That was her name. She’d recognized it the minute the man had spoken it. She still didn’t recognize anything about him except his voice. The nurse didn’t look familiar either. Overwhelmed with frustration and confusion, Ellie squeezed her eyes shut.
But the man yelled the word she’d barely been able to utter when she’d first regained consciousness. “Don’t!”
He touched her again; his hands on her shoulders spread tingling throughout her body as if he was a human crash cart shocking her back to life.
She opened her eyes and stared into his handsome face that was tense with concern and something very much like the fear she was feeling. She wasn’t just afraid that she’d lost her mind, though; she was afraid of what she was feeling for a stranger.
He was a stranger, wasn’t he?
He expelled a ragged breath that sounded like relief. “Good, you’re awake.”
Was she? Or was she dreaming? He was so damn good-looking. Like a prince despite his wrinkled shirt, overly long hair and that gun and holster...
Clearing her aching throat again, she whispered, “Who are you?”
“Benjamin,” he replied. “Ben Stoley.”
That name didn’t sound familiar at all—not like Ellie had. Eleanor Prentiss. That was her full name. She knew it now; she knew she was a certified public accountant for the Internal Revenue Service. That she lived alone with not even a cat for company because she traveled too much. That her mother had died when Ellie was little, and her father had a new family with young sons and a beautiful wife.
Her lips curved into a smile; she was so glad that he was happy. She wanted that for herself, that kind of love.
Ben gasped for breath, drawing her attention back to his handsome face.
“What?” she asked.
“Nothing...just...” He shook his head and looked away from her, to the nurse who stood near the door. “Where is that damn doctor?”
“On his way,” she replied, but she stepped into the hall, as if to search for him.
“I need to call your father,” Ben said.
He knew her father.
“Who are you?” she asked again, as she searched the memories rushing back to her.
His brow furrowed. “I told you—”
“I know,” she said. “Ben Stoley. I know your name. But who are you...to me?”
“We should wait for the doctor,” he said with another nervous glance at the door.
“Tell me!” she said, her voice stronger now. “Tell me who you are!”
“Your bodyguard,” he said. “Your father hired me to be your bodyguard.”
“Bodyguard?” she repeated. “Why?”
“To protect you,” he said, as if he was speaking to a dim-witted child.
“From whoever put you in the hospital,” he said. “You were attacked. Don’t you remember?”
She sucked in a breath and shook her head. The action made her dizzy, though, so dizzy that she had to close her eyes again. Somebody had tried to kill her.
And whoever it was must have not been caught yet, or she wouldn’t have a bodyguard. Fear gripped her again, not just fear over what she felt for a stranger but fear now for her life.
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