what?'

'Not you you,' he added. 'I said I might have a patient with an urgent referral. And that I'd ring down if I didn't need the procedure.'

He was serious. He really, really did think something was wrong. Ice trickled down her spine. 'Jake...if they find something...'

'Then we'll deal with it.' He put his arm round her shoulders. 'I'm not going anywhere. I love you.'

What a place to say those three little words for the first time. In the middle of a corridor in the hospital, heading towards Radiology. Towards something that could change everything. 'If your hunch is right, I want you to walk away.'

'No chance. If my hunch is right, we can do something about it before anything bad happens.'

Before anything bad happens. Nausea roiled in her stomach. 'I'm scared, Jake.'

'I know. But I'm here. They won't let me in there with you while they're doing the scan, but I'll be waiting right next to the radiologist. The second the scanner's switched off, I'll be there.'

The pregnancy test was negative, and Vicky felt oddly disappointed. Then she was cross with herself. They hadn't even talked about having children, let alone planned to have a baby, and now most definitely wouldn't be a good time anyways. She checked the answers Jake had given for her, signed the form, then handed him her watch—the only jewellery she ever wore at work—and the lanyard containing her hospital ID card.

'I'll take care of these for you,' Jake said.

His eyes said the rest of it. And I'll take care of you.

No. It was equals or nothing. If the scan was positive, she'd walk away. She wasn't going to drag him down with her. And she wasn't going to tell him she loved him until she knew there was nothing wrong with her. Emotional blackmail wasn't her style—she'd seen Mara do it too often. No way would Vicky ever copy her mother's behaviour.

Almost mechanically, she walked over to the scanner. Lay on the hard narrow bed. Checked that she could see the radiologist in the mirror over her chest. Closed her eyes as the scanner bed moved backwards into the tube. Waited for the pulsing, knocking sounds to start, the noise to signal that the magnetic field was moving over her in the first of the imaging sequences.

Please, don't let there be anything wrong.



The second the scanner stopped humming, the door opened and Jake was right by Vicky's side to help her off the narrow scanner bed.


'They're sending the results up to my computer.'

She knew he'd been sitting right next to the radiologist, watching the screen over her shoulder. So she also knew he'd seen the results. If they'd been negative, he would have said so. He would have picked her up, twirled her round and said everything was fine. He would have been smiling.

Right now his face was a mask and his words were carefully measured.

Tags: Kate Hardy Billionaire Romance