One Secret Night, One Secret Baby(8)

By: Charlene Sands

“Rusty was your dog, wasn’t he? He tangled under my feet and in that moment I figured it was better to fall into the cake than snuff out your dog. I would’ve crushed that little Chihuahua if my full weight landed on him.”

“What were you, twelve at the time?”

“Yes! It said so on the birthday cake I demolished.”

Dylan snorted a laugh. “At least you got to taste it. It was all over your face. The rest of us just got to watch. But it was worth it.”

“You should’ve given me my birthday kiss before your mom kindly wiped my face clean. Then maybe you wouldn’t have felt so deprived. The cake was good, you know. Chocolate marble.”

“Oh, don’t worry, Em. I wasn’t deprived.”

She stopped abruptly, taking a stand in the sand, pulling her hand free of his and folding her arms across her middle. “What’s that supposed to mean? You enjoyed seeing me fall?”

The phony pout on her face brought him a lightness that he hadn’t felt in more than a week, since before the accident.

“Oh, come on, Miss Drama Queen. It was many moons ago.” And yes, he knew stuntmen, Roy included, who couldn’t have done a better pratfall. It had been hilarious.

“Me? Drama queen? I don’t think so. I’m standing here, looking at a true-life drama king. Mr. Winner of two Academy Awards and God only knows how many Golden Globes.”

“Three.” He grinned.

She rolled her eyes. “Three,” she repeated.

He walked back to where she’d made her stand and grabbed up her hand again, tugging her along. He liked Emma Rae Bloom. She’d had a tough life, raised by neglectful foster parents. Just by the grace of all good things, she’d become his sister’s best friend, and thus, a member of the McKay clan.

They were almost back to his house. It was sundown, a time when the beach was quiet but for the waves washing upon the shore. Moonlight illuminated the water and reflected off the sand where he stopped to face Emma. “Well, you’ve succeeded where many have failed this week, Em. You’ve put a smile on my face.”

Her pert little chin lifted to him, and he balked at the urge to take her into his arms again. To kiss that mouth and feel the lushness of her long hair against his palms. She was petite in size and stature, especially without shoes on, and so different than the tall lean models and actresses he’d dated.

He wouldn’t kiss her again. But it surprised him how badly he wanted to.

He pursed his lips and went with his gut. “Hey, you know, I’ve got this charity gig coming up. If the doctors say I’m good to go, I’d love for you to join me for the meet and greet at Children’s West Hospital.”

Emma turned away from him now, to gaze out to sea. “You want me to go with you?”


“Don’t you have agents and personal assistants to do that sort of thing?”



Tucking his hands in his pockets, he shrugged. “It’s okay if you don’t want to go.”

She whipped her head around, her eyes a spark of brightness against the dim skies. “Why do you want me to go?”

“The truth? I’m a little mixed-up right now. Having a friend come along will make me feel a little safer. I haven’t been out in public since the accident. Besides, I know the kids will love you. I was going to ask Brooke, too.”

“Oh.” She ducked her head, looking sheepish. “These kids, are they all ill?”

“Mostly, yes. But many are in recovery, thank goodness. I’m slated to do a promo spot in a few days with some of the kids to raise funds and awareness about the good the hospital does. I’ve donated a little to the new wing of the hospital and I guess that’s why they’ve asked me.”

“You donated 1.3 million dollars to the new wing, Dylan. I read that online. It’s going to be amazing. The new wing will have a screening room with interactive games for the kids.”

He smiled. “So what do you say?”

“Yes, of course I’ll go.”

“Thanks, Em. Now, let’s get back inside before Brooke sends out a search party for us.”