One Secret Night, One Secret Baby(11)

By: Charlene Sands

“Nothing much. I spoke with Darren on the phone and my manager stopped by to check on me tonight. To be honest, I’m going a little stir-crazy.”

“You’re used to being busy.”

“I can’t wait to get back to work. But then, I’m dreading it at the same time.”

“I get it. It’s because of Roy. It’ll be strange for you to go about your daily routine knowing that he’s gone and you’re going on with your life.”

“How come you’re so smart, Em?”

“I got lucky in the brains department I guess.” She chewed on her lip. She still wasn’t comfortable speaking to Dylan with this big black cloud hanging over her head. It made her feel guilty and disingenuous. And why was he suddenly her best friend? Did that knock to his head change his perspective? They’d always been cordial, but since his rise to celebrity status, she hadn’t exactly been on his radar. All of a sudden, he was behaving as if they were best buds.

He was disoriented. Fuzzy in the brain. And in need of someone he could trust. But as soon as he was comfortable in his own skin again, things would change. She had no doubt. Dylan was a busy, busy man, sought after by the masses and the media, with who knew how many opportunities for work.

She scrunched up her face. Don’t get used to his attention, Emma.

“Well, I won’t keep you,” he said. “I’m calling to confirm our date.”

Date? A bad choice of words. “You mean the hospital thing?”

“Yes, it’s this Friday morning. How about I swing by your place around nine to pick you up?”

“That’s fine. I’m still not sure of my part in all this, but I’m happy to help out.”

“You are helping out. You’re helping me.”

The way he said it, with such deep sincerity, tugged her heart in ten different ways. And it dawned on her that it wasn’t just returning to work he was partially dreading, but going out in public for the first time with everyone expecting to see Dylan McKay back in true form. That was clearly worrying him. He didn’t know if he was ready for that. He needed the support of his sister and friend.

“And you’re going to make a difference in a lot of children’s lives.”

“I hope to. See you around nine, Em. Sleep tight.”

“You, too.”

Emma ended the call and sat there for a few minutes taking it all in again. She had to stop dwelling on Dylan McKay. Food usually kept her mind occupied. But oddly, she wasn’t hungry. In fact, the thought of eating right now turned her stomach, so she nixed that plan and picked up the TV remote. She hit the on button and her small flat-screen lit up the dark room. The channel, tuned to the local network, was airing a movie. She settled back, propping up her feet, and stared ahead.

Dylan McKay’s handsome face popped up, filling most of the screen, his bone-melting blue eyes gazing into the pretty face of Hollywood’s latest darling, Sophie Adams. The cowboy and his girl were about to ride into the sunset. The camera zoomed in for the movie-ending kiss, and just like that, something cold and painful snared Emma’s heart as Dylan’s mouth locked onto Sophie’s.

Hitting the off button did little to calm her. Why couldn’t she get away from Dylan?

Falling for the unattainable was romantic suicide. She wasn’t that stupid.

She’d just have to get over her secret dibs.

End of story.

* * *

She was ready at precisely nine o’clock. When the doorbell rang, she took a quick glance in the mirror, checking her upswept hairstyle, snowy-white pants and the sherbet-pink blazer she wore over a dotted swiss top. A tiny locket nestled at the base of her throat; that, silver stud earrings and a fashionable chunky watch were all the jewelry she’d opted for. She was going for a professional look without appearing unapproachable to the children. A little thrill ran through her body. Seeing Dylan aside, she was looking forward to meeting the kids, knowing firsthand how hard it was for a youngster to be outside the mainstream. She’d been one of those kids. Lucky for her, she had been healthy, but she’d been different, unloved and unwanted, and she’d never really felt as if she belonged.