Home? But...she wasn't going to his flat.

'Home's where you are,' he said softly. 'Whether it's a mansion flat or a stately home or a studio apartment no bigger than a cupboard. Or even a cave at the top of a mountain. Like it or not, Vicky Radley—now I've said it, I'm going to keep saying it. I love you.'

Saying it until he wore her resistance down. If only he knew how much she wanted to say it, too. But she wasn't going to. Not until she'd thought about how to deal with this.

She went back to her place and ignored the messages Jake texted her between every patient. She just needed to


She put Breakfast at Tiffany's, one of her favourite films, on the DVD player, but she couldn't concentrate. It didn't make her smile the way it usually did.

An unruptured aneurysm.

She could just leave it. Watch and wait. The risk of rupture for an asymptomatic aneurysm was about one or two per cent a year—whereas the risk of dying in surgery was about three and a half per cent.

Current surgical thinking was that anyone with a life expectancy of more than three years would be better off having an operation. She was thirty-one. With a life expectancy of another fifty years. So if she wasn't having symptoms from the aneurysm, the stats should point her towards an operation.

Except hers wasn't symptomless. There was a hole in her visual field. And the headache could be a prodromal headache—thought to be caused by a small leak of blood that didn't cause the aneurysm to rupture, it was a warning sign of an impending rupture. Sometimes it appeared two weeks before the aneurysm burst.

Two weeks.

If she left it to rupture... There was a huge risk of a rebleed after it had settled. Up to fifty per cent of ruptured aneurysms burst again in the first two weeks—and the chance of dying was around eighty-five per cent. Scarily high.

So there was no choice. She'd have to have an operation. Which meant another decision: clip or coil? Clipping meant placing a surgical clip around the neck of the aneurysm—it stopped blood flowing into the aneurysm, removing the risk of it rupturing and letting blood seep into the brain, but didn't block any other blood vessels. Coiling meant using a soft platinum coil, which was guided into the aneurysm and caused a clot to form inside; the clot blocked the aneurysm from the rest of the circulation and meant it was less likely to rupture. The risks were lower than that of surgery, but it was a newish procedure and the long-term outcome wasn't known.

Facts. She couldn't make a decision until she knew the facts. She paused the film, switched on her laptop, flicked into her Internet connection and started researching the online medical journals. She'd subscribed to the main ones in her field, so there was no problem accessing research papers. Microcoils and aneurysms... The studies so far showed that they worked best on smaller aneurysms, and there was a chance of the aneurysms recurring.

So the choice was obvious. Surgery. A clip. And as soon as possible.

The second she cut the Internet connection, her phone rang. She knew who it would be before she answered. Really, she should start cooling things off between them. But her hand seemed to have other ideas and picked up the phone.

'Been on the Net?' Jake asked.

'How did you know?'

'Your landline was busy and you weren't answering your texts.' He paused. 'I've been doing the same. Want to compare notes over dinner?'

As if they were discussing a patient... Trust Jake to know how she needed to deal with this. Professionally. At a distance. He wasn't trying to smother her or panic her. 'Sure.'

'Thai, Chinese, pizza or Indian?' Jake asked.

'Whatever's nearest.'

'OK. Thai. See you in half an hour?'

'Fine.' She could cope if he kept things like this. Light. Not intense.

Vicky was curled up on the sofa watching the rest of Breakfast at Tiffany's when he pressed the intercom. She dragged herself off the sofa and pressed the answering switch to let him in, then left her front door open and curled up on the sofa again.

'Hey, beautiful' He was carrying a huge bouquet as well as a brown paper carrier bag full of Thai food.

It was the flowers that did it.


What people gave at funerals.

She started to cry.

Jake knew he should have cancelled his list that afternoon. And this proved it. With a muffled curse, he set the food and flowers on the floor, joined her on the sofa and pulled her onto his lap. He held her close, stroking her hair and letting her howl into his chest.

When her shudders died down—and the front of his shirt was soaked—he pulled back far enough so he could kiss her forehead and the tip of her nose.

'I'm sorry,' she choked. 'I'm being stupid.'

'No, you're not.' He stroked her cheek. 'You're human. And you've had a nasty shock today.' He swallowed. 'A shock that was all my fault. I panicked and bullied you into having that scan.'

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