The Brooding Surgeon's Baby Bombshell. Susan Carlisle

The Brooding Surgeon's Baby Bombshell - Susan Carlisle

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suggestion that they enter separately troubled her. Was he ashamed of her?

      Maybe it was best. They shouldn’t draw attention to themselves, so that they’d have to explain what was going on between them. All she’d planned to do was tell Gabe and now he knew. She didn’t expect anything more from him and had made that plain. They would part ways today and that would be it. He’d have his life, his career, on the West Coast and she and the baby theirs on the East.

      Except Gabe had said he wanted to talk. Would he be making demands? She had been surprised by the ferocity in his tone when he’d stated he would be in his child’s life. Where had that come from? Especially after he’d told her he wasn’t interested in a family. It must have been the shock of learning he was going to be a father. That was all it was.

      She had just settled her shaking body in the chair when the moderator called the meeting back to order. Gabe slipped into his chair a minute later with an apologetic nod in the chairperson’s direction. Zoe refused to meet his look, the one she felt on her. The rest of the day would be long. Picking up her pen, she doodled on a page of her agenda to keep herself from glancing at him. The few times she dared to look, his thoughtful light blue gaze was fixed on her. She still found him attractive.

      At their lunch break, Gabe started her way but was stopped by someone asking him a question. That gave her the chance to grab her meal and hurry back to her place, avoiding interacting with him again.

      By midafternoon the meeting was ending. Zoe hadn’t heard much of it. She had been busy berating herself for failing to think through the consequences of not telling Gabe sooner.

      “Dr. Marks,” the chairperson said, and the room erupted in clapping.

      Zoe’s head jerked up. What had just been said? She gave a half-hearted pat of her hands as she watched Gabe. He smiled, nodding, as he looked around the room.

      His gaze met hers briefly before he said, “Thank you. I look forward to becoming the head of transplants at National Hospital.”

      The earlier fluttering in her stomach took off like a covey of quail. Gabe would be moving to the East Coast. To the same area as her!

      She stared at him in disbelief.

      He shrugged.

      The rest of the people in the room stood and gathered their belongings. Zoe didn’t move. She’d believed Gabe would be three thousand miles away when he’d talked about being involved with their child. Now he would just be down the road. He might want to see the baby not only during the summer, while taking a few weeks of annual vacation, but regularly. He could even want part-time custody. This situation was spinning out of her control.

      By the time she pulled her thoughts together, the room was practically empty. Gabe was still being congratulated by a couple of people when she was ready to go. In a stupor of shock, she snatched up her purse and grabbed the suitcase handle, hurrying out, unable to think clearly. Gabe had upended her envisioned future as a happy single parent.


      She looked over her shoulder to see him striding toward her, and walked faster.

      “Wait up,” he called.

      “I need to catch my plane.” She had too much to process. Needed time to think.

      Gabe pulled level with her. “But we need to talk.”

      “If you wanted to talk so badly, why didn’t you tell me you had accepted a job that had you moving for all intents and purposes into my backyard?”

      His mouth gaped in shock as he grabbed her arm, forcing her to stop.

      “Maybe because I was too busy trying to recover from the bomb you dropped on me.”

      He did have her there. She inhaled and said on the exhalation, “I think we both need some time to consider what we need to do.” His touch made her tremble, triggering memories of his hands all over her that night. How was she supposed to think?

      “I already know what I want,” he snapped. “I intend to be as much a part of my child’s life as possible.”

      “Does it matter what I want?” Zoe jerked free, took hold of her luggage handle again and started out of the hotel attached to the airport by a tunnel that led under the street.

      Gabe matched her stride. “You didn’t think I’d want to know my child, did you?”

      “I thought you deserved to know he or she existed, but I never imagined you’d want to be involved as closely as you’re talking about.” She kept increasing her pace, lugging her bag behind her. “You made it perfectly clear you weren’t family material before we went to bed together.”

      “Oho, so that’s it. You didn’t think I’d care about being a father. It so happens that now that I am one I intend to be one. You have a problem with that?”

      “I don’t know. I might if you keep applying this much pressure all the time,” she hissed.

      “If I keep... You’ve had months to adjust to having a child. I only just learned I’m going to be a father.” His frustration was loud and clear.

      Guilt assaulted her. “I’m sorry about that. It wasn’t fair, but you can’t expect me to make a life-changing decision for my child while I’m on the way to the airport.”

      They continued through the tunnel into the terminal. Gabe remained beside her, larger than life. Why couldn’t he give her some space? She was already tied in emotional knots. She needed to get away, get home and regroup.

      Zoe had other things to consider besides Gabe’s newly found parental outrage. Her friend had just sent a text to say that her mom was anxious, constantly searching the apartment and asking for Zoe.

      Her thoughts were too scattered. She needed to consider carefully everything she said or agreed to. What happened would affect her and her child forever. “Gabe, I’m not talking about this right now. You’re moving across the country and you need time to get settled into your new job before you agree to shoulder the responsibilities of fatherhood. Responsibilities you need to carefully weigh first. Meanwhile, I need time to handle other issues in my life.”

      “Is there someone else involved here?” His question was a demand. “Are you involved with someone?”

      “No, nothing like that.” She glanced at Gabe in time to see him visibly relax. What did it matter to him if she had a boyfriend—or a lover, for that matter?

      He touched her elbow to steady her when she rocked back as they headed up the escalators to the security area. Heat zipped through her. “You need to hold the handrail.”

      “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Pregnancy doesn’t make me feeble-minded.” She’d covered her reaction to him with feistiness she didn’t completely feel as she pulled her arm from his hand.

      “Neither does it mean you shouldn’t be careful or unwilling to accept help.”

      Zoe’s look met his. Gabe’s didn’t waver. He appeared sincerely concerned. She had to admit it was nice to have someone care about her welfare. So much of her life revolved around helping others, her patients and her mother. Being worried over was a pleasant change. They stepped off the escalator and continued down the concourse. “I promise I’ll be careful.”

      She looked ahead. A young woman with a baby strapped to her chest was pushing a rented luggage cart piled high with bags. Standing on the front, holding on, was a boy of about four. Seconds before they passed Zoe, the cart wobbled and the boy fell backward onto the unforgiving floor with a sickening thud. The mother screamed as blood flowed.

      Even as the accident registered in Zoe’s mind, Gabe was down on one knee beside the child. The boy’s screeching echoed off the high glass ceiling as the mother pushed Gabe’s shoulder in her effort to reach the boy.

      He half turned, catching hold of her as he said in a level, calm manner, “Ma’am, I’m a doctor.

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