The Nanny's New Family (Caring Canines) (17 page)

BOOK: The Nanny's New Family (Caring Canines)
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The tech shrugged and wheeled the cart out of the room.

“You are a very stubborn young lady,” he said, getting up and going back to the computer.

“Thank you!” she chirped, grinning. “I haven’t been called a young lady in ages.”

He chuckled. “Just how old are you anyway?”

She didn’t see any reason not to tell him. “Thirty-four.”

“You look younger.”

“Sweet. How old are you?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Forty-four.”

That, she decided, worked perfectly. “You look forty-four.”

He laughed. “Thanks. I think.”

“What’s wrong with looking forty-four if you are forty-four?” she asked. “Especially if you’re a gorgeous forty-four.”

There was something freeing about losing the ability to filter what you said, freeing and frightening. Dr. Leland cleared his throat and said nothing, just pecked away at the computer keyboard. He finished and went out. A few minutes later, her meal arrived.

It consisted of a cold sandwich, a bag of chips, a banana, a cup of gelatin, a piece of carrot cake and a carton of milk. She chugged the milk and ate the cake, then went after the gelatin, saving the banana, chips and sandwich for later. Just a few minutes after pledging to save the banana for breakfast, though, she scarfed that down, too. She’d just laid aside the peel, feeling pleasantly stuffed, when Dr. Leland walked back into the room, accompanied by the nurse.

He glanced knowingly at the wrapped sandwich and chips cradled in her lap but said only, “I have some papers for you to sign.”

“Sure,” she agreed happily.

He produced the papers, a pen and a clipboard. She scrawled. He studied. After a moment, he lifted an eyebrow at her.

“Calamity Jane?”

She just shrugged, grinning. She should have known that if anyone could decipher her purposefully illegible penmanship, it would be a doctor.

“All right, Calamity, let’s have a look.”

The nurse turned on the overhead light. Eva smiled to let him know that the twinge of pain she felt was entirely manageable. While he listened to her heart, the nurse took a blood pressure cuff from a wire basket on the wall and wrapped it around Eva’s upper arm. Then she took Eva’s blood pressure while he checked her pupils. Next, he let down the side of the bed, took her by the wrist and had her sit up, swing her legs to the side and eventually stand. Finally he had her walk around. She felt perfectly steady on her feet, and while her head throbbed, it wasn’t fierce.

Holding up the sandwich and the bag of chips, she looked back over her shoulder at him and said, “Guess I shouldn’t skip quite so many meals, huh?”

He sent her an implacable look, saying nothing. Then he reached behind him and snagged a plastic bag from a chair against the wall.

Tossing the bag onto the foot of the bed, he said, “Get dressed. When you’re ready, I’ll drive you back to your vehicle.”

“Yea!” she exclaimed in a small, comical voice. “Or put another way...” She inclined her head regally, feeling just a twinge of pain. “Thank you for your hospitality, but I really must be going now.”

Shaking his head, he left the room again, opening the door for the nurse to leave ahead of him. Eva’s relief evaporated instantly. Sighing, she plopped down on the foot of the bed, with all that currently stood between her and starvation clutched to her chest. She looked at the cold wrapped sandwich in one hand and the bag of chips in the other then tossed them onto the pillow. What did it matter? What did any of it matter?

For a moment she entertained the notion of staying where she was and letting that too-handsome doctor tend her. But, no, she couldn’t do that. Eventually he’d figure out who she was and, if she couldn’t prevent it, how to contact those she’d left behind, which meant that Ricky would be put through the same horrific ordeal that she’d had to endure.
That
she could not allow.

Nope, better just to carry on to the bitter end. She’d heard there were some lovely spots in south Texas where she could winter. She’d get some money together, find a remote place where she could hide. With luck they wouldn’t find her until spring or even summer. By then Ricky would be well adjusted to her absence. Poor kid. He’d had some tough breaks, but this was the best of a bad lot of options that she could see. She hoped he could forgive her, but if not, so be it.

Shoving aside such maudlin thoughts, she got dressed. After pulling her black long-sleeved knit top over her head, she tied three shawls about her waist to make a skirt then draped a triangular scarf diagonally over one shoulder and knotted that at her waist. A second scarf went over the opposite shoulder, crisscrossing the other. She tied a third about her neck and tucked the point into the waistband of her leggings, letting the top drape loosely. Stacking up the final three colorful, silky shawls, she tossed them about her shoulders. They were amazingly warm, as generations of women throughout history well knew.

Her leather clogs were in the bottom of the bag with her cell phone. She dropped them to the floor and slipped her feet into them, adding over two inches to her height.

Taking the plastic bag, she dropped the sandwich and the chips into it. Then she helped herself to a pair of latex gloves and a small box of tissues on the counter before sitting down on the edge of the bed to wait. Barely had she parked herself before a knock sounded lightly, and the door cracked open.

“Are you decent?”

“Well, I’m dressed,” she drawled. “Beyond that I make no promises.”

Dr. Leland backed into the room, wearing a suit beneath a long overcoat and rolling a wheelchair behind him. “What are you, a stand-up comedienne?”

“If the shoe fits,” she retorted cheerfully, holding up one foot.

“Ha-ha.”

She eyed the wheelchair reluctantly. “Do I really need that?”

“Depends. Do you want to walk back to that grocery store parking lot or ride?”

Sighing melodramatically, she got up and plopped down in the wheelchair. “And you say
I’m
stubborn.”

“If the
other
shoe fits...”

“Well, we know
you
are no stand-up comedian,” she quipped.

He rolled her out of the room. As they moved through the area, Eva couldn’t help noticing that nurses rushed to open doors, move carts and just generally smooth the way, always flashing smiles and coy looks at the doctor. Eva could stand it just so long before waving her arms and singing at the top of her lungs, “Hel-lo! Patient coming through. Doctor Luscious is just half the parade.”

“Will you behave?” he growled. “Or can you not help yourself?”

“Why should I?”

Then again, why shouldn’t she? After all, what did she care if all the nurses in the hospital cast lures at the man? He was someone else’s problem. Poor woman. She probably didn’t have a moment’s peace. Of course there would be someone, probably several someones. A man as good-looking as he, and a doctor no less, could have his pick. He could even be married, though she had noticed no wedding ring—and hated that she had noticed. Apparently impending doom did not produce wisdom any more than did hard experience.

He wheeled her through a waiting room and then a pair of automatic glass doors onto a covered sidewalk. A luxury sedan sat waiting at the curb. A uniformed security guard, female, slid out from behind the steering wheel and walked around to take the chair after Eva vacated it. Leland opened the passenger door for Eva, kissed the security guard on the cheek, reducing the hefty woman to giggles, and rushed around the front of the car to the driver’s side, his overcoat flapping with the force of his strides.

Eva was buckling up when he dropped down behind the steering wheel. He followed suit, tossed a wave at the still-tittering security guard and put the car in gear. Eva shook her head.

“You have no shame, do you?”

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“You kissed the security guard! It’s not enough the nurses are all in love with you? You
must
have the security guard, too?”

He rolled his eyes. “For your information, she’s family.”

Eva blinked at that. “Oh. Well, in my defense, everyone’s wrong sometimes.”

Starting the engine, he shook his head. “She’s my late wife’s cousin, actually, and she’s married. And she has two grown children. And her husband is disabled.”

Those two words,
late wife
, rang inside Eva’s skull like a bell, reverberating repeatedly.
Late wife, late wife, late wife...

“All right already,” Eva cried melodramatically. “I was wrong. So shoot me.”

“I’m just saying.” He hunched his shoulders.

Eva trained her gaze on the scenery passing by her window. Okay, she conceded silently, so he really was rather likable, when he wasn’t being all handsome and knowing and authoritative.

Several minutes passed before he spoke again. “And the nurses are not all in love with me. Actually, none of them are in love with me.”

She chanced a glance at him and found him scowling. “How do you know?”

“I just do.”

“O-kay.” A smile almost surprised her. She had to work at keeping it away. She got very interested in the scenery again.

A few minutes later he said, “You’ll need to have those stitches removed in about a week.”

“Will do.”

He pulled an envelope from inside his coat and tossed it into her lap. “Give that to the doctor who does it.”

She looked at the envelope but not at him. “All righty.”

Shifting in his seat, he added, “I suggest you get a good night’s sleep before you drive.”

Turning back to the window, she gave him a noncommittal answer. “Very well.”

After a few more blocks, he said, “Don’t throw that envelope away.”

“I won’t.”

“I mean it.”

She finally looked at him again. “I said I wouldn’t. What’s with you?”

“I tucked a few bucks in there, if that’s all right with you,” he snapped. Then, more mildly, he added, “You said you were broke.”

“Oh.” Surprised and truly chastened, she looked down at the envelope. “That’s very kind. Thank you.”

“No problem,” he muttered, staring straight ahead.

A few seconds later the comfortable car turned into the grocery store parking lot and stopped.

Eva looked around. So did Leland. Then they looked at each other.

“Uh-oh,” he said.

She chose a more colorful word. “Crud.”

Her van was gone.

Copyright © 2015 by Deborah Rather

ISBN-13: 9781460384909

The Nanny’s New Family

Copyright © 2015 by Margaret Daley

All rights reserved. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical,
now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. This edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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BOOK: The Nanny's New Family (Caring Canines)
13.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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