Broken (The Broken Series Book 1) (6 page)

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When I dared look back up at Jack, I was relieved to see he didn’t look angry.

But he was looking at me oddly, like he was trying to study me.
 

“I’m not that sensitive, Kristina. You don’t have to watch what you say around me. Do you understand? I couldn’t stand that. It’s the worst thing about this. Everybody tiptoes around me. You’ve got to promise you won’t do that.”

His dark eyes burned into me, and I felt like I was melting under his gaze. He was so intense.

I nodded. “Yeah, I promise.”

7

The rest of the morning passed agonizingly slowly. I was constantly on edge, trying to anticipate what Jack would like me to do, and I could feel the irritation coming off him in waves.

I didn’t know what was wrong with me. When he wasn’t looking, my eyes fixed hungrily on his body, and I took the chance to study him. If I carried on like this, it wouldn’t be long before he noticed.

I needed to snap out of it. Sure, he was devastatingly good-looking, but so were lots of other guys. This was my job, and I was here to help him, not lust after him. But no matter how hard I tried to stop myself, I couldn’t help picturing him how I’d seen him that morning: bare-chested and damn hot.

After his shower, Jack had changed into jeans and a white t-shirt. The t-shirt fitted him like a second skin. His muscled arms and sculpted shoulders were shown off to their best advantage by the t-shirt, which didn’t exactly help curb my lust. I tried my best to pretend not to notice.

I got through the rest of the day without any more screw-ups and without annoying Jack too much. We sat outside for a while in the sun. He read a book while I hovered around him, anxious to please.
 

I knew it was irritating him, but I couldn’t seem to stop.
 

At around noon, Maria brought us lunch and we ate together. I was very glad of that. I didn’t fancy preparing another meal with Jack watching my every move.

Later that afternoon, Jack seemed to relax a little, and I started to think for the first time that this job might not be a complete nightmare after all. But that all changed at four pm.
 

Maria arrived looking sheepish and told Jack he had a visitor.

Jack’s eyes snapped up from the book he’d been reading and his shoulders tensed. “A visitor? Who?”

I looked at Maria, thinking it was odd that she looked so nervous. Her hands were clasped in front of her and she stared down at her feet rather than looking at Jack.
 

“It’s Ms. Roberts, Jack.”
 

The transformation in Jack was amazing. He was so calm a moment ago but now he was tenser than I’d ever seen him. He slapped the palms of his hands onto the arms of his wheelchair.
 

“I told her not to come back here.”

Maria stood there, wringing her hands, obviously not knowing how to handle the situation.

I sat beside Jack and wondered if I should intervene. I could feel the stress and anger coming off Jack in waves. It couldn’t be good for him. At the same time, I was intrigued. I wanted to know who this Ms. Roberts was and why she had gotten Jack so worked up.
 

“Send her away,” Jack snapped. “And don’t let her in again.”

“I’m sorry, Jack,” Maria began, but before she had a chance to say anything else, a tall blonde woman, dressed in skin tight jeans and an extremely low cut top, burst into the room.
 

Her baby blonde hair had been styled to within an inch of its life, and her makeup was immaculate, although a little heavy for this time of day.
 

“Don’t be ridiculous, Jack,” she drawled. “I want to see you.”

“We don’t always get what we want,” Jack said and moved his wheelchair so that he turned his back to her.
 

I looked from Jack to Ms. Roberts and then to Maria. What should I do? Should I leave them to it and let them carry on their conversation in private? Or should I stay? I hated to admit it, but curiosity had the better of me. I wanted to know what was going on.

At that moment, the blonde Ms. Roberts seemed to notice my presence. “I’d like to be alone with Jack, thank you.”
 

She nodded at me and then at Maria, dismissing us.

I hesitated for just a moment and then began to walk towards the door when Jack turned.

“Where do you think you’re going, Kristina?” he said.

“I’m going to give you some privacy,” I said. “I’ll just wait outside until you need me.”

“No, you won’t. You’ll stay here,” Jack said.

He turned to Ms. Roberts and said, “This is Kristina, my nurse. She stays with me. She’s here to keep me company.”

What he did next astounded me.

He held out his hand and beckoned me. I walked to his side, taking tiny steps and feeling ridiculously self-conscious.
 

When I reached his side, he took my hand in his. I looked at him not understanding what he was doing, but he wasn’t looking at me. He was giving the blonde Ms. Roberts a triumphant smile.
 

My skin was tingling as the warmth of his touch spread up my fingers and along my arm. I was not sure what Jack’s plan was, but I knew he was making me a part of it.
 

Was he trying to make her jealous?

“Fine,” Ms. Roberts said.
 

She threw her handbag down onto the couch, and then parked her skinny backside down next to it. She eased herself back against the cushions and crossed her jean-encased, scrawny legs. She was wearing the highest heels I have ever seen. She leaned forward slightly, flashing her cleavage. I was pretty sure that was deliberate.
 

I was starting to dislike this woman.

Jack moved his other hand and trailed a finger along my arm. “Anything you want to say to me you can say in front of Kristina.”
 

I shivered involuntarily. I couldn’t hide my reaction. I didn’t know how he was doing this. It was just the lightest of touches, but I could feel an unwanted heat throbbing between my legs. I was so annoyed with my body’s betrayal. It was hardly a romantic environment and he was just touching my arm for goodness sake, but I could feel the dampness growing between my thighs.
 

Ms. Roberts narrowed her eyes and glared at me. Yep, I was right the first time. He was trying to make her jealous.
 

I was pretty mad right now, but I didn’t know what to do to change the situation, so I just stood there quietly fuming, trying to ignore the pleasurable thrills that ran through my body as Jack’s fingers caressed my arm.

The pad of his thumb circled a sensitive spot just below my wrist, and I couldn’t help imagining his thumb doing that on another part of my body. I bit down on my lip.

“You’re new, aren’t you?” Ms. Roberts said to me.
 

I nodded. “Yes.”
 

I couldn’t say more than that. I had no idea how he was doing this to me, but the pleasurable tingles shooting through me made it impossible to form a coherent sentence.

“Well, you don’t much look like a nurse.”

Despite Jack’s distractions, I bristled. “And what exactly are nurses supposed to look like?”
 

Jack laughed and squeezed my hand. I tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t let me. His grip tightened.

“Look, Jack, this is just ridiculous,” Ms. Roberts said. “You won’t see me … You won’t talk to me.”

“Why should I?” Jack’s voice was low, and even though I barely knew him, I recognized that this was dangerous territory. Jack was ready to explode. There was nothing I could do but watch.
 

“If you remember, Joanna,” he said her name like it was something disgusting, “shortly after I lost the use of my legs in the accident, you dumped me. I think that pretty much ended your right to drop in for a chat whenever you feel like it.”
 

Joanna’s lips tightened. “You shouldn’t act like this, Jack. It’s very juvenile.” She tossed her long blonde hair.
 

Jack leaned back in his chair. “What do you want, Joanna? Spit it out. We do have other things to do today.”

She smiled then, a small cold smile that made me nervous. I didn’t like this woman at all. Before I realized what I was doing my hand had tightened around Jack’s. I felt his eyes on me, but I didn’t turn. I kept my gaze fixed on Joanna, waiting.

“I wanted you to be one of the first to know. I’m engaged,” she said.
 

If it hadn’t been for the pause before he answered, that fraction of a second he took to compose the next sentence, I wouldn’t have thought he was bothered at all. His tone remained calm and even. “Fantastic, congratulations.”

“Don’t you want to know who the lucky guy is?” Joanna’s mouth stretched into a smirk.

I felt Jack’s hand slip from mine and he looked down. I didn’t know whether it was a subconscious gesture, but he looked down at his legs.
 

“Not really,” he said.

She got to her feet, grabbing her purse and throwing the strap over her shoulder. “Fine. Look, Jack, I’m trying to be an adult about this. I was going to invite you to the wedding. We’re not children, we should be able to handle this with a little bit of class.”

“Class,” Jack spat the word back at her. “That isn’t something you’d know anything about.”
 

She reared back as if Jack had hit her. “Honestly, I just can’t talk to you when you’re like this.”

“I wish you wouldn’t talk to me at all,” Jack muttered as Joanna walked past us.
 

“I heard that,” she said, pressing a hand to her cleavage as if his words wounded her.
 

She stalked over to the door, put her hand on the door handle and said, “It’s Carlos. We’re getting married next month.” And with that she left the room, slamming the door behind her.
 

I turned to see Jack’s reaction.

His face was like thunder. I didn’t know who Carlos was, but Jack obviously hadn’t been expecting that revelation.
 

“Well, that was… um, interesting,” I said, wanting to break the awkward silence.

Jack looked at me as if he only just remembered I was still there.
 

“That’s one word for it,” he said.

8

Jack didn’t speak much for the rest of the afternoon even though I tried to get him talking.
 

I asked him questions about the photographs he had on the wall. In one he was wearing his racing gear and standing next to his Formula One car. In others, he was holding up various trophies and prize cups and grinning for the camera.

He wasn’t rude, but he just gave me one word answers. He didn’t snap at me once for the rest of the afternoon, and I knew it was crazy, but I almost wished I had the prickly, sarcastic Jack back. I didn’t know how to handle this moody, monosyllabic side of his character.

Maria showed up at about five pm to ask Jack about his requirements for dinner. She was all smiles and happiness, despite the fact she hadn’t had her usual time off this afternoon because two other members of staff were on vacation. It was so nice to see her after the solemn hour I’d spent alone with Jack.
 

Maria chatted away to me, telling me the best sights to see in Monaco while I was here.
 
I smiled and nodded at her politely. I wasn’t sure how much time I would have off, but I hoped to spend a little time exploring the island with Lauren, so I listened gratefully to all the anecdotes Maria told me about the island.
 

Eventually, Maria noticed that Jack was very quiet. “Are you okay, Jack?”

“Fine,” he said with a curt nod.

Maria frowned. It was obvious Jack was anything but fine. “Would you like me to bring your dinner on a tray tonight? Or are you having dinner with your brother?”
 

“I’ll have it on a tray, thanks. I’m feeling tired tonight,” Jack said.
 

Then he looked up at me, and as I gazed back, I saw his eyes were no longer dark with anger. They seemed to me to be full of pain. “You don’t have to hang around anymore, Kristina. You can go and see your friend or whatever…”
 

“Oh, I don’t mind staying,” I said. “I can stay here and fix dinner for you, if you’d like?” For some reason, despite the stress of the day, I didn’t want to leave him.

Jack shook his head. “I’m beat. I’m just going to get an early night.”
 

As Jack wheeled himself away, Maria shot me a look. “Is he okay? He seems worse than ever.”

“I don’t think it was anything I did…” I said and I really hoped that it wasn’t. “I think the visit from Joanna upset him.”
 

Maria scowled and looked over her shoulder to really make sure Jack had really left the room.
 

“She’s not very nice,” Maria said in a whisper. “He’s better off without her.”

I was sure that Maria was right. Joanna didn’t seem like a nice person. But I was sure Jack would have preferred to end the relationship himself rather than have it ended because of his accident.
 

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