‘Sure.’ She jerked her thumb towards the hospital. ‘I’d better have that scan.’
He nodded again, then took a step towards her and said softly, ‘Let me know the results.’
CJ held his gaze and there it was again…a zinging of awareness between them, as though there was something happening between them that neither of them had either asked for, or wanted.
‘I…uh…had hoped to be there but I have…’ He pointed towards the waiting room.
She shook her head and smiled at his words. How sweet of him. ‘Oh, it’s OK. Of course you’re busy and if anyone’s going to understand—’
‘It’s you,’ he finished for her. And there it was again, the undercurrent of a conversation they weren’t articulating. CJ licked her suddenly dry lips and Ethan’s gaze dropped to follow the action with great interest. ‘I, uh…checked in on you this morning to ensure you were OK but you were sleeping. Very soundly,’ he added as an afterthought, that gorgeous smile of his appearing and creating havoc with her heart.
It took a moment for her to realise what he was saying, and her eyes widened in mortification. ‘I was snoring!’ She raised her hands to cover her face and was rewarded with a soft chuckle from Ethan. The sound washed over her and filled her with utter delight before she removed her hands and heaved a heavy sigh. ‘Well, you’ve already heard me being ill so let’s just add snoring to the list.’
‘Were you sick this morning?’
‘No. Actually, I wasn’t.’ It wasn’t until he’d asked the question that she realised she hadn’t even thought about it.
‘Probably because you were able to sleep in and not rush around first thing in the morning.’
‘More than likely.’ She smiled at him once more. ‘And it’s all thanks to you.’
He held up his hands but his smile was still in place. ‘Hey, I’m just here doing my job. I’m not a hero or a saint.’
‘Are you still here?’ Donna remarked as she walked towards the two of them. Ethan quickly stepped back, putting distance between himself and CJ.
‘I was just checking to see how Ethan was coping,’ CJ remarked.
‘He’s doing fine. Now come on, the sonographer is waiting for you.’ Donna put her hand in the middle of CJ’s back, urging her forward. ‘Let Ethan get back to work. He still has several patients to see before house calls this afternoon.’
‘I’ll see you then,’ CJ said to Ethan over her shoulder as Donna continued to usher her towards the hospital. Ethan knew he shouldn’t stand there and watch her go but it was only a second later that she disappeared from view.
‘What the heck just happened?’ he whispered to himself as he headed to the waiting room to call his next patient through. As he worked his way through the rest of the clinic, he kept his questions at the back of his mind. Why was it that whenever he was within close proximity to CJ he couldn’t stop staring at her mouth? He’d told her about his wife, how he was a widower, so clearly she understood that he was a man who hadn’t dealt with his grief…didn’t she? Perhaps he needed to make it clear that he wasn’t interested in a relationship with anyone. He’d told her he wanted to just do his work and when his contract was up he planned to return to his life in Sydney.
But as he wrote up the notes for his last patient, he couldn’t help but compare the life he’d had in that small apartment to the one he now enjoyed here. Although he’d only been in Pridham for less than a week, with the people he’d met, the acceptance he’d received, the support he’d been given, he had to admit he found it quite encompassing. He’d been able to breathe deeply, to fill his lungs completely and without stabbing pains. When he’d checked his own blood pressure, it was to find it at a far more acceptable reading and he was actually sleeping three to four hours per night. How could he be seeing such incredible results in such a short space of time?
Was it down to CJ’s easygoing manner? He did like hearing the sound of her voice, he did like seeing her smile and, more importantly, he liked being the one to make her smile. He liked the way she smelled, of sunshine and happiness. He liked her gumption, that she accepted her lot in life and was prepared to get on with what needed doing. She wasn’t wallowing in a pit of despair, lamenting about being left as a single parent. Naturally she had concerns and he was honoured that she’d felt comfortable enough to share them with him, and that he’d been able to do something to help.
He glanced at the clock on the wall. She should well and truly be done with her ultrasound by now and he wondered what the results were. Was she feeling more relaxed, more at ease? Was her blood pressure stable? Did she have any excess swelling around her ankles? He wanted to remain vigilant, to ensure she didn’t fall victim to the same condition that had taken his wife. Granted, the circumstances were different and CJ was definitely looking after herself, but pre-eclampsia could turn to eclampsia far too quickly and then…