Home > Surprise Delivery(9)

Surprise Delivery(9)
Author: R.R. Banks

“Not well,” he laughs. “But she said that she's going to hold my position open for me until I come back.”

“Well, that's nice of her,” Bri says, the sarcasm in her voice thick. “I never would have expected that of her.”

“Yeah, I was hoping she'd move on and name another Chief for the unit, but she apparently values my work with the donors a little too much to move on completely.”

As they continue to banter, I'm feeling more like a third wheel than anything. My shame is still burning like a bonfire inside of me and I feel like I'm starting to suffocate. At this moment, I want to be anywhere but there. I look around but don't see an avenue of escape. It's not like I know anybody here, so there's nobody for me to go check in with.

“Sorry,” I interject, uttering the first thing that comes to mind. “Can I have your jacket for a few minutes?”

Duncan looks at me and cocks his head. “My jacket?”

I nod quickly. “Yeah, I should really get some seltzer on the champagne before it sets and stains.”

“Oh, no big deal. Honestly,” he tells me. “Don't even worry about it.”

“No, please, I feel terrible. I insist,” I say.

“I'd rather you not make a big deal –”

“No, seriously,” I persist, setting my face and trying to prevent the embarrassment from leaking out any more than it already has. “I insist. Your jacket. Please.”

He looks at me for a moment, then shrugs, slips his coat off, and hands it to me. I take it from him quickly and start to hustle away.

“Sorry again,” I say. “I'll get this cleaned up and good as new. Just give me a few.”

“Thank you,” he says. “It's not really necessary though.”

“Of course, it is,” I call back to him.

I stop at the bar, grab a bottle of seltzer water, then scurry out of the main ballroom. I honestly have no idea if seltzer water will take a champagne stain out of a coat – I've seen people using seltzer water on stains in movies. I just need to get the hell out of there for a few minutes. I need to get away from the suffocating pressure that's bearing down on me and clear my head.

Mostly, I just need to get away from all the lurid thoughts and unchecked emotion running through my brain. Something about being around that man is stirring up a lot of strange, unusual, and uncomfortable thoughts inside of me.

I try a few doors before I finally find one that opens. Breathing a sigh of relief, I open the door, step inside, then close it softly behind me. I reach for the light switch but decided I prefer the anonymity of the darkness better. I walk around, realizing that I'm in one of the hotel's conference rooms.

I make my way deeper into the room, and after hanging the jacket on the back of a chair, I sit myself down on top of the table. Trying to get myself back under control, I sit there, staring through the wall of glass before me, taking in the view of the city spread out before me.

Bit by bit, my racing heart slows, and the adrenaline stops pumping. I no longer feel like I'm suffocating and feel far more in control of myself than I did a few minutes ago. I'm able to push away all those unwanted thoughts and regain control of my own mind and heart.

Letting myself get attached to somebody like Duncan Clyburne is only going to bring me misery – I repeat that sentence silently in my head over and over again. Eventually, if I repeat it enough, I'm hoping that I'll actually believe it.

It takes a few minutes, but I finally find myself back in control.

Thank God.



“She's really great, isn't she, Dr. Clyburne?”

I watch her walk away for a moment longer before turning back to Sabrina. I don't know Sabrina very well – our paths only cross in the hospital every now and then. But she's always been pleasant and professional. The few times she's assisted in the operating room, she's been smart and efficient. She's the type of nurse I appreciate having.

“Yeah, she seems pretty – great,” I agree.

“She's single, you know.”

I chuckle. “Unfortunately, I'm leaving in a few days.”

She shrugs. “Yeah, but you'll be back.”

“Not for eight months,” I remind her.

“That's not so long,” she replies.

“Are you trying to set us up?” I laugh.

“Maybe,” she replies. “I just think two great people getting together can't be a bad thing.”

And with that, she turns and walks away, leaving me there jacketless and with my head swirling. Meeting somebody who piqued my curiosity is the last thing I expected from this gala – and there's no denying Alexis piqued my curiosity. There's a quiet strength and intelligence I see in her – one that's incredibly appealing.

I can tell, just from the short time we were talking, that she's a woman of substance – that there's a whole lot more to her than meets the eye. Though, if I'm being honest, what does meet the eye is pretty incredible. She's a gorgeous woman with curves in all the right places, red hair that can set your soul on fire, and smooth, creamy, alabaster colored skin that just looks like it's begging to be touched.

I can't deny there is a connection between us – one that's not just physical. Whatever that connection is, it's powerful and it's visceral, and just thinking about her makes my head spin in ways I don't know it ever has before. The woman is intoxicating, mysterious, and entirely alluring.

I cross the ballroom and exit through the door I watched Alexis go through. There's only one direction I can go, so I walk down the hallway. There are doors on either side of me – probably the hotel's conference rooms – and I wonder where she's gotten off to. Given the fact that she has my jacket, I doubt she went too far. Which means, she's probably in one of these rooms.

With nothing better to do and nothing to lose, I start trying the doors along the hallway. I have no idea why I'm chasing this woman. It's not like it's going to lead anywhere even if I find her. It's just that – being around her, even for as brief a time as I was, made me feel things I haven't felt in a long time. The edges in my life suddenly grew sharper. Everything seemed a little more vivid. I can't understand it, let alone explain it, but just being near her made me feel an electric tingle throughout my entire body. It sounds stupid to say, but I felt a little more alive – or at least, more alive than I've felt in a long while.

There's something about Alexis Martin that definitely connects with me. I felt that connection almost instantly, and I know she did too. I saw it on her face. Saw it in her eyes. There's something about her that hits me almost like a drug – and like a good junkie, I'm out here chasing another fix.

After trying and finding a couple of locked doors, I find one that's unlocked. Curious to see if I'm right, I push it open quietly and peer inside. I can only see her silhouette, framed against the backdrop of the nighttime sky through the floor-to-ceiling windows that make up the back wall of the conference room, but I know it's her. She has her back to me and is apparently so caught up in thought, she doesn't hear me come in.

Stepping into the room, I close the door as quietly as I can and take a few steps toward her. It's then that she realizes she's not alone, quickly slipping off the table and turning around to face me.

“What are you doing here?” she asks.

“You have my jacket,” I explain. “I'm kind of attached to it.”

“Sentimental about it, are you?”

I shrug. “Maybe so,” I say. “What are you doing in here?”

“Just clearing my head a bit,” she replies. “I'm usually not big on crowds.”

I walk around the tables until I am standing in front of her. The ambient light from outside filters in through the windows, making her soft, pale skin seem to glow with an internal light. From behind her mask, her eyes glitter like jewels and I have the overwhelming urge to lean down and kiss her.

I fight it off for the moment, not wanting to give in to my basest instincts. There's something about this woman that has a profound effect on me, and I want to understand it. More than that, I don't want to open the door to anything I can't follow through on. It wouldn't be fair to either one of us.

All the same, just being in her presence is heady. And just like before, the lines all around become sharper. More focused and intense. There's a vibrancy about the world around us that can't be denied. The combination of it all makes me almost dizzy. It's a sensation I’ve never really felt before, but one I can certainly let myself get used to.

Alexis looks up at me, her eyes sparkling, her lips parted slightly, looking absolutely radiant in her gown – the mask adding a slight hint of mystery, which only adds to her appeal. I've yet to see her face completely, but I know she's going to be the most beautiful woman I've ever laid eyes on. Even still, I find myself wanting to preserve the mystery a little bit longer.

I'm standing just a couple of feet in front of her and the air between us is crackling with electricity and anticipation. There's a definite chemistry we share – it's painted as clearly on her face as I'm sure it is on mine.

“For somebody who doesn't like crowds, a big, fancy gala is sure a strange place to come,” I tease.

“Maybe I like playing dress up,” she says.

I don't know if she means that quite the way I'm taking it, but the idea of having her play dress up for me is an absolute turn on. Maybe she sees the lascivious look in my eye, or just belatedly catches onto the double meaning of her words, but she looks away, an expression of embarrassment crossing her face. If the room had been lit, I'm sure I'd see some serious color in her cheeks right about now.

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