A Husband's Regret (The Unwanted Series)(3)

By: Natasha Anders

“. . . Is she? What . . . she do . . . so bad?” Bronwyn strained to open her eyes but it felt like a colossal effort.

“. . . Deserted Bryce . . . needed her most . . .”

Bronwyn managed a weak gasp at that, outraged by this blatant lie. The couple went abruptly silent.

“. . . Waking up,” the woman said urgently. “. . . The doctor! Now, Rick!”

Doctor? Bronwyn frowned. Why a doctor? For the first time since regaining consciousness she wondered where she was and managed to drag her heavy lids apart with great effort. She stared up into the vaguely recognizable features of a pretty woman who seemed to be a couple of years younger than Bronwyn’s twenty-eight. The woman’s warm smile transformed her gentle features from plain to almost pretty and had the effect of immediately calming Bronwyn down.

“Try not to panic,” she instructed gently. “You passed out at work. At first we assumed it was shock but your fever and pallor soon made it pretty clear that you’re seriously ill.” Her sea-green eyes were grave behind the lenses of her trendy prescription eyeglasses, and her voice took on a chastising tone. “You should never have been at work in that condition. You should take better care of yourself.”

Bronwyn frowned, wondering who the woman was, before deciding that being offended by her admonishment would require way too much of her strength. Clearly she was going to need that strength in the face of Rick’s unexpected and unprecedented hostility. An alarming thought struck her, and she sat up in a blind panic, ignoring the sudden onslaught of dizziness.

“Passed out at work?” Her voice sounded weak, even to her own ears. “Oh no . . . I have to call my boss!”

“Bronwyn.” The woman placed gentle hands on her shoulders to push her back onto the cot, her lovely eyes brimming with sympathy. “I’m afraid that he wasn’t very sympathetic about any of this. He said something about having had enough of your drama and that you shouldn’t bother coming back. I’m so sorry.”

“Oh no,” she moaned. “No, no. I needed that job!”

“Well if you wanted to keep it, you shouldn’t have gone to work in the condition you were in today, young lady.” A stern voice intruded from the doorway, where a harried-looking older man in a white coat stood framed. “Are you trying to kill yourself? You’re just barely over a very bad bout of flu, possibly even pneumonia from what I can gather, and you were so dehydrated when they brought you in that I’m amazed you didn’t pass out sooner! The mere fact that you’ve been out like a light for nearly five hours is proof of how close you are to relapsing. You’re completely run-down.” She went dramatically pale at that bit of news, and the doctor wrongly assumed that he had shocked her into taking her illness seriously. “I would like to keep you overnight to monitor your condition.”

“No!” They were all taken aback by her sudden, shrill vehemence. “No, I can’t stay here. I have to go home. I should be there right now. My shift would have ended an hour ago; I should be at home.”

“That would be stupid and downright dangerous in your condition, Mrs. Palmer,” the doctor admonished, and Bronwyn’s world reeled.

“What did you call me?” she asked in a shocked whisper.

“He called you Mrs. Palmer,” Rick taunted from where he stood in the doorway with his arms folded across his broad chest. “That is still your name, isn’t it?” She stared at Richard Palmer helplessly, not knowing what to say and suddenly hating him with a ferocity that shook her.

“Well?” he prompted sarcastically, and she nodded mutely, not understanding this hostility from someone who had always loved and respected her.

“Please . . .” she whispered. “Please, Rick, I have to go home.”

“You’re going home all right,” Rick informed her coldly. “Just as soon as it can be arranged.”

“Mr. Palmer, I strongly advise against that,” the doctor interjected firmly, but Rick ignored him, keeping his eyes on Bronwyn.

“Just prescribe whatever medication she’ll need, Doctor,” he ordered in a manner that went completely against his usual easygoing nature. “We’ll make sure that she gets plenty of rest.” The doctor glared at them before shaking his head and leaving the room abruptly.