Drew marched down the hospital hall, as angry with himself as he was with Miranda. Of course Miranda would make a play for him. She hadn’t been facing the length of the hall, so wouldn’t know Suzie could see her kiss him. More to the point, she probably didn’t realize it would hurt Suzie. Miranda struck him as the kind of girl who didn’t see much beyond the end of her nose.
He felt a mild twinge of conscience for having shoved Miranda away, but he hadn’t shoved the drama queen hard enough to send her toppling. If she had grabbed at the frame around the doorway into Vin’s hospital room it was because she’d lost her balance, not because he was some kind of jerk.
Except he HAD been a bit rougher than he intended. Forget Miranda, it was Suzie he needed to worry about!
He took the stairs two at a time, though he only guessed she’d headed for her car when she ran off in tears. The echo of his own hard-soled shoes almost covered the quieter scuffing sound of someone below him.
He sped up. At the base of the stairwell a woman in jeans and a cotton blouse leaned her head against the glass with imbedded chicken wire set into the steel door. Suzie. He’d know that lithe body anywhere, even with her brown ponytail facing him.
“Suzie,” he said gently. “It wasn’t what you think.”
She stiffened, sucking in a hard breath though not quite a gasp, as she turned to face him. She nodded as if about to greet him like she would an acquaintance, then pulled the teddy bear in her arms tight against her middle and said, “What do you think I think?”
The teddy bear must have been what she went to the gift shop for, what she was bringing to Vin when she saw Miranda kiss him. It made her look vulnerable.
“It’s none of my business if you and Miranda were kissing.” Suzie tried to make it sound off-handed, but she said it before he could answer her question, which only confirmed all his suspicions.
“Oh come off it, Suzie. I know you’re upset about it.” He reached out and gently touched her glistening cheek.
“No, no. I’m just worried about Vin.” She smiled bravely, though her eyes still shimmered.
“It didn’t mean anything.” As soon as he said it he could tell he’d said he wrong thing. Suzie’s brows drew together in a thunderous scowl, her eyes narrowed and her jaw flexed. For a moment he thought she’d hit him.
“It better have meant something. Miranda is pretty serious about you.”
“I doubt Miranda has ever been serious about any man.” Another wrong thing to say.
“You haven’t known her long.”
Drew did not want to go down that conversational road. He didn’t really care about Miranda’s love life, so long as he didn’t get sucked into it. He took a deep breath, trying to keep his temper in check.
“Regardless, I have given her no reason to think I’m interested in her.” Before Suzie could do more than open her mouth, he talked over her protest. “She kissed me, not the other way around.”
“Didn’t you kiss her back, even a little?” She arched an eyebrow.
“No! I did not. I was comforting her, patting her on the back while she cried on my shoulder. The next thing I knew she turned into a succubus and latched on!”
“Well that’s a fine way to think of her,” Suzie chastised. “Don’t you think there’s a chance you two might have gotten involve?”
“I hope not.” He didn’t make enough effort to keep the repugnance from his voice. Suzie looked at him a bit closely, but he didn’t try to explain.
It didn’t matter how hot Miranda was, he didn’t need that kind of drama in his life. Not up close and personal the way it always got with lovers.
“The point is I’m not fooling around with anyone.” He tried to get the conversation back on track. “I’m not married, and I don’t have any girlfriends, and I’m not going to let anything happen with Miranda. I’m not even going to let her cry on my shoulder again.”
“Why are you telling me all this? It isn’t like we were an item.”
“But maybe we could be.”
Suzie took two large steps back, an expression of horror on her face. One hand went to the knob on the door between the stairwell and the ground-floor hall leading to the hospital’s entrance. “No, I don’t think so. One philandering husband is enough in a lifetime.”
“I am not a philanderer!”
“The point is,” she threw the words back at him. “I’m not in the market for another husband. It isn’t you. It’s me. I don’t want another man in my life. Not like that.”
With decisive firmness she opened the door and headed down the hall. She looked far more determined in her stride than the situation called for, as if she could walk away from him and not have him turn up minutes later in her house.
“You aren’t interested in me?” Drew muttered to himself. “Could have fooled me.”