Winning Back His Wife(4)

By: Melissa McClone



“That’s what friends are for,” Hughes said. “Let’s go.”

Cullen nodded once.

“I’m in.” Paulson, carrying his gear, fell into step with them. “So Sarah... Is she family? Your sister?”

“No,” Cullen said. “Sarah’s my wife.”

* * *

Where am I?

Sarah Purcell wanted to open her eyes, but her eyelids felt as if they’d been glued shut. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t open them.

What was going on?

Something pounded. It took her a minute—maybe longer—to realize the pounding was coming from her head. Maybe she shouldn’t try opening her eyes again.

Her head wasn’t the only thing hurting. Even her toenails throbbed. But the pain was a dull ache as if it were far off in the distance. Much better than being up close and personal like a battering ram of pain pummeling her.

She’d been hurting more. A whole lot more. This was...better.

White. She’d been surrounded by white.

Cold. She’d been so cold, but now she was warm. And dry. Hadn’t she been wet? And the air... It smelled different.

Strange, but it felt as if something were sticking out of her nose.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

She didn’t recognize the noise, the frequency of the tone or the rhythm. But the consistent beat made her think of counting sheep. No reason to try opening her eyes again. Not when she could drift off to sleep.

“Sarah.”

The man’s voice sliced through the thick fog clouding her brain. His voice sounded familiar, but she couldn’t quite place him. Not surprising, given she had no idea where she was or why it was so dark or what the beeping might be.

So many questions.

She parted her lips to speak, to ask what was going on, but no words came out. Only a strangled, unnatural sound escaped her sandpaper-dry throat.

Water. She needed water.

“It’s okay, Sarah,” he said in a reassuring tone. “You’re going to be okay.”

Glad he thought so. Whoever he might be.

She wasn’t sure of anything. Something told her she should care more than she did, but her brain seemed to be taking a sabbatical.

What had happened?

Clouds had been moving in. A horrible noise had filled the air. Swooshing. Exploding. Cracking. The memory of the teeth-grinding sound, worse than two cars colliding on the freeway, sent a shudder through her.

A large hand covered hers. The warmth of the calloused, rough skin felt as familiar to Sarah as the voice had sounded. Was it the same person? She had no idea, but the touch comforted and soothed. Maybe now she could go back to sleep.

“Her pulse increased.” Concern filled his voice. He seemed to be talking to someone else. “Her lips parted. She’s waking up.”

Not her. He couldn’t mean her.

Sarah wanted to sleep, not wake up.

Someone touched her forehead. Not the same person still holding her hand. This one had smooth, cold skin. Clammy skin.

“I don’t see a change,” another man said, a voice she didn’t recognize. “You’ve been here a long time. Take a break. Eat a decent meal. Sleep in a real bed. We’ll call if her condition changes.”

The warm hand remained on hers. Squeezed. “I’m not leaving my wife.”

Wife.

The word seeped through her foggy mind until an image formed and sharpened. His eyes, as blue as the sky over Glacier Peak on a clear day, had made her feel like the only woman in the world. His smile, rare to appear but generous when it did, had warmed her heart and made her want to believe happy endings might be possible, even if she’d known deep in her heart of hearts they didn’t exist. His handsome face, with its high forehead, sculpted cheekbones, straight nose and dimpled chin, had haunted her dreams for the past year.

Memories rushed forward, colliding and overlapping with each other, until one came into focus.

Cullen.

He was here.

Warmth flowed through her like butter melting on a fresh-from-the-oven biscuit.

He’d come for her. Finally.

Urgency gripped Sarah. She wanted—no, needed—to see him to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.

But the heavy curtain, aka her eyelids, didn’t want to open. She struggled to move her fingers beneath his hand. It had to be Cullen’s hand, right? Nothing happened.

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