“Would you like me to call her?” the nurse asked again.
“No. No, I’ll talk to her when she comes back.”
“Rest. I’ll be back to check on you soon. Use the call button next to you if you need anything.”
The drugs worked their way into his system, relaxing him as the pain ebbed. An image of the dark-haired doctor, her hands clasped as she stood by his feet, popped into his head. That image transformed into a young girl sitting beside him, her hands tangled together in her lap. Her unforgettable blue eyes. The ones he woke up to moments ago. The same ones he’d stared up at as a teen when he’d fallen from his horse by the river on his family’s ranch. The girl who was there one minute and gone the next.
He held his arm up, stared at the blue feather tattoo, and remembered it all. Then and now.
An angel watched over him.
He needed to talk to Dr. Bell—the woman who saved him—again.
Dane lay in bed, sore and bored out of his mind four days into his hospital stay. His mind wandered back two days to the press conference. Reporters with their notepads, recorders, and cameras had stood at the end of his bed, recording a piece for the TV news and to post on the PBR website, since he’d missed receiving his awards after the competition. The PBR reps had held the huge World Champion trophy above his head. As he’d held his bonus million-dollar check, the buckle, and the title, showing off for the cameras, his brothers and their wives looking on from the corner of his room, he’d wondered why all of a sudden he cared about the empty spot at his side and in his life.
After the press conference hit the airwaves, a stream of buddies from the rodeo came by to visit the last two days, along with several women. Winning the championship and the money brought the buckle-bunnies out of their burrows, looking for a treat from him. Not going to happen. Over the last few months he’d started to realize he wanted something more than a good time for a night or two. He thought he’d been living the good life; all the while, his brothers had found something he’d never thought he’d wanted but now thought more and more about with each passing day—a woman to love, who loved them back with a fierceness and an intensity that everyone, including him, could see.
He’d never left an unhappy woman in his rearview mirror. Still, lately, he thought about all those women, compared them to Summer, Ella, and Gillian, and wondered if he let the one get away because he’d been chasing a dream and not a life.
He stared at his leg, his toes poking out of the bandages and brace, and thanked God he was still alive and in one piece. Or at least several tacked back together, thanks to his elusive doctor.
The nurses assured him that Dr. Bell said his injuries were healing and the looming threat that his artery would burst lessened each and every day. Still, he wanted to hear it from her. He needed to talk to her about his recurring dreams. The day, so long ago now, when he’d seen a girl with her eyes, who everyone swore didn’t exist.
“Hey, man, where did you go?” Tony asked from Dane’s bedside, pulling him back to reality.
Lost in thought, he hadn’t heard them come in. Tony’s wife stood beside him, with apology and sympathy in her eyes as she took him in from head to feet.
“Sorry. The meds make my mind drift. What’s up?”
“I spoke to Gabe. He said you were feeling better today and that it might be a good time to visit. Man, I am so sorry about what happened.”
“Nature of the game. Not your fault, or the bull’s. Shit happens.”
“Not like that. You could have been killed. Bell, too.”
Dane cocked his head and studied Tony’s wife. “Katherine, right?” She nodded. “Gabe and Blake told me your sister was in the stands. She saved my life.”
“She certainly did,” Katherine said, pride and dismay in her hazel eyes. Not blue, like her sister’s.
“How the hell did she get into the arena so fast?”
“She came out of nowhere,” Tony said. “One second me and the other guys are trying to distract the bull away from you, and the next, she’s hauling ass to your side. She held your artery closed, even when the bull tried to kill you both again.”
“It’s all over YouTube,” Tony said.
“It is?” This is the first he’d heard of it.
Tony pulled out his phone, touched his finger to the screen, and turned it in Dane’s direction.
Dane nearly lost his breakfast when he saw Dr. Bell climb over the railing, pass two cowboy clowns on the run, and skid on her knees to a stop beside him. The blood spurted from his leg, but she didn’t hesitate to find the artery and pinch it closed. If that wasn’t enough, the bull came at them, knocking her and him several feet across the dirt. She didn’t flinch. He did now, and his stomach went tight with dread. He knew the outcome, but seeing it still made his insides knot.