Grey’s Anatomy meets Monday Night Football.
Heat and heart clash in this rollercoaster of a love story.
Finding out I’m going to be a dad knocks me off my self-destructive path and makes me determined to do the right thing.
I know I’m going to be there for my child, no matter what.
But will the mother of my baby ever trust me enough to give me a second chance with her heart?
After weeks of rollercoaster uncertainty, suddenly I’m not by myself anymore on this journey to parenthood.
When Noah tells me he wants to be an involved dad, I don’t realize just how hands-on he plans to be.
I’m determined to protect my heart from his seductive smolder, but damn, he’s not making it easy to keep things all business.
Sometimes, I forget why I need to fight this feeling . . .
The second trilogy in the best-selling Diagnosis: Love world is made up of two SHAMELESS CLIFFIES before the finale. You’ve been warned. The books release a week apart, so your angst doesn’t have to last long–and the happily ever after in book three is worth the journey.
“What time is it, anyway? Feels like it’s late, but I’m so woozy, I can’t really tell.” I yawned.
“Just after nine.” Noah settled into a chair that didn’t look very comfortable.
I sighed. “Okay. Well, you should probably head home now.” I paused. “Do you need to call for a car?”
“Nope, I’m back among the driving population, thanks very much. And I’m not going home. I’m staying here with you tonight.”
“Oh, no, you’re not,” I objected. “Don’t be ridiculous, Noah. I’m fine. You heard Maggie. I’m here with all the doctors and nurses . . . all I plan to do for the next twelve or thirteen hours is get as much sleep as I can. There’s nothing for you to do.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m staying.” He patted the arm of the chair and then leaned back until it reclined and a footrest popped out. “I told them I wasn’t going home, so the nurse arranged for a sleeping chair for me. She’s bringing an extra pillow and blanket in a minute.”
I wanted to argue with him some more, but I was too tired, and my headache was returning. “Okay. Do whatever you want.”
A nurse came in a few minutes later with Noah’s blanket and pillow. She fussed over him, telling us both how sweet it was to see such a devoted man. He smirked and looked satisfied, and I would’ve rolled my eyes if I wasn’t feeling so shitty.
She gave me another dose of acetaminophen, hung another bag of fluids, and dimmed the lights on her way out. The room wasn’t completely dark—that was almost unheard of in a hospital—but it was as restful as it was going to get. I closed my eyes.
I heard Noah making himself comfortable, grunting as he adjusted the pillow and the chair. When he’d stopped moving around, he sighed softly.
“Noah,” I murmured. “Thank you.”
He cleared his throat. “For what?”
“For coming to the hospital today. For staying with me tonight. For making sure I wasn’t alone.” Somehow, it was easier to say these things in the quiet dark.
“You don’t have to thank me for that, sweetheart. I was glad I could be here.” His voice was a little muffled by the pillow, but I heard him anyway.
“I was scared,” I admitted, my hand fisting under the sheet.
“I know. I was, too.” He shifted, and the chair squeaked, complaining. I had a hunch that such recliners were not designed for guys as big as Noah. “Which reminds me. I’d like you to change your emergency contact to me when you get back to work. If Emma hadn’t been on your file today, I wouldn’t have known what was happening.”
I was too tired to argue, and besides, Noah had a point. “All right. I’ll update it as soon as I can.”
We were both quiet for a few moments before Noah spoke again. “Remember when we were here together right after I’d been hurt? When I was in the ER, and no one was doing anything, and I was in so much pain?”
“Of course, I remember that. I felt so terrible for you.”
“I was scared that day, and you sat with me and made me feel better. You kept my mind off all the nightmare scenarios that were dancing around my head. So consider this payback in part.”
I smiled in the dark. The meds were doing their job, and the headache was beginning to ebb. “All right. If you say so.”
I heard the steady, comforting rhythm of Noah’s breathing. I held on tight to that sound, foolishly glad that he was here, that he’d insisted on staying with me.
“You know, I was thinking before, when you were asleep, that you know pretty much everything that I’ve been doing since the last time we saw each other—I mean, since before my surgery,” he amended quickly. “You know I’ve been screwing things up left and right. But other than trying to get in touch with me, I have no idea what’s gone on in your life.” The chair squealed again. “What new projects have you done in your house? How’s everything in your office?”
I took a deep breath, thinking. “I finished the master bathroom.”
“How did it turn out?”
“It’s beautiful. I love it. The tub is old-fashioned, but it’s huge and deep . . . so comfortable. The colors are exactly what I wanted. It might be my favorite room in the house now.”
“Mmmmm. Can’t wait to see it.” Noah yawned. “What else has been new?”
I thought about the crazy, tumultuous ride the last few months had been. “Oh, I flew to California to see Daneen. Remember I told you about my last foster mothers, Daneen and Lana?”
“Yeah, I remember. Lana passed away a little while back, and Daneen’s in a home, right? Dementia?”
I was gratified and oddly touched that he’d remember. “Yeah, that’s it. She has congestive heart failure, and her doctor thought I should come to visit sooner than later.”
“How was she?”
I hesitated. “Good. Not as bad as I’d feared, but she didn’t know me . . .” I thought back to the few days I’d spent with her. “The first day, she talked about me. I mean, she talked about Alison, not recognizing that I am Alison, you know? And she said something about Lana doing some digging into who my parents were. If what she told me really happened, Lana found out that my mother had planned to keep me until the last minute. My biological father might have been a dangerous man—or he was in trouble with someone—whatever the reason, my birth mother thought it was safer to leave me than to take me home.”
“That’s wild.” Noah sounded genuinely intrigued. “Are you going to follow up on that? See if you can figure out who your parents were?”
I shook my head, even though I was pretty sure he couldn’t see me. “I don’t think so. Not now . . . maybe not ever. If it’s true and my mother really did leave me at the hospital because she thought I’d be safer, I could be stirring up something that’s better left alone. If it isn’t true . . .” I trailed off. “I’d rather not know. I’ve thought about what Daneen said, and it’s just so in character with who Lana was—and who Daneen was, too. Daneen always said it didn’t matter where we came from, it was where we were going. I think she would’ve been a little pissed that Lana went ahead and looked into it when Daneen didn’t think it made any difference. So maybe it’s true. It makes me feel a little more at peace when I think of my birth mother. Maybe she really did do the most noble thing she could.”
“Hmmmm.” Noah grunted. “Well, if you ever decide you want to take it further, find out more, I’d be happy to help however I could.”
I closed my eyes again and listened to Noah’s breath growing slower and more even. I smiled, picturing his body contorted into some semi-comfortable position on the recliner. It was such a peaceful feeling, knowing he was near me.
Before long, I was sleeping, too.