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Lincoln burst through the doors to the adjoining office and wrenched the scarlet tie from his throat. The force popped the button on his shirt and sent it flying across the floor.
David Fairgreaves strolled in behind him and lifted one grey eyebrow. He took off his suit jacket, hanging it on the chair behind him. 'Problem, Lincoln?' He looked vaguely amused, another irritation to add to Lincoln's list.
Lincoln stalked over to a nearby shelf and pulled down a pair of green scrubshe wasn't wearing this damn too-tight suit a second longer.
Washington's finest shirt lay in a crumpled heap at his feet as he pulled the scrub top over his head and turned to face David. 'How can they ask questions like that?'
David gave a little shrug of his shoulders, picked up an apple from the nearby table and crunched into it, putting his feet up on the desk. 'They're animals.'
Lincoln shook his head. 'How can you stand it? How can you sit there and smile at those idiots?'
'You've got to give it some perspective. I've just looked after the First Lady. It's news that they'll report all around the world. And they'll all be looking for their own spintheir own edge to make them stand out from the pack. Truth be knownI really don't care what any of them think. The only thing I care about is my patient.'
Lincoln stared at him. David was the only reason he'd come here in the first place. The chance to work with the man who'd been the first to retrieve stem cells was too good an opportunity to miss. The irony of it washe looked like a bumbling old fool but was probably the most forward-thinking clinician Lincoln had ever met.
David caught him with his sharp gaze. 'What's with you anyway? You've been like a bear with a sore head all afternoon.'
Linc sighed. The man missed nothing. 'I got a strange text message last night from someone I haven't seen in yearsat least, I think that's who it was from. I've texted back but I can't seem to get a signal right now, so I don't know if she's replied.' He held his cellphone up near the window and turned in various directions. Still no signal.
David gave him a knowing look. 'I take it this was a female someone?'
Linc nodded and smiled. 'Let's just say it was an unexpected blast from the past.'
'A good one?'
'She certainly wasn't that easy to forget so I hope so. But with everything that's happened in the last two days I've just not had a minute.' He ran his fingers through his dark brown hair. 'I can't remember the last time I actually slept.'
David nodded. 'Having the head of White House Security turn up at your door at three in the morning and tell you to pack up to deliver the President's baby would flatten most men.' He frowned. 'Your text. Was it from a real friend? Or a fair-weather friend? I've experienced lots of thosepeople who the minute you appear in the media have apparently been your "best friend" or "closest colleague" for yearseven though they don't know when your birthday is or what car you drive. Fame does funny things to folksyou need to be careful, Lincoln. This is a whole new ball game for you.'
Lincoln looked thoughtful. He gestured towards the door. 'Well, that was my first official television appearance, so she can't have known anything about it. She soundedI don't knowin trouble.'
'Just what every man lovesa damsel in distress.' David flashed him a smile. 'Come on, Lincoln, let's go and look after our girls.' He tossed his apple core into a trash can on the other side of the room.
'I told you to stop calling me that. It's Linc. My friends call me Linc.'
David looked aghast. 'Linc? Certainly not. You, my friend, are named after the finest President we've ever had and you should wear that name with pride.' He put his hand on the doorhandle as a frown puckered his forehead. 'Just don't tell Charlie Taylor I said that.'
Lincoln laughed. 'I may well use that as blackmail material.'
Amy glanced at her watch as the cab seemed to meander up the coastal road. The traffic was almost at a standstill and she watched as only a few vehicles got through the cordon in front of them. The rest were directed to turn and head back down the hill. Her stomach churned. This had to be the worst idea she'd ever had.
A uniformed officer approached the cab and rapped sharply on the window. He glanced in the back seat towards Amy. 'Where are you headed?'
The taxi driver gestured behind him. 'Got a pregnant lady to drop at the hospital.'
The cop gave a little start. He looked like a man who had heard every line in the book today but he leaned forward a little to get a better look. He obviously hadn't heard this one yet. 'Can you step out the car please, ma'am?'
Amy fumbled for the doorhandle and stepped out into the warm sea air. She pulled some money from her purse and handed it to the driver. 'Thanks very much.'
The cop ran his eyes up and down the length of her body. It was almost as if he was checking she actually was pregnant. Her white tunic and expanding trousers flapped in the wind, exposing every part of her body, including the currently out-turned umbilicus. She pressed her hands self-consciously over her stomach.
'Your name, ma'am?'
'You have to give me your nameand the name of the doctor you have an appointment to see.'
Amy hesitated. 'I don't exactly have an appointment, but I'm here to see Dr Lincoln Adams.'
The cop looked down at the list in his hand and stared at her. 'This isn't exactly the time for social calls.' His eyes narrowed suspiciously, 'Dr Adams, he's a neonatologist, isn't he?' He nodded towards her stomach. 'What do you want to see him for? You haven't had your baby yetshouldn't you be seeing an obstetrician?'
Amy sighed. The sun in Mendocino Valley was strong. She could feel it beating down on the pale skin at the parting in her red hair. A parting she usually always kept coveredtoo bad she'd forgotten her sunhat. She swallowed nervously. Trust her to get the cop who was smarter than the average bear.
She fumbled around her bag, looking for the bottle of water she had been drinking in the cab. Two hours in a cab with no air-conditioning with the heat so strong you could practically see it rising from the ground. Four hours in a train beforehand that had been packed with tourists. This trip had been a nightmare. There was no way she wasn't getting to see Lincoln.
She pulled her tunic from her sweating back. At least the sea winds around her were giving some relief.
The cop was getting annoyed. She could sense that good cop had retreated and bad cop was hovering near the door.
'Here.' She pulled out a battered envelope from her bag containing her medical notes. 'Give these to Lincoln Adams, he'll see me.'
The cop rolled his eyes. 'Dr Adams is currently looking after the First Daughter. He won't see you or anyone else.' He pointed in the direction of a cluster of reporters as he handed the notes back to her. 'Nice try, though.'
Amy felt a wave of panic wash over her as her baby gave a few anxious kicks. This heat was really starting to get to her. What if Lincoln wouldn't see her? What if he refused to look after her baby when it was born? What if didn't even remember her?
The blood rushed to her cheeks. Surely he hadn't forgotten her? How could he possibly forget those six months spent on the Amazon aid boat? She couldn't forget a single minute. The hours they hadn't spent working, they'd spent in his bedand neither of them had been sleeping.
Trouble was, even though she remembered every minute of their time together, did he? She'd heard sneaky rumours that Lincoln had had a long line of female friends on his Amazon trips. Was it possible she had been just another pretty face to him? Had she just been a summer-long fling?
Six months with the most gorgeous man on earth. A man who hadn't cared about appearances. He hadn't been looking for a designer-clothed, styled woman, piled with make-up. Which was just as well since her luggage had gone astray at Iquitos airport in Peru and hadn't arrived until two weeks later. She'd spent the first two weeks with her hair pulled back in her solitary hair bobble, wearing pale blue or green surgical scrubs and paper knickers. Just as well her breasts hadn't been big enough to really need the support of a bra.
She looked downwards. Things had certainly changed in the last six years. In more ways than one. Her extended stomach was definitely evidence of that.
Her hands went back to guarding her stomach. Her precious bundle. Her one and only chance of motherhood. Was it so wrong to want the best man in the land to look after her baby? More than that, someone she trusted. Someone she'd seen battle the odds to help a baby survive. Someone who refused to take no for an answer.
She wanted that. She wanted that for her babyher son. Lincoln was the best neonatol-ogist she'd ever worked with. If anyone could help her with an early delivery, it was him.
Her eyes drifted upwards. The cop was dealing with someone else now and looking more and more agitated by the minute. The sun was obviously getting to him too.
She looked around her. Security was everywhere. And no wonder. If reports were to be believed, the President, the First Lady and the First Daughter were currently in the hospital at the top of the hill. So how was she going to get in there?
Amy took a deep breath. 'Officer, officer!'
The cop scowled at her and walked back along the cordon. 'You again. What do you want?'
'You never let me finish,' she panted as she pushed her stomach out as far as she could. 'Lincoln Adamshe's my husband. So you have to let me in to see him.'
Where had that come from?
Amy was starting to feel light-headed. She really needed a seat. Oh, boy. She was definitely going to be caught out now. The cop squinted at her, 'You do know I'll radio up and check, don't you?' It was almost as if he could read her panicking mind and was giving her a last-minute opportunity to give up the madness, admit that she'd lied and retreatnever to be seen again.
But Amy was determined. She would see Lincoln, no matter what. She would get him to look after her son, no matter what. She drew herself up to her whole five feet five inches and stared him straight in the eye. 'Can you tell Dr Adams that his wife, Amy Carson, is here?'
'Different names, huh?' The cop eyed her suspiciously as he lifted his shoulder to speak into the radio attached to the front of his protective vest.
Amy's hands rested on the steel grating in front of her. Her eyes drifted across the nearby ocean. It was beautiful here. But the Californian heat seemed to be suffocating her. She could feel the sun beating down, making her itchy and scratchy. In fact, her whole body felt itchy. She pulled her smock top away from her body in an attempt to get some air circulating.
She blinked. A wave of nausea swept over her. Her head was beginning to spin. Suddenly watching the boats bobbing up and down in the cove didn't seem like such a good idea. The momentum of the waves was making her feel worse, her legs turning to jelly, and little patches of black had appeared at the edge of her vision