Page 7 of The Secret Father

Lindy made a last-ditch attempt to recapture some of her legendary cool and failed miserably. She was staring, her eyes travelling upwards from his feet. She knew it, but was helpless to do anything else. He stretched up to switch on the shower and the muscles in his torso rippled.

On screen she’d seen he had a sexy, beautiful body, but the intimacy of a cinema was illusionary. In the flesh, quite literally, the basic earthiness of his appeal made a physical impact. From the spasm in her stomach and her dry, tight throat to the heavy, leaden sensation in her uncooperative limbs, she was transfixed by the spectacle.

‘Have you seen enough, or are you planning on joining me?’ The satiny quality of his deep voice had never been more apparent. ‘You do look as if you could do with cooling down,’ he observed. ‘If we’re going to be sharing a roof perhaps we should get the ground rules sorted out up front. It gives a guy a certain feeling of insecurity when even his bathroom isn’t private. I’ve had to deal with some determined fans in my time, but this is a first!’

It was the taunting quality in his voice that did it, made her react so childishly. The ‘you’re no different from all the others’ tone that made her hackles rise—and the disturbing possibility that there was the merest grain of truth in his words. The sponge was lying on the edge of the washbasin; she picked it up and lobbed it at his smirking face. Her aim was spot on: the saturated missile landed square in his face.

She wasn’t quite sure which one of them was more surprised by her action, but Sam was the first to recover. ‘Maybe this will cool you down.’ He redirected the angle of the shower head towards her and she let out a shriek as the water hit her. Blinded by the water, she closed her eyes and reached out blindly for a towel.

The grunt of pain came after she collided with a solid object. Out of the direct line of fire she wiped her face on the sleeve of her silk blouse. ‘Of all the stupid things,’ she squeaked. ‘Turn that thing off!’

It was at that point she saw the blood, drops of it on the tiled floor. Medically speaking, she knew that a little blood could look like a lot, but from a more personal viewpoint the sight made her stomach lurch. It wasn’t much more comforting when she looked at Sam. He was leaning against the wall, his hand raised to his nose, from which a steady flow of blood was seeping. He looked more bemused than distressed.

‘How…?’

‘You head-butted me,’ he informed her.

‘I didn’t mean…’ she began, her eyes widening in dismay. ‘I couldn’t see what I was doing.’

‘Hope mentioned nothing about homicidal tendencies. I seem to recall ‘‘quiet’’ was mentioned, and ‘‘needs bringing out of herself’’ featured somewhere in there.’

‘I feel guilty enough as it is,’ she said from between clenched teeth.

‘Good,’ he replied, his voice muffled by his hand.

She completed the job he’d begun and got completely drenched as she reached in the shower cubicle and turned off the water. ‘Let me see,’ she said, adopting a professional tone. She’d probably never felt less professional in her entire life, but now wasn’t the moment to ponder that circumstance. ‘I am a doctor.’

‘Trade can’t be so bad you have to go out assaulting innocent bystanders.’

‘You are not innocent,’ she said feelingly. ‘It doesn’t look too bad,’ she observed with some relief. ‘Hold it here, like so.’ She took his thumb and forefinger and demonstrated on her own nose where he should apply the pressure. ‘Not on me,’ she said, frustrated by his flippant attitude. She removed his fingers from her own small straight nose. ‘We could do with some ice and a first-aid kit.’

‘Speak for yourself. I could do with a drink; I’m in shock.’

‘If you were, which you’re not,’ she said, eyeing his healthy colour with a certain degree of resentment, ‘the last thing you’d need would be alcohol.’

‘Hope has a first-aid kit in the kitchen and the refrigerator’s there, too.’

Leaving a trail of wet footprints behind her, Lindy made her way to the galley kitchen which was divided from the living area by a peninsula of fitted cupboards.

‘Top cupboard on the right,’ said Sam, who had followed her.

‘Don’t release the pressure; you’re dripping everywhere,’ she censured.

‘Yes, Doctor,’ he said meekly.

Lindy gave him a sharp look; he was giving the impression of someone who was enjoying himself, which, unless he was seriously abnormal, couldn’t be the case!

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