Authors: Amy Andrews
‘I know,’ she said quietly
But Finn had started pacing again and was, apparently, on a roll. ‘And none of us would have known. You’d just suddenly be missing, just … gone.’ He clicked his fingers in the air. ‘And there’d be hundreds of people everywhere out there, looking for you. Combing the bush and the ocean, and your sisters would be frantic and your father would want to shut this place down and wouldn’t rest until Ethan—’ He stopped and glared at her. ‘
good man doing good things
was nailed to a wall but what would you care? You’d be dead.’
Evie dragged in a rough breath at the passion of his mesmerising speech and his heated gaze that swept over her as if he could see down to her bones.
And what about you, Finn?
How would it make you feel?
It hadn’t been her goal to scare an admission out of him but his tirade gave her a little hope. Would he be this het up about someone he didn’t have feelings for?
‘I’m sorry,’ she apologised.
‘Well, that’s not enough!’ He twisted to resume his pacing but the abrupt movement jarred through his injury and he cursed under his breath, movement impossible as he grabbed automatically at his ribs with one hand and the wooden framework at the foot of the bed with the other.
Evie sat forward. ‘Finn?’ He didn’t answer, just stood sucking in air, his eyes squeezed shut, his hand splinting his chest. ‘Finn!’
‘I’m fine,’ he snapped.
Evie peeled back the cover and crawled to the end of the bed on her hands and knees. ‘You are not,’ she said as she drew level with him. ‘Let me look,’ she said, reaching for his shirt.
Finn stood upright, batting her hand away. ‘I said I’m fine, damn it!’
She was wearing a baggy T-shirt and loose cotton shorts that came to just above her knee and she smelled fresh and soapy from the shower and she was so close he wanted to drag her into his arms and assure himself that she really was okay.
But he also wanted to kiss her hard and lose himself in her for a while, and he was more than pleased there was a wooden bed end as a barrier between them.
‘Finn, I’m a doctor, remember?’
‘So am I.’
She nodded. ‘Which is exactly why you shouldn’t be diagnosing yourself.’
‘It’s just a bruise,’ he dismissed.
She reached for his shirt, laying her hand against his chest. ‘Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?’ she murmured.
Her palm print seared into his chest and shot his resolve down in flames. He knew he should step back, walk away, but she was lifting his shirt and she was safe and well and so very close, looking like Evie and smelling like her and reminding him of all the times he’d seen her in the hallways at the Harbour looking at him with that aloofness that didn’t fool him and making him want her even more and he couldn’t make himself resist her.
Not after today.
Evie gasped at the ugly blue black bruise on his side, her fingers automatically tracing its ugly outline. ‘Bloody hell, Finn,’ she murmured.
But already her fingers were becoming methodical, prodding, shutting her eyes as she fell into a familiar routine. She pushed gently all around the injured area, feeling Finn’s abdominal muscles tense, hearing the harsh suck of his breath.
‘Sorry,’ she murmured, opening her eyes, her own breath catching at their proximity, at the intensity in his gaze. ‘Can’t feel or hear any crepitus,’ she said, her voice unsteady.
‘That’s because they’re not broken,’ he said.
Evie nodded, her breath thick in her throat as her fingers lightly stroked the bruised tissue, exploring the dips of his ribs. ‘You should get an X-ray tomorrow when we get back to the Harbour.’
Finn nodded as the light caress of her cool fingers soothed and inflamed all at once. ‘Maybe.’
Evie smiled. She guessed his ribs
be bad for him to sort of comply so easily. She dropped her hand but he didn’t move away and she didn’t want him to. They were close enough for her to lay her head on his chest, have him put his arms around her.
Close enough to tell him about the baby
The silence stretched but she just couldn’t get the words out. And she needed him to come back to Sydney. Not disappear.
But she had to say something. Because if she didn’t she was going to kiss him and then they’d be on the bed because a kiss was never enough with Finn and he’d find out then for sure.
‘Sorry for calling you a coward,’ she murmured. ‘You’re not. Not in the physical sense, anyway. You certainly proved that today.’
Finn grunted. Only Evie could call him an emotional coward and couch it as a compliment. ‘I’m sorry for what I said too. I …’
He broke off. He what? He did want to be a surgeon? He did want to be near her? The truth was he’d spoken his mind. But he’d never wanted to hurt her with it. To throw his words at her like they were poisonous darts.
‘You what?’ she prompted as his unfinished sentence hung in the air.
Finn shook his head, his gaze dropping to Evie’s mouth. ‘You drive me crazy.’
Evie pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. ‘I know.’
Finn felt the movement jolt all the way down to his groin. ‘Damn it,’ he muttered, reaching for her, sliding his hand under her damp hair at the back of her neck, pulling her head closer as he closed the gap from his side, claiming her mouth on a tortured groan.
‘Damn it, damn it, damn it,’ he muttered against her lips, as she whimpered and the urge to hurdle the barrier between them took hold and he pushed his other hand into her hair and her mouth opened as his moved against hers and he kissed her hard and deep and hungry, every ragged breath tearing through his ribcage.
A loud knock thundered against her door and he pulled away, gasping. They both were.
‘Evie? Evie? Are you okay?’
Finn clutched his chest again as he took a step back, every nerve ending on fire, every cell begging him to get closer, to get looser, to get naked.
His gaze never left her face as he slowly backed even further away, her moist mouth and glazed expression slugging him straight in the groin, begging him to come nearer.
His back bumped gently against the door. ‘She’s fine, Ethan,’ he called.
Then he turned the doorhandle and admitted his friend. And a massive slice of sanity.
ON MONDAY MORNING at eight-ten precisely Finn picked up the scalpel and knew Evie was right.
He couldn’t not be a surgeon
He’d been wasting his time, his talent, his future at
when his true calling was right here—surgery.
As he worked methodically through the steps of the quadruple bypass, as familiar to him as his own breath, the fact that the man on the table was one of the world’s richest men faded to black.
Everything faded to black.
It was just him, an open chest and a beating heart. Cutting into the pericardium, harvesting the veins, putting the patient on bypass, clamping the aorta, starting the clock, stopping the heart, grafting the veins beyond the coronary artery blockages, restarting the heart, closing up.
One hundred per cent focused. One hundred per cent absorbed.
Coming out of the zone as he stood back and peeled his gloves off, a little dazed still, as if he’d been in a trance. Registering again the smell of the mask in his nose, the trill and ping of machinery, the strains of Mozart which had been Prince Khalid’s music of choice. The murmur of voices around him as they prepared to transfer the patient to ICU.
‘Thanks, everyone,’ he acknowledged, surprised momentarily that he hadn’t been alone.
Nothing had touched him as his fingers and brain had worked in tandem. Evie had been forgotten Isaac had been forgotten. The gnawing hunger of a crappy childhood forgotten.
Just him and the knife.
Taking it all away. Centring him.
And as the outside world started to percolate in through his conscious state, he knew he needed it again.
Finn was surprised to see Evie at the canteen half an hour later when he dropped by to get something to eat on his way to check on Khalid in ICU. Surprised who she was with, anyway. She was sitting with Marco D’Avello and they looked deep in conversation. Marco reached out and touched her hand and Finn was annoyed at the quick burn of acid in his chest. Marco was married—happily married—to Emily and they’d not long had their first child.
What the hell was he doing, touching Evie in the middle of the canteen where everyone could see them?
He hadn’t pegged Marco as the straying kind.
Or Evie as a home-wrecker, for that matter.
And even though he knew that wasn’t what was going on because he
Evie, it irritated him nonetheless. And not everyone sitting in the canteen would be so forgiving.
He turned away as he placed his order but a sudden short burst of laughter from Evie had him looking back, and suddenly she was looking up and in his direction and her smile died, and for a moment they both just looked at each other before Evie stood up and headed his way.
The woman behind the counter handed Finn his sandwich and drink and he headed for the door.
He didn’t want or need any Evie Lockheart chit-chat.
‘Finn,’ Evie called as he walked out the door, her legs hurrying to catch up. Drat the man—she just wanted to ask him about the surgery. ‘Finn. Wait!’ she called again as she stepped outside. She watched as he faltered and his shoulders seemed to fall before he slowly turned to face her.
She was in baggy work scrubs—her long, lean legs outlined with each step towards him, and he averted his eyes as he waited for her to catch him up before he resumed his trajectory.
‘How’d it go?’ Evie asked as she fell into step beside him.
Evie waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t. ‘Prince Khalid came through it okay?’
He nodded. ‘I’m just going to check on him now.’
They walked some more in silence and Evie could have gleefully strangled him. ‘Well?’ she demanded when she couldn’t wait for him to be forthcoming any longer. ‘How’d it feel?’ she asked. ‘Was it good to be back?’
Finn stopped and shoved his hands on his hips. ‘Yes. Was that what you wanted to hear? That you were right? That it felt like I was coming home? Well, it did. And after I’ve been to the ICU I’m heading up to Eric Frobisher’s office to get myself back on the OR schedule. Eric, who is an arse and will make a huge song and dance over the
of it all, even though he knows I’m the best damn cardiothoracic surgeon in the country, just because he can. Are you satisfied?’
Evie wanted to be satisfied. Her heart was tapping out a jig and emotion, light and airy, bloomed in her chest. If he was here then maybe there was a chance for them. Maybe with the baby in the mix, Finn would eventually admit what she knew was in his heart.
But she didn’t want him to feel trapped.
‘I’m glad that you’re staying. But I don’t want you to be miserable.’
‘Well, you can’t have it both ways, Princess Evie. You can have me here doing what I do best, what I need to do, but if you want me to be whistling in the corridors and singing to bluebirds as they land on my shoulder, that isn’t going to happen.’
He dropped his hands and started walking again towards the lifts.
‘You don’t have to work here,’ she called after his back. What was the point if he just came to resent her more? ‘You could do this anywhere. You could walk into any hospital in this country and name your price.’
It was a startling reality for her but Evie knew that a man like Finn had to operate. Even if it meant doing it somewhere else. Didn’t they say if you loved someone you had to set them free?
Finn turned again. He knew that. He’d done nothing but turn the conundrum over and over in his brain for the last half an hour. He’d trawled through his many options but had discarded each one. Partly because Sydney Harbour Hospital had the best cardiothoracic department in the country, partly because Evie was here and he just didn’t seem to be able to stay away, but mostly because it felt like home. It was the longest he’d ever stayed anywhere and deep down Finn was still an eight-year-old boy desperate for the stability of the familiar.
‘I only work at the best,’ he said impatiently, knowing it was only a half-truth and feeling like a coward as she looked at him with her clear hazel gaze. ‘Sydney Harbour Hospital is the best.’
He marched to the lift and pushed the button. She followed. The empty lift arrived promptly. He got on.
And because he was angry that she was still right beside him and that she was always going to be around as long as he was here, smoothing away at his edges and his resistance like bloody Chinese water torture, he lashed out at the first thing that entered his head.
‘I didn’t realise you and Marco D’Avello were such pals.’
Evie frowned at the slight accusation in his voice, nervous that he might connect the dots. ‘I’m sorry?’
‘You need to be careful. You know how easily gossip starts in a place like this.’