Authors: Lucy Clark
it?’ she asked, her words angry, her tears choking in her throat. She shook her head and sniffed, knowing she should get control over her emotions but realising she might have passed the point where logical thought was possible. ‘How can you even ask me that? I...’ She walked stiffly away from him, her movements stilted as though her brain was having difficulty sending signals to her limbs.
‘I’m not sure I underst—’
‘Of course you don’t.’ She rolled her eyes and shook her head. ‘Why? Why did I even bother?’ she whispered, more to herself than to him.
Sean stepped forward and placed both hands on her shoulders, wanting her to look at him. ‘Jane?’
‘Get your hands off me,’ she growled, her voice low but steady. He gazed down into her face for a whole three seconds before doing as she’d asked. He stepped back and thrust both hands into his hair before placing them on his hips and looking at her as though she were a puzzle he simply couldn’t figure out.
Jane drew in a breath, trying to muster as much civility as she could. The emotions were beginning to erupt and she knew of old that if she tried to quell them too much, it only made matters worse.
‘I think you should leave.’
Sean shifted his stance, still staring at her in utter confusion. He opened his mouth to say something then closed it again before shaking his head. ‘If that’s what you want.’
‘Then I’ll go.’
Although he said the words, he still didn’t move for a good ten seconds, the two of them standing there, staring at each other. There was no way she could decipher his expression and right now she was too distraught to care. The only thought that kept spinning around in her mind was that although she may have felt some sort of bond with Sean, although they may have acknowledged an attraction to each other, that attraction had abruptly come to an end the instant he’d seen her disfigurement.
He nodded and shoved his hands into his pockets. ‘I’ll go.’
With that, he walked past her to the door and without looking back opened it and left.
As the door slowly closed behind him, the rush of pain, anguish and loneliness, all the emotions she’d been fighting for far too long, washed over her like a raging torrent, flooding her mind. With her legs no longer able to support her, she crumpled to the floor as the first sobs of heartbreak began to rack her body.
Despite the way Sean loved his family, despite the way he loved his son, there was no denying the fact that he could never love a freak like her.
OR THE NEXT
three days Sean had the distinct impression that Jane was doing her best to avoid him. Initially he’d thought she was embarrassed at having shown him her body, that she needed some time to come to terms with her vulnerability, but every time he walked onto the ward, she would leave at her earliest convenience, not even bothering to utter an excuse.
He knew she’d been to Maternity to check on both Carly and the baby because when he’d gone to see how mother and baby were doing, Carly had sung Jane’s praises, letting Sean know how wonderful she was.
‘She told me that when she was a teenager she was also in a car accident like me. She opened up to me, she told me she knew
what I was feeling and why it was important for me to speak to a psychologist about it now, rather than letting the emotions build up and get the better of me.’
‘Wise words,’ Sean had remarked, already having read in Carly’s file that she’d bluntly refused to see the psychologist.
‘I can’t believe she opened up to me like she did. She didn’t have to but because she did I can see that she’s not just spouting hospital rules at me but that she really does care because she
‘Yes.’ Sean knew Carly wasn’t the only patient to be saying such things about the wonderful Jane Diamond. Tessa, who was beginning to show definite signs of improvement as far as her eating habits went, continued to be glued to Jane’s side as much as possible. He’d read in Tessa’s notes that Jane had sat in on every counselling session with the parents, offering helpful suggestions as to ways they could support both their daughters—the one who was bullying and the one who was being bullied.
Jane had also dropped around to spend some time with Spencer, or so his mother had told him late yesterday evening. Sean found it interesting that Jane had chosen to see her nephew on the evening when she knew he’d be in departmental meetings. In fact, it seemed that Jane had time for everyone...except him.
Perhaps the kisses they’d shared had been enough to scare her off? Perhaps she now wanted to just be friends and not be romantically involved...but if that was the case, why had she shown him her scars in the first place? He couldn’t believe how amazing she was, how brave and incredibly beautiful, and now she seemed to want nothing to do with him.
He’d left her messages on her phone. Some jokingly jovial, telling her he couldn’t sleep and needed her to sing him a lullaby over the phone, and when she hadn’t returned any of his calls he’d left messages that were filled with concern and confusion. No reply.
He still wanted to pursue the attraction he felt for her, to figure out what had gone wrong and why she was bent on avoiding him. He knew she felt the same way, too, or at least she had. So why had she shut him out? What had he done? Said? He was at a loss to figure it out and it had been constantly at the back of his mind for the past three days, ever since she’d asked him to leave her room.
Sean flicked back the bed sheet and stalked from his bedroom, deciding it was better to give up on attempts to sleep and try and catch up on some paperwork. ‘At least the bureaucracy of the hospital will help get your mind off Jane,’ he murmured as he made himself a cup of tea.
He worked solidly for half an hour, the light over his paper-strewn dining-room table sufficiently illuminating the area as the clock in the hallway ticked steadily towards dawn.
He heard his mother’s voice at the top of the stairs. ‘Are you awake?’
‘Mum? Come on down.’
Louise did as he asked, coming into the room, her summer dressing gown pulled tight around her. ‘Can’t sleep either?’ she asked rhetorically. Sean’s answer was a shrug of his shoulders. ‘Problem at the hospital?’
‘Problem with Spencer?’
‘No. He’s fine.’
Louise settled herself at the table and looked closely at her son for a moment. ‘Problem with...Jane?’
Sean eyed his mother cautiously. ‘What makes you ask that?’
‘Oh, I don’t know. When she was here she kept changing the subject every time I mentioned your name.’
Sean put his pen down and groaned, resting his head in his hands. So she really was avoiding him, not just being super-busy and efficient at work. He’d hoped it was the latter, he’d hoped he was reading the signals incorrectly, but if his mother had picked up on something—and she was usually incredibly astute—then there was definitely something wrong.
‘I thought the two of you were getting along very well,’ Louise stated. ‘It certainly looked that way when we were at the beach.’
‘The beach.’ He lifted his head from his hands. ‘That seems so long ago now.’
‘I’m sorry if you think I’m prying, son, but how
you feel about Jane? Tell me to shut up and mind my own business if you want but I only ask because I care about you, and about Jane and about Spencer. Whether you like it or not, your son became very much involved in all of this the instant you gave Jane access to him.’
‘You think I should have kept her away?’
‘No. Heavens, no. From what I can observe, Jane hasn’t had the easiest of lives and it’s a credit to her that she’s such a strong survivor.’
‘Yes.’ Sean thought back to the way she’d bravely revealed her scars to him, the way her big eyes had been wide with fear, like a scared little rabbit, and yet she’d done it. She’d conquered her fear and shown him her deepest, darkest secret and then...
‘It’s as though she sometimes gets swamped with the emotions from her past,’ he said out loud, standing and pacing the room. ‘I thought she was steering clear of me because she...well, she opened up to me.’ He stopped pacing and raked a hand through his hair. ‘But if she was avoiding talking about me, then it must have been... But what did I do?’
‘How did she open up to you?’ Louise asked.
Sean looked at the floor then met his mother’s eyes. ‘She showed me her scars.’
‘From the car accident when she was a teenager? The one where her parents died?’
‘Yes.’ He shook his head. ‘What she must have endured.’
‘And what did you say?’
‘After she’d bared her soul to you—because that’s what she was doing, darling—what did you say?’
Sean frowned. ‘I didn’t...say...’ He tried to recollect what had happened next. ‘She showed me her scars, she told me her parents had died in that accident. I was surprised that Daina hadn’t been scarred in any way, given the severity of the accident.’
Louise gaped at her son. ‘Tell me you didn’t mention Daina.’
‘What? I just said I didn’t remember Daina being scar—’ He stopped talking and closed his eyes, slowly shaking his head from side to side. ‘She thought I was comparing them. Her and Daina.’ And that had been when she’d turned away from him, that had been when she’d finally stared at him with the eyes of a stranger and told him to leave. He’d only done as she asked because he’d thought it had all been too much for her and that she wanted to be alone.
‘Has Jane ever had a serious relationship before?’
‘Yes.’ The answer was a whisper as he quickly recalled what she’d told him. ‘She said he broke off the engagement because she kept herself hidden, that she was secretive, and that in the end she wasn’t the woman he wanted.’ Regret pierced Sean’s soul at the thought of the pain he’d caused Jane.
If she was under the impression that he thought her scars ugly and disfiguring then he had to change her mind. He had to show her that she’d become important to him, that she’d somehow managed to open his heart, helped him to heal from his past pain and to risk loving again.
‘Loving?’ His eyes widened as the word tripped off his tongue. He glanced at his mother to find her watching him intently.
‘I don’t know what just went on inside your head, son.’ She chuckled as she stood and tightened the belt of her dressing gown. ‘But it was funny watching a multitude of emotions work their way across your face.’ She leaned up and pressed a kiss to his cheek. ‘Let me know if your father or I can be of any help.’
‘Can you look after Spencer when he wakes up in about half an hour?’ Sean’s mind was working at a rate of knots. ‘I need to fix this. I need to let Jane know that’s not how things are, that’s not how I feel, and I think I know exactly how to accomplish that.’
Louise nodded. ‘I’m still only getting half the picture but that’s all right. I’ll wait until the ending’s written.’ She pointed a finger at him, her tone filled with mock warning. ‘Just make it a happy one.’
As Louise headed back up the stairs, yawning as she went, Sean looked at the clock on the wall. ‘Half past five.’ He walked to his phone, his gut telling him that Jane would not be asleep, that she’d no doubt be somewhere in the ward, helping her patients through the night. ‘Anthea?’ he said when the phone on the ward was answered. ‘It’s Sean. Is Jane on the ward?’
‘Yes, she is. Do you want me to get her for you?’
‘Er...no. No. It’s fine.’ He was about to say goodbye but added quickly, ‘Don’t tell her I called. OK?’
‘And if possible, can you keep her on the ward until I get there? Shouldn’t be more than half an hour or so.’
‘OK,’ Anthea said again, her tone a little curious. ‘Are you feeling all right, Sean?’
Sean grinned as his plan began to solidify. ‘Anthea, I’ve never been better in my life!’
* * *
Jane sat by Tessa’s bedside, pleased with the progress the young girl had made over the past few weeks. It made her feel wonderful to be able to help someone because it was a small way of righting the wrongs that had been done to her. Tessa was due to be discharged tomorrow and was naturally apprehensive at going home.
‘I’m safe here. Why can’t I stay here?’ she’d asked Jane only a few hours ago, the rest of the ward quiet as the two of them had talked softly.
‘Because you need to grow stronger at home. Staying here will do nothing for you, Tessa. Facing your darkest fears is...’ Jane had stopped, as the image of Sean’s gaze on her disfigured body, the look of disbelief in his eyes, had come immediately to mind. She’d pushed it aside. ‘Is how you become strong. Your parents know what your sister was doing to you and they’ve been able to find out what was wrong with your sister, why she felt it necessary to bully you.’
‘But what about you?’ Tessa had held Jane’s hand. ‘Will I see you again?’
‘You’re seeing me in three days’ time in my clinic.’
Tessa had looked at Jane then, caution entering her eyes. ‘Are you for real or are you just being my doctor?’ Blunt and to the point. Jane’s smile had been bright because two weeks ago Tessa wouldn’t have had the courage to ask such a thing.
‘I’m both. I’m your doctor first and foremost but I’m also your friend.’
‘So we can, you know, go the park one day or something like that?’
‘What about the movies?’ Jane had suggested, and Tessa’s eyes had brightened with absolute delight.
‘Of course.’ Jane had laughed at the reaction and Tessa had joined in before sighing as though a huge weight had just been removed from her shoulders. Fifteen minutes later, the child had drifted off into a calm and comfortable sleep.
Jane sat there, envying the little girl. Yes, things had been bad but Tessa was getting help and, most importantly, was responding to that help. If only her own life could be as easily fixed, but that wasn’t to be. She had to somehow figure out a way to endure working alongside the man who had stolen her heart but rejected her body.
Closing her eyes, she couldn’t help but remember the way he’d held her so tenderly, the way he’d kissed her, murmured that he thought her beautiful. If only it had been true. At least she’d found out early on, at least she hadn’t spent months of her time here in Adelaide fixating on the hope that something might happen between Sean and herself. The fact that he’d generously included her in his family circle, allowing her access to Spencer, was something she would be forever grateful for, and where she’d thought he’d accepted her for who she was, that he might be able to see past the scars on her body to the real her, cowering inside...well, she’d been mistaken before and she shouldn’t have been surprised that it had happened again.