Brenda was sleeping when he stepped into the room. He stood watching her for a moment. She really was a beautiful woman. Her chestnut brown hair was long in a no-nonsense, wash-and-wear manner. She had pulled it back into a ponytail that was now coming free of its restraint. It was shiny and undamaged by the usual heat and styling products most women used. It was obvious she had started the morning out with carefully applied makeup, but now long streaks of foundation trailed down each cheek. He resisted the urge to clean them for her. She probably wasn’t even aware of the problem; why bring it to her attention. Her olive-toned skin was pure and even. This woman obviously took care of herself.
He walked to the edge of the bed and called her name, “Mrs. Waldrip.” She moaned but did not open her eyes. He shook her shoulder, gently calling her name again, “Mrs. Waldrip.”
Instinctively, her shoulder moved from beneath his fingertips. “What?” she asked, her voice barely an audible whisper. As the cobwebs eased away, she became alert. She bolted upright, flinging back the covers as her legs struggled to free themselves. A wave of nausea struck her, and she wavered.
Dr. Petoro reached out and steadied her. “Whoa. I don’t think you’re ready to get up just yet.” He examined her laceration, cupping her chin in his hand. “Dr. Davis did a good job on that.”
When he touched her, warmth flooded through her body, starting at the back of her neck and traveling down to her toes. She couldn’t recall anyone ever touching her so gently. Instinctively she pulled her chin back.
He smiled, trying to put her at ease. “Do you remember me?”
She shook her head. “No.”
“I treated you and your daughter the other day. You left without saying goodbye. I was hurt.” He laughed softly at his joke.
“I didn’t have a choice.” She attempted to make her voice sound casual, but she didn’t fool him. He was a trained professional. He didn’t miss the nervous agitation, the steady pulse that jumped at her throat, or the nervous twitch of the left eye. “Did you know your eye twitches when you’re nervous?”
Reflexively, her hand flew to her left eye. That’s when she discovered the long string of sutures. She gasped.
“He did a number this time. Dr. Davis stitched it up while you were napping.”
“I told the other doctor he didn’t do this.”
“It’s pretty hard to believe a falling mirror could do this much damage.”
She sighed. “It didn’t fall. I threw a statue at it, soap dish actually, but it looks like a statue. It shattered, and my face got in the way.”
“Why didn’t you want to tell Dr. Davis that?”
“I was embarrassed.” He cocked his head, a puzzled expression on his face. “I don’t like to lose control,” she said.
For some reason, he found this amusing and smiled.
“What?” she asked, the faintest image of a smile reflecting back.
His heart melted at the sight of it. He gestured at it. “You should do that more often. It suits you.”
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