Authors: Carrie Cox
Tags: #billonaire romance, #hot romance, #desire series, #billionaire erotic romance
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Copyright © 2012 Carrie Cox
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the author.
I RAN DOWN THE rest of the steps and dropped to my knees beside Benjamin. For one horrible, heart-stopping moment, I thought he was dead. His deathly pale skin was marked with livid bruises, and blood covered the lower half of his face. I put my hand against the side of his neck.
My stomach twisted – I couldn’t feel a pulse.
I pulled off my cardigan and used it to try and wipe away some of the blood. Most of it appeared to originate from a cut on his lip.
Lord Vastor barked into the telephone, demanding an ambulance, as I stared down at Benjamin. Oh, God, please let him be okay. Why did I send that stupid text message? I’d been behaving like a pathetic child.
I was vaguely aware of Lady Vastor moaning beside me as I put my ear to Benjamin’s mouth. I felt his breath tickle my cheek. Thank God.
I took hold of his hand and squeezed. “Benjamin, can you hear me? It’s Kate. You’re going to be all right.”
I held his knuckles to my lips. “The ambulance will be here soon, and they’ll sort you out at the hospital.”
He didn’t respond.
I continued talking to him, stroking his hair and holding his hand as Lord and Lady Vastor spoke in hushed voices behind me. I didn’t move from Benjamin’s side until the paramedics arrived and gently moved me to the side so they could examine him.
They used medical terms I didn’t understand, and as they started to wheel him out on a stretcher, I ran alongside.
“Can I go with him?” I asked.
The female paramedic, a young girl with freckles, looked at me for a moment then nodded.
“Kate, call us with any news,” Lord Vastor called after me as I rushed out.
It wasn’t until we were in the ambulance, tearing along the country lanes with the blue lights flashing that I realised I didn’t have my phone.
I couldn’t call the Vastors and couldn’t even call Colin to let him know what had happened.
I pinched the bridge of my nose.
It didn’t matter. Once I knew Benjamin was okay, I would figure out a way to contact Colin. I just needed to focus on Benjamin now.
I sat with my hands clasped in my lap, my eyes fixed on Benjamin’s pale face. He was usually so strong, so vital, to see him like this was a shock. I wanted him to flash that beautiful smile at me, to tell me everything was going to be all right.
“Is he going to be all okay?” I asked the paramedic.
She paused and tightened her jaw. God, that wasn’t a good sign. “We’ll know more when we get to the hospital…” she said.
A groan from Benjamin made us both react quickly. I reached out for him, but the paramedic put up her hand to stop me. “Please stay there. I need to treat him.”
I nodded. “Sorry.”
The paramedic made some adjustments to the IV line in Benjamin’s arm. My hands twisted in my lap. I so wanted to reach out and touch him and convince myself he would be okay. His face tensed, and he looked as if he was in excruciating pain.
Within seconds his face relaxed.
“I gave him something for the pain,” the paramedic said, squeezing my hand. “We’ll be there soon. Try not to worry.” She smiled.
I nodded, but I couldn’t manage to smile back.
Less than five minutes later, we arrived at the county hospital. As soon as Benjamin was pulled from the ambulance and placed on a wheeled trolley, medics and nurses surrounded him. Their focus was totally on Benjamin, which was how it should be, but I didn’t know whether I was allowed to follow him.
They wheeled him towards the entrance, and I followed through the double doors. No one seemed to notice me as they pushed Benjamin into a white and stainless steel room.
As I stepped inside, I kept my back against the wall, my eyes wide and staring as I watched them start to cut Benjamin’s clothes from his body. I gasped as I saw his beautiful torso covered with red bruises. I sucked in great gulps of air, and the smell of disinfectant tickled the back of my throat.
A moment later, a plump nurse, with fly-away hair, was at my side, guiding me out of the room. “Come on, sweetheart. You’re not supposed to be in here.”
I couldn’t speak, not even to ask if she thought Benjamin would be all right. I didn’t realise I was crying until she handed me a tissue. She led me into a waiting area and up to a reception desk.
“If would be a great help if you could fill out a couple of forms for Benjamin,” she said, her voice gentle. “We need certain details – doctor’s name, allergies – things like that.”
I blinked at her. I didn’t know any of that stuff.
Before I had a chance to reply she patted the back of my hand and bustled off.
The receptionist, a young girl with bright-red lipstick, pushed a couple of sheets of paper and a black pen towards me then continued her conversation with an elderly man.
The waiting area was busy, but I managed to find a chair in the corner of the room, where I set about trying to fill in the form.
I ran into problems almost immediately.
I knew his first name and family name, but I didn’t know if he had a middle name. I moved on to the next section. Oh hell, I didn’t even know his date of birth. This was ridiculous. I’d only known Benjamin a matter of days, and I didn’t know any of these details, but that didn’t stop me feeling as if my world might implode if…
I blinked back tears. I had never believed in love at first sight, lust maybe. I definitely felt lust at first sight with Benjamin. But now I knew I loved him. I couldn’t explain it, and it wasn’t rational, but I only knew how I felt.
I held onto the forms as the minutes ticked past, thinking of all the things I would do differently if Benjamin recovered. I would be honest with him for a start, explain how I felt and hope he didn’t come over all commitment-phobic.
Forty-five minutes after Benjamin had been admitted, I took the forms back to receptionist. “I’m sorry I couldn’t answer all the questions.”
She took the forms, glanced at them quickly and then added them to the pile by her computer.
“I need to contact a member of his family,” I said. “But I don’t have my cell phone with me. Could I use your telephone?”
The receptionist narrowed her eyes. “Is it a local call?”
“London … Claridge’s hotel …”
She sighed and pushed the handset towards me. “Go on then.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t actually have the number. Could you look it up for me?” I asked, looking at her computer.
The receptionist looked at me as if I’d just asked for a porcupine-flavoured milkshake, but eventually she shrugged and typed a few words into the search engine on her PC. Then she punched the number into the phone and handed it to me.
I clamped the phone to my ear, and when someone answered, I asked to be put through to Colin Easton’s room urgently. But the phone rang and rang. The hotel receptionist came back on the line. “I’m sorry. Mr. Easton appears to be out at present. Could you try again later?”
Dammit. Why wasn’t he at the hotel? I didn’t have Colin’s cell phone number. I stored it in my phone’s address book, but my phone was back at the Vastors’ house. I hung up and pushed the handset back towards its original spot on the counter.
“Could you tell me how Benjamin Easton is? Could I talk to his doctor?” I asked the receptionist.
She looked up from her typing, pursed her bright red lips and peered down her glasses at me. “What relation are you to Mr. Easton?”
“I’m his … I’m …”
“She’s his girlfriend,” a voice from behind me said. I whirled around to see Colin standing behind me with worry lines etched on his face.
“Oh, thank God.” I flung my arms around his neck. “I tried to contact you. Something’s happened to Benjamin. He looks badly hurt … but I haven’t spoken to a doctor yet.”
Colin kept one arm around my shoulder and turned to speak to the receptionist. “As his next of kin, I would be grateful if I could speak to a doctor as soon as possible.”
The words were simple enough, no more effective than the ones I used earlier, but Colin delivered them with the Easton imperious tone. He expected to be obeyed. That was something he shared with Benjamin.
The receptionist nodded and tightened her red lips into a meek smile. “Of course. The doctor will speak with you soon.”
As she picked up the phone to call the doctor, Colin led me away from the reception desk, towards two empty seats in the corner of the room.
My throat felt achy and raw as I tried to explain to Colin how Benjamin arrived at the Vastors.
“I was upstairs in the guest room, when I heard Lady Vastor scream. By the time I got downstairs, Benjamin was lying on the floor.” I rubbed my eyes then continued. “I have no idea what happened to him. He looked bruised and battered.”
I closed my eyes, remembering how terrible it had been to see Benjamin, usually so strong and confident, lying there hurt.
“I don’t even know how he got to the Vastors’ house. There was no sign of his car.”
Colin tightened his arm around me. “His car was found half a mile away from the Vastors’ house. It was in a ditch.”
“So he must have walked all the way from the accident? Why didn’t he call for help? An ambulance?”
Colin shook his head. “I’m as much in the dark as you are, Kate.”
“Here,” Colin said, pulling off his jacket and draping it over my shoulders.
I wasn’t cold. If anything the hospital waiting room was too warm, with heat blaring out of the radiators despite the fact it was still summer. It was the shock that made me tremble.
“What do you think happened?” I asked.
Colin didn’t answer. He looked around the crowded waiting room, and his gaze lingered on the cheap plastic seats.
“I’ll have Benjamin moved to a private hospital as soon as possible,” he muttered to himself.
I wrapped his coat tighter around my body.
I looked down at my shaking hands. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you straight away. I was in such a rush to get to the hospital with Benjamin I forgot my phone. I couldn’t remember your cell phone number, so I called the hotel.”
“It’s all right. Lord Vastor rang me as soon as the ambulance left.” He glared down at the floor. “I knew something like this would happen eventually, but Benjamin wouldn’t listen.”
I stared at him. “But it was an accident ...”
I was about to ask Colin what he meant by that when he stood up abruptly.
A grey-haired man in a white coat approached us. I searched his face for clues. Was Benjamin going to be all right?
My legs trembled as I stood up.
The doctor greeted us and shook our hands. He smiled kindly at me, no doubt seeing the fear in my face.
“Benjamin is awake and talking. He’s still a little woozy and has a mild concussion, but he was very lucky to escape the crash with minor injuries.” The doctor turned to me and smiled again. “You can see him now, but make sure he rests.”
I grasped the doctor’s hand. “Thank you so much!” I could have kissed him.
“He is in Jenner ward, straight down that corridor, third on the right.”
I put a foot forward then hesitated as Colin pulled the doctor to one side and asked for a quiet word. They spoke in low voices, so I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I didn’t want to wait.
Colin glanced up and noticed me. “It’s all right, Kate,” he said. “Go ahead. I’ll catch you up.”
I nodded then walked quickly, following the doctor’s directions, to Benjamin’s room.
The third door on the right was painted light green. It squeaked as I pushed it open. I stepped inside slowly, suddenly feeling shy. It wasn’t a private room. There were six beds, four of them occupied. I scanned the beds, finally recognising Benjamin in the bed nearest the window.
His eyes were closed, and the bruises on his face had darkened. His lower lip was cut and swollen. How did this happen? Was he traveling too fast on those narrow winding country roads? Colin’s words made me suspect all kinds of scary scenarios. Had someone deliberately set out to hurt him, perhaps tampered with his breaks?
I gazed down at Benjamin’s beautiful face. His dark hair, normally carefully styled was mussed up. I wanted to run my fingers through it. I pulled a chair over to his bedside and sat down, then reached out to take his hand. He didn’t look quite as pale now, and some colour had returned to his cheeks. I took that as a good sign.