His Diamond Like No Other (Mills & Boon Medical) (17 page)

BOOK: His Diamond Like No Other (Mills & Boon Medical)
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‘I’m thinking we’re good together.’ He gave her hands a little squeeze, before edging back and pulling her to her feet. ‘I also think it’s best if we get you back to the residential wing before you fall asleep right here in the staffroom.’

‘If I did, would you be my knight in shining armour and carry me back to my castle?’ The words were that of a constant fairy-tale, one which she’d dreamt of over the years, desperately hoping that one day she would meet the man who was able to see the
real
her, to want the
real
her, to love the
real
her. Was it possible that Sean was that man?

‘Without a doubt,’ he murmured, dropping a kiss to the tip of her nose before letting go of her hands in order to quickly tidy the staffroom, tossing out the remainder of their drinks and washing the cups.

‘You’re quite adept in the kitchen,’ she remarked, when he linked his hand with hers and led them out into A and E.

He pointed to himself with his free hand. ‘Single parent, remember? Adept at a lot of domestic duties.’ He led her through A and E, completely oblivious to the curious glances they were receiving from a few of the staff because they were holding hands. Jane hated being the source of gossip, but at the moment she had to admit that she felt sort of...delighted that Sean wasn’t afraid to show the world—or at least the A and E staff—that he cared for her. She only hoped she wasn’t making a grave mistake.

She pushed the negative thought aside as they continued towards the residential wing, Sean continuing to hold firmly to her hand until they stood in the corridor outside her room.

He turned her to face him, quickly enveloping her in his arms and holding her close. ‘Thank you for coming today.’ His words were thick with repressed emotion and Jane received the distinct impression that although he wanted to come in with her, he was also leaving the decision up to her.

She swallowed. Could she do this? Could she let him in? Not only into her room but also into her heart? True, he was already there in an emotional sense but was it possible for her to let him see the
real
her? For him to see her scars? With Eamon, she’d been incredibly reserved, avoiding intimacy with him for as long as possible, until that one night when she’d made the mistake of opening up to him, showing him her scars and watching the revulsion cross his face.

She’d known, as soon as she’d witnessed his expression, that he would find some excuse to leave, find some reason for calling off their engagement, and forty-eight hours later that was exactly what had happened.

If things were going to progress with Sean, if there was any hope for any sort of future for them, then she preferred to know sooner rather than later. If she showed him her scars tonight, if she unveiled herself, she’d know as soon as he saw the deformity of her skin whether or not he truly cared about her. It was a risk but this way, if he did reject her, she’d be able to start the healing, start to find an even footing where she could quash the love she was beginning to feel for him and treat him as nothing more than a colleague and friend.

‘The sooner the better,’ she murmured against his chest.

‘Hmm?’ he asked, his big, strong arms still holding her close. Jane eased back and looked at him.

‘Come in.’

Sean stared at her for a long moment as though she’d just spoken a foreign language and his sluggish mind was trying to translate. ‘Wait. What?’

Jane fished around in her bag for her hospital lanyard, which held her room keycard, and quickly opened the room before she could change her mind. ‘Come in,’ she invited, holding the door for him.

‘Jane? Are you sure? I mean...’ He hesitated at the threshold. ‘I want to... Don’t get me wrong but—’

‘Shh.’ She quietened him, holding up one finger for silence. Then beckoned him forward and without another word from either of them Sean walked in, letting Jane close the door behind him. ‘There’s something I want to show you and I want to show you before I lose my nerve.’

‘Jane?’

‘I like you, Sean.’ She pointed to the chair near the small breakfast table, indicating he should sit down.

‘I like you, too, Jane.’

‘OK.’ She stepped forward after he’d sat down and pressed a finger to his lips. ‘If this is going to work, I need you to be quiet.’

He frowned and whispered against her finger, his eyes filled with questions. ‘If
what
is going to work?’

‘Shh.’ She bent her head and brushed a kiss across his lips, before drawing in a deep breath and stepping away from him. ‘This is important to me and...’ She closed her eyes and started to unbutton her long-sleeved cotton shirt.

‘Jane. No. Wait.’ Sean shot to his feet.

Her eyes snapped open and she stared at him. ‘What?’

‘I don’t think you should... I mean...just wait a minute and, uh...’ He raked an unsteady hand through his hair, his confusion evident in his concerned blue gaze. ‘I thought we could just talk and perhaps...well, if things escalated to that but...even then...’ He stopped, belatedly realising he was beginning to trip over his words.

Jane was family. He’d invited her to become a part of his family so she wouldn’t have to be alone any more, so that she could spend time with Spencer and finally feel that after all these years she was no longer alone, and while he was most definitely attracted to her, and had been pleasantly surprised when she’d taken charge just now, the last thing he’d expected from her was some sort of striptease! Was this how the men in her life had previously treated her? Like some sort of possession to do with as they wished? Did she consider only their pleasure but not her own?

He didn’t treat women in this way. He’d been raised to respect women, to cherish them and to treat them as equals.

‘I do want to talk,’ she said, but that didn’t stop her from unbuttoning her shirt. ‘Please, sit down. I need to get through this now before...before...’ She stopped, unable to voice the way she felt about him. It was definitely different from any other feelings she’d had in the past. Even with Eamon, the man she’d been about to marry, she hadn’t felt so comfortable or accepted, but she knew if there was any hope of a future with Sean, any hope at all, she needed to be completely open and honest with him, and that meant showing him her hideous body.

‘Please sit,’ she urged again, and it was the hint of veiled desperation in her voice that made him do as she asked. He swallowed, watching her every move, and when she’d finished undoing all the buttons on the shirt, she took off her glasses and put them onto the table, the shirt still remaining closed.

‘Today was difficult for me, in many ways. Meeting your family...’ She smiled warmly at him as the memories of her wonderful time at the beach—feeling so included—washed over her. ‘That has definitely been the highlight. But the accident, facing what had happened to me all those years ago, being in A and E—a department I avoid at all costs if possible—was...confronting.’

‘You did so well, Ja—’

‘Shh.’ She spoke the sound softly before drawing in another breath and holding his gaze. ‘I remember everything about the accident, every minute detail as though it happened only yesterday. I want to tell you, Sean. I want you to
know
me, the
real
me, and to do that I need to open myself, open my past up to you, to let you into my deepest, darkest secrets.’

Sean didn’t speak this time but instead nodded once, wanting to convey to her that he now understood more of what she was trying to do...and he was incredibly impressed by her strength.

‘We were driving home from a wedding, which had been up in the hills. I used to get carsick if I sat in the back so my mother had insisted that I sit in the front and she and Daina would sit in the back seat. Once we’d come down off the hills, the road now not so winding, Daina declared that it was her turn to sit in the front but my father refused to pull over. It had been raining, there was quite a bit of traffic on the road and he’d been drinking at the wedding. He was agitated and annoyed. He also had a very short fuse. My mother was trying to keep both Daina and my father under control by yelling at them to stop yelling at each other.

‘Then Daina decided we could just switch places at the next red traffic light. It would have to be quick, she said. I was to climb into the back while she ran around the outside of the car. I didn’t realise...’ Jane stopped and swallowed over her dry mouth, her words still quiet and straightforward with only the mildest hint of disbelief ‘...until it was too late that she’d already unbuckled my seat belt. A dog ran onto the road, between our car and the car in front, and because of my dad’s slower reflexes he swerved late and smashed our car into an enormous tree, as well as collecting a few other cars along the way.’

Jane wanted to close her eyes, to hide from him as she recalled the next bit, but if she did, she’d miss gauging Sean’s reaction to her disfigured body. She didn’t want to witness the repulsion she knew would come but if she didn’t put herself through this now, it would only make it more difficult for her to get over him later.

She pursed her lips together and forced her breathing to remain calm as she continued. ‘I felt as though I’d been sitting on an ejector seat. One moment I was looking back at Daina and the next I experienced searing pain as the windscreen glass cut into my face, arms and hands. I could see the ground beneath me, as though I was frozen in time, but it loomed closer and closer until I thudded down, skidding a little. The pain in my hands, my wrists was the first wave I felt. It was blindingly agonising and yet another pain made itself known.’ She paused and gripped the edge of the shirt with both hands, slowly removing it to reveal the thin singlet top beneath.

She saw Sean’s gaze dip to look at her arms, seeing the scars running up her arms. Would he realise that these scars were why she always wore long-sleeved tops and shirts? She heard his sharp intake of breath as she lifted the singlet top to reveal the large area around her side and abdomen, covered in scars and three different skin grafts.

‘I landed on a large stick, which did quite a bit of internal damage.’ She turned slightly so he could see the full effect. Her skin was disfigured and stretched, looking like a very bad patchwork quilt. ‘I required kidney surgery and bowel surgery to fix the internal organs and then the skin grafts began, not all of them working the first time.’ She twisted her shoulder to show him the ten-centimetre-long scar that had, over time, faded to become a paler shade of pink.

‘Not only was I disfigured on the outside, I was broken on the inside. My parents died in that accident, my father of a fatal blow to the head and my mother bled out internally. And although they may not have been the best of parents, certainly having their fair share of problems, they were still my parents and I grieved deeply for them.’

Sean continued to stare at her, and she continued to carefully watch his expression. His brow was puckered in a slight frown but she hoped it was a frown of empathy rather than one of disgust. Was he looking at her with a clinical eye? Switching his mind from sensual mode to practical mode? Would he ever be able to regard her as a desirable woman? An object of beauty? A woman he wasn’t too repulsed to touch and caress? Could he accept her? Would he ever tenderly caress and touch her badly stitched-together skin?

Jane held her breath, trying desperately to figure out what he was thinking. She simply stood there before him, not only baring her body but baring her soul. Couldn’t he see how important this was to her? How she needed to be reassured? To be told that her life wasn’t going to remain as lonely and as devoid of personal emotional connections as it had been for far too long? Was he the man who might love her as she hoped?

‘I don’t remember Daina having any scars.’ His voice was deep yet distant and Jane’s eyelids fluttered closed as horrified pain pierced her heart. She’d made another mistake. She’d opened up the box that contained her darkest fears and exposed herself to him...and all he could think about was Daina.

She worked hard to control the tears that were rising up within her, her head feeling incredibly heavy with the instant headache pounding against her temples.
You idiot. You stupid, disfigured nobody.
She couldn’t stop the voice that penetrated her mind, the voice that always sounded exactly like Daina’s.
Whatever made you think a man, especially one like Sean, so handsome and sexy, could love you?

‘Jane?’

She paused the voice in her head, knowing it would definitely continue later, and opened her eyes, glaring at him as she quickly pulled her clothes back over her body, turning her back to him as she attempted to button up her shirt, even though her trembling fingers made it nigh on impossible. She forced herself to concentrate on the menial task, to push away those other thoughts, to push away the answer to her initial question. Would Sean be able to accept her for who she was, scars and all? Clearly, he could not.

‘She had bruises and cuts but they quickly disappeared,’ Jane remarked woodenly. All she wanted now was for Sean to go, to leave her alone, to let her deal with the wounds he’d just inflicted. Why had she hoped for tender words? For a level of understanding about why she’d needed to literally bare her soul to him?

He was the same as all other men. More interested in himself, his world, his life. Why had she thought he might be any different? Couldn’t he see, didn’t he understand that she needed reassurance? She knew she was broken but she wasn’t relying on him to
fix
her, she was relying on him to accept her, to not care about Daina or any other woman, not here, not right now.

The first tear rolled down her cheek and she impatiently brushed it away. She didn’t want to guilt Sean with her tears, to have him hold her, offering insincere comfort. Not now, not when he’d shown his true nature.

She must have stood there with her back to him for longer than she’d realised because when he spoke her name, she heard the questioning urgency in the tone.

‘Jane?’ He placed his hand on her shoulder but she shrugged away from his touch, not realising he’d moved from the chair. ‘Jane, what is it?’

BOOK: His Diamond Like No Other (Mills & Boon Medical)
10.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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