Run In: Forget Me Not (excerpt)

Before she opened her eyes, Maxie gripped a handful of the soft blanket draped over her. She inhaled the scent of her surroundings; she listened for the ominous silence. Before she opened her eyes, she knew that she was in a hospital. Exhaling heavily, she finally opened them and peered around. As suspected, she was in a hospital room, lying in a narrow bed with white sheets and grey rails, wearing a pale blue nighty. However, she could see again, and her head wasn’t throbbing, and the burn in her side subsided to almost nothing. She slowly sat up and her body shuddered as an unnerving chill ran through her.

“Oh, you’re awake,” a familiar voice said. Her neck snapped in the direction of the dim corner, where a man occupied an arm chair. She gasped, jumping back and slapping her hand over her heart, which hammered against her chest. “Sorry,” he said quickly, raising his palms to her. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 He looked tired and unkempt. His large body fit awkwardly into the small chair he sat in. Had he been sleeping like that? she wondered. It appeared so. “Who are you?” she asked, her eyes sweeping over him.

The man stood and as he came toward her, she sank into herself. He was across the room, at her side, in just three smooth, confident strides. His massive frame towered over her.

He outstretched his hand and she took it, losing her own in his long fingers. “My name is Isaac,” he said.

He was looking her straight in the eye, and she felt unsettled under his gaze. He was beautiful. Even in his wrinkled, slept-in clothes and the bags under his eyes and the six o’clock shadow growing darker, the man was absolutely stunning. His sun-kissed skin tone glowed beneath the dim lighting of the room, his eyes, low and calm and liquid brown, remained captivatingly intense. And his lips— Maxie couldn’t help but stare at his lips— were full and shapely, and when he moistened them with his tongue, gently biting down on the bottom one, she nearly lost her breath. “I’m Maxie,” she finally choked out, willing herself to tear her eyes off of his perfect, symmetrical face.

 “Maxie,” he said, still holding onto her hand. “Maxie… As in Maxine?”

 “As in Maximilienne.”

 He eyes widened. “You’re French?”

 She nodded. “My father was.”

The corners of his lips turned up into a small grin, his eyes sparkled. Still, they hadn’t strayed away from her face. Did she look as flushed as she felt? “My mother was,” he replied. “Parlez-vous français?”

Un peu,” she replied. “Just the basics.” He nodded, still grinning lightly. “Isaac,” she said. “How long have I been here?”

 His grin faded. “A few hours. Listen, I’m sorry about hitting you. How are you feeling? How are your ribs?”

 Her ribs? Oh, yes. Her ribs. She’d forgotten about those. “Oh, they’re fine.”

“They don’t hurt? Three of them are bruised.”

 “They feel fine.”

 He nodded. “How about your head? You got a concussion.”

 “My head is fine, too. Did you sleep in that chair for hours?”

 He glanced back at the small chair in the corner. “The nurses wanted to contact your family, but we couldn’t find your wallet and your cell phone is locked. I didn’t want to leave you alone, so…” His voice trailed off. “I’m sorry again. It’s Christmas, your family’s probably worried.” He pulled out his cell phone. “Is there someone you want to call?”

“No,” she said, pushing the blanket to the side. “I should probably just get home.” He stepped back as she lowered her feet off of the side of the bed. His eyes fell on the nighty, which was hiked up, practically to her hips, revealing her bare thighs. He looked away as she quickly lowered it.

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