His Diamond Like No Other (Mills & Boon Medical) (14 page)

BOOK: His Diamond Like No Other (Mills & Boon Medical)
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‘I’ve bought an Esky and packed the food into it, as you suggested,’ she dithered, not bothering to invite him in but leaving the door wide open, indicating he should feel free to cross the threshold. The large red insulated cold box was by the door, ready to just pick up when they left.

‘I bought a sun hat,’ she continued, pointing to the large, almost sombrero-like hat on the bed. ‘And some strong sunscreen, but now I can’t find where I put it.’ She opened a drawer and searched inside, before closing it and opening the next one. ‘You would think, in such a confined space as this, I wouldn’t lose anything!’ Exasperation laced through her tone as she once more did the rounds of the room, stopping for a brief moment to look at and around him. ‘Where’s Spencer?’

‘He’s going with my parents. I wanted to stop by the ward and check on some patients.’

‘Oh. Of course.’ Jane tried to disguise her disappointment at not being able to spend even a few more minutes with Spencer. She opened her wardrobe doors and looked in there for the sunscreen, although why she would have put it in there, she had no clue.

Sean scanned the room as well, trying not to be intrigued by what she was wearing. Most people, on such a stinking hot day as this, would wear fewer clothes. Shorts and T-shirt or, for a woman, a light cotton sundress with flip-flops, but not Jane. She was dressed in a pair of light-coloured three-quarter-length trousers, a pastel top and a thin cotton long-sleeve shirt over the top. Her hair...even as he watched her flit around the room...mesmerised him. Her fringe was, as always, combed over her forehead, coming down to meet her eyebrows, but the long, luscious locks were contained in some sort of messy braided low bun, little wisps of hair falling out here and there, framing her face and making her look...angelic.

His gut tightened with the urge to stop her, to pull her close, to calm her nerves—which were clearly on display with all her dithering—and enfold her in his arms. He wanted to reassure her that she was safe, that he would never let anyone hurt her, and he wanted to follow the lead of the constant dreams he’d been having of her where he would tenderly capture her lips with his.

‘Jane, I have some sunscreen,’ he told her softly, as she checked beneath the bed.

‘But this is special stuff. I burn so easily,’ she told him, and when she straightened, meeting his gaze, he realised the extent of her nervousness. She looked terrified and he realised that although she was excited to be a part of a family, it was also very new and unsettling to her. He instantly stepped forward and gathered her hands in his. It was the first time he’d touched her in so long that he felt like he’d been struck by lightning. What this woman did to him, how she affected him, was becoming even more powerful than before.

Sean quickly settled his thoughts before speaking. ‘Jane, it’s no drama.’

His calm, easy words, the warmth from his touch, the way he gave her that handsome half-smile instantly melted her nerves. How was it possible that in the blink of an eye Sean Booke was able to quell her fears and to make her feel so incredibly safe?

‘It isn’t?’

‘No. We can buy some more along the way. You’re supposed to be relaxing today, on your day off from the hospital, not stressing about sunscreen.’

‘But—’

‘Shh,’ he interrupted and placed a finger across her lips. He knew it was a stupid move the moment his skin made contact with hers because even touching her in such a way made it nigh on impossible for him to continue to keep his distance, for him to try and view her as some sort of distant relative.

The sensations he’d been doing his best to quash for the past week came bursting forth. ‘I’ve tried so hard to keep my distance, to see you as just another family member but...’ he shook his head slowly ‘...it isn’t working. I can’t stop thinking about you.’

‘Oh.’ She sighed, trembling slightly at his words, her body tingling with delight. She licked her lips then swallowed.

‘Why do you think I haven’t touched you? And made sure I wasn’t alone with you in a room? I just couldn’t control my reaction to you.’

Was that why? Was he telling the truth? Jane swallowed, unable to speak for a moment while her mind processed this information.

‘But, Sean...’ She stopped, staring into his eyes and taking a deep breath as she realised it was time to perhaps ask some tricky questions, to take a few bricks out of the protective wall she’d carefully constructed around herself. ‘Sean, are we...I mean, do we...you know,
feel
the way we do simply because of that past connection?’

‘Or are we
attracted—
’ Sean spoke the word clearly and pointedly, indicating he knew what she’d been trying to say and that he wasn’t afraid to name what they both clearly felt ‘—to each other because we’re so much alike?’

Was that the reason? She’d never thought of it like that before but, then, she’d been attempting to school her thoughts where Sean was concerned. She had such an innate fear that if she gave herself permission to really explore this attraction and then somehow messed things up, he would cut her off from ever seeing Spencer again.

‘You’re trembling,’ he pointed out, rubbing his thumbs over her hands.

‘I’m nervous about meeting your sisters, of making a good impression, of having this day go well,’ she babbled, looking away from his hypnotic gaze in case he saw the truth, that she was frightened of the way he made her feel.

‘You don’t need to worry about my sisters. They’re predisposed to like you.’

‘Why? How do you know that?’ Jane tried to gently tug her hands free from the touch that was setting her senses on fire.

Sean chuckled softly, the sound warming her through and through. ‘Because I know my sisters and I know you.’

‘No, you don’t.’ This time she did pull away and turned her back to him. Sean immediately put his hands on her shoulders, rubbing her arms as he spoke in that soothing voice of his.

‘I know you better than most,’ he countered. ‘And I like what I see, Jane. I like you...a lot.’

CHAPTER NINE

B
Y THE TIME 
they arrived at the beach, Jane was a mass of nerves. Not only was she about to meet Sean’s sisters and their families but he’d just confessed to her that he liked her—a lot. He was attracted to her and she had no present concept of what that meant, what he now expected of her, and whether or not she’d be able to fulfil it.

She decided to focus on the immediate problem of making a good impression on Sean’s sisters, Rosie and Kathleen, but, as Sean had predicted, they were already enamoured with her from the start, both of them coming forward to hug her and welcome her to their family. Spencer’s greeting was to launch himself at her like a cannon ball, give her a firm hug before wriggling from her arms to run off and play with his cousins, who were tossing a ball to each other.

Barney and Louise also welcomed her with hugs and after a few hours of sitting around, chatting and eating and laughing, Jane couldn’t help but smile brightly.

‘I could get used to this,’ she remarked to Sean, as he sat down beside her on the towel she’d spread on the golden sand. Louise and Barney were nearby, lounging on the chairs, chatting with one of their daughters, so Jane spoke softly.

‘What? Sweat all day because the sun’s too hot? Or having to reapply sunscreen every few hours? Or craving salty foods due to the sea salt in the air? Or perhaps it’s the constant swatting of flies you could get used to?’

Jane laughed. ‘All of the above, as well as being surrounded by people who are happy to be with me.’

These words told him far more about her upbringing, about the loneliness she’d faced as an adult, than if she’d told him directly. He wanted to reassure her, to let her know that her days of being alone were over. ‘We are, Jane. We all are and it’s genuine.’

She turned to look at him and even though she was wearing prescription sunglasses, she knew the lenses weren’t dark enough that he couldn’t see her eyes. ‘I really want to believe that, Sean. It’s been very difficult for me to take that leap of faith and to trust but today I really do feel accepted.’

‘I’m glad.’ He stared at her for a moment before forcing himself to look away, her smiling mouth far too tempting, and here was most definitely not the place for their first real kiss. He knew it was inevitable, that soon he would kiss Jane, and he wanted it to be perfect.

Spencer came running up, interrupting the moment, demanding his father come into the sea and ‘toss him around’.

‘Toss him around?’ Jane looked at Sean as he stood, trying not to stare as he pulled off his T-shirt, revealing a very broad, very brawny, very beautiful chest. Her fingers instantly began to tingle, wanting to touch it, to feel the light smattering of hair on his chest. She unconsciously licked her lips and breathed out slowly as she carefully raised her gaze back to meet his. It was only then she realised he’d been more than aware of her visual caress and that he’d enjoyed every second of it. The gorgeous little half-smile that set her heart racing once more was firmly in place. He raised one eyebrow, indicating he was very interested in her interest in him.

‘Why don’t you come and join us?’ Sean asked, scooping his son into his arms, mainly to stop Spencer from excitedly jumping up and down and spraying sand all over Jane, and also because to have her look at him in such a way had been extremely alluring.

‘Yeah. Aunty Jane, Aunty Jane, Aunty Jane. Come in the sea with us!’ Spencer clapped his hands and giggled with anticipatory delight.

‘Uh...’ Jane quickly shook her head and looked away from the perfect picture of man and boy, two sets of perfect blue eyes enticing her to join them. ‘I don’t like the water.’ And as she said the words she unconsciously adjusted her glasses and tugged at the hem of her cotton shirt, before ensuring the sleeves of the shirt were still secured at her wrists.

‘Aw. Why not?’ Spencer was clearly disappointed and it was the last thing Jane wanted. She thought fast and knew she had to do something to appease him but she was not going into that water. Wearing a swimsuit would only expose the rest of the people on the beach to her body. She didn’t want to be stared at or thought a freak. She’d suffered through enough of that for years and now that she was her own, strong, independent self, she was the one deciding what she would and wouldn’t do, and she would not go into that water and swim.

‘Why don’t you come and stand in the shallows?’ Sean suggested, and when she looked at him, she realised he’d been watching her entire internal struggle. ‘Just roll your trousers up a bit and paddle in the shallows.’

‘Yeah!’ Spencer clapped his hands in agreement.

Jane nodded, realising Sean had provided the perfect solution. She’d get to join in, to find out what ‘tossing Spencer around’ consisted of. She quickly located her enormous hat and placed it on her head, before following Sean’s suggestion and rolling up her trousers to just above her knees. She stood and brushed sand from her clothes.

‘Ready?’ Sean asked, before putting Spencer down and holding out his hand to her.

‘Ready,’ she stated, and took his hand, drawing in a cleansing breath. Sean was asking her to join in but he wasn’t forcing her to do anything she wasn’t comfortable with. Did he have any idea just how much that endeared him to her? It let her know that he was willing to accept her for what she could give. Wasn’t that what she’d been searching for? Acceptance?

Smiling brightly at him, she walked quickly across the hot sand to where the water was lapping. Spencer ran full pelt into the water, splashing with the waves and laughing brightly. Sean raised Jane’s hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to it before letting her go and following his son, scooping the giggling boy up and wading with him to the deeper water.

Jane clasped her hands together, her thumb consciously rubbing the spot where he’d kissed her as she allowed the delight to wash over her. Did he realise that such a small, respectful and charming gesture as that would only make her like him even more?

When the water was up to Sean’s waist, and he had made sure that the coast was clear, Jane watched as Sean faced Spencer away from him and then, on the count of three, tossed his son into the air, the little boy whooping with delight before he splashed into the water not too far away.

Sean turned to face Jane and spread his hands wide as if to say, ‘Ta-dah!’ She laughed and clapped and gave him a thumbs-up as Spencer swam back to his father, ready for a repeat performance.

‘Hey! Look!’ she heard some of Spencer’s cousins say. ‘Uncle Sean’s tossing Spencer. Come on.’

‘It’s my turn after Spencer,’ one of them called.

‘I’m after you,’ the other yelled, as they made their way out to Sean. Jane laughed, more than happy to watch. After a while Louise came and stood beside her, the two of them both cheering and clapping as Sean patiently ‘tossed’ his son, his nephews and niece into the water.

Jane couldn’t believe how relaxed she felt around this close-knit family, how accepted she felt, and she knew it was all because of Sean. Even later in the afternoon, as he drove her home, the conversation was easy and relaxed.

‘Does Spencer often go to his cousins’ house for sleepovers?’ she asked as Sean concentrated on the heavier-than-usual traffic.

‘At least once a month, or I have a few of them at my house on the weekend, depending on sporting schedules. It’s good for Spencer to mix with his cousins, especially being an only child.’ He frowned a little as he slowed the car. ‘Fair dinkum, I think everyone left the beach to head home at the same time,’ he murmured a moment later.

‘Would you like more children?’ she asked with soft intrigue, pleased he’d provided her with the perfect opening to ask the question.

‘I like being a father,’ Sean commented as he changed lanes. ‘But raising a child, especially when my parenting career began with having the sole care of a sick, premature baby, wasn’t at all easy. That’s when my parents and I came up with the living arrangements we now have. We both sold our places and converted the house, ensuring they had their own separate living quarters and I had mine but that Spencer’s needs could easily be met.’

BOOK: His Diamond Like No Other (Mills & Boon Medical)
4.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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