His bid for a bride(8)

By: Carole Mortimer

Besides, despite what Falkner might have implied on his arrival, she hadn’t spent all of the last week lying around in bed feeling sorry for herself, had been walking about the room, and into the adjoining bathroom, for several days now.

It was what awaited her outside this room that Skye was having trouble facing up to…

Somehow, cocooned inside the clinical atmosphere of the hospital, with no responsibilities except to take her medicine when instructed, and eat the food that was placed in front of her, she had made this her reality, what had happened the previous week becoming artificial, the previous six months before that dreamlike. But she knew only too well that once she stepped outside this room…!

‘I can manage,’ she assured Falkner abruptly. ‘Thank you,’ she added belatedly.

He nodded in brief acknowledgement of this slight softening on her part. ‘Take your time. I’ll go and get myself a coffee in the waiting-room down the hallway.’ He turned away, the permanent damage to his right leg becoming more apparent as he moved awkwardly across the room.

He had moved so gracefully six years ago, Skye recalled frowningly, each movement fluid and purposeful. She wondered if the leg still pained him. Although she knew just from their brief meeting six years ago that he wouldn’t welcome her curiosity. Or her pity.

‘Falkner,’ she called after him, her voice quivering with uncertainty now.

He glanced back at her, his hand already on the door handle. ‘Yes?’ His own tone was almost wary.

Skye moistened dry lips before answering. ‘You mentioned earlier that you were—you were taking me home,’ she reminded him frowningly.

‘I did.’ He nodded abruptly. ‘To my home, Skye. I’m taking you to my home,’ he repeated firmly, his gaze challenging, as if he were already prepared for her to argue with him.

He was taking her to that run-down house of mellow stone, set in its acres of beautiful countryside, with its stables now empty of the most beautiful horses Skye had ever seen…

‘Fine.’ Skye nodded slowly. ‘That’s absolutely fine,’ she repeated evenly.

Falkner looked at her for several long, searching seconds, before giving an abrupt nod of his head. ‘I’ll be waiting down the corridor when you’re ready to leave,’ he repeated softly. ‘And don’t worry about the reporters outside; I’ve already arranged for us to leave by a staff entrance.’

‘Thank you.’ Her smile was tremulous, although she already accepted that Falkner seemed able to ‘arrange’ most things he set his mind to.

She could imagine nothing worse than a repeat of the incident when, by subterfuge, a reporter had managed to gain entrance to her room earlier in the week, the man’s camera clicking in her face even as he fired questions at her. Questions that Skye still remembered with horror.

‘You’re more than welcome,’ Falkner assured her quietly before closing the door softly behind him as he left the room.

Skye didn’t move for several seconds, couldn’t move, totally overwhelmed at this kindness from a man she hadn’t believed, six years ago, was capable of the emotion.

A man she had been totally in love with for those six years.


‘FALKNER, exactly why are you doing this?’ Skye asked wearily.

She had taken one look in the mirror when she’d entered the bathroom earlier, and groaned with dismay at her appearance; it was worse than she had thought.

Her hair stuck up in greasy spikes, there was a huge bruise down the left side of her face where she had been thrown against the car door—also the reason for her concussion—her black eye had turned to all the colours of the rainbow but predominantly a sickly yellow, her face otherwise deathly pale. She had also lost weight, she discovered when she pulled on denims and a black tee shirt, the clothes much looser on her than they had been a week ago.

One thing she was sure of: Falkner wasn’t being kind to her because he was overwhelmed by her beauty.

He glanced at her only briefly as she sat beside him in the green Range Rover, Skye having tactfully turned away minutes ago as he’d levered himself awkwardly behind the wheel. ‘Would you have preferred it if I had left you to face those reporters on your own?’ he rasped grimly.

Despite his precaution of taking her out of the hospital through a staff entrance, a couple of enterprising reporters had pre-empted them, Falkner’s hand tightly gripping Skye’s arm as he’d pushed his way forcefully by them to see her safely seated in his car before, his mouth a grimly set line, he’d moved round the vehicle to get in beside her, answering none of the questions fired at them.