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In Her Lover's Eyes [MultiFormat]
eBook by Freda Vasilopoulos

eBook Category: Romance/Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: Lover's eyes or lying eyes? After patching up Zach Andros in hospital emergency, nurse Abby Chance finds out that he is in serious trouble. Who is trying to frame him for murder? And what happened to his ex-wife? When Abby also becomes a target, she agrees to help him, but can she trust him? Contemporary Romantic Suspense by Freda Vasilopoulos writing as Tina Vasilos; originally published by Harlequin Intrigue

eBook Publisher: Belgrave House, Published: 1999
Fictionwise Release Date: June 2010


1 Reader Ratings:
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"It was a freak accident," Abby's friend Jane confided as they filled their coffee mugs in the hospital cafeteria. "But it seems fishy to me. Forklifts just don't run away like that."

Abby's eyes widened. "You mean--"

Jane glanced around, lowering her voice as they moved down the line to the cash register. "I'm sure Eleni's behind it. His ex-wife. She's a witch with a capital B, if you know what I mean. They say she's been dragging him through the courts for almost three years. 'Hell hath no fury,' and all that."

"Are you together?" the cashier cut in.

"I'll get it," Abby said quickly, digging into her purse.

"Don't ask me what he ever saw in her," Jane continued as they sat down at a table. "Unless it was the money, as everyone said."

"But he's rich, isn't he?" Abby let her gaze wander around the cavernous room, largely deserted in mid-afternoon. A couple of other nurses sat at a table near the windows, and in the far corner she recognized a family whose child had been a recurring patient in pediatrics from the time she'd worked in that department. She wondered if the little girl was doing better now. Probably not, worse luck, if they were here.

"He's rich now," Jane stated. "But he was only starting out when they got married. Interest rates were still high, so the first years must have been a struggle. Her money would have come in handy."

Hearing the slightly spiteful note in Jane's voice, Abby brought her attention back to her friend. "You don't know that."

Jane shrugged. "No, I don't. And it seems the tables are turned now. Eleni wants a big cut of his business enterprises."

Abby's mouth curved in amusement. "Where did you hear all this?"

"Jack's cousin used to go to school with Eleni. They're still friends. And Jack and the cousin's husband play racquet ball together every week. You know how men like to gossip."

"Do they?" Abby sipped her coffee and took a bite of her brownie. "I guess I'll take your word for it."

"Believe it," Jane said. She rolled her eyes in a parody of ecstasy. "But isn't he a hunk, with that gorgeous black hair--I wish I had that natural curl. And I could just swoon at those brooding dark looks, even if his eyes are blue and not brown or black as you'd expect with his coloring. He could park his shoes under my bed at any time."

Abby burst out laughing, hoping the blush that warmed her cheeks didn't reveal her similar thoughts. Thoughts she had no business entertaining about a patient. "Jane, I'm shocked. You've got Jack. And women haven't swooned since Victorian days."

"Maybe they should revive it. I'm married, kid, not dead. I can look." Jane's brown eyes narrowed. "How about you? He's your patient for the next two days. You get to fetch his bedpans, bathe him--"

"Uh-uh," Abby cut in, shaking her head. "I heard him complaining to Dr. Scott already, and he told him he could get up as long as someone was in the room, and walk as far as the bathroom."

Jane wrinkled her nose. "Too bad. But it doesn't change the fact that he's your patient and it's not that busy up there right now. You can get to know each other. And when he gets out, he'll ask you to dinner, and who knows where it'll go from there."

"Yeah, right," Abby said flatly. "Like he's going to want to see his nurse once he's out. He's already made his feelings clear enough. I'm his jailer. He wanted to go home right out of the emergency room, with his head full of stitches and barely able to stand upright."

"Shows he's got grit. Good quality in a man." Jane drained her mug and got up. "Well, back to the fray."

Waving to a couple of their colleagues who'd just started their break, they left the cafeteria. Against her will, thoughts of Zachary Andros, her new patient, and the hunk in question, taunted Abby as she ran up the stairs to the second floor. Jane was right; he was gorgeous. Any woman with red blood in her veins would notice. It was a wonder that Jane hadn't seen that she wasn't exactly immune to Zach's dark good looks, in spite of his complaints.

Abby nodded to Cynthia, the head nurse, who was sitting at the nursing station. "How's our new patient?" she asked as she picked up his chart and scanned it.

"He's got a couple of visitors. I think one of them is his ex-wife."

His ex-wife. A chill ran through Abby's body. She chided herself. Probably she was overreacting to Jane's words, which might only be gossip, exaggerated a hundred times in the telling. Eleni must have heard of his accident and decided to see how he was. Surely she wouldn't be bothering him with business at a time like this.

Still trying to reassure herself, Abby hurried down the hall. The door to his private room was closed. That in itself wasn't ominous, since he could call the nursing station with the bed buzzer. But it was certainly irregular. Abby had left the door open, and according to the chart no one else had been in there in the half hour since she'd been gone.

She paused, the painted wooden door cool under her hand.

"Well, I guess I'll see you in court, then." The woman's voice rose to a shrill, almost hysterical pitch. "We'll see if you get away with this."

Abby clenched her fist as his deep voice washed over her. "Go ahead. I can't stop you. But I will stop you from taking my business."

"Your business?" The woman gave a nasty laugh. "The business you started with my money."

"Which I've repaid several times. Now, will you get out of here and let me sleep?"

Abby gave a perfunctory knock and pushed the door open without waiting for anyone to answer. Zachary Andros was supposed to have quiet and calm for the next twenty-four hours. The woman in the room was certainly not complying with Dr. Scott's orders.

"Excuse me," Abby said in her best assertive manner. "I'm afraid you'll have to leave."

The woman looked her up and down as if Abby were something repulsive she'd found on the bottom of her shoe. Her narrow nostrils flared. "And who are you to tell me to leave?" she asked in a tone that could have frozen water in July.

Abby lifted her chin, setting her jaw. She wasn't about to let this woman in a suit that cost more than Abby's entire wardrobe intimidate her. "I'm his nurse, and he needs rest. You'll have to leave."

The other occupant of the room, a muscular man Abby had barely noticed, moved out of the corner and took the woman's arm in a firm grip. "Come on, Eleni. We'll come back another time."

Eleni shook off his hand and moved closer to the bed. Zach lay against the pillow, his face pale. "Just get out of here," he said wearily, his voice barely above a whisper.

"I'll get out when I'm damned good and ready, Zachary Andros," the woman snapped. "Not before. And I'm sick to death of you telling me what to do."

Her face wore an angry flush beneath her flawless makeup. At first glance, Abby would have guessed her to be around thirty. But now that rage had hardened her features and emphasized the tiny lines around her cold green eyes, she looked every year of her age, which Jane had mentioned was thirty-seven, two years older than her former husband. Eleni's gaze swept over Abby again, her eyes showing about as much emotion as bottle shards.

Abby shivered and stepped forward. The woman's heavy, musky perfume enveloped her in an almost tangible cloud. Abby dipped her head, wrinkling her nose to suppress a sneeze. "Look, Mrs. Andros--"

"Ms. Mavrakis, if you don't mind. I don't want any reminders of our dismal marriage, or anything else from this man."

Except his money, Abby thought uncharitably. "Ms. Mavrakis, you'll have to leave or I'll be forced to call security."

She lifted Zachary's wrist and checked his pulse. A little fast, but not bad considering the provocation. She gently turned his head, his beard stubble rough under her fingers. The wound behind his ear looked raw and red, but the stitches held the broken skin firmly together. "You have to lie still. Don't thrash your head around."

"I knew those construction sites were dangerous," Eleni said, standing close to the side of the bed.

"We take every precaution," Zach muttered, the words slurring.

Abby whirled around, nearly treading on Eleni's cream leather pumps. "Goodbye," she said pointedly, her thumb on the call button. Cynthia, the head nurse, with her formidable bulk would rout the visitors more effectively than the elderly security guard who was probably dozing in one of the lounges.

"We're leaving," the man beside Eleni said with an embarrassed smile. "Come along, Eleni." A lawyer, Abby guessed, noting the custom-tailored suit and the monogrammed leather attache case. Younger than Eleni, probably around thirty. An eager, ambitious lawyer but one who retained a modicum of feeling.

This time Eleni allowed her cohort to move her toward the door. But she couldn't resist a final shot over her shoulder. "I'll be back, Zachary. You can count on it. And I know where to find you. No more of this nonsense about being out of the office and out of range of your cell phone."

The door swung closed after them. Abby waited until the click of Eleni's heels faded into silence before turning back to her patient.

"See why I didn't want to stay here," he muttered, shifting painfully. "I'm a sitting duck."

The door abruptly swung open and a man, also carrying a briefcase but wearing a T-shirt and tennis shorts, burst in. He strode across the room to the bed. Her head suddenly as light as a balloon, Abby clutched the end of the bed. First Eleni Mavrakis, and now this. She shouldn't have bothered to get up this morning.

No, that wasn't fair, to put David in the same category as the odious Eleni. David had been her friend. It was her fault that that hadn't been enough.

He skidded to a halt, his sneakers squeaking on the polished tiles, his eyes on the man in the bed. "What happened, Zach? I came as soon as I heard."

"This morning, or a couple of minutes ago?" Zach said sardonically. "Give me a car accident over Eleni any day."

Abby pulled herself together. Her divorce from David had been by mutual consent, not at all acrimonious, but she hadn't seen him since it had been finalized. She thought of him occasionally with a kind of fond, pleasant nostalgia.

"I hope this won't take long. Mr. Andros needs to rest. Hello, David," she said, proud of the evenness of her voice.

Zach's eyes widened. "You two know each other?"

David Chance smiled at Abby. "You might say that. We used to be married. In the Jurassic period. You're looking good, Abby."

"So are you," she said, the strangeness dissolving. After all, they'd been friends long before they'd become lovers and marriage partners. They should have left well enough alone.

"Yeah, Abby Chance," Zach drawled. "If I'd been thinking straight, I would have guessed."

Abby's heart made a disconcerting little flutter in her chest. She arranged her face into a stern, professional expression, chiding her adolescent reaction to the man. She was crazy to even think of him personally. He carried enough emotional and legal baggage that she'd be stupid to want anything to do with him once he was out of here.

"Well, I suppose you have business to discuss," she said briskly. "I'll leave you alone but only for five minutes. Mr. Andros has had more than enough excitement for one day, and he needs to rest."

David raised his hand in a Boy Scout salute. "I promise, Abby."

Aware of both men's eyes on her, she walked out. In the hall, she leaned against the wall, letting her breath out in a long rush. Her face felt as if it were burning, and her heart hammered against her ribs.

So David was Zach's lawyer. Surprising that Jane hadn't conveyed that little gem of information.

"Have you known David long?" Abby asked casually when she brought in Zach's supper tray later. Not much of a supper, actually, only juice and strawberry gelatin.

"Just a month or so," Zach said. His color was better, the lines around his eyes and mouth fainter after a two-hour nap. The bruises on his face were turning from blue to green, although most of them were camouflaged by the growing stubble on his jaw.

He moved gingerly, his injured ribs obviously painful. He was lucky they weren't broken. Even so, he faced several weeks of discomfort. "My previous attorney got fed up with Eleni's shenanigans and quit. David has a reputation for unraveling the knottiest problems, so I hired him. How long ago were you married?"

Abby set the tray on the bed table and moved to the end of the bed to crank it up. "Like David said, in the Jurassic Age. We were both children, barely eighteen. We eloped on our grad night, fourteen years ago. It lasted seven years."

"He married again, didn't he?"

She fussed with the bed crank, finally getting it to retract, telling herself she wasn't hiding. She was acutely conscious of those deep blue eyes on her, eyes the color of a mountain lake at midnight. Disconcerting and startlingly beautiful with his olive skin and strong features. "Yes. He's got two little girls."

"Does that bother you?" Zach asked.

She glanced at him, surprised at the question and trying to see why he would ask something that personal. His expression remained neutral, although his eyes gleamed. But that might have been because of the slight fever he was running. "No, it doesn't bother me," she said evenly. "I'm glad he's happy."

She arranged the table to the correct height and swung it over the bed. "Is there anything else I can get you?"

He glanced at the meager meal. "How about a hamburger with fries?"

She smiled. "Maybe tomorrow, if you behave yourself and take it easy. No more fireworks."

"How about you, Abby?" he asked. "I take it you didn't remarry, since you still have David's name."

"Never met anyone who wanted to put up with my working hours," she said flippantly, uncomfortable under his scrutiny. Pointedly she pushed his tray a little closer. "Enjoy your dinner."

He looked down at it, his mouth curling. "Yeah, sure," he muttered, picking up his spoon. "Thanks a bunch."

"He was in again, yesterday morning," Jane said when Abby walked into the hospital on a Friday evening ten days later.

"Again? Who?"

"Zachary Andros. Another bump on the head."

Ice hollowed Abby's stomach. "Where is he?"

"Gone," Jane said briefly.

"Gone? Wouldn't he stay overnight if he had another head injury?"

"It wasn't that serious, only a goose egg. His vital signs were normal." Jane frowned. "There was something about his coordination--I'm not sure. His speech seemed a little slurred."

Abby frowned. "Alcohol or drugs?" He hadn't struck her as the type to overindulge in any mind-altering substance, legal or otherwise.

"Negative, for alcohol, anyway. Any tests for drugs aren't back yet." Jane shrugged. "I probably imagined it. Dr. Scott wanted him to stay, but he insisted he was okay. The police were here, questioning him while he waited for the doctor. I don't know what it was about." She frowned again. "Something's going on. I heard them asking about Eleni."

"Has she been bothering him again?"

"Not around here. He didn't stay long enough. I suppose you've come for the key."

Jane reached into her pocket and handed Abby a set of keys. "Here you go--the key to our palatial summer cottage. Enjoy the weekend. I'll call you if I hear anything."

"It doesn't matter." The last thing Abby needed was thoughts of Zachary Andros cluttering up her time off.

"Well, okay. You know where to find everything? How to hook up the power?"

Abby threw her friend a smile she didn't feel. "How hard can it be? I'll figure it out."

"Call me when you get there." Jane gave her a quick hug. "I don't like the look of that sky. I hope it doesn't storm again."

Abby recalled those unfortunately prophetic words hours later. She'd had to pack her car and tidy up her place. When she'd gone to leave her key with a neighbor who would water her small garden if the weather turned hot, she'd found he was out. Abby had been forced to wait several hours for him to come back.

By the time she left town, dusk had fallen, a glowering, unnatural dusk formed of green-tinged, pregnant clouds. They had started dumping their burden an hour ago, just when she'd hit the curvy mountain road.

Rain lashed the windshield, defying the wipers to whisk it away. The wind, an invisible predator on a rampage, hammered at the little car. For the tenth time in as many minutes, Abby found herself hunched forward, as if putting her nose closer to the windshield would allow her to see the road through the blinding sheets of rain. She leaned back, a muscle clenching in her neck. She risked freeing one hand from the steering wheel to massage the ache. Not that it helped much.

She turned on the heater, swearing mildly when it failed to clear the mist gathering on the inside of the glass. In fact, the film became thicker. Using the edge of her hand, she wiped a spot clean. If only the air conditioner hadn't died in May. It would have demisted the glass in no time.

Trees, ominous shapes against the black night, swayed over the road, spattering the car with drops the size of walnuts. Abby flexed her hands on the wheel, debating whether she should pull over until the worst of the storm had passed. No, better to press on. If one of the trees came down in the rising wind and blocked the road, she would be stuck in the car until a road crew cleared it. That might be several days on a secondary road like this.

If only she hadn't agreed to Jane's suggestion that she spend the weekend at the cottage. If only the weather wasn't more reminiscent of February than July. If only her car was newer and better equipped.

Muttering imprecations, she sucked in her breath as the tires skidded in a puddle. She let the car slide, steering toward the middle of the road, hands loose on the wheel. The rubber found traction and gripped. She braked lightly, pumping the pedal, and edged toward the side of the road. She would just stop for a moment and find a rag to wipe the fogged windows.

That was when she saw it. A dark figure stumbling along the grassy verge.

Startled, she jammed her foot on the brake. Mistake. Her stomach lurched as the car slid toward the edge of the road. She eased off the brake, squeezing the steering wheel gently to the left. Too late. One wheel bumped off the pavement, sinking into the mud. She braked again, sending up a silent prayer of thanks when the car abruptly stopped.

The rain slanted in silver ribbons before the headlights. The figure turned. She saw a man, head bent against the driving wind and rain, wet clothes plastered to his body. He took a step toward the car.

Then, suddenly, he disappeared from her view. She pushed the car door open, leaving the engine running. In the wet weather, she wasn't going to take the chance that some electrical connection would short out, leaving her stranded in the middle of the forest.

The rain peppered her face with a thousand stinging needles. Wind roared in the trees, combing the wet branches. She crossed in front of the car, stepping cautiously. Where had the man gone? Was there a ditch beside the road, invisible in the darkness?

Or had she imagined seeing him?

She found him lying facedown in the soaked grass, barely lit by the headlight beams. The long, lean body appeared lifeless. She crouched down, hesitating before touching him. The faint rising and falling of his back under her hand told her he breathed. She groped for his wrist, set her fingers against his pulse. It was a bit rapid, but strong and steady.

She decided he wasn't going to die any time soon. Exhaustion, and the cold seeping into his body through the wet clothes had likely brought about the collapse.

Grunting with the effort, she turned him over. She gasped, feeling as if she'd been punched in the stomach. What was Zachary Andros doing out here at the edge of nowhere? Had he been in another accident? She hadn't seen a car on the road, or beside it, but in the thick darkness she could have missed seeing a derailed freight train.

The rain pelted his face and even in his semiconscious state, he winced, turning his head. A cold rivulet snaked down the back of Abby's neck. She jerked back to full alert, chiding herself for woolgathering when she should be helping him.

If he lay there much longer, he was in real danger of hypothermia, but she didn't want to move him without first checking for injuries. She ran her hands efficiently over his body.

After a moment, she sat back, satisfied. There were no broken bones, although she'd felt the faintly rough line of the recently healed scar behind his ear, the injury that had kept him in hospital the first time. The new growth of trimmed hair around it prickled her fingers. She shivered, goose bumps rising on her skin, partly from cold, partly from nerves.

She had to get him out of the rain.

The wind whipped her hair into her eyes as she got up and walked around the car. She pushed the wet strands impatiently back, dragging the stray locks together and refastening the clip at her nape. She pulled open the car door. Welcome heat greeted her.

Leaning over the driver's seat, she unlocked the passenger door. Water dripped from her nose and eyebrows, forming dark splotches on the gray upholstery. She wiped her hand over her face and dried it on her jeans. She was only going to get wetter.

Outside, the rain had increased, pouring over her in torrents. And the wind roared in the trees. Somewhere far away, thunder muttered. Or maybe it was Mount Baker stirring out of dormancy. That would be all she needed, a volcanic eruption on top of the storm.

Abby opened the passenger door. Fortunately, the wind blew from the opposite direction, not directly into the car. Slipping and sliding, she went back to the still figure on the ground. He lay where she'd left him, one arm slung over his face, giving scant protection from the rain.

Abby caught her breath. Had he recovered consciousness? She knelt beside him, knees squelching in the muddy grass. "Hey, wake up. This is not a good place to sleep."

She shook his shoulder. He groaned softly, his arm falling to the ground. "Mr. Andros, Zach, wake up," she called more urgently. "I can't lift you unless you help."

He blinked, groaning again. Abby tucked her hands under his arms and pulled.

"Hey, take it easy." The sound of his voice startled her. She let go of him. His head thumped against her knee.

"Thanks," he said clearly, his tone wry.

"I'm sorry." She wrapped her arm around his shoulders. "Do you think you can get up if I help you?"

"Head hurts like a bitch." He didn't open his eyes. "In fact, everything hurts like a bitch."

"I don't doubt it," she murmured sympathetically. "What are you doing wandering outside in the rain, anyway?"

"Not enough sense to come in. That's what my mother always said." He struggled to sit up, his hands slipping on the wet grass as he tried to brace himself. Abby heaved his shoulders up, propping his torso against her thighs. Now all she had to do was get him the rest of the way up and into the car.

To her surprise, he rolled away from her, onto his side, gathered his legs under him, and managed to scramble to his knees. "If you can't walk," she suggested, "maybe you can just crawl. You have to get into the car, out of the rain."

He stretched out one hand. She took it. Using her as a prop, he struggled to his feet. Unsteady, but upright. "Just point me in the right direction."

His fingers bit into her shoulder as she took a step forward. Despite his apparent confidence, she knew he would have fallen without her support. Wrapping one arm around his waist, she took another step, acutely conscious of how thin he was. His ribs felt like barrel slats.

By the time they had taken the few steps needed to reach the car, her breath rasped in her throat. Sweat mingled with the rain dripping from her face. Despite his wasted condition, he weighed a ton, and thirteen years of shifting patients in hospital beds hadn't prepared her for toting a tall man out in the field.

"Let's just get you turned and you can slide onto the car seat," she panted.

He twisted in her grasp, his knees buckling. "Oh, no, you don't," she muttered. "I can't lift you off the ground again."

He managed to remain upright. He swayed against her, his breathing rough and labored. Pain burned through Abby's shoulders as she took his full weight. She sensed he was about to pass out again. "One step backwards," she ordered, making sure the firm words penetrated deep into his consciousness.

He moved back, more of a stumble than a step, and collapsed onto the car seat. Letting out a breath in relief, Abby tugged him straight so that he wouldn't fall across the other seat. Grimacing at the mud caking his shoes and pant legs, she lifted first the left and then the right leg into the car. She pushed her wet hair out of her eyes, realizing she'd lost the clip.

"Fingers clear?" she said. He wiggled the hand that lay on his thigh. She smiled faintly and slammed the door.

The heater, churning out warm air, had cleared the windows, although she knew they would fog up again, especially with two bodies in the car generating humidity. She got in, shut the driver's door, and flipped on the interior light.

Zach sat with his head against the headrest, eyes closed. Was he unconscious again? She couldn't tell; he might be sleeping. His drenched sweater clung to his chest, steaming lightly in the heat.

Reaching across for the seat belt, she breathed in the scent of rain, wet wool, and the faint, tantalizing ghost of a musky cologne. Shaking her head, she clipped the buckle securely into place. He didn't move.

His black hair lay plastered to a well-shaped head. The ends were drying already, curling against his forehead and around his ears. She checked the clipped area behind his ear. She was pleased to note that the cut had healed completely, stitches removed days ago.

A frown etched a groove between his thick black brows. Pain compressed his lips into a thin line. She wondered how his mouth would look smiling. Funny, during the two days he'd been her patient, she'd never seen him come closer to a smile than a wry or sardonic twist of his lips. She pushed away the thought. She had no time for this. She had to get him to a hospital or a clinic, and herself to the cabin.

"Hi, Abby." His voice, low and rough, made her jump.

"Hi, Mr. Andros," she said, heartbeat speeding up.

"Zach, please," he said. "You had no trouble with it before."

"So you knew who I was."

"Your perfume."

"I don't wear perfume."

He shrugged, wincing again. "Soap, shampoo, whatever."

His eyes fell closed once more, as if the dim light hurt them. He shivered convulsively.

"Why did you leave the hospital?" she muttered, her gaze on his pale face. "They should have tied you to the bed."

He smiled faintly. "You weren't there, Abby."

"I do get a day off once in a while." Turning off the interior light, she shot him a glare he didn't see, and shifted the car into gear, feeding it gas. The tires spun ineffectually for a moment, then found traction.

Steering gently, she eased the car out of the mud and onto the pavement. Checking the road in both directions, she made a U-turn, heading back the way she'd come. She could call an ambulance from the gas station.

The small car shuddered as a gust of wind whipped over it. The wipers beat a pattern that barely disturbed the sheets of rain pouring down the windshield. And, as she'd expected, the insides of the windows fogged up once more, reducing visibility to a hazy mist.

Zach still sat with his eyes closed, seemingly oblivious to where they were going although he must realize they weren't going in the direction he'd been walking. Maybe he didn't care.

She used a cloth she found in the side door pocket to wipe the glass in front of her, at the same time setting the wipers on high. A dark mass loomed before her. She slammed on the brakes. The car skidded sideways, coming to a stop next to the fallen tree that blocked the road. Wind-driven green leaves scattered over the hood, and glued themselves to the windshield.

Abby pounded her hand on the steering wheel. "Well, that does it."

Zach opened his eyes, shivering so hard she could hear his teeth chattering. He cleared his throat, the faint sound becoming a harsh, muscle-racking cough. Turning pale, he wrapped his arms around his ribs until the spasm passed. "Where are we?" he asked groggily, breath rasping.

"Next to a tree. We can't go back, and you need a doctor."

"No, I don't." His voice sounded stronger. "I've had enough of doctors. All I need is some rest. Just get me up to Sunset Cove and I'll be okay."

"I'm not going that far," Abby said. "That's the far end of the lake. What's up there?"

"A summer cabin. I haven't been to it in years, but I figured it would be a good place to recuperate."

And Eleni probably wouldn't think to look for him there, Abby thought. Aloud, she said, "I doubt if we can make up there tonight. That road isn't paved. It's going to be slippery as--never mind. This car won't be able to make it."

He dragged in a ragged breath. "Okay, just drop me any place. Back at the gas station. I'll get a ride back to town. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all."

"Unfortunately, the gas station is on the far side of this tree." She put the car back into gear. "I guess I'll just have to take you with me. But don't blame me for the consequences. I think you need a doctor."

"I'll trust you to take care of me," he said.

Exasperated, she ignored that. She carefully turned the car on the road and headed back up the mountain.

"I promise not to sue," he added.

"That's comforting," she muttered, again leaning forward and squinting through the wind-lashed rain. She drove past the spot where she'd picked him up, keeping a sharp eye out for more downed trees. "How did you get this far?" she asked. "I didn't see a car."

"My car's still in the body shop after the forklift accident. I've been taking taxis." He sounded a little more alert, although he again closed his eyes. "This afternoon I walked to a truck stop and got a ride in a logging truck. The driver dropped me at the gas station. I figured I could walk to the cabin."

Abby risked taking her eyes off the road to gape at him. "But it's nearly ten kilometers up to Sunset Cove."

"It wasn't raining when I started. I stopped to rest under a big hemlock. I guess I fell asleep because the next thing I knew it was dark and raining like hell."

Abby frowned as she concentrated on the road. She couldn't put her finger on it, but some parts of his story sounded a bit suspicious, as if he were only telling part of it. Jane's comment about slurred speech came back to her. What did she really know about Zachary Andros?

Well, the bedrooms at Jane's place had sturdy locks. She'd be safe enough.


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