Convicted, стр. 50

Phil extended his hand, and the two men shook. “I wouldn’t.”

They discussed the plan, including how Phil would stay in touch. They also discussed contacting the FBI. Although Phil didn’t believe their calls from the island could be traced, he recommended that if Claire or Tony felt the need to contact Baldwin or anyone else, they keep the calls relatively short.

With time, they all agreed. The island was a safe retreat and the best place for Claire. She wanted Tony to be with her—so, he’d stay. Being safe wasn’t enough; they needed to know what was happening outside of their bubble. Phil would do his best to learn what they couldn’t.

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Maybe all one can hope is to end up with the right regrets .

—Tom Miller

Claire didn’t feel the soft restraints keeping her body pinned to the moving gurney or hear the loud noises from the echoing machine. During another time, in another life, the solitude of the Diffusion Tensor Imaging machine (DTI) would have frightened her. Perhaps it would today, if she was aware—but she wasn’t.

Yes, her body lay prone in a cold room, covered with a blanket, but the soft cotton sheet wasn’t providing the pleasurable warmth radiating through her. No—Claire was somewhere else. The heat emanating through every fiber of her being came from a strong, yet gentle touch and circulated to places where that touch had yet to explore.

Closing her eyes, Claire enjoyed the basking rays of sunshine on her skin and the scent of surf in the humid air. Though her recently applied sunscreen filled her senses, the lingering aroma of cologne comforted her thoughts and lulled her away to a peaceful, dreamless state; then, without warning, the sensation of large hands caressing her ankles and moving toward her thighs reignited her world. Claire’s lips turned upward as goose bumps materialized. Often times, people associated those small bumps to cold—on the contrary, at that moment—Claire wasn’t cold.

Opening her resting eyes behind her sunglasses and focusing on the handsome face before her, Claire saw his devilish grin. It was a smirk of lust and pleasure, which with only a glance could melt not only her insides, but her world. With the intense tropical sun, his eyes were also covered by dark glass, yet as his smiling lips neared hers and her smile morphed to a willing pucker, she knew there was an unseen intensity waiting for her behind those dark glasses.

Reaching up, she lifted the dark barrier and saw what she expected to be present. Just because she anticipated it, didn’t mean the dark reality didn’t affect her. Claire’s insides quivered as he removed her sunglasses and their eyes met. There was a moment when she thought to speak, but it was short-lived. So much more could be said without words.

When she woke earlier that day, he was gone. Madeline had said he’d gone out early. Claire hadn’t worried, she knew he’d return, but after only a few hours apart, she now realized their reunion would be more than a simple, Hi, how are you today?

It was true, her body had been thoroughly fulfilled and used the night before; nevertheless, it now yearned for what was being silently offered. When his full, soft lips engaged hers, the passion of the night before returned with a vengeance. Only moments earlier, her lungs had inhaled without instruction, yet as acquiescing moans escaped her lips, breathing required thought. Maybe it wasn’t thought as much as it was timing. Inhaling needed to occur in unison. If it didn’t, his unrelenting approach would rob her body of the oxygen necessary to go on. As her bathing suit covered breasts ached for the friction of his chest, Claire decided breathing was overrated. She wanted what was slowly overtaking her—to be consumed by the fire smoldering in the dark penetrating eyes. If in the process she forgot to breathe—did it really matter?

With the open doors looking out to the crystal blue sea, their room was only slightly more private than the lanai; however, it was their room. Madeline and Francis respected their privacy. As Claire’s bathing suit fell to the floor, she realized they’d yet to speak, and still, they’d conversed more than some couples did in a lifetime. They’d greeted one another, discussed the pleasantries of the tropical morning, and assessed that each was doing well.

Laying on the soft comforter with her arms above her head, the man she loved gazing down at only her, and the large ceiling fan methodically moving the humid air, Claire’s world was right. Had she planned on her morning taking this turn? No. Was she willing? Without a doubt.

The large, talented hands claiming her body also had her soul. While his approach could at times be forceful—it was always gentle. Yes, her mind held memories of contrary times, but those memories were so long ago that they were difficult to resurrect. At this moment, she willingly surrendered, as she’d done a thousand times, to the whims and desires of the man above her. Without any words, he could manipulate and dominate—move her from a state of sleeping bliss to the throes of erotic desire. Similar to years ago, his dark eyes held the passion and emotion that allowed her world to spin. Because he willed it so—the world was right. Without him, the entire planet would spin out of control, lost forever in the darkest depths of the universe.

It didn’t seem to matter that her body was changing. The tips of his fingers lingered as he taunted her sensitive breasts. So little was needed to entice her yearnings—a simple puff of air on a taunt, wet nipple made Claire’s back arch and her insides liquefy. Teasing her to the point of begging, yet satisfying every desire was his specialty. Despite the way she’d changed—the way her body had changed—she felt wanted and sexy as he skillfully caressed and suckled, moving south over her enlarged...

Claire shook her head and tried to reason.

Enlarged—baby—no—gone—everything gone—

She fought the thought—the idea—no!

Dr. Fairfield watched in horror as the patient, who only moments earlier had been experiencing something which none of them could see or hear, was suddenly flailing against the restraints. The machine wasn’t meant for movement.

“I told you to sedate her!” Dr. Fairfield yelled into the microphone.

Trying to remain calm, the nurse beside him replied, “We did, Doctor. She shouldn’t be waking.”

It didn’t matter if she shouldn’t be—Claire was fighting the restraints with all she had. Her mouth opened, yet with the roar of the machine, the feverish attempt of the medical staff to halt the DTI, and the doctor’s angry shouts, Claire’s pleas for her unborn child went unheard and unnoticed. By the time the others entered the lead lined room, Claire’s flushed cheeks were covered with tears and only wordless whimpers escaped her lips.

Dr. Fairfield slammed his fist against the counter as the staff sedated and moved the patient from the gurney. Speaking to everyone—and no one—he said, “This is her fifteenth day on medication. Do you know how much time and money was spent on that scan?! Now it’s useless! She’s barely a one-hundred-and-ten-pound woman. How damn hard is it to get her sedation right?”

Though he asked questions—he didn’t want verbal answers. Flinging the door to the windowed room so hard that it rebounded off the wall, he called over his shoulder, “When the results we did get from this scan are available, bring them to me.”

Dr. Fairfield’s recently prescribed treatment was both proven and new. There were documented results with these medications; however, Dr. Fairfield was taking it a step further, combining medications and requiring more intensive therapy. It was more than had been tried in the published literature. This scan was supposed to show the first marker. Obviously, even without the DTI, the patient was experiencing a hallucination; however, observation wasn’t measurable. The DTI was meant to document increased brain activity. This sedation screw-up would postpone the next DTI for at least a couple of days. Frustrated, the doctor stormed back to his office.