At the sound of feminine laughter, laughter that sounded a lot like CJ’s tinkling laugh, coming from the direction of the waiting room, Ethan stopped his thoughts from progressing into the dark abyss, and quickly finished his work before heading out to where she was.
Sure enough, CJ was there, sitting in one of the waiting-room chairs, her feet up on a stack of magazines on the coffee table. Donna was leaning against the receptionist counter and Tania was twirling a pen between her fingers. His gaze settled back on CJ, pleased to see her resting.
‘How did everything go?’ He wasn’t going to beat around the bush. She was his colleague and he was worried about her.
‘Good.’ She smiled brightly and rubbed her belly.
‘Blood pressure is down, swelling is within normal parameters and the baby’s head is engaged. I’ve also done a urine test—all clear, no protein.’ Donna was the one to give him the medical report and he smiled at her before taking a closer look at CJ’s ankles for himself. Yes, they were good. The tension started to leave him now that he knew she really was OK.
‘Are you all right?’ CJ asked him softly as the telephone rang. Tania answered it and told Donna it was for her. Donna headed off to her consulting room and Tania went to the bathroom. It wasn’t until they were alone that she reiterated the question.
‘Yes, I’m fine. It’s you I’ve been concerned about.’
‘Of course.’ He sat down in the chair opposite her, the coffee table between them.
‘Why? Because, as I’m sure you know, a lot of things can go wrong in the last trimester. It’s better to be safe than sorry.’
CJ smiled. ‘Are you always this adamant with the patients? Don’t get me wrong,’ she continued before he could respond, ‘it’s a good thing, especially in general practice.’
‘Not all surgeons are scalpel happy,’ he replied. ‘Some of us actually do care about our patients.’ Even as he said the words, he knew he hadn’t been as concerned about some of his patients as he should have been. It was simply because he hadn’t wanted to engage with the personal aspect, preferring to leave that up to his registrars. Getting personally involved with people would have required the wall he’d built around his heart to be broken down and he hadn’t been ready for that. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for it now but whether he wanted that wall to come down or not, it was happening and it was all because of the woman opposite him.
‘Ready for house calls?’ she asked, lifting her feet from the table and shifting in her chair, preparing to lever herself up. Ethan was quickly at her side, holding out his hands to help her up. ‘Thank you.’ As she stood, he once again found himself in close proximity to her hypnotic gaze and encompassing scent.
Neither of them moved; neither of them seemed to be breathing. The world around them had come to a standstill, as though they’d somehow been able to press the pause button in order to concentrate on exactly what was flowing between them.
‘You smell really good.’ Her words were barely audible and he couldn’t help but stare at her perfectly shaped mouth, wondering if it would taste as good as it looked.
‘So do you,’ he returned.
‘Stop looking at me like that.’ CJ’s gaze was flicking between his eyes and his mouth and he realised in that one split moment that whatever it was he was feeling towards her—something that had no name and no real substance—was reciprocated. She could feel it, too.
‘I can’t seem to help myself.’
‘None of this makes any sense.’ Again her words were so softly spoken it was as though they were communicating telepathically.
‘But it’s there. We’re not imagining this?’
‘If we are, then we’re both sharing the same dream.’
‘I want you to kiss me but if you do, I don’t know what it will mean and that just confuses me further.’
There it was again, that complete and utter sense of open honesty that summed up CJ’s entire personality. All her words did was to fan the fire deep within him, the fire that he hadn’t even realised had been reignited, the fire of desire, of passion, of need. How was it possible for his world to have been tipped upside down so fast?
‘I want to kiss you.’ He kept his gaze trained on her mouth as he spoke, shaking his head slowly from side to side. ‘I know it’s wrong and stupid and impulsive and confusing but the desire is there. I don’t know how or why…’ He breathed slowly as he closed the small distance between them, drawn to her as though it was the most natural thing in the world. He was still holding her hands, still touching her, and whether it was that combined with the pheromones surrounding them that propelled him to within the close proximity of her mouth, there didn’t seem to be any force there to stop him.