Copyright © 2012 Arianna Hart
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
“Ciara! Hold up!” Declan called from half a street behind her. “I’ve been walking for the last ten minutes trying to find this place. You didn’t give me a name so I couldn’t tell the cab where to stop.”
She waited for him to catch up. That was weird, she’d looked around when she’d gotten out of the car because the area made her nervous and she hadn’t seen anyone. Maybe he’d just turned the corner?
“I’m sorry. I’m not even sure I know the proper name. We always call it the Italian place. I didn’t think to give you the address.” She’d been so bemused and befuddled from seeing him at the hospital she was surprised she’d regained her ability to speak at all.
“No worries. I had the cabby drop me off near the hospital and headed this way. I figured I’d find it eventually. Although, it’s not the most picturesque part of town, is it?”
“I’m afraid not. But the food is good and it’s conveniently close to work so we go to it a lot.”
“What exactly do you do at the hospital? I don’t think I ever asked you.”
No, they’d been too busy exploring each other’s bodies to discuss past history. The memory sent a flush of heat through her, tightening her nipples and dampening her thighs. Just walking next to him, occasionally brushing against his long, lean body had every sense on alert. It was like something inside her recognized him as the perfect fit for her.
She tried to unscramble her brains so she would sound at least slightly intelligent, but most of her energy was being taken up by her hormones jumping up and down, screaming, Now! Take me right here, right now!
“I’m the secretary for the Emergency Department. It’s not exactly as glamorous as being a nurse or a doctor, but the benefits are good.” And boy, had she ever needed good health insurance with the cost of fertility treatments. “How did your meeting go?”
“It was—optimistic. I’m not sure if this venture will be successful but—”
Before Declan could finish his sentence, something rammed into her from behind, slamming her to her knees on the rough sidewalk. Her purse was yanked against her shoulder, but because she had it looped diagonally across her chest, it dragged her to her side.
A man in a black baseball cap held the strap of her purse in one hand and a knife in the other.
Declan swore and kicked out at the hand holding the knife. The thug released her purse and dove for the knife a second ahead of Declan.
Call 911, call 911! Her brain shrieked as she watched the two men wrestle for the weapon, but she couldn’t seem to get her hands to work. All her attention was focused on the violence unfolding in front of her. Ciara let out a scream as the thug got the upper hand momentarily and stabbed Declan in the side.
Declan managed to knock the guy off him but the damage was already done. A steadily growing pool of blood spread over his shirt. The sight of all that blood must have freaked the guy out because he looked at Ciara, who by now had her phone in her hand, and took off running down the street.
She scrambled over to where Declan lay on the sidewalk. Everything had happened in seconds, and she was only now recovering her wits.
“Stay still, I’m calling an ambulance.” She’d only dialed the 9 so far.
“No. It’s nothing. I don’t want an ambulance.”
Nothing? Blood drenched his white dress shirt and soaked the ground under him. She couldn’t believe he was still talking after losing that much blood.
“This is not nothing. You need a doctor.”
He closed his hand over hers, shutting her flip phone at the same time. “I’ll be fine. It’s not as bad as it looks.”
“That’s hard to believe, because it looks pretty damn bad!”
“Honestly, I’m okay. See?” He pushed himself unsteadily to his feet.
Ciara had little medical training, but she’d worked in an emergency room long enough to know that much blood loss was bad. He should be going into shock, not standing up, however weakly.
She stood next to him and pulled his shirt aside. The wound had closed up as if it had never been there. Shock had her doubting what she knew she’d seen. Ciara shook her head as if that would help her reconcile what she was seeing now to what she knew had happened.
Damn it, she knew the knife had gone into his side. His shirt had a hole in it and was still wet with blood.
But there was no wound to be seen.
“Perhaps we should go to your place so we can talk. I don’t think I’m dressed appropriately for dinner and we should clean up a bit. You’ve got some nasty scrapes on your knees.” He guided her toward her car.
A bubble of hysterical laughter burst from her. He was worried about her skinned knees? He’d had a knife in him. She was not going insane, she knew what she’d seen.
“Hand me your keys, love.”
She handed them over without hesitation. There was no way she could drive at this point. As they walked down the street, he seemed to regain his strength while hers drained out of her like water through a sieve. He helped her into the car as if she was the one with a life-threatening injury, not just a few cuts and scrapes.
A shiver wracked her frame even though the night was mild.
“I’ll explain it all when we’re at your place, okay?” He turned the heater on high before smoothly backing out of the parking spot.
“Sure.” He’d explain how he’d healed right before her eyes? Good luck with that.