To pay for her mother's care, dedicated nurse Sam Lewis normally looks after little patients over Christmas. But this year her assignment is a sinfully gorgeous man, who doesn't even want her help!
Struggling with his recent diagnosis, millionaire rock star Mitchell Brody wants to be alone in his snowy mountain chalet for the holidays. But when Sam's infectious enthusiasm has him buying a tree and hanging stockings by the fire he soon realizes that what he wants is Sam…and not just for Christmas!
Christmas with the Maverick Millionaire
Samantha Lewis ran up the steps of the agency, pulling her bright pink scarf from her head and scattering a trail of raindrops behind her. The forecast had been clear, but she should have known better in damp London in the middle of December.
As she pushed open the door she was hit by a wave of heat, and a rush of noise. No-one in the agency seemed to sit down, it was constantly busy – dealing with desperate calls for specialised nursing care over the holiday season. She undid the buttons on her thick grey duffel and tried to find somewhere to perch until she could speak to someone.
It shouldn’t be long. She already knew where her assignment would be, and who she’d be looking after – she just needed confirmation. Looking after Daniel Banks – a seven year old with cystic fibrosis – was really a dream come true for her. Three weeks work for the equivalent of six months worth of her current NHS salary. A match made in heaven.
It was hard work, but Daniel was a gorgeous little boy who needed round the clock care. His family clearly adored him, and having an extra pair of hands of expert hands to watch their little boy over the Christmas period benefited them all.
She caught the eye of Leah, the receptionist and gave her a smile. But Leah, who was normally so friendly, looked away quickly and picked up the phone again. Strange.
She watched for a few minutes as a couple of familiar faces appeared, picking up their assignments and heading off back out into the throng of Oxford Street. At least she wasn’t alone. Most other nurses she knew wanted to spend time with their families at Christmas.
Then there were the few that were just as desperate as she was. This was the best paying gig of the year. The last two years she’d lucked out with Daniel’s fantastic family. Some of her other colleagues hadn’t been so lucky and had spent the festive period being a cross between a housemaid, a nanny and, in one case, a cook, as well as a nurse.
There was a stiff breeze to her side as another door opened. Trish, the owner, stuck her head out. “Sam, in here please.”
Trish’s office was freezing. Trish Green was going through the ‘change’ and her staff knew all about her flushes and had warned everyone not to mention a thing.
“What’s up, Trish? Aren’t you just going to give me my assignment?”
She closed the office door behind her as Trish gestured to the seat in front of her desk. She couldn’t help but notice the troubled look on Trish’s face. The happy, shining feeling she’d had climbing the stairs was starting to leave her.
“I’m sorry Sam. I did try to call you.” Trish hesitated for a second, as if she knew the impact of what she was about to say. “Daniel Banks was hospitalised last night.”
Sam sat straight up. “Is he okay? What’s wrong with him? Is it a chest infection?”
Chest infections were pretty common for kids with CF and Sam was a specialist, she could give IV antibiotics and extensive physio if required. Trish shook her head. “Nothing so simple. It’s pneumonia. He’s been ventilated.”
The tears sprang to the corners of her eyes. This was serious. Pneumonia could be deadly in a kid like Daniel. “No. How is he doing? Have you spoken to his parents? Is there anything we can do?”
Trish sighed. “Yes, I’ve spoken to them. They’ve been warned that all plans will need to be cancelled. They’re in it for the long haul.”
Sam rested back in the wobbly chair. Daniel was a lovely little boy, so full of joy, so full of fun, with a body that betrayed the rest of him. She couldn’t imagine how the family must be feeling with him so sick.
“Sam?” She looked up.
Trish had worry lines along her brow like deep furrows in the ground. “I’m sorry, but it means your assignment will be cancelled.”
A chill swept over her body, every tiny little hair standing on end as her breath caught in her chest. It was obvious. It hadn’t even entered her brain. Of course, she couldn’t work for Daniel’s family now. And of course, she couldn’t be paid.
It was a horrible set of circumstances. Trouble was, her mother’s nursing home fees would still need to be paid at the end of the month. This was why she was here. This was the reason she gave up her holidays every year.
Her chest tightened. She still hadn’t released the breath she was holding. She was trying not to let panic consume her. Trying not to say all the words out loud that were currently circulating like a cyclone in her brain. How on earth was she going to pay the fees?
Trish shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “I had a quick look before you got here, Sam. I don’t really have anything similar. I certainly don’t have anything that lasts for three weeks and pays the same fee.” She shuffled some papers on her desk. “I’ve got a patient requiring terminal care but they’re in Ireland, a woman with dementia who needs accompanied on a flight to Barbados, and a child with an infectious disease who basically needs babysat while the rest of the family go on their Christmas cruise.”
“They’re going on holiday without their kid?” She couldn’t hide the disgust in her voice. “What happened to holiday medical insurance and cancelling for another date?”
Trish couldn’t look her in the eye. “The father can’t manage to get other holidays, so the rest of the family have to go without the child.”
“That’s shocking. Who does something like that?”
Trish shoved the paper under the others on her desk. “Didn’t think that one would be for you.”
The door opened and Leah hesitated in the doorway. “Eh, Trish? That query earlier – it just came in. It’s a definite. Flights at seven from Gatwick. We need someone now.”
Trish’s eyes flickered from side to side, between Leah and Samantha. She bit her lip and took the file from Leah’s hand, opening it and sat it on her desk. For a few moments she scanned the page in front of her.
Sam couldn’t stand the silence – it let her hear the thoughts currently circulating in her head. “Anything I can do?” Was that her voice, sounding so desperate? Had she really just said that out loud?
She needed a job. She needed something that paid her for the next three weeks. Otherwise she’d need to go back and plead for extra bank shifts. Would three weeks overtime pay in the NHS equal what she would get at the agency? Not even close.
Trish fixed her steely gaze on her. She cleared her throat. “How are you with diabetes, Samantha?”
Sam straightened in the chair. It wasn’t easy, every time she moved the wobbly legs threatened to throw her to the floor. She couldn’t help but search her brain desperately. “I’m fine. I mean, I’m good. No, I’m great.”
Yip. Definitely sounding desperate.
Trish’s eyebrows had raised - a look of pure disbelief on her face. If this was the difference between getting another job or not, it was time to put in the performance of a lifetime.
Sam took a deep breath. “Obviously, I know all the basics as a nurse. But my sister is diabetic, diagnosed as a child. I know about hypos, high blood sugars, adjusting insulin doses and all the risks and complications.” It was all true. She did know more than the average nurse. Living with someone with who was diagnosed with diabetes as a child was a whole different ballgame than looking after a patient for a few days in a hospital.
Trish was still studying her carefully. “How do you feel about working with someone who’s just been diagnosed? You’d have to do the entire education package and training with them.”
Sam nodded slowly. The fundamentals of diabetes hadn’t changed over the years. She’d watched her sister change monitoring systems and insulin regimes many times. The most important factor was always going to be steady blood sugar levels. “I think I can manage that without any problems. What age is the patient?”
Trish was still shuffling papers on her desk. “Do you have a current passport? And how do you feel about signing a non-disclosure agreement?”
“A what?” Trish still hadn’t answered the previous question. Was the patient a baby, or maybe a toddler? Some kids could be diagnosed when they were really young.
Trish was looking a little shifty. She waved a piece of paper from the file. “A non-disclosure agreement. You’d need to sign it.”
Now she was getting confused. What kind of job was this? “Why would I need to sign a non-disclosure? That seems a little odd. All nurses are bound by confidentiality anyway.”
“This is different. It’s not a kid. It’s an adult. And he’s a well-known adult.”
Something had just clicked into place in her brain. “Passport? Is the job not in the UK?”
Trish pushed the file across the desk towards Sam. “The job is in Innsbruck, a ski resort in the Alps. You’d need to fly there tonight. And this is all the details I have. I can’t tell you any more. You sign the non-disclosure and leave tonight. You don’t find out who you’re working for until you get there.”
Alarms bell started ringing in her head. “What do you mean?” She scanned the piece of paper in front of her. It was only the basics. An adult male, diagnosed with diabetes less than 48 hours ago. Assistance required in helping him learn to manage and deal with his condition over the next three weeks.
Her gaze reached the bottom of the page. The fee. The salary. For three weeks work. Her eyes were nearly out on sticks. How much??
“Is this safe?” Her voice squeaked.
She was trying to think rational thoughts. Even though her brain was moving to rapid calculations of exactly how many months’ worth of nursing home fees that sum would cover.
When her mother had the stroke over two years ago she’d spent the first few months trying to care for her mum herself. When it had become clear that she couldn’t care for her mum and work at the same time, she’d changed job, swapping from a sister in an ITU working shifts, to a school nurse with more regular and shorter hours. But the pay cut hadn’t helped, particularly when she had to pay two mortgages and supplementary day care for her mother. And when the day care assistants failed to show for the seventh time and her mum had an accident at home, she’d finally faced up to the fact that her mother needed to be in a home.
Picking a nursing home that was up to her standards wasn’t easy – and when she’d finally found one, the fees were astronomical. But her mother was happy, and well cared for. Hence the reason she needed to work for the agency to supplement her salary.
Trish stood up. “Of course it’s safe, Samantha. I wouldn’t send you anywhere you need to worry about. Now, can you be ready to be on a flight out of Gatwick at 7pm tonight?” She held out the non-disclosure agreement again, along with a pen.
Sam hesitated for only a second. How bad could this be? It was probably some aging actor that needed some basic guidance and hand-holding for a few weeks. She’d heard of Innsbruck before – hadn’t the Winter Olympics been held there once? The money was just too good to turn down. She grabbed the pen and scribbled her signature before she started asking any more questions that might make her change her mind.
She stood up. “Innsbruck – that’s Austria, isn’t it? A ski resort. Never been there. Always liked the sound of it.” She wrapped her scarf back around her head. Trying to push the fact she couldn’t ski out of her head. She couldn’t even stand upright in snow. She shot Trish a beaming smile and held out her hand to shake it. “A ski resort at Christmas? What more could a girl want? This’ll be a piece of cake.”
Mitchell Brody felt like crap. He wasn’t even going to begin to look in the mirror because then he’d know that he looked like crap too.
The timing couldn’t be worse. This was the last thing he needed right now. His tour kicked off in three weeks. He had to be fit and well for that. He needed to be able to perform. He had to get this under control.
The consultant was still shaking his head and frowning. “You can’t sign a discharge against medical advice. I won’t allow it.”
Mitchell planted his hands on his hips. “You can’t stop me. Find me someone who can get me through this.”
“I’ve already put in a call to an agency in London. But it’s a difficult time of year, staff are at a premium, and it will be difficult to find a staff member with the skills you’ll require.”
He sighed, frustration was building in his chest. “Just find me someone, anyone, who can do this for me. I can pay. Money isn’t a problem.”
The consultant narrowed his gaze. “You don’t understand. This isn’t about someone ‘doing this’ for you. You have to do it for yourself. You have to learn to take care of yourself with this condition. This is 24 hours a day, for the rest of your life.”
Mitchell threw up his hands. “I get it. I just don’t have time for it. Not now. I’ll learn about it later. I’ll take the time then – in 6 months’ time when this tour is over.”
“No.” The consultant folded his arms across his chest. “If you don’t do as I ask for the next three weeks, I’ll notify your tour insurers. You won’t be covered.”
For the second time in two days Mitchell was shocked. He wasn’t used to people saying no to him. He was used to snapping his fingers and everyone doing exactly as he said. That was the joy of being a world famous rock star. Once you earned beyond a certain point, people just didn’t say no anymore.
He could almost feel the blood draining from his body – as if he didn’t feel sick enough. “You wouldn’t do that.” His voice cracked as he spoke. This nightmare was just getting worse and worse. First, the weeks of feeling like crap. Then, the ill-timed diagnosis with diabetes. Now, a threat to his tour.
“I would, you know.” The consultant’s chin was set with a determined edge. Mitchell recognised the look because he so frequently wore it himself. “A sick rock star is no insurer’s dream. You need to be healthy and well-controlled to take part in the tour. To be frank, I don’t think three weeks of specialist care is going to cut it. Even then, you’ll need additional support on your tour. If you can’t even adhere to the first set of guidelines I give you, then…” he let his voice tail off.
Mitchell’s stomach was churning. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t rich already. But this tour had been planned for 2 years. All proceeds of this tour were going towards the funding of the children’s hospital in this area. He’d supported it for years – but always on the condition that no-one knew. The last thing he needed was the press invading the one part of his life that was still private. His funding had kept the children’s hospital afloat for the last ten years. But things had changed. The building couldn’t be repaired anymore, the whole place needed to be rebuilt. And why rebuild anything half-heartedly? The plans were drawn up and approved for a brand new state of the art facility. All they needed was the guaranteed cash. That’s why he couldn’t let them down – no matter how sick he was.
“Fine. I’ll do it. Just find me someone.” He walked away in frustration and started stuffing his clothes into a holdall.
The consultant gave him a nod and disappeared down the corridor, coming back five minutes later. “You’re in luck. The agency called, they’ve found you a nurse. Her qualifications are a little unusual but she’s got the experience we need.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means she’ll be able to help you manage your condition. I’ll send her some written instructions by email.” He glanced at his watch. “She’ll be on a flight out of Gatwick at 7pm tonight. She’ll be here around 11pm.” He pointed to the stuffed full bag. “I’m not happy about discharging you until her plane lands.”
Mitchell shook his head and lifted the case with his injector pen. “You’ve taught me how to do the injections. I take ten units tonight before I eat,” then pointed to another pen on the bedside table, “And twenty-six units of that one before I go to bed. I get it. I do. Now, let me go. The nurse will be here in a few hours and I’ll be fine until then.”
He could see the hesitation on the guy’s face. It had only been two days and he was sick of the sight of this place already. Hospitals weren’t much fun. Even if you had the money to pay for a private room.
He tried his trademark smile. “Come on? How much trouble can I get into in a few hours?”
The plane journey was a nightmare. The man next to her had snored and drooled on her shoulder from the second the plane took off until it landed in Innsbruck. She’d been doing her best to concentrate on the info she’d downloaded onto her tablet about the latest types of insulin and pumps. She wasn’t sure what kind of regime her patient would be on but she wanted to have some background knowledge on anything she might face.
Her phone pinged as soon as she hit the tarmac. Great. An email from the doctor with detailed instructions. She struggled to grab her case from the revolving carousel and headed to the exit. She would have time to read the email on the journey to her hotel.
She scanned the arrivals lounge. Her heart gave a little jump when she saw a card with her name Samantha Lewis. It was almost like being a popstar.
She trundled her case over to the guy in the thick parka. It was late at night and his hat was coated with thick snowflakes. There was something so nice about being in a place covered with snow at Christmas time. Even if it was bitterly cold.
“Samantha Lewis?” He grabbed the handle of her case as she nodded. “Is this it? Just one case?”
She grinned. “Why? How many should I bring?”
His face broke into a wide smile as he shook his head. “Last time I picked someone up here she had ten suitcases, including one for her dog.”
“You can’t be serious.”
He nodded. “No kidding,” he had another look around. “No skis?”
She shook her head. “I’m here to work, not to ski. And anyway, I wouldn’t know one end of a ski from the other. I doubt I could even stand up on a pair of skis.”
The guy held out his hand. “I’m Dave, Mitchell’s sidekick. You name it, I do it.” He started to walk towards the exit. “I’ve got a jacket and hat for you in the car.” His eyes skimmed up and down her body. “It might be a little big but it’s definitely your colour. I know you were called at short notice and we were worried you wouldn’t have any gear with you.”
She tilted her head to the side. “Who is Mitchell? I’ve not been told who I’m working for yet. And gear for what?”
The icy blast hit them as soon as they walked through the airport doors. Her grey duffel was no match for the winter alpine temperatures. How nice. They’d bought her a coat and hat. She wasn’t quite sure whether to be pleased or insulted.
He lifted the boot on a huge black 4 x 4 and pushed her case inside. It was the biggest one she owned but it looked tiny in there. She blinked as she noticed the winter tyres and snow chains. Just how deep was the snow around here? He opened the door for her and she climbed inside. On the seat behind her was a bright blue ski jacket, slightly longer in style so it would cover her bum, alongside a matching pair of salopettes, hat, gloves and flat fur-lined black boots.
Her fingers brushed the skin of the jacket. It felt expensive. Thickly padded, but light to touch.
Dave climbed into the driver’s seat and nodded at the gear. “Told you it was your colour. It matches your eyes.”
She blushed. Her eyes were the one thing that most people commented on. She wasn’t sure whether being blonde haired and blue-eyed was a blessing or a curse.
Dave started the car and pulled out of the parking lot heading towards the main road. It felt like being in another world. They were surrounded by snow-covered Alps. The lights were glowing in the town in front of them. It looked warm and inviting against the outlined black fir trees and high mountains.
“So, you haven’t told me. Who do you work for?”
Dave’s eyes flitted sideways for a second to look at her then focused back on the road ahead. “No-one’s told you?” There was a knowing smile on his face.
She shrugged. “Not yet. But I thought I was going to have to sign the non-disclosure in blood.”
“You’re lucky you didn’t.” She was joking, but he made it sound as if he heard that every other day.
“What’s the big secret?” Curiosity was beginning to kill her. She hadn’t given it much thought on the plane flight over, she’d been too busy focusing on the diabetes aspects and developing plans for newly-diagnosed adult patients. Plus, she still had that email to read.
Dave smiled. “Mitchell Brody. He’s the big secret. He’s just been diagnosed and he starts a world tour in three weeks. The timing couldn’t be worse.”
Her mouth fell open and her heart did a little stop/start. So, not what she was expecting to hear. “Mitchell Brody? The Mitchell Brody?” Now she understood the need for a non-disclosure agreement. Mitchell Brody, rockstar was pure media fodder. Every time the man blinked it practically made the news. Roguishly handsome, fit body and gorgeous smile. But he was the original bad boy. The papers were full of stories about him waking other guests in hotels by rehearsing at four in the morning. Huge headlines about bust ups between band members and managers. Wrecked rooms and punch ups with other stars were everyday news. Whoever was the model of the moment was usually the woman photographed on his arm. He was worth millions, nobillions.
Dave shrugged. “Is there any other?”
She gulped. The neat plan she’d imagined in her head instantly scrambled. Mitchell Brody wasn’t the kind of guy who’d take kindly to planning all his meals and insulin doses. He lived by the seat of his pants. The guy had never played by the rules in his life – chances were, he wasn’t about to start now.
She sagged back against her seat as she realised just what she was taking on. “Wow. I didn’t expect it to be him.”
Dave seemed amused. “Who did you think it would be?”
“Honestly? I had no idea. Maybe some kind of TV soap actor, or rich business man. Mitchell Brody, well, he’s just huge.” She looked out the window at the passing street lights. The shops were full of Christmas decorations and the buildings lined above were vintage façades of 18th century houses in multi-coloured pastel shades, pinks, blue, yellows and peaches. It was like summer, in the middle of winter. Gorgeous.
The car turned up a mountain range. “What hotel are we staying in? Do you think I’ll be able to speak to the chef in the kitchen?”
Dave frowned. “What makes you think we’re staying in a hotel?”
She watched as they started up the mountain range, passing Tirol-styled hotel after hotel. “Isn’t that where everyone stays?”
“Maybe everyone who isn’t Mitchell Brody. He’s owned a house up here for the last five years.”
“He has?” The snow was glistening around about them. The hotels all set perfectly on the mountainside for easy access to the Innsbruck snow slopes. She shifted a little uncomfortably in the chair. Snow slopes. The signs were everywhere. Why else would anyone buy a house up here? She wrinkled her nose, she couldn’t remember any of the press stories being about Mitchell’s antics on the snow slopes. Nope, those stories were all about Caribbean retreats and private yachts. She cleared her throat. “Does Mitchell like to ski then?”
Dave laughed. “Does Mitchell like to ski? Do bees flock around honey? Does some seventeen year old try and sweet talk her way past me at every venue we go to?” He shook his head and gestured towards the back seat. “Why do you think I bought you the ski gear?”
“To stop me from getting cold?” her voice squeaked as she spoke, as the true horror of the situation started to unload. She hated skiing with a passion. Her one and only skiing trip as a teenager had resulted in spending most of her time flat on her back. Water had seeped through her jeans and down the sleeves and neck of her jacket. She’d finally hid back down at the ski centre in front of a roaring fire with a hot chocolate in front of her. When the ski instructor had eventually come looking for her to persuade her back onto the slopes her answer had been a resounding no.
Even the thought skiing sent a shiver down her spine which Dave misinterpreted. “Better put your jacket on, we’ll be there in a minute and it’s freezing out there.”
She nodded and wiggled her arms out of her grey duffel and pulled the blue jacket over from the backseat. It was pure and utter luxury, evident from the second she pushed her arms inside. Even though they were still inside the car, the heat enfolded her instantly. She tucked her blonde curls under the matching woolly hat and pulled up the zip. “It’s lovely, Dave. Thanks very much.”
She eyed the salopettes still lying across the back seat. It was like a stand off. No way was she putting those on.
Dave turned the wheel down a long private road. The warm glow at the end of the road gradually came into focus. A beautiful, traditionally styled Tirol Chalet house. Okay, maybe it was four times the size of all the others she’d seen. But it was gorgeous, right down to the colourfully filled window boxes, upper balcony and black and red paint work on the outside.
She opened the car door and almost didn’t notice the blast of icy air all around her. She was too busy staring at the house. The wind started whistling around her jeans. Maybe salopettes weren’t such a bad idea after all.
“This place is huge,” she murmured. “How many people stay here?”
Dave was pulling her case from the trunk as if it was as light as a feather. “Just you and Mitchell.”
She sucked in a deep breath. The air so cold it almost smarted against her throat. “You don’t stay here too?”
Dave laughed. “Me? No.”
“And there isn’t any staff?” Crazy thoughts were currently circulating in her brain. Alone. In a mountain retreat. With a gorgeous rock star. She could almost hear her friend Carly’s voice in her ear, along with the matching action punch in the air. “Kerrching!”
This was really happening.
Wow. Her feet were stuck to the ground. Snow was seeping instantly through her flat leather boots with distinctly slippery soles. She should really move, but the whole place looked like a complete ice rink. She wobbled as she turned around and grabbed the fur-lined boots from the car. They had thick treads – obviously designed for places like this. It only took a minute to swap them over.
“Don’t believe everything you read in the papers,” Dave strode over towards the entrance way of the house. “Mitch is really private. He doesn’t like people hanging around him. There’s no cook. No PA.” He gave a little laugh as if he’d just realised what she’d be up against. “Yeah, good luck with all this Samantha.”
She blinked. She was going to be staying in a house alone with Mitchell Brody. The hottest guy on the planet. She might even have had a tiny crush on him at some point.
She might have lingered over some picture of him on the internet showing off a naked torso with a fabulous set of abs, slim fitting leather trousers and his shaggy, slightly too-long dark hair. The guy made grunge sexy.
She gulped. Her throat had never felt so dry. When was the last time she’d had something to drink? It must have been on the plane a few hours ago. Dave pushed open the door to the house and she stepped inside.
Wow. It was like stepping inside a shoot for House magazine. The biggest sitting room she’d ever been in, white walls, light wooden floors, with a huge television practically taking up one wall. Sprawling comfortable sofas and a large wooden dining room table surrounded by twelve chairs. It screamed space. It yelled money. This place must cost a fortune.
There was tinkle of glass breaking off to her right, followed by some colourful language. Dave’s brow wrinkled. “Mitch?”
The headlines started to shoot through her brain. Please don’t let her first meeting be with a drunken rockstar.
She followed him as he strode through to the equally large kitchen. It should have been show home material too, but it was in complete disarray. Every door was hanging open, with food scattered everywhere. The door of the biggest refrigerator she’d ever seen was also open and Mitchell Brody was rummaging around inside—a glass of orange juice smashed around his feet. He didn’t even notice.
She glanced at Dave, whose face showed utter confusion at the scene around him. Every part of her body started to react. She moved quickly, “Is this normal, Dave?”
“No, not at all.” He hadn’t budged. His feet seemed welded to the floor.
Her instincts kicked into gear. She’d no idea what to expect. She knew next to nothing about Mitchell Brody—only what she’d read in the press. But right now, he wasn’t Mitchell Brody, rock star. He was Mitchell Brody, patient. One who was newly diagnosed with diabetes. “Is anyone else here?”
Dave shook his head. There was no-one she could ask for some background information. Dave had been with her for the last hour, so Mitchell must have been alone. She hadn’t even had a chance to read the email from the consultant yet. She strongly suspected his actions were to do with his diabetes, but then again, she might just be about to witness a legendary Mitchell Brody tantrum. No matter what, it was time to act.
She moved over next to him, kicking the glass away from around his feet and touching his back. “Mitchell, can I help you with something?”
He spun around and she drew in a deep breath in shock. His shirt was hanging open and the top button of his jeans was undone. His face was gaunt, the frame under his shirt thin and the six-pack that adorned teenage walls had vanished. Just how long had it taken them to diagnose Mitchell Brody? All clinical signs of ketoacidosis.
“Who are you?” he growled, before ignoring her completely and turning back to the refrigerator and scattering some more food around. An apple flew past her ear, closely followed by a banana, and then a jar of jam which shattered on the grey tile floor.
The look in his eyes told her everything she needed to know. Mitchell Brody was having a hypoglycaemic attack, his blood sugar was so low he would probably pass out in the next few minutes if she didn’t get some food into him.
“Move,” he hissed as he nudged her with his hips. She looked around. She had no idea where anything was in this place. She recognised the belligerent edge to his voice. Her sister had it frequently as she hypoed as a child. That fine line where she couldn’t focus, couldn’t steady her thoughts and moved into auto-protect mode. It was almost as if the adrenaline fight-or-flight kicked into mode and it was survival of the fittest.
“What does he like to eat?” she asked Dave as she started searching through the cupboards for something suitable. She needed something to give him a quick blast of sugar in his system.
Dave hesitated. “Strawberries and apples, he has a smoothie every morning. Or he did, until this happened.”
She reached past Mitchell who was still fumbling in the refrigerator. “Get him over to the sofa,” her words were brisk. She had to act quickly. She grabbed a punnet of strawberries from the fridge and some apples. The blender was sitting on the counter top and she threw the whole lot in and held down the lid while pressing the button. She pulled a carton of yoghurt from the fridge too. It was peach, totally random, but it would have to do. She dumped it in the blender too and kept pressing. Dave appeared at her side, putting his hands on Mitchell’s shoulders and guiding him over to sit down. “What’s going on?”
“His blood sugar is too low. If I can get something into him quickly, he should be fine,” she said over the noise of the blender.
She grabbed a glass from one of the open cupboards and dumped the contents of the blender into it. There were some straws scattered across the countertop and she pushed a couple into the drink. Seconds later she sat down on the sofa next to him.
“Hi Mitchell, I’m Samantha your nurse. Can you take a little drink of this for me please?”
She put the straw up towards his lips and he immediately batted it away with his hands. “No, leave me alone.” Her stomach was doing flip flops. Every single person was different, but from past experience, her sister could also be slightly aggressive while hypoing. Not an ideal scenario. Particularly with a man who had more muscle behind her than she did. Thank goodness Dave was here, maybe he would respond better to a familiar face?
She held tightly on to the glass and persisted, “It’s your favourite, just take a sip.”
His eyes had that slightly wild look in them, definitely unfocused as if the world around him wasn’t making sense. He hesitated for a second, before finally taking a reluctant sip. After a few moments he sucked a little harder, as if he’d recognised the taste of what he was drinking. He grabbed the glass from her hand and held it close to his chest while he sucked.
It was a slow process, but one that Samantha was familiar with. She was patient, she could wait. Five minutes later the glass was nearly drained. Her hands were itching to find a blood glucose monitor and check his levels—there had to be one around here somewhere. But she didn’t want to leave his side.
Dave was looking pretty uncomfortable. He clearly wasn’t used to anything like this and it was obvious she was going to have to give him a few lessons in dealing with diabetes too.
“What do we do now?” he asked.
“Now?” She sat back against the sofa. It was every bit as comfortable as it looked. “Now Dave—we wait.”
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