Panic set in. Maybe she should be doing more to warm him or keep him awake. What if he died because of her ignorance? Grabbing a thick terry cloth robe from the closet, she pulled it on, then she sat down on the bed beside his hip and pressed her fingertips to the pulse in his neck, her gaze riveted to the clock on the dresser. His pulse seemed alarmingly slow. Her hands and voice shook as she smoothed the blankets around his wide shoulders and said, "About last night—I'd like you to know that I loved it when you kissed me. I didn't want you to stop there, and that's what scared me. It didn't have anything to do with the fact that you'd been in jail, it was because I … because I was losing control, and I've never had that happen before." She knew he probably wasn't hearing a word she said, and she fell silent as another spasm of deep chills racked his body. "Shivering is good," she said aloud, but she was thinking frantically for something else to do for him. A sudden vision of St. Bernard dogs with miniature kegs around their necks for people stranded by avalanches made her snap her fingers and jump to her feet. A few minutes later, she returned to his bedside holding a glass filled with brandy and brimming with excitement over what she'd heard on the kitchen radio. "Zack," she said eagerly, sitting down beside him and shoving her arm beneath his head so she could lift it to the glass, "drink some of this, and try to understand what I'm telling you: I just heard on the radio that your friend—Dominic Sandini—is in the hospital in Amarillo. He's doing better! Do you understand? He didn't die. He's conscious now. They think the inmate in the prison infirmary who gave out the false information was either mistaken or trying to turn the prisoners' protest into a full-fledged riot, and that's exactly what happened … Zack?"

After several minutes she'd managed to get only a tablespoon of brandy into him, and Julie gave up. She knew she could find the telephone he'd hidden and call for a doctor, but the doctor would recognize him and immediately call the police. They'd take him out of here and haul him back to prison, and he'd said he'd rather be dead than go back.

Tears of uncertainty and exhaustion slid from the corner of Julie's eyes as the minutes slipped past and she sat with hands folded in her lap, trying to think what to do until she finally resorted to a whispered prayer. "Please help me," she prayed. "I don't know what to do. I don't know why You brought the two of us together. I don't understand why You're making me feel this way about him or why You want me to stay with him, but somehow I think this is all Your doing. I know it because … because I haven't felt as if You were standing with Your hand on my shoulder like this since I was a little girl—when you gave the Mathisons to me."

Julie drew a long, shaky breath and brushed away a tear from the corner of her eye, but as she said the last of her prayer, she was already feeling steadier: "Please take care of us."

After a moment she looked up at Zack and watched his body tremble with more chills, then he moved lower into the covers. Realizing that he was deeply asleep, not unconscious as she'd feared, she leaned forward and pressed a light kiss to his forehead. "Keep shivering," she whispered tenderly. "Shivering is very good."

Unaware that a pair of amber eyes flickered open and then drifted closed again as she stood up, Julie went into the bathroom to take a hot shower.

Chapter 29

She was wrapping herself in the robe again when it occurred to her that she could at least find the telephone he'd hidden and call her parents to let them know she was safe. Stopping beside her bed, she laid her hand on Zack's forehead, watching him breathe. His temperature felt closer to normal, and his breathing was deeper now, in the steady rhythm of exhausted slumber. The rush of relief she felt made her knees weak as she turned to stoke up the roaring fire she'd built. Satisfied that he was warm enough, she left him to sleep and went to look for the telephone, closing the door behind her. Deciding the bedroom he'd slept in was a logical place to begin looking, she opened his bedroom door and stopped short, staring in wonder at the incredible luxury spread out before her. She'd thought her room with its stone fireplace, mirrored doors, and spacious tiled bath was the absolute height of plushness, but this room was four times as large and ten times as lavish. Mirrors lined the entire wall on her left, reflecting an enormous bed with huge skylights above it and a gorgeous white marble fireplace opposite the bed. Long windows covered the back wall then fanned out in a semicircle on the end wall to create a wide alcove for a white marble hot tub on a raised dais. A pair of curving silk sofas upholstered in an ivory-, mauve-, and seafoam-green-striped fabric were positioned by the fireplace. On the dias, on either side of the hot tub were two more overstuffed chairs and ottomans upholstered in the same colors but in a quilted flowered fabric that matched the bedspread.

Julie walked slowly forward, her feet sinking into the deep wool pile of the pale green carpeting. On her left she saw brass handles on two of the mirrored panels and she gingerly pushed them open then drew in a startled breath at the sight of a vast marble-floored sky-lit bath that was divided precisely down the center by two long marble vanities with double sinks and a mirrored half wall above them. Each half of the bathroom had its own enormous shower stall enclosed in clear glass and its own marble tub with gold fittings.

Although the rest of the house could have been furnished to suit a man or a woman, there was no mistaking the feminine touches that had given this suite an aura of inviting opulence that would surely make a man feel as if he'd been invited into a woman's private boudoir. Julie had read in some home furnishing magazine that married men who were confident of their own masculinity rarely objected to their wives' desires for feminine bedrooms and, in fact, rather enjoyed the implied illicitness of invading a formerly "forbidden" domain. Until that moment, she'd thought the notion odd, but as she noted the subtle touches designed for a man like the huge bed and comfortable, overstuffed chairs by the hot tub, she decided the theory had definite merit.

She headed for the door to the walk-in closet that opened off the right half of the bathroom and went inside to look for the telephone. After a thorough and fruitless search of both closets and all the drawers in the bedroom, Julie yielded to temptation and borrowed a red silk Japanese kimono embroidered in gold threads from the woman's closet. She chose that partly because it was sure to fit and partly because she had a helpless urge to look nice if Zack woke up before morning. She was tying the belt around her waist wondering where on earth he'd hidden the phone when she remembered the small closet in the hall, the one with a deadlock on it. She went straight to it and tried the knob, and when it proved to be locked tight, she tiptoed into her own bedroom. She found the key where she expected it to be—in the pocket of his soaked trousers.


Tags: Judith McNaught Second Opportunities Billionaire Romance
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