“No,” she told him.
“You’re getting stronger.”
Ivy stood up and Cullen climbed to his
feet, and he breathed deeply, sighing, looking at her.
His expression had changed.
“I know what I need to do,” he said.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
His eyes didn’t waver.
She was standing just outside the
operating room as Cullen prepared to go in to perform the surgery.
“I need you to stay here,” he said,
pointing at the spot where she stood.
Ivy looked around nervously.
“Am I allowed to even be out here?”
“If anyone asks, you tell them you’re
here because I asked for you to be here.”
“I love you.”
He smiled in return.
“I’ll be awhile,” he said.
“This is going to be hours,” he
“God willing and everything
goes as planned, anyway.”
“Cullen…I know you can do this.”
He leaned in and gave her a quick
“Thanks for saying it and
I wouldn’t be able to
do it without you.”
And then Cullen
Sharpe—Doctor Sharpe—straightened, turned and went through the
doors to the OR.
Ivy was left in the cold, sterile hallway
And now it felt all too real.
The waiting room had been
It had chairs and a
television set and didn’t smell of antiseptic and everything wasn’t white,
Someone was wheeled past her in a bed,
moaning, as hospital staff pushed the bed quickly and efficiently down the
Ivy moved closer to the wall, crossing
her arms and trying to remain calm.
But her insides were jittery and her body shook as adrenaline dumped
into her bloodstream.
She wanted so badly for everything to be
just let this surgery go well.
it does, and if she lives, then the charges get dropped and Cullen will finally
be free and we can be together…
There was so much at stake, she could
hardly think straight.
What if she’d been wrong to push him to
perform this surgery when he was so stressed and fragile mentally?
Had she, in a way, taken advantage of
He’d needed to find a way out, but Ivy had
forced him to go on, to do the one thing that truly terrified him.
And now, if he failed, if the patient
died—Cullen was the one who would pay.
Everything would come down on him.
Ivy felt so nervous she was almost
And just when she thought she couldn’t
take it anymore, she heard loud voices approaching from around the corner.
“What do you mean?” a familiar sounding
male voice asked.
“Doctor Sharpe is already in the
operating theatre,” a female voice replied.
Ivy finally recognized that voice.
It belonged to none other than Xavier
Montrose, and he came around the corner with a look of disbelief and fury etched
into his face.
A nurse was following right behind him,
trying to explain as he pushed forward like a determined, overgrown child
throwing a tantrum.
When he saw Ivy, his expression
transformed to absolute disgust.
“You?” he cried.
here with him?”
“Yes, I’m his wife,” Ivy replied.
“How fucking convenient,” Xavier
He turned and pointed at the
“Get Dr. Forbes on the
phone,” he said.
The nurse turned and fled.
Xavier sneered as he looked at Ivy.
She held her ground.
“He’s doing the surgery, Xavier.
He’s the doctor the family wanted and
he’s the right person for the job.”
“Oh, is that so?” Xavier said, his tone
“And you’re an expert now,
He shook his head
“Look at you.
A few days ago you were just some goofy,
awkward bumpkin and it was kind of cute.
But then he got ahold of you and now you’re this entitled
housewife—a reality show nightmare in action.”
“Shut up,” she muttered.
“He got hold of you,” Xavier said,
approaching her, his eyes darkening.
“And now you think you’re hot shit just like him.
But I’ve got news for you, sister,” he
said, pointing directly at her.
“You’re both nothing but a couple of losers.”
“Just leave,” she said.
“He got arrested because of me,” Xavier
“You know that,
I’m the one who told
the cops about him being negligent and murdering his old girlfriend.
And now he’s going to kill another
I should thank both of you
for providing more evidence, I suppose.”
“Don’t know why I even
bother with the likes of him and you.”
“You pompous ass,” Ivy said.
Xavier’s brow lowered.
“Watch how you speak to me,” he said.
“You’re never going to be half the
surgeon Cullen Sharpe is and you know it.
You’ll never be half the businessman he is.
Or half the human being.
You’re always going to be in his shadow
and you know it—and it drives you insane.”
She stared at him, a strange thrill going
through her as she saw her words hit him with full force.
His lips pulled back into a grimace of
“I should slap that smug look off your
face,” he whispered, his eyes so crazy in that moment that she thought he
really might do it.
“Try it and I’ll scratch your eyes out,”
He took a step back, his expression
changing to one of alarm.
crazy,” he said, and then he turned and strode off down the hallway.
“Crazy!” she heard him mutter to himself
as he continued walking away.
When Cullen exited the OR again, hours
had gone by.
Ivy was practically asleep standing up.
emerged, looking truly worn out, the exhaustion in his eyes was
plain to see.
Ivy didn’t think she’d ever seen another
human being so soul weary before.
She imagined that someone returning from a battlefield might have eyes
like Cullen’s looked just now.
“How did everything go?” she said, trying
not to sound as afraid as she felt.
Her heart was galloping in her chest.
just don’t let her be dead.
Cullen ran his fingers through his hair
and let out a deep, deep sigh.
“It’s over for now, anyway,” he said.
“But it wasn’t easy.
There were some complications.”
Some of the medical team from the OR were
exiting through the doors next to them, and they were whispering in hushed
Looking at Cullen with a mixture of
respect, awe, fear and maybe even pity.
“Wonderful to watch you work Doctor,”
someone said to him as they passed by.
Cullen nodded but didn’t really respond.
“What kind of complications?” Ivy asked.
“I need to go and speak with the family,”
“You can hear it along
I can’t explain
everything twice, Ivy.
Very, very tired.”
“Of course,” she said.
So they walked together, and Ivy tried
not to panic inside, because she was getting a terrible feeling that this
operation hadn’t gone well after all.
When they arrived in the waiting room,
Peg and her father were sitting together, looking like a pair of ghosts.
Their faces were pale and drawn and
emotionless after hours of crying and being afraid.
But when they saw Cullen walking into the
room, they both stood.
He approached them with Ivy following
“Do you mind if I
speak about Becca’s condition in front of Ivy?
I can ask her to excuse herself if you
prefer,” Cullen said.
The older man shook his head.
“Just spit it out.
How is she?
How is my Becca?”
“Her situation is not stable,” Cullen said.
“So the news is mixed, I’m afraid.”
Peg’s shoulders slumped and the father
took a deep breath, his eyes watering.
“What happened?” Peg said.
“Things were progressing fine in the
early going,” Cullen told her.
as the surgery went on, Becca’s vital signs grew weaker.
I was able to remove most of the mass,
but it proved to be in a very tricky position, and there was some trauma and
swelling of the brain.”
Peg’s father put his face in his hands.
Ivy felt horrible, as if she had
personally been responsible for this happening.
She couldn’t imagine how Cullen felt
right now, telling them the worst news.
Well, it wasn’t the worst news.
But it was damn close.
“Can we see her?” Peg asked.
“Is she awake?”
“No,” Cullen said.
“She’s in recovery and her condition is
still quite critical.
We had to put
her into a medically induced coma to allow for the swelling to go down, in
hopes that her brain will recover faster.”
“A coma?” Peg nearly shouted.
“That’s worse than what you started
Cullen shook his head.
“It’s simply a tactic we use to allow
the patient to recover.”
“This isn’t some patient,” Peg said, her
“This is my sister.”
“We’re doing everything in our power to
save her life,” Cullen replied calmly.
“Well everything in your power doesn’t
seem to be getting the job done, does it?” Peg snarled.
Her father wiped his eyes, turned to Peg
and lay a hand on her wrist.
“Don’t,” he said softly.
“You have to let the man do his job,” he
“Thank you for being understanding,”
Cullen told him.
“And I promise
you, I’ll be here every step of the way, making sure that Becca gets the very
best consideration and care.
won’t rest as long as her condition remains critical.”
“But do you think she’s going to come out
of it okay?” Peg asked him, begging for some hope.
Cullen was quiet for a time.
“I’m going to give her every chance to
come out of it.”
There was a prolonged silence, and then
Peg’s father shook Cullen’s hand.
“Thanks for trying to save my little girl’s life,” he said.
When Cullen and Ivy began walking away
from them, he let out a tired sigh.
“I need to go get some coffee and then have a nap.”
“Do you want me to go get you something
from the cafeteria?
I can bring it
back to the office for you,” she said.
“No, I want to stay together,” he replied
firmly, grasping her hand in his.
She turned and smiled at him.
As their eyes connected, she felt a sense
of love and completeness overwhelm her.
never felt this close to another human being in my entire life.
We’re together in this.
And I love this man with every cell in
Cullen gave her a smile in return.
Just at that very second, a nurse burst
through the doors and waved at Cullen.
“Doctor Sharpe, it’s your patient.