Prologue

Bella

I opened my eyes and stared into the gray eyes of the man I was hopelessly in love with. For a moment, I wondered if I’d died and gone to heaven. Blake Alexander was the man of my dreams and if heaven were a perfect place, when I died, I’d be in his arms, with him loving me for eternity.

“I’ve called 9-1-1.” A voice informed Blake. I looked around and saw other faces, then it came to me. I wasn’t in heaven. I was in the boardroom of JoXander Cosmetics. I was laying on the floor although I wasn’t sure why. One minute I was upright, having just stood to bring a report to Blake, the CEO of JoXander and in the next, everything went black. Clearly, this wasn’t heaven and the concern I saw in Blake’s eyes wasn’t love or devotion.

Unrequited love was torturous. Sure, he cared for me. There must be some affection because I don’t think he’d touch me the way he did if he didn’t like me a little. But he didn’t love me. He would never love me. No, everything he had to give a woman had all been taken by his deceased wife.

My heart broke for him to have a love like he had with his wife taken away by cancer. At the same time, I was jealous of the woman who owned his heart and soul, even in death. Not meanly, my envy was tempered by my admiration for a man who could love so deeply and stay so devoted to his wife’s memory.

“Bella.” Blake’s deep voice reverberated in my chest, reminding me of the emptiness I felt even as I loved him. “Are you in pain?”

I shook my head. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened.” I moved to get up, but he wouldn’t let me.

“Just stay down. We’ve called for an ambulance.”

“I don’t want to go to the hospital.” I was mortified to be laying on the boardroom floor with all the important company execs staring down at me. I was an executive assistant, and my job was crucial to Blake’s success. But most of the board thought of me as a glorified secretary.

“Too bad.” He inhaled deeply, and for a moment, I thought I saw emotion in his eyes. But maybe it was my imagination or wishful thinking because I blinked and it was gone.

A few minutes later, paramedics came in and poked and prodded me while asking questions. Had I eaten? Did I have a head injury? On and on. They seemed to think I’d simply fainted, but Blake insisted they take me to the hospital.

“Bl—Mr. Alexander, really, I’m okay. I just need to rest.” I tried again to have him let me go home to regain my dignity.

Blake’s intense gaze told me I had no choice.

“It’s best to be sure,” Dana Gleason, Blake’s actual secretary said to me. “You’re too young to be passing out.” She turned to Blake. “I can go with her to the hospital, Mr. Alexander.”

I looked to him, wondering what he’d do.

He shook his head. “She’s on my time, I’ll go with her. Check with the other interns to see if they’re all right. Maybe she ate something with the others and they could be at risk too.”

“You can’t ride in the ambulance, but you can meet us at the hospital.” The EMS guy gave Blake the hospital name.

“Anything she needs, take care of it,” Blake said.

I still thought it was overkill to take me to the hospital, but I didn’t have the mental will to fight or the physical strength to get up and walk out on my own. So I let them strap me to a gurney and wheel me through the executive office to the elevator, and then out onto the street where they put me in the ambulance.

I zoned out until I was in some sort of triage area at the hospital with nurses taking over the poking, prodding, and questioning routine. They took blood and urine and then told me to wait.

It seemed like forever before a nurse came in. “Ms. Hanson, do you want us to send your father back?”

“Father?” Why would my dad be here? How would they know him? I didn’t even know him.

“He’s out in the waiting area.”

Oh, God. “That’s not my dad. That’s my boss.” I hoped they hadn’t asked him if I was his daughter. That would be a disaster.

“Do you have family we can call?”

“Am I dying?” Suddenly, I was afraid and wished my mother was still alive.

“No honey.” The nurse moved to stand closer to my bed. “It can be scary to be at the hospital so if there’s family we can call—”

“I don’t have a family.”

She gave me that expression most people did when they learned I didn’t have a family. A mixture of pity and uncertainty of how to respond. “Well, that will be changing.”


Tags: Victoria Snow Beautiful Mistakes Romance
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