pneumothorax and she's in VF. Would you work on her or get someone else to do it?'
'I'd do it,' Seb said without hesitating. 'Because I'd want to know she'd get the best possible care. The way I'd do it.'
'Me, too,' Charlie said. 'If Vicky wants you, so do I.' He gave Jake an assessing stare. 'Does Vicky love you?'
'That's the important thing.' Charlie held out his hand. 'I guess this is welcome to the family.'
Jake shook his hand solemnly. 'Thank you.'
'Though I wish it had been in better circumstances.' Charlie took a deep breath. 'Where is she?'
'Home. Her flat, that is,' Jake said.
'Right. I think we need to pay our baby brain surgeon a visit—don't you?' Seb asked.
'Definitely,' Charlie agreed.
'Go easy on her,' Jake warned. 'Stress isn't going to help.' He folded his arms. 'I think I'd better go with you.'
To his surprise, Charlie burst out laughing. 'Listen to us. As if Vicky needs protecting from any of us. She's probably more scary than the three of us put together.'
'We're not going to yell at her,' Seb promised. 'Though I think she's going to yell at you, Jake, when we turn up.'
She did. 'Who the hell do you think you are, interfering like this?' she demanded.
'Jake Lewis, consultant neurologist,' he retorted.
'Before you go off at the deep end, Vic, he's right. We needed to know,' Charlie said, giving her a hug.
'And we're on your side about him doing the operation, so don't yell at us,' Seb added. 'In fact, you should be grovelling and thanking us profusely for nagging him into it.'
'You said you were meeting someone,' Vicky accused Jake.
He shook his head. 'Absolutely not. I just didn't say who I was meeting.'
'It was a lie of omission. You knew I thought it was something to do with fundraising for the unit.'
Jake shrugged. 'So sue me.'
Her eyes narrowed. 'How did you get their numbers?'
'Your mobile phone.'
She stared at him in outrage. 'When?'
'When you were asleep.' Jake took a chance, and gave her a sidelong look. 'You always fall asleep after sex.'
Vicky turned absolutely bright red.
Charlie hooted. 'Oh, this more than makes up for the way you grilled Sophie.'
'And Alyssa,' Seb added, laughing. 'In fact...' He whipped out his mobile phone and took a photograph. 'Proof that Queenie actually blushes.'
'I've told you before, don't call me that stupid name. And I'm going to kill all three of you,' Vicky said through gritted teeth.
'No, you're not. Because otherwise who's going to do the operation and sit with you in Intensive Care afterwards?' Charlie asked.
'I hate you.'
'No, you don't.' Seb ruffled her hair. 'And, for your information, squirt, we're here because we love you. And we both want to be best man, by the way.'
'That's fine by me,' Jake said.
'You told them that as well?' Vicky looked at Jake and sat down. 'I give in. Just, please, tell me you didn't ring my mother.'
'No,' he said softly, sitting beside her and taking her hand. 'Just Charlie and Seb. Because you love them. They matter.'
'Yes.' She blinked the tears away. 'Charlie, Seb. I...I didn't know how to tell you.'
'You know we love you. And at least we know now why you've rushed off early every time we've seen you the last few months. I was going to have a word with you about being such a workaholic,' Seb said.
'We both were,' Charlie said. 'We were planning to take you out to dinner and talk some sense into you. Except you kept putting us off and saying you were busy. We thought you were studying, not out playing.'
'Get off my case,' Vicky said. 'I'm doing fine.'
'I'm going to make coffee,' Jake said quietly, and left Vicky alone with her brothers. When he returned, Vicky's eyes were red and Charlie and Seb both had damp lashes. He set the coffee-tray down. 'I'll give you some time,' he said.
'No need,' Charlie said, making room on the sofa next to Vicky. 'You're family.'
Family. Something Jake hadn't had in a long, long time.
They didn't even know him. He was from a different world—he had no idea how you were supposed to address a baron, and he'd probably breached every single rule of etiquette going since he'd met Charlie and Seb. And yet here they were, accepting him. Saying he was one of them. Family.
So now there were four people he couldn't let down next week. Vicky, her brothers and himself.
To stop himself thinking about it, he switched into work mode. 'Do you both have high blood pressure, too?'
Seb and Charlie glanced at each other. 'Uh-oh, Vic's found a male version of herself,' Seb said.
'A workaholic,' Charlie agreed.
Jake frowned. 'Seriously. Vicky says the condition runs in the family.'
Charlie nodded. 'But I'm pretty sure I'm fine. I'm not the party animal of the family.' He looked pointedly at his brother.
Seb sighed. 'You know very well I've reformed since I met Alyssa. I've cut down hugely on my alcohol intake—and I never smoked, anyways.'