Emergency Engagement (Love Emergency)

By: Samanthe Beck

The registration clerk recognized Beau, which probably accounted for why they were whisked into an exam room immediately. A moment later her mom and Mr. Montgomery joined them, and she found herself sitting on the exam table, hip-to-hip with Beau, while questions and congratulations from both sets of parents swirled around them.

Her attention fixed on the wide, capable hand once again resting on her knee. His fingertips brushed along the waffled cotton of her leggings. Heat from the seemingly casual touch seeped through the barrier and burned her skin.

“You two win the Jack Bauer award for covert ops.”

Mr. Montgomery’s comment provoked laughter and some good-natured speculation from the peanut gallery. She shifted uncomfortably, and Beau’s arm brushed the side of her breast. His slow inhale made her think maybe he had gotten a gander at the girls in their black lace finery while she’d used the hem of her shirt to tend to his cut. At least somebody enjoyed the view. Despite the cynical thought, the notion sent a wave of tingles through her—all the way from the arches of her feet to the tips of her breasts. Goose bumps rose on her forearms.

“I hope you’re not planning on a long engagement.”

Beau answered her mom by saying they hadn’t given the matter any thought, which was true, but misleading. She raised her eyes to find his, but the yellow stamp of her handprint on the thigh of his jeans claimed her attention, and she nearly shivered at the memory of granite muscles under supple denim.

“What do you think about a spring wedding in Magnolia Grove?” his mom wanted to know.

“And the reception at the country club,” her mom added. “Whitney Sloan had her reception there, remember, Bill? She had all those little paper lanterns in the trees.”

Cheryl sighed. “Sounds magical…”

Without permission, Savannah’s eyes searched out the other handprint, and widened at the impressive ridge forming behind the comparatively dainty impression. Her throat went dry, and her palm suddenly itched.

Beau’s soft groan barely reached her ears. He casually widened his legs until the tail of his shirt slipped down to cover his fly.

“How soon will I get a grandbaby?”

The last question startled her out of her stupor. “Mom!”

He squeezed her knee again. She looked up at him in time to see a muscle tick in his jaw, and then a new voice broke into the chaos.

“Folks, I’m Dr. West, and I hate to break up the party, but I need two-thirds of the population of this room to relocate to the waiting area.”

Savannah swiveled her head to find a middle-aged African-American woman in dark blue scrubs framed by the doorway. She started to jump down from the table, but the hand on her knee held her in place. Their parents moved to the door instead, and funneled out under the doctor’s watchful eye, still immersed in talk of weddings and grandchildren.

“Montgomery, you are the last ugly white boy I expected to see in my ER today.”

He found a smile for her. “Delilah, you know I can’t stay away from you.”

“Hmm. Don’t be sweet-talking me when you’ve got a pretty young thing sitting beside you.” She rolled her eyes and grinned at Savannah. “Some men have absolutely no game. Honey”—she approached, wrapped a paper bracelet around Beau’s wrist, and motioned for him to move the towel—“what craziness did this fool resort to just to get your attention?”

“It’s my fault,” Savannah answered, her guilt mounting as the doctor frowned at the gash. “He surprised me and I accidentally knocked him in the head with a paint can. He lost consciousness.”

“I was stunned for a second.”

“You lost consciousness. He could have a concussion or…I don’t know…brain damage.” Otherwise, he’d have already put the kibosh on the ridiculous engagement misunderstanding.

Light brown eyes narrowed and cut to her. “I don’t have brain damage.”

Dr. West clicked her tongue and gingerly tipped his head down to more closely examine the wound. “Heck no, sugar. You’d have to have a brain first, which you clearly do not, seeing as how you don’t know better than to sneak up on a person.” She patted his shoulder. “You’re going to need stitches for sure, but I want to get a CT before we close you up.” She made her way to the door. “Sit tight. Someone will be in to take you down to radiology soon.”

And then they were alone, for what felt like the first time. Her and this near-stranger—a man both sets of parents believed to be the love of her life, her husband-to-be, not to mention the father of her unborn children. How had things spiraled out of control so quickly?

She looked down. The yellow handprint on the front of her shirt filled her vision. Oh, yeah. There was that. She slid off the table and tried adjusting the henley, but no matter how she arranged the fabric, the stamp of his large hand found its way back to her breast. Resigned, she turned to face him. “I’ll go set them straight.”

He raised his head. His gaze landed on the imprint of his palm on her shirt and turned hot. Her chest tightened. The heated inspection continued up her throat, and stalled again at her mouth. She couldn’t keep from licking her lips. Slowly, inevitably, those amber eyes found hers—like double shots of Johnnie Walker Gold, and twice as potent.

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