Patty’s face turned red-hot as silence met her declaration. She had no idea why she’d kept his picture. No idea why she hadn’t replaced it with one of her parents or anything else. Anything but Dax.
Because you don’t wear it to work.
And the fact that her aunt Grace had by chance found it in the back of her drawer years ago—when she was putting away laundry—was sheer dumb luck. She’d asked about the man in the picture, and Patty had told her the whole story. She’d lost the baby by then and needed someone to talk to. It wasn’t long before the fog had started winding through her aunt’s brain, and Patty could weep at the odd things she remembered. Somewhere hidden in a forgotten compartment, Grace had probably recognized Dax, but she couldn’t quite figure out the connection or remember how to express it. So she kept repeating the question about the locket.
She glanced in the rearview mirror and found Dax staring out of the window beside him. Oh God. He was probably as embarrassed as she was. Especially after what had happened in his office.
It looked like her crush had lasted far beyond high school. And for him to see it…
“I—I just haven’t worn it in a long time because of med school and work, and honestly I’d forgotten about it.” She had, but not quite in the way she made it sound. In recent years she’d forgotten about the memento tucked away out of sight. But that didn’t mean she hadn’t stared at the picture trying to will herself to take his picture out of the holder. Each time she’d put it away, telling herself she’d tackle it at some other time. That time had never come.
He didn’t say anything, and her eyes followed the road as she neared her street, swallowing back a sudden realization. She hadn’t pulled that picture out because she’d never quite closed the book on Daxon Morrow. In fact…oh Lord. How had this happened?
She still loved him. After all this time.
And working with him? No. She couldn’t do it. Couldn’t stand beside him as a surgical nurse knowing how uncomfortable he would feel knowing she’d kept his picture after all these years.
So what was she going to do?
She was going to drop her aunt off at home and make sure she was okay, then she was going to go back to work and go to the HR department and ask a huge favor. One she wasn’t sure they would grant. It wasn’t like they had a surplus of nurses to cover surgeries, especially on days when the trauma caseload exploded.
If they wouldn’t grant her favor, then she might have to do something that tore at her heart. That made a warning pressure gather behind her eyes.
She might have to leave Victoria Hospital and work at one of the smaller clinics on the island. She was trained as a nurse first and foremost, so she could work in any number of departments. She just wasn’t sure she wanted to.
But she was also sure she couldn’t go on seeing Dax every day he was at the hospital. And if his reaction to her news was anything to go by, the feeling was mutual. So it was better to sever contact now. While her pride was still intact.
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