Someone to Watch Over Me Chapter 1
“Miss Kendall, can you hear me? I’m Dr. Metcalf, and you’re at Good Samaritan Hospital in Mountainside. We’re going to take you out of the ambulance now and into the emergency room.”
Shivering uncontrollably, Leigh Kendall reacted to the insistent male voice that was calling her back to consciousness, but she couldn’t Seem to summon the strength to open her eyelids.
“Can you hear me, Miss Kendall?”
With an effort, she finally managed to force her eyes open. The doctor who had spoken was bending over her, examining her head, and beside him, a nurse was holding a clear plastic bag of IV fluid.
“We’re going to take you out of the ambulance now,” he repeated as he beamed a tiny light at each of her pupils.
“Need . . . to tell . . . husband I’m here,” Leigh managed in a feeble whisper.
He nodded and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. “The state police will take care of that. In the meantime, you have some very big fans at Good Samaritan, including me, and we’re going to take excellent care of you.”
Voices and images began to fly at Leigh from every direction as the gurney was lifted from the ambulance. Red and blue lights pulsed frantically against a gray dawn sky. People in uniforms flashed past her line of vision—New York State troopers, paramedics, doctors, nurses. Doors swung open, the hallway flew by, faces crowded around her, firing urgent questions at her.
Leigh tried to concentrate, but their voices were collapsing into an incomprehensible babble, and their features were sliding off their faces, dissolving into the same blackness that had already devoured the rest of the room.
WHEN LEIGH AWOKE AGAIN, it was dark outside and a light snow was falling. Struggling to free herself from the effects of whatever drugs were dripping into her arm from the IV bag above her, she gazed dazedly at what appeared to be a hospital room filled with a riotous display of flowers.
Seated on a chair near the foot of the bed, flanked by a huge basket of white orchids and a large vase of bright yellow roses, a gray-haired nurse was reading a copy of the New York Post with Leigh’s picture on the front page.
Leigh turned her head as much as the brace on her neck would allow, searching for some sign of Logan, but for the time being, she was alone with the nurse. Experimentally, she moved her legs and wiggled her toes, and was relieved to find them still attached to the rest of her and in reasonably good working order. Her arms were bandaged and her head was wrapped in something tight, but as long as she didn’t move, her discomfort seemed to be limited to a generalized ache throughout her body, a sharper ache in her ribs, and a throat so dry it felt as if it were stuffed with sawdust.
She was alive, and that in itself was a miracle! The fact that she was also whole and relatively unharmed filled Leigh with a sense of gratitude and joy that was almost euphoric. She swallowed and forced a croaking whisper from her parched throat. “May I have some water?”
The nurse looked up, a professional smile instantly brightening her face. “You’re awake!” she said as she quickly closed the newspaper, folded it in half, and laid it facedown beneath her chair.
The name tag on the nurse’s uniform identified her as “Ann Mackey, RN. Private Duty,” Leigh noted as she watched the nurse pouring water from a pink plastic pitcher on the tray beside the bed.
“You should have a straw. I’ll go get one.”
“Please don’t bother. I’m terribly thirsty.”
When the nurse started to hold the glass to Leigh’s mouth, Leigh took it from her. “I can hold it,” Leigh assured her, and then was amazed by how much effort it took just to lift her bandaged arm and hold it steady. By the time she handed the glass back to Nurse Mackey, her arm was trembling and her chest hurt terribly. Wondering if perhaps there was more wrong with her than she’d thought, Leigh let her head sink back into the pillows while she gathered the strength to talk. “What sort of condition am I in?”
Nurse Mackey looked eager to share her knowledge, but she hesitated. “You really should ask Dr. Metcalf about that.”
“I will, but I’d like to hear it now, from my private duty nurse. I won’t tell him you told me anything.”
It was all the encouragement she needed. “You were in shock when you were brought in,” she confided. “You had a concussion, hypothermia, cracked ribs, and suspected injuries to the cervical vertebrae and adjacent tissue—that’s whiplash in layman’s terms. You have several deep scalp wounds, as well as lacerations on your arms, legs, and torso, but only a few of them are on your face, and they aren’t deep, which is a blessing. You also have contusions and abrasions all over your—”
Smiling as much as her swollen lip would allow, Leigh lifted her hand to stop the litany of injuries. “Is there anything wrong with me that will need surgery?”
The nurse looked taken aback by Leigh’s upbeat attitude, and then she looked impressed. “No surgery,” she said with an approving little pat on Leigh’s shoulder.
“Any physical therapy?”
“I wouldn’t think so. But you should expect to be very sore for a few weeks, and your ribs will hurt. Your burns and cuts will require close attention, healing and scarring could be a concern—”
Leigh interrupted this new deluge of depressing medical minutiae with a grin. “I’ll be very careful,” she said, and then she switched to the only other topic on her mind. “Where is my husband?”
Nurse Mackey faltered and then patted Leigh’s shoulder again. “I’ll go and see about that,” she promised, and hurried off, leaving Leigh with the impression that Logan was nearby.
Exhausted from the simple acts of drinking and speaking, Leigh closed her eyes and tried to piece together what had happened to her since yesterday, when Logan had kissed her good-bye in the morning. . . .
He’d been so excited when he left their Upper East Side apartment, so eager for her to join him in the mountains and spend the night with him there. For over a year, he’d been looking for just the right site for their mountain retreat, a secluded setting that would complement the sprawling stone house he’d designed for the two of them. Finding the right site was complicated by the fact that Logan had already completed the drawings, so the site needed to be adaptable to the plans. On Thursday, he’d finally found a piece of property that met all his exacting qualifications, and he’d been so eager for her to see it that he insisted they should spend Sunday night—their first available night—in the existing cabin on the land.
“The cabin hasn’t been used in years, but I’ll clean it up while I’m waiting for you to get there,” he promised, displaying an endearing enthusiasm for a task he’d always avoided. “There isn’t any electricity or heat, but I’ll build a roaring fire in the fireplace, and we’ll sleep in front of it in sleeping bags. We’ll have dinner by candlelight. In the morning, we’ll watch the sun rise over the tops of the trees. Our trees. It will be very romantic, you’ll see.”
His entire plan filled Leigh with amused dread. She was starring in a new play that had opened on Broadway the night before, and she’d only had four hours of sleep. Before she could leave for the mountains, she had a Sunday matinee performance to give, and that would be followed by a three-hour drive to a cold, uninhabitable stone cabin, so that she could sleep on the floor . . . and then get up at dawn the next day.
“I can’t wait,” she lied convincingly, but what she really wanted to do was go back to sleep. It was only eight o’clock. She could sleep until ten.
Logan hadn’t had any more sleep than she, but he was already dressed and eager to leave for the cabin. “The place isn’t easy to find, so I drew you a detailed map with plenty of landmarks,” he said, laying a piece of paper on her nightstand. “I’ve already loaded the car. I think I have everything I need—” he continued, leaning over her in bed and pressing a quick kiss on her cheek, “—house plans, stakes, string, a transom, sleeping bags. I still feel like I’m forgetting something . . .”
“A broom, a mop, and a bucket?” Leigh joked sleepily as she rolled over onto her stomach. “Scrub brushes? Detergent?”
“Killjoy,” he teased, nuzzling her neck where he knew she was ticklish.
Leigh giggled, pulled the pillow over the back of her head, and continued dictating his shopping list. “Disinfectant . . . mousetraps . . .”
“You sound like a spoiled, pampered Broadway star,” he chuckled, pressing down on the pillow to prevent her from adding more items to the list. “Where is your sense of adventure?”
“It stops at a Holiday Inn,” she said with a muffled giggle.
“You used to love to go camping. You were the one who taught me how. You even suggested we go camping on our honeymoon!”
“Because we couldn’t afford a Holiday Inn.”
With a laugh, he pulled the pillow away from her head and rumpled her hair. “Leave straight from the theater. Don’t be late.” He stood up and headed for the door to their bedroom suite. “I know I’m forgetting something—”
“Drinking water, candles, a tin coffeepot?” Leigh helpfully chanted. “Food for dinner? A pear for my breakfast?”
“No more pears. You’re addicted,” he teased over his shoulder. “From now on, it’s Cream of Wheat and prunes for you.”
“Sadist,” Leigh mumbled into the pillows. A moment later she heard the door close behind him, and she rolled onto her back, smiling to herself as she gazed out the bedroom windows overlooking Central Park. Logan’s enthusiasm for the mountain property was contagious, but his lighthearted mood was what mattered most to her. They’d both been so young, and so poor, when they got married thirteen years ago that hard work had been a necessity, and then it had become a habit. On their wedding day, their total combined assets were eight hundred dollars in cash, plus Logan’s new architectural degree, his mother’s social connections, and Leigh’s unproven acting talent—that, and their unflagging faith in each other. With only those tools, they’d built a wonderful life together, but during the last few months, they’d both been so busy that their sex life had been almost nonexistent. She’d been immersed in the preopening craziness of a new play, and Logan had been consumed with the endless complexities of his latest, and biggest, business venture.
As Leigh lay in bed, gazing out at the clouds gathering in the November sky, she decided she definitely liked the prospect of spending the night in front of a roaring fire with nothing to do but make love with her husband. They wanted a baby, and she suddenly realized that even the timing was right for conception tonight. She was dreamily imagining the evening that lay ahead when Hilda walked into the bedroom wearing her coat and carrying Leigh’s breakfast tray. “Mr. Manning said you were awake, so I brought you breakfast before I leave,” Hilda explained. She waited while Leigh struggled into a sitting position; then she handed her the tray containing Leigh’s ritual breakfast fare—cottage cheese, a pear, and coffee. “I’ve tidied up after the party. Is there anything else you’d like me to do before I go?”
“Not a thing. Enjoy your day off. Are you planning to stay in New Jersey at your sister’s tonight?”
Hilda nodded. “My sister said she’s had very good luck at Harrah’s lately. I thought we might go there.”
Leigh suppressed a grin because, as far as she’d been able to tell, Hilda had absolutely no human weaknesses—except one for the nickel slot machines in Atlantic City. “We won’t be back here until late tomorrow afternoon,” Leigh said as a thought occurred to her. “I’ll have to go straight to the theater, and Mr. Manning has a dinner meeting that will last until late in the evening. There’s really no need for you to be here tomorrow night. Why don’t you spend two days with your sister, and check out some of the slot machines at the other casinos?”
The suggestion of two consecutive days off threw the housekeeper into a total state of inner conflict that reflected itself on Hilda’s plain face and made Leigh stifle another grin. In the War Against Dirt and Disorder, Hilda Brunner was a militant, tireless general who marched into daily battle armed with a vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies, her foreboding expression warning of an impending assault on all foreign particles. To Hilda, taking two days off in a row was tantamount to a voluntary retreat, and that was virtually unthinkable. On the other hand, if she did as Leigh suggested, she would be able to spend two full days with her sister at the nickel slot machines. She cast a glance around the immaculate bedroom that was her personal battlefield, trying to assess in advance the extent of damage likely to occur if she were absent for two entire days. “I would like to think about it.”
“Of course,” Leigh said, struggling to keep her face straight. “Hilda,” she called as the German woman bustled toward the door.
Hilda turned in the act of belting her brown coat around her waist. “Yes, Mrs. Manning?”
“You’re a treasure.”
LEIGH HAD HOPED to leave the theater by four o’clock that afternoon, but the play’s director and the writer wanted to make some minor changes in two of her scenes after watching the matinee performance, and then they argued endlessly over which changes to make, trying out first one variation, then another. As a result, it was after six when she was finally on her way.
Patchy fog mixed with light snow slowed her progress out of the city. Leigh tried to call Logan twice on his cellular phone to tell him she was going to be late, but either he’d left his phone somewhere out of hearing or the cabin was beyond range of his cellular service. She left voice mail messages for him instead.
By the time she reached the mountains, the snow was falling hard and fast, and the wind had picked up dramatically. Leigh’s Mercedes sedan was heavy and handled well, but the driving was treacherous, the visibility so poor that she could only see fifteen feet in front of her car. At times it was impossible to see large road signs, let alone spot the little landmarks Logan had noted on his map. Roadside restaurants and gas stations that would normally have been open at ten P.M. were closed, their parking lots deserted. Twice, she doubled back, certain she’d missed a landmark or a road. With nowhere to stop or ask for directions, Leigh had little choice except to keep driving and searching.
When she should have been within a few miles of the cabin, she turned into an unmarked driveway with a fence across it and switched on the car’s map light to study Logan’s directions again. She was almost positive she’d missed a turnoff two miles back, the one Logan had described as being “200 feet south of a sharp curve in the road, just beyond a little red barn.” With at least six inches of snow blanketing everything, what had seemed like a little barn to her could just as easily have been a large black shed, a shor...
Revue de presse
...Romance is McNaught's bread and butter and she serves it up in abundance. (Publishers Weekly on SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME)
Judith McNaught once again works her unique magic in this charming, sparkling romance. (RT Book Reviews on REMEMBER WHEN)
People have been waiting for this book for years... Until You takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. (Kathe Robin in USA Today on UNTIL YOU)
By portraying her protagonists with verve and good humor, and adroitly mixing corporate maneuvers and passionate encounters, McNaught has produced a captivating tale. (Publishers Weekly on PARADISE)
Fans of Danielle Steel and Janet Daily who enjoy a stylish... fast-paced story will welcome McNaught. (Library Journal on PARADISE)
Judith McNaught comes close to an Edith Wharton edge. (The Chicago Tribune on PARADISE)
A mixture of virtue and passion that is almost—ahem—perfect. (Kirkus Reviews on PERFECT)
Judith McNaught is in a class by herself. (USA Today on WHITNEY, MY LOVE)
The ultimate love story, one you can dream about forever. (RT Book Reviews on WHITNEY, MY LOVE)
A wonderful love story...fast-paced and exciting...great dialogue! (New York Times bestselling author Jude Deveraux on WHITNEY, MY LOVE)
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