Winning Back His Wife(8)

By: Melissa McClone

Common sense couldn’t override his heart. She’d made him feel complete in a way he’d never thought he’d feel again. He’d been downright giddy when she’d accepted his impromptu proposal. Thirty minutes and $99 later, they walked out wearing matching plain gold bands and holding a marriage certificate.

A whim? A mistake?

More like a regret.

He’d remembered back in December, when everyone was kissing under the mistletoe in Hood Hamlet and he was alone. That was when it hit him. He’d wished he’d never been introduced to Sarah Purcell.

But Cullen had. He’d married her. That was why he was here now. They were husband and wife until a judge declared otherwise. But he couldn’t wait to be free, to get his life in order and put his plan back in place. He was scratching one thing off the list, though. He sure as hell wasn’t getting married again. Been there, done that—no need to repeat that particular disaster.

At least he would have Paulson to hang with. The guy was a confirmed bachelor, if there ever was one.

But until Cullen’s divorce was final he was stuck with a wife who’d wanted to talk, to fight, to slice open one of his veins and have him bleed out every single thought and feeling he’d ever had.

After the divorce things will be better.

Cullen sat on the edge of Sarah’s bed. He wanted to hate her, but seeing her like this, he couldn’t. “Your lips are dry.”

He picked up a tube from the bed tray, removed the cap and ran the balm over Sarah’s chapped lips. She didn’t stir. “Better now?”

As he returned the tube to the table, a movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention. The blanket had slipped. She’d moved her left arm again. “Sarah.”

She blinked. Once. Twice. Her eyes opened, looking clear and focused. Her mouth formed a perfect O. “You’re still here.”

Sarah sounded surprised, but relieved. Her reaction offended him. “I told you I wasn’t going anywhere.”

She grabbed his hand and squeezed. “You did.”

Heat emanated from the point of contact, shooting out to the tips of his fingernails and sparking up his arm. He expected her to let go. Instead she stared at him with wide eyes. The corners of her lips curved upward in a hesitant smile.

O-kay. It was a simple touch. Out of gratitude for his being here. No big deal. Except the heat tingled. It felt good. Too good. Cullen pulled his arm away. “Thirsty?”

She nodded. “Water, please.”

He pushed a button on the control device that raised the head of her bed, reached for the cup sitting on the bed tray and then brought the glass to her mouth. He positioned the straw against her lower lip. Even after the balm, her lips were dry and peeling. He remembered how they used to be so soft and moist and taste so sweet.

Don’t think about that. There weren’t going to be any more kisses, no matter how much he’d enjoyed them in the past.

“Sip slowly,” he cautioned.

Sarah did. She released the straw. “Where am I? What happened?”

The roughness in her voice scratched his heart. He held on to the glass of water. That would keep at bay the temptation to brush the hair off her face. “You’re at a hospital in Seattle. There was a steam blast on Baker. You got hit by falling rock and fell.”

Her mouth quirked. “Did the steam blast continue?”

“No,” he said. “But Tucker Samson—he introduced himself as your boss and the head of MBVI—said this could be a sign of an impending event.”

Her eyebrows slanted. Beneath the bandage on her forehead, lines formed as if she were deep in thought. “I...don’t remember much.”

Sarah had a mind like a steel trap and never forgot anything. He didn’t blame her for sounding worried. “It’s okay. You have a concussion, but it’s a closed-head injury. No traumatic brain injury.”

His words didn’t ease her concern. Panic flickered in her eyes. “I wasn’t up there by myself.”

“Two others were injured, but they’ve been released from the hospital. You took the brunt of it. Fell quite a distance.”

The words were easy to say now, but the image of Sarah when he’d first arrived at the hospital haunted him. His uselessness then reminded him of trying to help Blaine—who had wanted only to blame Cullen for his drug addiction—and of trying to revive his brother later, after he’d overdosed. Being forced to watch from the sidelines as others took care of Sarah was like having his heart ripped from his chest. He’d felt the same after being pushed away from his unconscious brother when the paramedics had arrived at their parents’ house. But Sarah didn’t need to know any of that.

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