The Millionaire's Christmas Wish

By: Lucy Gordon



He was nearing his destination now. He had never been there before, and darkness and snow made it hard to find the way. It was this road-no, the next!

Relieved, he swung the car into the turning and immediately saw a man crossing in front of him, moving slowly.

What happened next was too fast to follow, although later his mind replayed it in slow motion. The man saw him and began to run, and at the exact same moment he slammed on the brakes. The sudden sharp movement made the car skid over the ice that lay on the road beneath the snow.

It was the merest bad luck that the car went in the same direction as the man. Whether he, too, slithered on the ice or the car actually touched him nobody could ever be sure. But the next moment he was lying on the ground, groaning.

Alex brought the car to a cautious halt and got out. By now a woman had appeared from a house and hurried over to the victim. She was wrapped up in a thick jacket whose hood concealed everything about her head.

‘Jimmy? Oh, God, Jimmy, what happened?’

‘That idiot was going too fast. Hell, my shoulder!’

He winced and, clutching his neck, gasped with pain.

‘Corinne, can you give me your arm?’

‘Corinne?’

Alex drew back the side of the hood to her indignation.

‘Hey, what are you-? Alex! Did you do this?’

‘He slipped on the ice.’

‘Which I wouldn’t have done,’ Jimmy said, ‘if you hadn’t been going too fast to stop.’

‘I was barely doing-’

‘Shut up both of you,’ she said fiercely. ‘This isn’t the time.’

‘Right. I’ll call an ambulance.’

‘No need,’ Jimmy groaned. ‘We were on our way to the hospital anyway. Corinne, let’s just go. I’m sure it’s only a sprain and they can patch me up before I do my stuff.’

He climbed slowly to his feet, holding on to Corinne and refusing all offers of help from Alex. But when Corinne touched his arm he yelled with pain.

‘Be sensible,’ said Alex, tight-lipped. ‘If you don’t want an ambulance I’ll take you. Wait here!’

He strode off to where he’d parked. Jimmy, clinging to Corinne, gasped, ‘Corinne, please, anybody’s car but Alex’s.’

‘Fine. Mine’s just here.’

In a moment she’d opened the door and eased him into the passenger seat. She was starting the engine when Alex drew up beside her.

‘I said I’d take him,’ he yelled.

‘You don’t know the way. Wait for us in the house, Alex.’

She pulled away without waiting for his answer. Muttering angrily, Alex swung around to follow her. He’d just about recognised Jimmy from their wedding. As Corinne’s sole relative he had given her away, but his languishing looks had suggested that he would rather have been the groom.

Soon the main entrance of HawksmereHospital came into view. He followed Corinne and drew up behind her as she was opening the passenger door. From the way Jimmy moved he was more badly hurt than had appeared at first. Alex marched ahead into the hospital and up to the reception desk, emerging a few moments later with an orderly and a wheel-chair.

‘He’s right, Jimmy,’ Corinne said. ‘Let them take you in.’

Jimmy muttered something that Alex didn’t catch, which made Corinne exclaim, ‘To blazes with Santa Claus! It’s you that matters.’

They made a little procession into the hospital, the orderly wheeling Jimmy, Corinne beside them, and Alex bringing up the rear.

Once inside, Jimmy was whisked away to an examination cubicle. Now, Alex thought, he would get the chance to talk to Corinne, but she insisted on going too. There was nothing for him to do but sit down and wait, which he found the hardest thing in the world to do.

Relief came ten minutes later with the whirlwind arrival of an elderly lady of military aspect and forthright manner.

‘Where is he? I was told he’d arrived and we’re waiting for him.’

‘Who?’ asked Alex.

‘Santa Claus. Jimmy. Corinne promised he’d do it, but where is he?’

‘In a cubicle, having his shoulder examined,’ Alex said. ‘He met with an accident.’

‘Oh, dear! I do hope it isn’t serious. That would be most inconvenient.’

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