For an instant, she was convinced she was seeing double. The waiting room appeared full of MacNeills. Patrick paced, fists jammed in his pockets, his wide shoulders and contained intensity dwarfing his surroundings. She felt her heart trip into double time at the sight of him.
But nothing could dwarf the man beside him.
Taller and younger than Patrick, his companion had the same dark hair, longer and curlier, and the same male assurance. He wore a gold hoop in his ear, like a pirate, and exuded cheerful good nature and unabashed sex. There were at least three nurses craning for a look at him, and one patient’s mother was openly fanning herself.
Three months ago, such blatant good looks would have frozen Kate into a cold and inarticulate block of insecurity. She discovered now that after knowing Patrick, his brother didn’t alarm her at all. No more than she would be afraid of a wolfhound after petting a wolf.
She tapped her pen on her clipboard. “So. Which Mr. MacNeill can’t wait to see me?”
Three dark heads turned. The shortest one dashed forward.
A corner of her heart melted at the boy’s exuberant greeting. “Hey, Jack-o. Are you sick?”
“Pining for you,” the younger man offered.
Kate smiled down at the boy’s bright face. “I find that difficult to believe.”
“Okay,” the pirate said agreeably. “Maybe Patrick’s the one pining.”
The listening nurses goggled. Kate felt her cheeks flame. With gossip breeding in the hospital like bacteria in a wound, she’d always resolved to keep her personal life private. Not that it had been much of an issue. Until recently, she hadn’t had a personal life.
She swallowed. She still didn’t have a personal life. Patrick might want to go to bed with her, but they hadn’t even been on a date.
“Sean,” Patrick said warningly.
“So it’s me. I need a doctor. Take my pulse.” He snatched her hand, enclosing the pen with it, and laid it on his muscled chest, just above his heart. “What do you think, Doc?”
Kate lifted her chin, refusing to be flustered. “You feel normal to me.”
“Not just a little hot? “ His dark eyes were wicked, inviting her to share his joke.
“You don’t think maybe I need some bed rest?”
“You don’t let go of her hand,” Patrick growled, “and you won’t be getting up for a week.”