“He came out of nowhere,” she protested, her voice wobbling even more than Dante’s. “It wasn’t your fault. You’re bleeding, Dante.”
The quiver in her voice gave way to a sob, and he held her even closer.
“It’s okay. It’s okay, nena. Don’t cry. I’m okay.” He muttered similar phrases, his English liberally sprinkled with Spanish. They could hear sirens in the distance and shouting as James and the other driver argued about something, but neither Dante nor Cleo moved, or even looked in that direction.
When the emergency services showed up, James pointed them to Dante and Cleo, who still sat in the middle of the field. They had long since lapsed into silence, Dante holding her close while Cleo battled to stop shaking.
“He’s bleeding,” she told the paramedics as soon as they crouched down in front of them.
“And she’s pregnant,” Dante informed them, as one of the men applied pressure to the bleeding wound above his right eyebrow, where a shard of the shattered window had narrowly missed his eye.
Her hand went to her bump at the mention of her pregnancy—of course it would be the first thing Dante thought about in a situation like this. No wonder he’d been so worried about her. There’d be no baby without a healthy Cleo.
It hadn’t even occurred to Cleo to be concerned about the baby. Her baby was fine. She’d know if it wasn’t. Still, it would be wise to check. She gave the bump a reassuring pat and stood up with the overeager assistance of two paramedics and one apprehensive-looking Spaniard. One of the paramedics attempted to steer her toward the waiting ambulance, but Dante stepped between them and took her elbow, as if she were the most fragile thing in the world.
“I’ll do it,” he said firmly, and the paramedics exchanged glances before shrugging and smoothly moving to flank the hobbling couple as they slowly made their way toward the ambulance.
A second ambulance was just arriving, and so were the police. James left the other driver with the emergency responders and strode toward them.
“You both okay?” he asked, his sharp gaze taking in their injuries, or lack thereof, in a single glance.
“Fine,” Dante replied, while the paramedics were checking their vital signs. “What about that guy?”
James made a disgusted sound.
“Drunk. And feeling confrontational even though he can barely stand upright. He actually wanted to get back into his wrecked car and drive off. I had to take his keys. The fool thought this was an intersection and blasted through the red light. If you hadn’t been driving by at that exact moment, he would have wound up in this field.”
“We’re lucky it wasn’t worse,” Cleo whispered, her hand going to her abdomen as she considered the awful possibilities. It was bad enough that Dante was injured.
“You’re both going to have to come to the hospital with us,” one of the paramedics said sternly. “Sir, we have to rule out concussion, and we need to make sure that everything is in order with your wife’s pregnancy.”
“I’m not . . . ,” she began.
But Dante cut her short with a terse, “Fine.”
He helped her into the ambulance and climbed in after her.
“The cops are going to want to speak with you both,” James said as the paramedics shut the doors. “I’ll let them know which hospital they’re taking you to, and I’ll pick you up from there.”
Dante merely nodded, and his efficient bodyguard took control of the situation.
Endless hours later, Dante was given the all-clear. No concussion, but it was still a nasty bump to the head, and he needed to call a doctor immediately if he suffered headaches, nausea, or blurred vision. He had five stitches above his eyebrow and a bruise forming on his cheek. Cleo had a tender chest from the impact of the airbag but no damage to her ribs or sternum and was treated for shock. The baby seemed fine, but they warned her to rest for the next few days and to contact her OB/GYN as soon as possible if there was any unusual cramping or bleeding.
They’d both made statements to the police and were assured that the driver of the other car would be arrested on drunk-driving charges, and since it wasn’t his first offense, he would likely be stripped of his license. Happy with that outcome, the exhausted couple gratefully followed James to Dante’s second car, which he’d picked up after dropping off Cleo’s hatchback. Cleo eyed the gleaming navy-blue car in amusement and arched a look at James.
“Didn’t you think my beat-up old Volkswagen was good enough for His Majesty over here?”
James grinned. “I thought you’d both be a lot more comfortable in the Mercedes.”
“Good call,” Dante said, his voice leaden with exhaustion and pain.
It was close to one in the morning by the time they finally got home. After saying good night to James, they wearily made their way up to the penthouse. Once there, Dante stumbled up to his room. Cleo trailed after him, wanting to be sure he made it to bed okay. She’d never seen him this sluggish, and it concerned her. She still worried about his head injury, even though the doctor assured them it was minor, and she knew it was probably the painkillers making him groggy. He dragged off his clothes, keeping on his black boxer briefs and black socks, and threw himself facedown on the bed without saying a word. Cleo didn’t even think he was aware of her presence in his room. She tried to convince herself that he would be fine if she left and reluctantly turned to exit the room.
He said something, his voice muffled by the pillow, and she stopped, turning to look at him. He didn’t appear to have moved a muscle.