Before you can heal, you must accept that you’ve been broken…
Eden masked a sigh and pointed to the surname embroidered above the pocket of her sweatshirt. ‘I prefer Archer.’ She kept her gaze averted as she located the earphone jack and fumbled it into her phone, a tricky manoeuver hindered by her left hand being concealed within the sleeve of her sweater.
Dan shifted in his seat, turning to face her. ‘Since I’m not going to be your doctor, I thought we could get to know each other.’
She made eye contact, refusing to blink away the burn from the sincerity that shone from his open face.
His smile widened. ‘You know, as we live near each other and will be spending quite a bit of time together over the next month.’ He shrugged, a move that made him seem boyish for a split second. ‘We could train together, support each other …’
At last her silence infected him, halting his pleasant and reasonable speech, every word of which scored her eardrums until she contemplated hurling herself from the moving bus. She was tempted. After all, what he offered made sense, and the army had taught her team building played a massive part in the success of challenges such as the one they’d undertaken. If Dan had been less appealing, perhaps she’d have jumped at the chance. But the stirring of her attraction to him meant she couldn’t go there.
‘Thank you. But I’m happy to train alone. I’m afraid I’m not really good company these days.’ The words tasted poisonous. The familiar rush of shame washed through her, purging any residual chemistry she felt towards this man. It was for the best.
She wasn’t strong enough to make new friends. Didn’t dare contemplate anything beyond friends. And Dan, she could tell, embodied exactly the kind of man she’d once coveted. She ignored the slight droop of his warm friendly smile and the dulling of his eyes.
‘Okay.’ His gaze flitted to the window of the now moving minibus, and he took another sip of coffee. She’d just reached for the second earbud when he said, ‘So what prompted you to volunteer for the challenge?’
Clearly she’d have to be more direct. ‘I’m on sick leave from my post. I hate being idle, and this is a great way to rebuild my fitness. Look, I’m not great with superficial conversation. I’m really only doing this to complete the challenge and resume my career.’ A moment’s hesitation gripped her, paralysing her vocal cords. He was simply being polite, friendly.
But she was determined to keep her objective simple. Complete the challenge, take her certificate from Scale and resume active service as soon as possible.
No sexy doctor friends.
Exposed is available for pre-order and releases October 4.
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