His Expectant Ex(6)

By: Catherine Mann

After Marianna had landed at Sebastian’s feet in a fall as fast as his own stomach, he’d scooped her up and made tracks for an adjacent conference room. He’d stretched her out on a sofa, slipped off her shoes, loosened her pink jacket, while his mother hovered and the General located help in the form of Dr. Cohen.

While he’d asked his family not to come to the courthouse, they’d shown up anyway. It was a good thing after all.

Two of his brothers clumped in a corner with his mom and the General. Standing. Waiting. Sebastian hated inaction, a big part of why he enjoyed his job. There was always something to do, some way to charge ahead and take control.

Why wasn’t Marianna opening her eyes? And how many times would that doc count a pulse? Duke medical credentials be damned—and yeah, he’d asked when she started checking Marianna over. Dr. Cohen would just have to live with being overridden if his ex-wife didn’t wake up in the next ten seconds.

Sebastian knelt on one knee beside the sofa, lifting Marianna’s other hand, too cool and limp in his grip. “I’m going to take her to the E.R. now. If she wakes up on the way, great. And if she doesn’t—” What could be wrong with her? “She’ll be at the hospital all the sooner.”

The doctor stood, pulling her glasses off to hang from the gold chain around her neck. “That’s your call to make, of course, as her husband.”

Husband? Now wasn’t that a kick in the legal briefs? But he didn’t intend to correct the doctor and lose what tenuous ground he held over Marianna’s medical care at the moment. He shot a quick “mouths shut” look over his shoulder to his wide-eyed family.

A low moan from Marianna yanked his attention back to the sofa. Her lashes fluttered and he squeezed her hand.

“Marianna? Come on, wake up. You’re scaring us here.”

“Sebastian?” She elbowed up to look around, massaging two fingers against her temple. She blinked fast, her gaze skipping around the small room filled with nothing more than a conference table, swivel chairs, the sofa and concerned relatives. “What happened?”

“You passed out in the hall. Don’t you remember?” If any day was worth forgetting, this would be it.

She sagged back, her pink suit skirt hitching up her legs. “Oh, right, the courthouse, your Ferragamo shoes.”

He didn’t know what the hell his shoes had to do with anything, but at least she grasped the gist of the day.

His mother nudged him aside and placed a damp handkerchief over Marianna’s forehead. “Here, dear, just lie back until you catch your breath.”

“Thank you, Ginger.” Marianna accepted the cool cloth with a grateful smile.

Why hadn’t he thought to do that? “How are you feeling now?”

She looked away, apparently more interested in the window blinds than in seeing him. “I forgot to eat breakfast. That must have sent my blood sugar out of whack.”

“What about lunch?” He pointed to the industrial clock over the door. “It’s three o’clock.”

“Already?” She peeled the damp cloth from her forehead and dabbed it along her neck. “My nerves must have gotten the best of me. I couldn’t bring myself to choke anything down.”

If Marianna couldn’t eat, something was seriously wrong. This woman loved her food, one of the things he’d enjoyed most about her. Watching her savor oysters on the half shell had landed them in bed more than once. “Have you been sick?”

She sat upright, swinging her feet to the floor beside her silver slingbacks. “Thank you for your concern, but I’m responsible for myself now that we’re divorced.”

Dr. Cohen’s eyebrows rose. “He’s your ex-husband?”

Marianna nodded, glancing at the clock. “As of about a half hour ago.”

The physician brought her red-rimmed glasses to her mouth and nipped lightly on the tip. “Taking that into consideration with a low blood sugar level, no wonder you fainted.” She gave Marianna’s wrist a final pat. “And here I was assuming you must be pregnant just because that’s my specialty.”

Marianna winced and looked away as she’d done countless times over the years when people mentioned babies. The purple stains of exhaustion below her eyes broadcast the additional stress she’d been under lately if anyone looked beyond a credible makeup job. Sebastian stepped between her and the doctor, territorial, protective.

Shaking loose of that husband appellation and all the urges that came with it was easier said than done. “That’s not what’s going on, but we will find the real reason for her fainting spell.”