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An all-the-feels novel of fierce love overcoming a dark past from the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling THIS MAN series.
Izzy White knows of the darkness in this world. After all, she escaped it long ago. Determined not to let her past beat her, Izzy has a secure, stable life with a job she loves in nursing. But one act of kindness will completely upend everything she’s so carefully built-putting her right back in the crosshairs of danger she’s been so desperate to avoid.
When Theo Kane shows up like a knight in shining armor, Izzy can’t help thinking she’s been saved from one threat and exposed to another. His imposing physique, the harsh lines of his face, and the wariness of everyone who comes close are just a few clues to Theo Kane’s notorious reputation. The man is positively terrifying. But with Izzy, he’s tender and a complete gentleman, and her fascination with the mysterious beast of a man becomes too powerful for her to walk away.
As Theo’s demons come to light, running becomes even more impossible. And yet staying together could doom them both.
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I grapple with the fingers clawed around my neck, fighting to pry them away. The strength behind their hold defies reason, and it’s beginning to make me sweat. My windpipe is being crushed, making me gasp for breath. Fucking hell, he’s going to strangle me to death. Flashbacks bombard me – his face, his voice loaded with evil intent.
I’m in a hospital, I remind myself. I’m safe in a hospital. The reminder is hard to believe when you’re choking to death. With no other option left, I lunge for the red emergency button above his bed, smashing my fist into it before trying again to pry his fingers away from my neck.
‘Izzy!’ I hear my name being shouted, and suddenly more hands are around my throat, helping me. ‘Frank, let her go,’ Susan warns, as stern as usual. ‘Some help would be good, Pam!’
Pam appears, too, forcing Frank back to the bed by his shoulders. I nearly land on my arse when I’m released from the old man’s clutches, his long fingernails dragging across the delicate flesh of my neck as he’s forced away. Staggering back, I gasp for oxygen, drinking it down urgently as I leave Susan and Pam to calm Frank down.
My hands smooth over the side of my neck, the sting making me hiss a little. ‘Shit,’ I breathe, checking the tips of my fingers for blood. There’s none, but, Jesus, it stings like hell. Frank has a few pointless shouts before relenting to the small army of nurses and flopping back on his bed, huffing and moaning about being held prisoner.
‘Now, now, Frank,’ Susan placates him, sounding all jolly. ‘That wasn’t very nice, was it?’ She pats the covers around his legs. ‘Izzy was only trying to help you.’
‘Sheila will be wondering where I am,’ Frank barks, pointing a bent finger at Susan before turning it on me. ‘You Nazis! You can’t keep me here!’
Pam gives me a concerned look, and I shake my head, telling her I’m fine, before I straighten myself out and move in to help Susan.
‘Let’s get you well and you can go home,’ I say soothingly. I pour him some water and hand him the cup, being super vigilant for any sign he might attempt to wring my neck again. He snorts but takes the water and sips it, his hand shaking. The poor man. He won’t be getting well, and he won’t be going home. Sheila, his wife of five decades, has been dead for fifteen years, God love him. His daughter can’t look after him any more, and he can no longer live alone. It’s not safe, which leaves him in hospital until alternative arrangements can be made. Whenever that might be.
I straighten and take the blood pressure monitor, rolling it away. Susan, the ward sister, falls into stride next to me, checking her watch. ‘You’ve been pushed and pulled about this week, Izzy,’ she muses, giving me a sideways smile. ‘Let’s have a look.’
I wave my hand flippantly, brushing her off. ‘It’s nothing.’
‘I’ll be the judge of that,’ she scolds, pulling me to a stop and pushing my shoulder-length wavy black hair away from my neck. ‘I thought you asked Pam to cut his nails.’
I wince, not wanting to get my colleague into trouble. ‘I did?’
Susan rolls her eyes at my feigned ignorance. ‘C’mon. It’s the end of your shift. Let’s get handover done so you can go home.’ She turns and marches to her office, her round bottom swaying, and I follow as I feel at my sore skin, damning myself for not getting through this shift unscathed. It just means more paperwork.
After half an hour of handovers and completing forms, I make my way to the maternity unit to see Jess before heading home. I spot her through the glass of the double doors, and her face lights up as she makes her way down the corridor to let me in. Her blonde curls are pulled back into a tidy bun, with a few wayward strands poking out here and there, indicating that she’s well into her shift. She pushes the door open and ushers me inside, and the sound of wailing babies hits me from every direction. ‘Jesus, there’s some serious lung exercises going on tonight,’ I say on a laugh. My best friend nods her agreement and wipes her hands down the front of her dress. She’s a midwife, and a great one. We met at college and have shared a flat since we were eighteen. She is literally my only family.
‘There must be a full moon,’ Jess says, her eyes landing on my neck. ‘Wow, that’s a bad one.’
I reach up and feel again, wincing, my fingers slipping across the antiseptic cream. ‘Frank made a bid for freedom.’
‘Damn, girl, you should have followed my lead. Babies can’t strangle you.’