‘Are you all right?’ he asked, his deep voice throbbing with an emotion that made her heart start to race.

‘I...I think so.’


‘Good.’

He squeezed her fingers then quickly lowered her down to the ground where another member of the crew was waiting to escort her to safety. Within seconds Bella found herself at the top of the embankment. She sat down abruptly on the grass as her head began to whirl. Maybe it was the stress of what had happened the previous day allied to the amount of blood she had lost, but all of a sudden she felt incredibly dizzy. Putting her head between her knees, she made herself breathe slowly and deeply but the feeling of faintness simply got worse. As she slid into unconsciousness, the last thing she heard was Mac’s frantic voice calling her name.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

MAC WAS ALMOST beside himself with fear by the time he returned to Dalverston General. He would have happily sold his soul to the devil if it had meant he could have gone with Bella in the ambulance that had ferried her and Katie to the hospital, but there’d been no way that he could have left Laura on her own. He’d had to stay, even though it had been the hardest thing he had ever done. Bella was injured and he needed to be with her even if it wasn’t what she wanted.

The thought weighed heavily on him as he made his way to A&E. Nick Rogers, one of the senior registrars, was on duty and he grinned when he saw Mac coming in. ‘Bit of excitement today, eh? I drew the short straw and had to stay here. Story of my life—I never get the really interesting jobs!’

Mac knew that Nick was joking and that he was as committed to his job as they all were, but he took exception to the comment. ‘You wouldn’t say that if you’d seen the state of those poor souls who were on the train,’ he snapped.

‘Sorry.’ Nick held up his hands in apology and Mac sighed, aware that he had overreacted.

‘No. It’s me. Take no notice. Anyway, you’ve got Bella in here. Can I see her?’

‘Sure. She’s in cubicle four... No, wait a sec; she’s just gone down to radiography.’

‘Radiography?’ Mac repeated. His heart gave a little jolt as he looked at Nick in horror. ‘She’s having an X-ray?’

‘Yep. That cut on her neck is deep and I wanted to check there was nothing lodged in it so I’ve sent her down for an X-ray.’

‘I was hoping it would just need stitching,’ Mac murmured, his stomach churning sickeningly. If there was something lodged in the cut—a piece of glass or a sliver of metal, perhaps—then Bella might need surgery and he couldn’t bear the thought of her having to go through such an ordeal.

‘Probably will,’ Nick replied cheerfully. ‘It’s just best to err on the side of caution, as I said.’

‘I...er... Yes, of course.’

Mac did his best to pull himself together as he thanked the other man. He knew he was overreacting but he couldn’t help it. This was Bella and he simply couldn’t take a balanced view where she was concerned. He hurried to the lift, tapping his foot with impatience as it carried him down to the radiography unit. There was nobody in the waiting room so he pressed the bell, his impatience mounting as he waited for someone to answer. When the door to one of the X-ray suites opened, he spun round, his heart leaping when he saw Bella being wheeled out by a porter.

‘Mac, what are you doing here?’ she exclaimed when she saw him. ‘I thought you’d still be at the accident.’

‘All the children have been either moved to hospital or sent home,’ he explained as he went over to her. ‘Nick told me you were here, having an X-ray done on your neck.’

‘Yes. Thankfully, there’s nothing in it. Once it’s stitched up I should be right as rain.’

She dredged up a smile but Mac could see the wariness in her eyes and realised that she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. All of a sudden he couldn’t stand it any longer, couldn’t bear to tiptoe around any more. He loved her! He wanted her! And he wanted her to know that too.

His heart was thumping as he turned to the porter and told him that he would take Dr English back to A&E. Once the man had disappeared, he pushed Bella to a quiet corner where they wouldn’t be disturbed. Crouching down in front of the wheelchair, he looked into her eyes, knowing that he was about to take the biggest gamble of his life. Telling her that he loved her had felt like a huge risk at the time, but it wasn’t nearly as massive as this. This was so enormous that it scared him witless and yet it was what he had to do if he was to have a chance of achieving what he wanted so desperately—Bella and that happy-ever-after he yearned for.

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