The Tycoon's Marriage Bid Online - Allison Leigh

Chapter One

Nikki Day didn’t want to open her eyes. Not when doing so would confirm that yes, she was very much in a hospital bed, and now she was losing her mind, to boot. Because there was no way on earth that he would really be sitting there in the recliner next to the bed as if he belonged there.

Which meant she was seeing things.

Hallucinating.

As if she didn’t have enough worries already.

Her arm curled protectively over her abdomen as she felt another hard kick. At least that movement assured her that whatever was happening and why ever she was here, the baby was now gunning for kicker of the year. Nikki was in her sixth month. She figured by the time she made it to nine, the baby would be leaving behind permanent footprints her own personal Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She gingerly shifted to her side, pushing a pillow against her abdomen, trying to find a more comfortable position, and regrettably opened her eyes as she did so.

He was still there.

Dismay shot through her and she hurriedly closed them again.

Tightly.

‘Nice to see you, too,’ the apparition said in a low voice.

It appeared that when Nikki hallucinated, she could do it with as much accuracy and precision as she’d done most things in her life.

The realization made her want to laugh. Was she hysterical?

She shifted again, wishing she could escape the ache in her back as much as she wished she could escape the rabbit hole she’d fallen down.

‘Careful. You don’t want to yank out that IV line.’

She nearly came out of her skin when those long, capable warm fingers settled over her hand.

Definitely not a hallucination.

She jerked back, sitting up so abruptly the pale blue sheet fell to her waist, displaying a limp, blue cotton hospital gown. The pillow teetered on the edge of the bed, then slid over.

He still held her hand, though. He was evidently concerned about the thin tubing snaking from beneath the adhesive on the back of her hand, because there was no other reason he’d have held her so.

He. Alexander Reed. Alex.

The man who was inadvertently and completely unknowingly responsible for the baby that was even now kicking the life out of her kidneys.

He’d been her boss for three years, until she’d resigned last summer.

Nikki’s heart pounded so hard she felt faint.

‘Easy there,’ he murmured, casually reaching for the button that hung from a cord near her shoulder.

‘Don’t upset yourself. You’re fine. The baby’s fine.’

She swallowed, his assurance calming the panic roiling inside her. The baby. Concentrate on the baby.

She carefully pulled her hand from beneath his. ‘How did I get back to Cheyenne?’

He shook his head. ‘You didn’t. You’re still in Montana. Lucius Community Hospital.’

‘You sure are,’ the nurse entering the room agreed. ‘And we’re happy to see you’re awake.’ She smiled comfortingly as she bustled around the bed, checking machines and making notes. ‘The doctor will be right in,’ she told Alex as she deftly wrapped Nikki’s arm in a blood pressure cuff. ‘We’re a little busy today. Two babies on the way.’ She finished with the cuff and made some more notes. ‘How are you feeling, hon?’

Nikki couldn’t formulate a coherent answer. But the nurse seemed to understand. ‘Just remain quiet,’

she told her. ‘The doctor won’t be long.’

When the nurse departed, Nikki eyed Alex again. ‘What are you doing here?’ Never mind what she was doing there. Not even the nurse had helped to answer that question.

Alex’s dark brown eyes were as unreadable as ever. ‘They called me when you were brought in.’

‘They?’

He moved his shoulders slightly as if he were impatient with the question. She wasn’t surprised.

When she’d worked for him, Alex had depended on her to handle the details. The man wouldn’t remember his own birthday if she hadn’t reminded him to check his calendar.

‘The woman who owns that inn you were staying at,’ he said. ‘The only phone number she had, other than your home, was your work number. The hospital called me, too.’

Her former work number. ‘Hadley Golightly?’ Nikki wasn’t only trying to get details out of him. She was trying not to betray the fact that she was desperately trying to recall what had happened. ‘Tiff’s is a boardinghouse. Not an inn.’

‘Fine. A boardinghouse.’ Alex’s sharp gaze had strayed to the window. Narrow blinds covered it, slanted so the sun wouldn’t shine directly into the room. Not that there was any sun, from the looks of it.

Just gray skies, heavy with snow. Typical January whether she was home