‘Says the man who had a monster-sized temper tantrum first thing this morning, and then again here.’ She leaned back in her chair. ‘Don’t push me, Mitchell. Last time I saw one of those I was dealing with a three-year-old.’
He gave her a wry smile. ‘Who won?’
‘You have to ask?’
‘I guess not.’
* * *
Yip. The rock star was going to be a monster-sized problem. And in a way it annoyed the life out of her. She hadn’t been joking when she’d called him on his temper tantrum. How come it seemed okay to tell kids when behaviour was inappropriate but not adults? Particularly adults who were paying your giant wage.
A wave of emotions started simmering to the surface. She’d phoned her mum before she’d come up the mountain this morning. She’d sounded great—so happy with the nursing-home staff and the care she was receiving. It was just the reminder she needed as to why she was doing this.
The home before had been awful. The staff hadn’t been bad, there just hadn’t been enough of them, meaning the standard of care had been low. Hell would freeze over before she let her mother go back there.
As for Mitch? She probably wasn’t handling him as well as she could, but at least for now he was doing as he was told.
It took him less than thirty seconds to check his blood sugar. Five. His stomach grumbled again. ‘I’d planned on going back down the piste and finishing that run. I would have come back for something to eat then.’
She pulled her gloves off and reached across the table, her hand touching his. It surprised her how warm his skin was. ‘You need to eat. Any lower than that and you would start to hypo again. Skiing obviously burns off a lot of energy. Finishing the run and then getting food might have been too late.’ She let her words hang in the air as he buttered his toast and started eating.
His eyes were fixed on something on the horizon now and she could tell he was in a bad mood. But that was too bad. Mitchell needed her there. He needed constant reminders that he couldn’t just forget about his diabetes. There was no reason that he couldn’t continue to ski. He would just have to make sure he had things under control.
His gloves and hat were sitting on the chair next to him, his hair sticking up in every direction but the right one. There was something vaguely familiar about all this. ‘Don’t you advertise hair products?’ she said as she took a sip of the hot chocolate. Hmm. ‘Ooh, this is fantastic. It definitely hits the spot.’
He ran his fingers through his mussed-up hair. ‘Yip, and I have about a million dollars’ worth of products in my garage in LA. Here? I have nothing. Haven’t you heard grunge is in?’
She laughed. His eyes met hers again. There was something else there. A flicker of something she hadn’t seen before. Worry. Stress. Or maybe the distracted look was just how he was before he started to hypo.
She pushed his coffee towards him. ‘Drink this and finish your toast.’ And to her surprise, he did. The coffee seemed to settle him. The cream and milk, along with the wholemeal toast, would help bring his blood-glucose levels up in a steady manner. She spread the jam and butter on her croissant and consumed it along with her hot chocolate. ‘If I do this every day, I’ll put on twenty pounds,’ she sighed.
His brown eyes fixed on hers. A little twinkle appeared. ‘Don’t worry, Samantha. You’ll work off all those calories again with your skiing.’
It was the way he’d said it. The tone and intonation of his voice. It was almost as if he was taunting her. Almost as if he knew.
‘I didn’t bring skis,’ she said quickly. ‘No one mentioned anything about skiing when I took the job.’
‘Even though it was a condition for my nurse?’
He reached over and gave her hand a squeeze. ‘Well, don’t worry. I’ll hire you a set up here. That’s no problem at all. Now, which piste would you like to go down first? You’ve never been here before, and there isn’t much for intermediate skiers. Would you like me to shadow you down?’ He leaned forward. ‘Look at it out there. All that perfect powder. Think about the feel of the air rushing past those curls of yours.’ He reached over and brushed his hand to the side of them.
The rat bag. He definitely knew.
She fixed him with a hard stare as she took another sip of her hot chocolate then held up the glass towards him and used her best sarcastic tone. ‘You know, you’re spoiling this for me.’
‘You know I can’t ski. Why don’t you just give it up?’
‘You can’t ski?’ She couldn’t help but laugh at the mock horror on his face. ‘But everyone can ski, Samantha.’
She rolled her eyes. ‘Maybe if you have a billionaire chalet in a ski resort. The rest of us chumps just go on a very bad ski trip with the school and vow never to put on a pair of skis again.’ She leaned forward to emphasise her last word. ‘Ever.’
‘Come on, Samantha, it’s fun. I’ll get someone to teach you. Think of the feel of the wind in your hair and the air rushing past your cheeks. Come to think of it, have you got sunscreen and lip balm on?’
She shook her head. He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and tossed her a small tube. ‘Total sunblock. Put it all over your face, your ears and the back of your neck. You’re almost as white as the snow, you’ll burn in an instant.’
She examined it in her hands, her nose wrinkled. ‘See? That’s what’s wrong here. I shouldn’t need to think about this kind of stuff. All I should be worrying about is if you’re going to fall off this mountain or not.’ She raised her hands. ‘While there’s no denying the view is spectacular, why couldn’t you have had a hideaway on some mysterious Caribbean island? I know how to swim. I know how to sunbathe. I might even have agreed to go jet-skiing with you. And there I would have known to wear sunscreen when I was out at seven in the morning.’
He took a sip of his coffee and shook his head. ‘How did you get this job, Samantha?’
For a second she felt offended. ‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean, I deliberately specified that I needed someone who could ski and not only that but they could extreme ski and accompany me on the slopes.’
‘You did?’ She was shocked. Not once had Trish mentioned the skiing part. But then again she’d been desperate to find someone—anyone—to take the job. And she had been desperate for the money.
He nodded solemnly. ‘I did.’ He was teasing her again.
‘Well, I hate to break it to you, Mitchell, but extreme skiing, diabetic nurse specialists, on a few hours’ notice, over Christmas and New Year—well, they seem to be in short supply. After all, I had to fight off at least a thousand others to get here.’ She started laughing at him. ‘Do you really think you can buy whatever you want?’
‘Face it, Sam. Everything’s for sale—and everybody. Tell me, why exactly are you working over Christmas and New Year? Don’t you have a regu
lar job? Isn’t there anyone you want to spend Christmas and New Year with?’ he countered. Smart guy. Nosey too.
She could easily take umbrage at those words. ‘I do have a regular job. One that I changed just recently and it means I get Christmas and New Year off. I worked last year at this time, and at Easter. Agency work at this time of year pays well.’ She stopped there. No need to say any more. He knew exactly how much he was paying for her services. She was annoyed by his comment that everybody was for sale but didn’t really feel in a position to argue with him about it, given the circumstances.
But he wasn’t about to stop. ‘So, is money an issue for you, Sam?’
She bristled at his words. Cheeky git. ‘Is money an issue for you, Mitchell?’
His eyes immediately fixed on the horizon. ‘You just never know,’ he murmured.
She shifted in her chair. Her comeback had been more than a little tetchy. She hadn’t really meant to sound like that. After all, this job was going to save her money problems for the next six months. And she wasn’t too sure about his response. Surely the last thing a man like Mitchell Brody would have was money problems.
She shrugged. Time to cover her foot-in-mouth disease. ‘I don’t know what the big deal is about having a nurse that can ski. As long as I’m around the slopes and can keep an eye on you it shouldn’t be a problem. I quite liked the ride up in the cable car. I’m happy to keep doing that.’
‘But what if I have a hypo attack while I’m skiing?’
She took a deep breath. ‘You’ll check your blood sugar before you start. If it’s low, you’ll eat something and wait until it comes back up before you get going. Face it, Mitchell, whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to meet me at regular intervals.’
He baulked then groaned and she raised her eyebrows, trying not to feel insulted. ‘The medical science isn’t there to change this right now. Don’t fight me on this. For once in your life be sensible.’
His expression changed. The cheeky glint in his eyes was back. ‘You think I’m not sensible?’