His Temptation, Her Secret(7)

By: Barbara Dunlop


“What part of no don’t you understand?”

“What part of father don’t you understand?”

“He can’t be moved yet.” She realized her best argument was the medical one.

“I’m not talking about today, or even tomorrow. But as soon as he’s strong enough, we can hire a medical helicopter. It’ll take thirty minutes, tops.”

“Just like that?” She resisted an urge to snap her fingers.

“Just like what?”

“You’ll hire a helicopter.”

“It’s fast. It’ll be comfortable. The onboard medics are equipped for anything.”

“It’ll cost a fortune.”

His expression was a study in incomprehension. “It’s my son’s health we’re talking about.”

She was back in high school again. “You’re still the big man, aren’t you?”

His nostrils flared, but he didn’t answer.

“The star athlete, the guy who got anything he wanted, grants, scholarships, the best parties, all the girls.”

TJ opened his mouth, but she didn’t let him interrupt.

“The wide receiver with the magic hands, who was going all-state, who could write his own ticket.”

“I’m not going to apologize for getting a college degree.”

Sage felt like a knife had been shoved into her heart. She’d given up countless scholarship offers to raise Eli.

“I earned my money,” TJ continued. “I’m spending it on my son.”

She stepped forward. “Your son doesn’t need it.”

“You want to fight me on this?”

Sage was about to say yes, when the curtain was whisked open.

Dr. Stannis appeared. She looked TJ up and down and smiled. “Nice bounce-back.”

“I’ve been through worse,” he said. “How’s Eli?”

“He’s still in recovery. We’re going to keep him there for a few more hours. Do you feel ready for discharge?”

“Absolutely. When can we see him?”

“Later tonight.” Dr. Stannis glanced at her watch. “Nine-ish? But he’ll still be pretty groggy until morning.”

“We’ll come back at nine.”

Sage was about to protest that she wasn’t leaving.

“Make sure you get plenty of fluids,” Dr. Stannis said to TJ.

“Is there a good restaurant nearby?”

It took Sage a second to realize the question was for her. “I’m, uh, not sure.”

He looked puzzled.

She wasn’t about to explain to Mr. Moneybags Helicopter Charter that she normally brought snacks from home to save money over eating in the hospital cafeteria. Forget restaurants. They weren’t even on her radar.

“The Red Grill is just down the road,” Dr. Stannis said. “It gets good reviews from families of our patients.”

“Done,” TJ said. He motioned for Sage to go first.

She didn’t understand.

“I’m buying,” he told her. “We have to eat.”

“Fluids,” Dr. Stannis said. “For both of you.” She gave Sage a pointed look.

They’d had a few conversations about the fact that Sage had lost some weight these past weeks.

“Does Cabernet Sauvignon count?” TJ asked with a teasing smile.

“Only in moderation.” Dr. Stannis waved her pen. “Water’s better. Tea would be perfect.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“And make sure Sage eats.”

TJ looked down at Sage with a curious expression. “Anything in particular?”

“Calories.”

“Lasagna it is,” he said.

“I don’t like lasagna.” Sage did like lasagna, but she was still thrown off balance by TJ’s determination to move Eli to a different hospital. And she resented the way he was organizing her dinner.

“Then order something else,” he said easily. “They’ll have a menu.”

“I’m aware of how restaurants work.”

“Good. Then you won’t mind taking advantage of one. You are a little thin.”

“I’m not thin.” She was conveniently ignoring the fact that her favorite jeans were sagging at her waist.

“I didn’t mean it as an insult.”

“Your opinion means nothing to me.”

Dr. Stannis broke in. “And I will see you two later.”

“Thank you, Doctor.” TJ gave her hand a warm shake with both of his.

Sage wished she could hug the doctor, but she settled for shaking as well. “Thank you so much.”

“You’re most welcome.” Dr. Stannis’s sincerity was unquestionable. “Go take care of yourself for a couple of hours. Eli is in excellent hands.”

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