“Yes, we do,” Patty said. “I was actually just coming to find you.”
“You were?” Maybe she was going to explain why she’d left. Except there was a wariness in her face that didn’t bode well for open communication.
“I was. I honestly didn’t want to face you after what happened with my aunt, but then I realized I was keeping something from you. I did that once before, and it turned out to be a disaster. So here goes.” She bit her lip for a second before straightening her spine and looking him in the eye. “I love you. I don’t think I ever stopped loving you.”
Patty’s blurted words couldn’t have shocked him more. Because he’d come to the same conclusion just minutes after stepping out of the operating room this morning. It had taken him exactly three seconds to screw up the courage to come and tell her.
Her eyes shut and then reopened. “I know the feeling isn’t mutual, but I wanted you to know. And that I now realize how wrong it was for me to have kept the pregnancy from you. It was just that—”
He grabbed her up in his arms before she had a chance to finish her sentence. “Thank God.”
“What?” She went completely still, the whispered word barely audible.
The elevator doors opened, and two nurses came out. They stared at them for a few seconds and then smiled at each other as they walked past them. He grinned back, his heart suddenly lighter than it had been in years.
“Let’s go outside. Where we’ll have some privacy.”
They found themselves on a bench flanked by two huge bougainvilleas, their pink flowers littering the ground at their feet. It was the perfect place to tell her how he felt. “I love you, too. Believe it or not, I came down here to ask you if you’d left the surgical floor because of me.”
She shifted on the bench to face him. “I did. After you found out about my locket, it just seemed too awful to have to face you, especially when I realized the reason I could never bring myself to remove your picture from it. I’d shoved it to the back of a drawer back then, hoping I could just forget it was there.”
“But your aunt remembered.”
“Yes. She remembers the funniest things sometimes.”
His fingers tipped her face toward him, his thumb sliding over the tiny groove in her chin. “I’m glad she did.”
“Yes. Because I kept something, too.” He chuckled. “I actually bought an engagement ring before I left for Antigua.”
Her smile faded. “Oh Dax, I had no idea.”
“I know. It was an impulse buy. But I knew then that I wanted to marry you someday. I still do.”
He nodded. “The ring is in a safe-deposit box back on St. Lucia. But as soon as I can get over there to get it…” He paused. “Is there a chance I can put it on your finger?”
“Yes. Oh yes.” Her eyes glistened as she cupped his face and stared at him. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
“Believe it.” He bent down to kiss her. “I do love you.”
“Same.” She sighed against his mouth. “Unfortunately I have to be back on the floor in a few minutes.”
“And I have another surgery in a half hour. But tonight?”
He twined his fingers through hers and pulled her to her feet. Together they walked back toward the entrance to the hospital.
“I hope to see your name back on the surgical board.”
She nudged him with her shoulder. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
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