Facing her estranged husband Fletcher was always going to be heartbreaking for nurse Tessa King. Especially as Fletcher has one last favour to ask – with his mother critically ill, he needs Tessa to pretend tragedy never tore their marriage apart. Impossible when your husband’s the one man it hurts your heart to touch…but the one man you can’t resist…
She wasn't sure how many hours had passed when she first heard the commotion. It took Tess a while to realise Jean's sobbing wasn't coming from inside hear head as it usually did but externally, outside the room somewhere.
And it was actually real this time.
She sat bolt upright as the shackles of heavy slumber fell from her eyes. The clock said two am as she kicked the covers aside and stumbled out of the room her heart pounding like a gong.
"Jean?" she called as she hurried down the hallway to her mother-in-laws room.
Nothing. The bed was empty.
"Jean?" she said again, louder this time as she headed towards the source of human anguish getting louder and louder.
"Out here, Tess," Fletch called.
Tess entered the lounge area. The lamp near the television threw weak light into the room and she headed to the lounge where Fletch sat comforting his weeping mother.
Fletch nodded over his mother's head as Jean sobbed.
"It's no good, Fletcher," Jean sobbed. "No good."
Tess, her lack of clothing eliminated from her subconscious by nagging fatigue and her pounding heart, crouched down in front of them. "Hey Jean, don't cry, sweetie. It's okay." She rubbed her palms against a pair of bony knees. "What's the matter?"
Jean turned wet cheeks on Tess. "You should never let the sun go down on an argument. Never spend a night apart. Fletch's Dad and I never spent a night apart." She grabbed Tess's hand. "You never know how long you have with each other."
Tess murmured, "Of course not," not entirely sure what was going on.
"I was just telling Mum that I got in late from the hospital and didn't want to disturb you so I collapsed on the couch."
Ah. Now Tess got the reason for Jean's distress. And it was acute distress. She was crying, her movements agitated.
"It's still wrong," Jean sobbed. "You don't care being disturbed do you Tess, darling?"
Tess looked at Fletch. He was at his disturbing best. Shirtless and trouser-less, his big, bare chest and long, bare, dark-haired legs exuding a masculinity that was almost overwhelming in the intimacy of the little circle they'd formed. He rubbed the back of his neck in a helpless gesture and the lines of worry and tiredness around his eyes and mouth seemed to deepen.
She wished like hell they cancelled out the scruffy sexiness of his tousled hair and unshaven jaw.
"This is how people get divorced," Jean continued, worrying at the fabric of her nightgown, rolling it between her fingers. She suddenly clutched Tess's arm. "Oh no...you're not getting divorced are you?"
Tess felt her heart sink. Jean's level of anxiety was distressing to watch. As fanciful as it might seem to them, she was worrying herself sick.
And for that there was just one thing she could do.
She took a deep breath and slid her hand onto Fletch's knee and then up a little further to his thigh. "Of course not, Jean," Tess murmured not acknowledging either his harshly indrawn breath or the tensing of his firm, bulky quadriceps. "Fletch and I are fine, aren't we darling?"
She looked at him then and smiled hoping like hell he could act better than she could.
A heart wrenching reunion story of love and second chances...