‘I’ve liked it here today.’ Her words were almost whispered. ‘I’ve liked you here today.’ Saying them out loud made her feel very vulnerable. ‘I feel as if I understand you a little better now.’ Was she saying that to quantify what she’d just said before? Her insides were instantly cringing, wishing she could pull those words back.
This time when he smiled at her it wasn’t with his trademark rock-star smile. It wasn’t the kind of confident smile he used, knowing he was one of the sexiest guys on the planet. This smile was totally different and it reached right up into his dark eyes.
He held her gaze. Her lungs were going to explode. Please look away so I can breathe soon. ‘Me too,’ he finally said, as he untangled his hand from her hair and stood up.
It was over. That little minute was gone. But he hadn’t let go of her hand and he gave it a little tug. ‘Let’s go and join in the cake party.’
All her good intentions about healthy eating shot out of the window. ‘Sure,’ she said, as she wiped her other hand on her jeans and allowed him to lead her down the corridor towards the TV room.
What on earth was she doing?
MITCH STARED OUT at his view of the perfect snow. Today it wasn’t perfect. Today it was blighted by little blue and red figures dotted around on the landscape in amongst the trees. On any other day he might have gone out and shouted that they were on private property. But right now he just didn’t have the energy. Plus the fact he didn’t seem to have a sensible thought in his head right now.
They’d come back from the children’s hospital a few hours ago, the palm of his hand still burning from where he’d tangled it in her hair and held her hand. He wasn’t quite sure what had happened between them.
Had anything really happened? He just knew he’d been inches away from devouring those perfect pink lips. For a few moments at the nurses’ station they’d felt like the only two people in the world. Samantha hadn’t been looking at him like his nurse. She hadn’t been looking at him like some love-struck fan either. She’d been looking at him as if she finally got him. Finally got the kind of person that he was and what was important to him.
It was a connection. He just didn’t know what to do about it.
Part of him felt that it was his fault. He’d never taken anyone to the children’s hospital before. That part of his life was totally private. So why had he felt the urge to share it with Sam? He didn’t understand himself.
Maybe it was because she’d held him to ransom this afternoon. She’d told him she was ready to quit and walk away.
He’d sat down an hour ago in his recliner chair to stare out at his private view. And that had been the last thing he remembered. This lack of energy and total physical exhaustion was driving him nuts. He’d always been the kind of guy who could be up early and stay awake easily to the small hours. He’d kind of assumed once he’d got a diagnosis and started his insulin that everything would just return to normal. But it was official. This diabetes was kicking his butt. Maybe it was interfering with his brain too?
He also had the biggest range of Christmas decorations in the world to put up. After Sam’s remarks about missing out, he’d asked the company just to deliver the decorations and planned that he and Sam could put them up together. He wasn’t quite sure why he’d done that—and he hadn’t even told Sam yet. It would have been so much easier to let someone else do it, but Sam had seemed sad that day.
There was a quiet knock at the door. ‘Mitchell, are you okay in there?’ She peeked around the door and he pushed the recliner upright with a bang.
‘Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.’
‘Good. We need to talk.’ She walked across the room and perched at the end of his sleigh-style bed. He gulped. Boy, oh, boy. He was trying not to admire her curves in the figure-hugging jeans or the way the blonde curls bobbed as she strode across the room. He was especially trying not to think about pushing her backwards onto that bed.
‘We need to try something new. A little different.’
Wow. Where was this conversation about to go? He was all ears.
She reached her hand up and started twiddling with her ear. ‘We need to let you hypo in a controlled environment. We need to see what warning signs you have and if you can recognise them.’
‘What?’ He was standing now. Apart from the fact it was so not what he was expecting to hear, he didn’t like the sound of this at all. ‘Are you crazy? You’ve seen me hypo once—why do you need to see it again?’
She stood up and took a step closer. It seemed that their earlier interaction made her not so conscious of keeping him at arm’s length. ‘This isn’t about what I’ve seen, Mitch. This is about you. It’s all about you. And it’s not crazy.’ She folded her arms across her chest. ‘A teenager or child who was newly diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes would never be allowed to go home until they’d hypoed in a controlled environment, preferably with both their parents there to recognise the signs and symptoms. It’s part of the learning process about the condition.’
He wrinkled his nose. ‘Well, I don’t like the sound of it.’ He waved his arm towards the window. ‘Look at it out there. The sun’s just about to go down. I was thinking we could go down into Innsbruck and have dinner somewhere. Doesn’t that sound much more like a plan?’
He saw it. That fleeting moment of temptation that raced through her eyes. But she kept her resolve, stepping forward and touching the seam of his shirt at the front of his chest. Was this a persuasive tactic? Because he could tell her right now it would work.
‘It does sound like a plan. But I’m in charge of planning, Mitch, not you. So we’re going to do things my way. We’ll do the hypo first, and if you feel up to it, we’ll eat dinner later.’
He liked the way her voice had a little stern edge to it. He liked it even better that her eyes didn’t look quite so distant as before.
‘I’m not sure I want to do this. I lost two hours of my life last time around.’ The words were out before he had a chance to think about them. And he cringed. They made him sound weak. It was so not what he was.
But Samantha nodded her head slowly. ‘I get that, Mitch, I do. I hate the feeling of not being in control. But this is important. This will ultimately let you be more in control. It wil
l give you the chance to realise if something is going wrong and take corrective steps to stop you getting worse. Last time around wasn’t a good example.’ She hesitated for a second. ‘Do you want to ask Dave to be here? It’s important that he can recognise signs too.’
Mitch shook his head. ‘No. Absolutely not. Dave can’t handle this kind of stuff. If this is going to happen, it’s just you...’ he met her gaze ‘...and me.’
‘You and me.’ She repeated the phrase, holding his gaze for a few seconds, then seemed to snap back into work mode. She moved towards the door. ‘Let’s do it.’
Words he so wanted to hear her say. Just not about this.
* * *
They were in the large sitting room. He’d checked his blood sugar and taken a small shot of insulin. It was a fast-acting insulin that should start to take effect within ten minutes. But every patient was different. It could be up to thirty minutes. She would just need to wait it out with him.
‘So, what do we do now?’ He’d adopted his rock-star drawl. It was sexy as hell. But it wasn’t the real Mitch. She knew that now.
She put her feet up on the table. Determined not to fall for any of his lines. She gestured towards the TV. It took up practically the whole wall. ‘We could watch a movie or a TV show.’ She shrugged. ‘Listen to some music. Read a book.’
‘You’re being sarcastic now.’
She smiled. ‘Am I? You just don’t look like a book reader to me.’
He turned towards her more, hitching one leg up on the sofa and letting his arm fall behind her shoulders. ‘And are you?’
She nodded. ‘It’s my secret addiction. Before my mum got sick I read a book a day.’
His body straightened up. ‘Your mum is sick?’
She shouldn’t have said that out loud. She was here to do a job. Not give away information about her family. She bit her lip. ‘She had a stroke.’
‘Is she better?’ His words came out straight away and brought a lump to her throat.
She wasn’t really sure how to answer. ‘Well, yes and no. She’s somewhere now that can take care of her.’