You are viewing this site in an old browser or Internet Explorer compatiblity mode.
You can continue to use our site but it may not work properly or display correctly.
add to basket
Successfully added to your bag
SUBMIT

Miracle Babies at Paddington's Children's Hospital

Written by Annie O'Neil

Chapter Eight

Fight or flight kicked in in exactly the opposite way Zach had planned.

He’d chosen flight and just a few steps away from the hospital blinkin’ fight reared its head. Big time.

The mission was simple. Bring the flowers. Apologise. Go back to the rehab hospital and tell everyone he’d made peace with his past.

Boom.

He could’ve lied. Could’ve said anything.

But something deep in his chest was demanding the truth. No mystery what that was. His heart.

The second he’d locked eyes with Isla he knew walking away would be impossible. Every bit as painful as realising his leg was missing. Maybe more.

Again, it was hard to get a full glimpse of her as she was on the far side of a gurney surrounded by medical personnel and wasn’t the tallest of women—petite even—but he could’ve picked her out of a crowd of thousands.

She was glowing from the inside out. Beautiful. The same untameable curly hair trying its best to escape the clasp she’d bundled it into. The same dark brown eyes full of empathy and warmth. Capable. Assured. Just…the most perfect woman he’d ever met.

There was no way she’d want a man like him. Put through the war machine for one last tour only to come out as damaged goods.

He’d promised to come back for her. Promised to give her everything she’d ever wanted. A home. A family.

And that was the plan. From the moment he’d landed in Helmand Province it had been chaos. Local tribal clashes, families caught in the crossfire, horrific injuries keeping him and anyone else he could grab at the operating table as long as he could stay awake. Snatched hours of sleep were for survival and nothing more. There were no spare moments. No time to send addresses. Email links. Nothing at all.

And that hadn’t been the plan. Of course she’d laughed when he semi-proposed to her before he left, but he’d made a silent vow to himself that he would make good on that promise and just nine short days into his tour he knew he would fail.

He wasn’t the strong, able-bodied, vital man who’d pulled Isla Reid into his arms and kissed her as if she were the very thing that kept his heart beating.

The first two months in hospital he hadn’t mentioned her name. Couldn’t. It was only in one particularly painful rehab session it had come out. A painful wolf howl scoured raw with loss and the ache of knowing all he’d ever wanted for her was beyond his reach.

He couldn’t believe he’d let the PTSD shrink talk him into coming here. Make amends for leaving her hanging. The guilt had been near enough eating him alive but at least the gnawing, aching sensation of loss took his mind off the other things that were missing.

His leg.

His ability to have children.

He stared at the roses for a moment as if he was holding a fistful of weeds. What had possessed him to come and say sorry and goodbye with the symbol of love? Life might’ve been unnecessarily cruel to him but it was no reason to grind salt into Isla’s wounds. If she had any.

Who knew? A woman that beautiful could’ve more than easily moved on by now.

 

Like this? Why not share it

About the author

Annie O’Neil spent the bulk of her childhood in the library, nos...

Read more
Annie O'Neil

Discover more free stories

View all

Reunited on Wedding Island

Written by Sophie Pembroke

While working at a high society wedding on beautiful La Isla Marina, Haven Hapsgood is shocked to encounter A-list actor Miles Jackson. After their one disastrous blind date, she’d hoped never to lay eyes on him again. Haven’s learned the hard way that fame is fickle and the celebrity lifestyle is one she wants no part of…until it becomes clear that there’s more to gorgeous, charming Miles than meets the eye… Dare Haven give the striking connection between them another chance?

Masked Seduction

Written by Stefanie London

When Jason Allbrook gets an email from a “secret admirer,” he laughs it off. Then he receives a package containing a masquerade mask and a request to meet at the Carmina Ball. Dedicated to the family business, Jason has been working twelve-hour days without any thought to his own wants…or needs. Maybe he should meet this masked seductress. After all, how could anyone dare resist such an enticing offer?

Ready for another rendezvous? Look for more books in the Melbourne After Dark miniseries: Unmasked by Stefanie London, available now from Mills & Boon Dare, and Hard Deal, available in September 2018.

statushh