Authors: Maxine Barry
She felt herself being rolled tenderly onto her back. Over Callum's shoulder she vaguely saw Jim Neill's face, a picture of shock and worry, glance down at them.
He must have seen that she was still alive, though, for he quickly disappeared.
But Markie barely acknowledged his existence. Her whole vision was filled with the sight of two icy-blue eyes blazing down at her with more heat than even the bomb had been able to generate. He shook her, gently but frenziedly. âSpeak to me, damn you,' he husked, pausing to cough in the pall of smoke that hung around them.
He had a huge black streak down one side of his face, and his eyebrows were singed brown, but he was the most beautiful sight she'd ever seen.
She smiled. âNot much of a cold-blooded academic now, are you?' she murmured, giddily.
Callum knew the words didn't make sense,
words, and she was speaking, breathing, smiling . . .
âOh, Markie,' he choked. âDon't ever do that to me again!' he sobbed. âI love you so much.'
And he bent down and kissed her.
Markie's arms curled hard and possessively around him, and as she held on to him, hugging him close, they both knew that she was never going to let him go.
And they were both more than happy with that.
People, alerted by the awful sound of the bomb, began to stream into the car park now. One of the more level-headed of the students' ran for the lodge to telephone for the fire brigadeâfor the Beetle was still on fireâand an ambulance.
Callum, oblivious to their goggle-eyed audience, slowly lifted his head. His eyes glowed liked banked blue fire. His lips had tasted of charcoal, but Markie had never enjoyed a kiss more in her life!
She watched his lovely and loving face, only vaguely realising how close she had come to death. Just slightly hysterically, she began to laugh.
Callum, still lying protectively on top of her, his elbows bent either side of her head, began to laugh too.
âWhat?' he demanded.
Markie shook her head. âNothing. Nothing
lovely aloof academic. Nothing.'
Callum's eyes glowed. âAloof, am I?' he said huskily, and lowered his lips to hover just above hers. âWe'll see about that!' he whispered, and kissed her passionately, holding nothing back.
It made her see stars.
Over against the wall, Lisle wasn't faring so well.
He'd reached Nesta, his mind an agonised mass of fear, and very gingerly turned her over. As gently as he could, he cradled her in his arms. With a shaking hand he pushed a swathe of dark red hair away from her cut cheek and tenderly kissed her temples.
âDon't be dead,' Lisle whispered against her unresponsive face. âPlease, don't be dead. Oh God, please, don't let her be dead . . .'
He was still repeating this litany, over and over again, when Jim Neill knelt beside him. For a stunned second, he realised that his superior was totally out of his mind. It was the first time ever that Jim could recall, when Lisle had been anything but clear-headed in a crisis.
He swallowed hard, as he realised what this woman must mean to his boss. Fighting back his own sense of fear, he reached for the woman's wrist and felt her pulse.
It was strong and sure and steady.
Jim let out a huge breath of relief. Then, his policeman's training taking over, he gently ran his hand over the redhead's scalp and felt a
on the back of her head.
He laid a comforting hand on Lisle's shoulder.
âIt's all right, Lisle,' he said quietly, but firmly. âShe's just been knocked out, sir,' he added gently. âShe'll be all right. You'll see.'
And as the smoke crept up into the night sky, and Lisle and Callum held on tightly to the women they'd loved and had so nearly lost, one of Oxford's many clocks began to chime the hour of five.
*Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â *Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â *
Six months later, Nesta and Lisle were married in Durham, with the supermodel Marcheta in attendance as Chief Bridesmaid. They honeymooned in Hawaii.
Dr Callum Fielding bought his first house just twenty miles from the city of London, where he regularly spent most of his time with a beautiful woman, rumoured to be a supermodel.
Dr Rosemary Naismith stood trial almost a year to the day after Sir Vivian Dalrymple was murdered. She was charged not only with his murder, but with the attempted murder of Miss Nesta Aldernay and Miss Marcheta Kendall.
She was found guilty on all counts, and sentenced to life imprisonment.