Authors: J. S. Scott
Mine Forever (Book 3: The Billionaire's Obsession Trilogy)
By J. S. Scott
Copyright© 2012 by J.S. Scott
All Rights Reserved
Kara opened her eyes slowly, blinking several times to clear her blurred vision, and feeling like her head was in a vise. Temporarily disoriented, she lifted her hand to her head, poking at it experimentally only to feel her forehead wrapped with gauze.
What the hell?
Her memory returned slowly, trickling back in bits and pieces.
Sam and his apology. The attack. Sam and two other unknown men saving her life.
She remembered waking briefly several times in the Emergency Room, Simon right next to her holding her hand, murmuring encouraging words while she...
...had she really thrown up all over him?
Right after the attack, everything had been so intense: the dizziness, the nausea, the blurred vision, the desire to escape back into the darkness and blissful relief of sleep.
Her surroundings were dim, the only light illuminating what appeared to be a hospital room a small square and narrow overhead light near the door.
Her eyes scanned the room. It was set up for double occupancy, but the bed beside her was empty and completely undisturbed.
Compared to the way she had felt in the Emergency Room, the headache she was experiencing seemed like a major improvement. Her stomach was slightly queasy and she obviously had suffered an open wound to her forehead, but she was still alive. She sucked in a deep, tremulous breath, releasing it slowly as a wave of adrenaline washed over her body, experiencing some delayed anxiety from the experience that had happened...uh...when?
Crap...I really need to get my head together!
Squinting at the clock, she could see that it was four a.m. Nine hours had passed since the terrifying experience that had left her alone in a hospital room, thanking the Almighty that she was still among the living.
She flinched as she moved her left arm, stretching the tubing of the I.V. that was inserted in the back of her hand, causing stress at the insertion site.
Damn, that hurt.
Replacing the limb to its former position, she attempted to cautiously stretch her other arm, finding it trapped, encapsulated inside of a large, strong, warm prison.
"Simon," she whispered softly, suddenly realizing that she wasn't alone, her eyes landing on the place where their skin touched, finding his fingers entwined with hers, his head resting next to their joined hands, his eyes closed.
Her heart contracted as her gaze swept over him, taking in every feature of his beloved, handsome face. She drank in the sight of him, feeling as if it had been forever since she had seen that handsome face. Even in sleep, he looked tense and fierce, the lock of wayward hair that slithered over his forehead the only thing that softened his appearance in slumber.
Slowly disentangling their entwined fingers, she stroked his hair back, enjoying the texture of the thick, disheveled strands between her fingers.
Had he been here all night? Had he ever left the hospital?
He was dressed in a pair of light blue hospital scrubs, a sure sign that her memory of tossing her cookies down the front of what was probably a very expensive sweater, was probably accurate.
I love you.
The recollection that she had spoken those words between retching violently and feeling like she was about to die made her hand stop pawing his hair and her body tense with trepidation.
Oh God, did I really say those words to him?
Yeah, she had said them - the memory flashed vividly in her mind. Knowing that she had babbled that particular phrase to him, she pulled her hand completely away, wondering how he had taken those words, or if he had even really heard them. At the time, she had been desperate to say them, to let him know how she felt in case she didn't make it through the night. With no idea what her injuries actually were, she hadn't hesitated to say them, didn't want something to happen without him knowing how much she cared.
Now that she knew that she was obviously going to live, she wasn't so sure that she should have confessed, bared her soul.
"Kara!" Simon shot up into a sitting position, his hand reaching reflexively for hers, twining their fingers back together. He was instantly awake, his eyes jerking to her face, scanning it with obvious uneasiness. "You're awake."
Her throat was dry, her tongue felt like it was swollen enough to take up the entire space of her oral cavity. She reached for a cup of water from the bedside table. Simon sprang from his chair, reaching it first, unwrapping a straw and placing it into the plastic cup, before directing it to her mouth. She took slow sips, her hand covering his as she let the moisture slide over her tongue. "Where am I?" she asked quietly, licking the moisture from her lips.
He told her what hospital was she in and explained that her CT scan was normal, but they were keeping her overnight for observation. "You have several stitches from a cut on your forehead. From what Sam told me, you're damn lucky they didn't crack your skull." Simon's was voice was rough and slightly irritated.
"I have a hard head." She answered lightly, remembering the force of the blows, amazed that she had suffered nothing more than a few stitches and a hammering headache.
He shot her an aggravated look. "Like I haven't noticed?" Setting the glass down on the bedside table, his eyes locked with hers, staring intently, his gaze like liquid fire. "You're never leaving me again. Ever."
Her breath hitched as she looked at him, fascinated, unable to break the compelling, silent communication. "Forever is long time." she answered, unable to come up with a more intelligent response while his eyes were shooting volatile sparks, a clear warning he was about to get stubborn.
"I don't give a fuck. You're going back home with me, and I'm not leaving your safety in the hands of a few green security agents. If Sam hadn't been there..."
"He saved my life, Simon. Your brother risked his life for me," she murmured, silently Sam for being there, for getting to her before those men had gotten her into the car.
I'd be dead if he hadn't.
Running a frustrated hand through his already-tortured hair, he growled, "He damn well should have seen you home. And the security guys were inexperienced. They should have been tailing you so close that they could hear you breathe. Their reaction time was unacceptable."
"I left. I didn't give Sam a chance to offer to take me home. He was asking questions about Maddie and I wanted to leave. And the agents got there fast. These guys were quick. It all happened in seconds."
Even though it seemed like hours.
"Sam shouldn't have been there at all. You would have been home and safe," he rumbled, his chest vibrating with emotion.
She squeezed his hand. "You don't know that. They might have gotten to me anyway. It could have been worse if Sam hadn't been there. Please don't blame Sam or the agents. I'm grateful to all of them."
"Doesn't matter. You're coming home with me tomorrow. And you'll have better security than the President Of The United States. Even Maddie agrees that you're safer at the condo. Although I'm not sure she's thrilled about you being in such close proximity to any Hudson." He sat back down in the chair without releasing his powerful grip on her hand or his intense, relentless stare.
"Maddie was here?" she asked curiously, wondering how her friend even knew that she had been injured.
"She just left an hour or two ago. I called her. She was here all evening. You don't remember?"
She shook her head. "Everything that happened after the actual attack is just snippets of memory. Did I really vomit on you?"
"You remember that?" He searched her face, looking for something, as though he were trying to figure out what she did and didn't remember. "Maddie found me a pair of scrubs and a shower after you got settled in a room.
"Oh God. I'm sorry." Was there anything more mortifying than puking all over a man like Simon Hudson?
"Why? You didn't do it on purpose. And I was actually relieved that you were awake."
Kara found it pretty damn amazing that a man had actually stood beside her, holding an emesis basin while she heaved, without being completely grossed out. "Is Sam all right?"
"Fine." He barked a short, humorless laugh. "Except for the fact that he had to be in the same room with Maddie Reynolds. Sam looked uncomfortable as hell and Maddie looked like she wanted to kill Sam, slowly and painfully."
"I wish I knew what happened between them," she breathed wistfully, wincing as the squeezing sensation in her head increased in intensity, beginning to feel as if she had a huge boa constrictor wrapped around her head.
Simon frowned. "You want some pain medication? I can call the nurse." He reached for the call button.
"No. Wait." She took a deep breath, knowing she had to set Simon straight. Going back to the condo with him wasn't an option. "I can't go home with you, Simon. I'll go back to Maddie's. I'll be fine. They caught one guy and the other one is probably running scared. I doubt his main concern is to come after me."
His body tensed, the pressure on her hand increasing as his fingers clenched and released, shooting her a dangerous glance. "The matter isn't up for debate. You. Are. Coming. With. Me." he answered with a growl.
She released a frustrated breath. "You aren't my keeper. I don't need one. I've been alone for a long time." And lonely, missing Simon, although she hadn't known who she was missing at the time.
The pain was horrific when I was away from him. I can't go through another goodbye later. Spending any more time with him is dangerous. It will just hurt twice as much to part from him after spending more time with him, making more memories to torture myself with when I'm alone again.
"Yeah...well...get used to having company, sweetheart," he snorted, his eyes gleaming with possession, his expression raw and feral. "As long as you're in danger, I won't be very far away. And you won't be without protection."
She shuddered, trying to pull her hand from his fierce grip. He wasn't hurting her and his grasp wasn't tight enough to make her uncomfortable. It was actually just the opposite. Simon made her feel safe, and that terrified her. There was no possible way she could let herself get used to being treated like she was actually a woman he cherished. "You can't tell me what to do. We've only known each other for a handful of weeks. Why are you concerning yourself about my safety?" Her voice was rough, emotional and probably slightly panicky. She needed to distance herself, but it was difficult. Needy and raw after her experience the night before, she wanted nothing more than to throw herself into Simon's arms and let him hold her there, safe in his warm masculine embrace until she recovered her equilibrium.
"Your safety has been my concern for over a fucking year!" he blasted back at her, his voice low and husky. "And there hasn't been a day that has passed in all that time when I haven't been completely obsessed with whether or not you were safe."
"But we just met a few weeks ago..." Her voice was barely audible, confused.
He blew out an uneven breath, his face ravaged with uncertainty as he looked away, staring blankly at the sterile, white wall in front of him. "Mom talked about you all the time. She pointed you out to me over a year ago while you were serving in the restaurant." He sighed, as though resigned to completing his explanation. "I can't really explain it because I don't understand it myself, but from
moment on, I felt compelled to look out for you. Fuck, I even followed you home every night just to make sure you got to your apartment safely."
Stunned, she asked in a hesitant voice, "Like I was your friend because I was a friend of your mother's?"
He turned his head and gave her heated, masculine look. "No. Like a goddamn obsession that I couldn't control. Like you're mine to protect." He hit her with his I-want-to-fuck-you-until-you-scream stare, the heat rolling from him in waves.
Should it bother her that Simon had been watching her, following her like a pseudo stalker? Maybe it should, but it didn't. Instead, she felt eerily calm, her heart melting inside her chest as she watched his tortured expression. He had stayed in the background, silently watching over her like a dark guardian angel, never expecting anything in return. Thinking back on her conversation with Helen at the restaurant, she was relieved to see that Simon's protective, rescuer instincts were still intact. "Why me? There must be tons of women who could use your protection."
Simon shrugged, but the intense look on his face was far from nonchalant. "I have no idea. You're the only woman who’s ever made me feel this way." He choked out the last few words, obliviously damn unhappy about his lack of control, his inability to control his actions.
She shook her head gently, still trying to come to terms with the fact that Simon had been trying to protect her for the last year. Really, what sort of guy did something like that? What gorgeous billionaire took the time to check on the safety of a nobody, a woman who kept a low profile, a woman who should have been far beneath his notice. She didn't think herself beneath anyone simply because she was poor...but reality was reality. Men of Simon's status simply didn't notice women like her. They were too busy building more wealth, being king of their empires. "Looking out for me because I was your mother's friend was very kind of you. But you can't protect me forever."