The One For Me(8)

By: Sydney Landon

With a look that was hot enough to have her body tingling again, he said, “No, but you want to, don’t you, Angel? I’ve seen you around the office—or at least glimpses of you. I have to say that seeing you up close was a surprise—a damn good one.”

Dammit, he was charming and sexy. Crystal had no idea how to respond because she’d never really had a man compliment her before. Her ex’s idea of saying something nice was I guess you’ll do. Mark, though, looked at her as if he wanted to devour her. It was only fair since she’d wanted to eat him up from the first moment she saw him. Clearing her throat and breaking eye contact, she asked huskily, “Can we get back to what’s happened since I’ve been here? Did you stop to think that there are possibly people looking for me?”

“Being that it was Friday when you got sick, I didn’t think anyone from work would notice. Plus, once Denny, my driver, found out who you were, I gave Brant a call and had him pass the information along to Declan.”

“Ella and Declan are out of town,” she murmured, remembering they were having a weekend away while Ava and Mac babysat for them.

“Yeah, I know. Ella called, though, and was rather freaked-out until I assured her that you were in good hands. She said to tell you that she’d cover with your mother.”

“Oh crap—thank goodness.” Crystal sighed.

“Do you still live at home or something?” Mark asked, looking confused.

Shaking her head, Crystal said, “No, but that doesn’t stop my meddling parents and my husband from minding my business.” When he appeared shocked, she quickly added, “I mean my ex-husband! We’ve been divorced for a while—but my mother chose him in the unofficial settlement and they gang up on me all the time.”

“Hmm, I see,” he murmured. “Well, back to what has transpired since you passed out at my feet. I brought you home, showered you off—clothes and all—then put you in one of my shirts. You don’t seem to remember it, but you were awake for the most part. You were sick a lot, though. I was going to take you to the hospital after I cleaned us both up, but you begged me not to. Said you were afraid of staying there alone. So instead, I brought the doctor to you. He suspected you just had something viral but did blood work to verify it. That brings you up-to-date, as I’ve mentioned your mild anemia and negative pregnancy test.”

Crystal’s head was spinning as Mark finished running through the last two days at breakneck speed. Puzzled, she asked, “Why would you do all of that? You don’t even know me.”

Giving her a roguish grin, he said, “I feel like we’re pretty well acquainted now.” When she narrowed her eyes at him, he added softly, “I couldn’t take you to the hospital, Angel. You were so fucking scared for some reason when I mentioned it.”

Looking beyond Mark’s shoulder to where the sun was beginning to rise over the water, she rubbed her arm absently before saying, “I had my tonsils removed and had to stay in the hospital overnight when I was young. No one stayed with me, so I was alone, in pain, and scared out of my mind. My mom had told me before she left that I had better behave myself or the nurses would tell her in the morning and I would be in trouble. So every time they came to check on me and ask if I was in pain, I said no so that word wouldn’t get back to my mother that I’d been bad.” Trying to make light of what had been a terrifying experience, she forced out a laugh, adding, “It was a long night.”

“Ah, I’m sorry, Angel. Your reaction makes a lot of sense to me now. That was a real shitty thing to do to a child. Is your mother still a heartless bitch?”

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