The Doctor's Fake Fiancée

By: Victoria James

He allowed himself a rapid perusal. Emerald eyes, dark hair, full red lips. Her shiny hair was disheveled, in a heap on top of her head. And her clothes were frumpy. Jeans that disguised her shape were swallowed up by an oversize dark jacket. But her face was undeniably beautiful. No amount of cheap, poorly fitted clothing could hide that. When her gaze met his, he felt a jolt deep in his gut. He glanced down at the little boy holding her hand. He had a mop of wavy, dark hair and judging from his height was probably around four years old. Evan’s hand curled around the medical chart, gripping it tightly. He swallowed past the lump in his throat as the child looked up at him. He’d never forget those eyes. They were deep green, identical to his mother’s, and Evan was struck by the memory of him trapped in that car seat. Or maybe it was because he still felt the imprint of the little boy’s fists against his shoulders as he pulled him out of the car, seconds before it had burst into flames, the explosion knocking them to the ground.

The woman cleared her throat. “Are you Dr. Evan Manning?”

He nodded and crossed the room. The kid was looking at him with pupils that had taken on a comically large size as he walked toward them.

“Oh, Dr. Manning, my name is Grace Matheson, and I have been looking for you for over a year. I cannot begin to thank you for what you did—”

The kid lunged forward, looking like he couldn’t fully control his limbs. “You’re a superhero—”

“Shh, Chris.” Grace grasped the back of his shirt, reining him in. “I can’t believe…I don’t know what would have happened to us if you hadn’t saved us.”

They’d be dead. Not that he could say that aloud. Especially not with the little boy in the room.

Her son tugged at her arm. “Give him my picture.”

“Oh right. Here, Christopher drew this,” she said with a hesitant smile. She thrust a drawing at him. Evan looked down at it, frowning. He had no idea what the giant blob of red and yellow was supposed to resemble. He eyed the little boy and then cleared his throat. “This is, uh, really some nice work you’ve got here.”

The kid beamed. In fact, he looked like a piñata, ready to burst. Then the Grace woman shoved a crinkly package at him. “I baked these for you. They are Christopher’s favorite muffins—”

“They’re sooooo good. You’ll love’m! Try one!”

“Chris, maybe Dr. Manning doesn’t want a muffin right now,” she whispered.

Evan shot the boy a smile. He didn’t know what the hell to say to these people. “Thanks. You didn’t have to do all this.” He gestured to the picture in one hand and the muffins in the other. He placed them on the examination table. He felt…odd. Touched. As an ER doctor and surgeon, he didn’t really have to form relationships with patients. And in his personal life, he never dated women with kids. And Alexandra hated anyone remotely resembling a child. Kids had never really been in the cards for him, so he always found himself kind of awkward around them, like they might call him out on the fact that he didn’t know what he was doing. The only two that had ever had a hold on him were his niece and nephew. Luckily for him, they probably assumed his weirdness was due to the gene pool he shared with their fathers.

“Are you going to eat one?”

This kid was persistent. “Not right now, but as soon as I have a second, I’m sure I will.”

The woman was frowning slightly, pulling her full lower lip with her teeth. It was a nice lower lip. Not that he should be noticing. He forced his eyes up.

“I’m sorry that we burst in here without warning. I had just been searching for you for so long, and I couldn’t go on thinking that the man who’d saved us never even had a thank-you. Christopher had the day off school and I…well, I didn’t have anywhere to be this morning, so I thought it was the perfect time to come out here and say it.” Her dark green eyes locked with his, and something stirred in him. It must have been the earnest way in which she spoke. There was no bullshit, no agenda, just simplicity. And his lackluster welcome was obviously now making her embarrassed.

He gave her a slight nod. “I’m just glad it all turned out okay.”

Her smile faltered and what looked like disappointment flickered across her face. He didn’t know what she’d been expecting, but he could tell he wasn’t delivering it.

“Well, we’d better get back to Toronto.” she said, backing up and tugging her son along. “I, uh, have a job interview later this afternoon.” She retreated a few more steps until she bumped into the door, her cheeks gaining color.

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