Emergency Engagement (Love Emergency)

By: Samanthe Beck

Maybe, but little sis had apparently blabbed the tidbit about her expectations for last night’s dinner, and now she had to manage not only her own disappointment, but that of her parents…and her neighbor’s parents, which would be substantial, judging by the happy tears coursing down Mrs. Montgomery’s cheeks and the ear-to-ear smile stretched across Mr. Montgomery’s face. She could understand his parents’ surprise, but why were they reacting like an engagement was some kind of miracle? What was wrong with this guy?

Sinclair nudged her. Right. Miracle or not, he needed a doctor. She slipped the heels on, took the clutch, and immediately flashed back to giving the shoes and purse a haphazard toss in her haste to peel herself out of her perfect “pop the question” dress last night after arriving home empty-handed, with Mitch’s version of a proposal still ringing in her ears.

Up until yesterday she’d been able to tell herself life wasn’t a total disaster. The big, sparkling career opportunity that had enticed her to Atlanta from Athens had flamed out—and burned her good in the process—but at least her personal life had looked promising. Looks, as it turned out, could be deceiving.

“Sinclair,” Beau called over his shoulder while the dads maneuvered him out of the room. “My apartment is next door, and I’ve got stuff in the oven, too.”

“No worries. I can handle double duty.” She tugged Savannah down the hall and whispered, “Neighbors. So cute. Is that how you two met…er…reconnected?”

“Yes. I mean no.” She took a breath and tried again. “I mean, yes, he’s my neighbor, but I wouldn’t say we reconnected.”

Sinclair stopped at the front door, squeezed Savannah’s arm, and released her. “Aw. Was it like you’d known each other all along? I expect to hear every detail when you get back from the hospital.”

“Savannahhhhh,” her mother called from the stairwell. “It’s chilly outside. Could you bring Beau a shirt?”

“Cooooming.” She shook her head at Sinclair, as if one simple gesture could magically melt the snowballing assumptions coming at her from every direction, and hurried into his apartment.

She zipped through to the bedroom, barely pausing to tug a black flannel shirt off a hanger in a frighteningly organized closet before rushing to catch up with the rest of the group. Still, her artist’s eye translated her surroundings into thoughts. Sparse. Tidy. Impersonal. This guy took minimalism to the extreme.

The ride to the hospital passed in a blur. She helped Beau into the shirt, ridiculously sad to watch his breathtaking array of muscles disappear behind a veil of flannel. Her hormones did a shameful little cheer when he abandoned his one-handed buttoning to basically drive from the backseat, relaying directions to her mom with remarkable clarity for a guy clutching a towel to his bleeding head. Then again, given his job, he could probably find the hospital blindfolded.

At least someone kept his attention on the road. Her mom’s eyes continuously strayed, connecting with hers in the rearview mirror. They brimmed with questions. When she pulled into the hospital parking lot, she said, “I predicted this. Way back when Beau was barely a newborn and I found out Bill and I were having a girl, I said, ‘I’ll bet they end up married.’”

Mrs. Montgomery smiled back at them, still wiping tears off her cheeks.

Savannah couldn’t take it anymore. Someone had to set everyone straight, and apparently it was going to be her. But then Beau put his hand on her knee—a warm, steady, thought-derailing hand—and said, “Mom, everything’s fine. Please stop crying.”

“I can’t help it, honey. I’m just so happy. Not about your head, of course, but about you and Savannah.”

“Mrs. Montgomery, Mom—”

“Can you let us off up here at the ER entrance?” The hand on her knee tightened as Beau spoke. Probably a reflex on his part to fight the pain, but the latent power inherent in the unconscious show of strength blindsided her with all kinds of inappropriate thoughts. That hand, tightening on her bare skin, parting her knees, and then slowly sliding up her thigh… Jeez, she’d kept this attraction corked for half a year, but half a day after things with Mitch imploded, the genie was out of the bottle. And the genie was horny as hell.

Now you know what six months of mediocre sex does to a girl.

Her mom skidded to a stop at the red curb, jostling a groan out of Beau and forcing him to move his hand from her knee to the seat back to keep from lurching forward.

He recovered fast, because he was out of the SUV before Savannah even unlatched her seat belt. She bounded out after him, wobbling a little in the high heels, and inwardly cringing at her ensemble. Paint-splotched black thermals featuring compromising handprints, and silver peekaboo stilettos. Whatever. They’d surely seen worse at the ER.

She slid under his right arm while his mom took the left. A black sedan pulled up to the curb behind the Navigator, and her dad stepped out.

“Here, let me.” He switched places with Mrs. Montgomery. “Cheryl, go on ahead and get him signed in. We’ll be right behind you.” Tires squealed against asphalt as her mom pulled away. Savannah and her father walked Beau through the automatic doors leading to the nearly empty emergency room.

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