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Reveling in the fickle nature of fangirlishness

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Painful Nobility Part 2/2

A tag to Off-Season Greetings


Summary: Jeremiah saves Divya, but can she save him?

Evan and Paige were in the waiting room when they heard the commotion in the nearby ER. Evan then spotted Divya, disheveled, a cut on her cheek. A cold shiver ran through him as he had always worried that Rafa had possessed a darker side. He didn't want to be right at her expense.

They both ran over to see what was happening. Evan then got a brief glance at the gurney being wheeled by and was shocked to see Jeremiah on it, looking ashen, a knife embedded in his abdomen.

"Divya? What happened?" Paige asked sympathetically as she gave her a hug.

"Rafa...he hurt Jeremiah...because he was protecting me...this is all my fault," Divya sobbed.

"Where's Rafa?" Evan asked angrily.

"I don't know...I don't know...he ran off after...after..."

Paige held her tighter in an embrace to help calm her.

"It's okay, it's okay," Paige soothed.

Evan watched the gurney disappear behind curtains. He couldn't stop watching, he needed to know what was happening with Jeremiah. It didn't surprise him that he would protect Divya, but the idea that could die seemed inconceivable. He hadn't known him for long, had even doubted that he would last because of his lack of people skills, but Jeremiah was adjusting and he had become a friend, a loyal one at that. Evan figured it didn't hurt that Jeremiah had fallen for Divya as a reason to stay, but when she had fallen for Rafa, he had wondered if Jeremiah had thought about leaving.

Evan wished now that he had left. He wouldn't be fighting for his life in the ER if he had.

After what had seemed like hours, the doctors finally emerged from the curtain, grim expressions on their faces. One of them then came over to them.

"Are you Dr. Sacani's friends?" He asked.

"Yes, we all are. How is he, doc?" Evan asked.

"Dr. Sacani has lost a lot of blood, but luckily, leaving the knife embedded prevented further blood loss that would have killed him. He would have surely bled out," the doctor said.

Everyone took in a breath, allowing the gravity of Jeremiah's condition filter into their disbelieving minds. It seemed impossible that after such a short period of time, they had become so close to him. His awkwardness had, at first, seemed impossible to overcome, but he tried valiantly at improving himself and it showed with every interaction he made with patients and with them. He was not only getting better as a doctor, but he had endeared himself to all of them.

"We need to get him into the OR so that we can remove the knife without causing more damage as well as repair any damage that's already been done. The fact that his vitals are remarkably stable, given his condition, is a good sign and a reason to do the surgery as soon as possible. He's being prepped right now. He's conscious and he's been asking for Divya."

Divya perked at the mention of her name. She stepped forward.

"You can see him, but just for a minute."

She nodded and walked over to where Jeremiah was. She stood beside the gurney then took his hand. Tears filled her eyes. She tried to act brave, but couldn't. He opened his eyes and she gave him a trembling smile.

Jeremiah sensed her concern. It buoyed his spirits to see her there and feel her hand hold his, but he knew she blamed herself so he was determined to convince her otherwise. As a doctor, he had engaged the clinician in him and he knew he was badly injured and was facing a lengthy surgery and could possibly die. In fact, the likelihood was that he would die. He was realistic about his chances, yet seeing Divya so distraught over what had happened to him, his usual blunt approach would do more harm than good and the last thing he wanted to do was cause her to feel guilt over what had happened. He had made the choice and wouldn't change it to spare his life.

"You needn't worry...I'm in good hands...I will be fine." Jeremiah said tiredly, a slight grimace betraying his discomfort. "They are transfusing me to improve my blood volume for the surgery. lt should all go well."

Divya appreciated the reassurance as only he could give it, calmly and clinically.

"Oh, Jeremiah..." She said tearfully. "This is all my fault..."

"No, no, it wasn’t. What happened...was not your fault...Rafa was going to hurt you...I could not let that happen...I would...do it...again..." he said with gentle conviction as he gave her hand a weak squeeze, increasing discomfort continued to line his features.

Jeremiah knew that his timidity had no place in that moment. He might die and he knew he couldn't leave things left unsaid. He would risk rejection for her.

"I've never felt so...alive. Loving you...gives me courage...I never had. I could never...regret that...”

He felt light-headed. His blood loss was accelerating. He closed his eyes and her look of concern was the last thing he saw as the doctors wheeled him off to surgery.

Divya's gaze followed the gurney until she couldn't see it anymore. Evan sidled up to her.

"I'm sure he'll be okay," he reassured.

"He lied to me," she said dreamily.


"He knows something and he's sparing me. Something's wrong."

"You don't know that."

"He does and that scares me, Evan. He's always been honest, brutally so at times, without meaning to offend. He learned from Hank, from us that sometimes a lie to comfort was better than the truth. I'm frightened that he learned that skill all too well and lied to me because he knows how badly hurt he is."

Divya felt a sob rising in her throat.

"I'm just afraid that now that I realize how much he means to me, I'll lose him."

Evan reached over with his arm and held her. He didn't know enough to dispute her and false comfort was as good as offering none.

"He said that he would do it again...how could I be so blind?"

"Love isn't always simple," Evan said.

Divya took in a deep breath.

"I don't think I know what love really means otherwise how could I have misjudged Rafa and Jeremiah so badly?"

Evan smiled and gave Divya a hug.

"You're not the first and you won't be last woman who was swept off her feet. You shouldn't blame yourself. Rafa is every model on the covers of romance novels. He's a player. You're not the first heart he's broken. He knows just the right thing to do and say, but in the end, he can never commit to anything."

"I thought that when he explained...we could..." Divya laid her head on his shoulder.

"That he would change for you," Evan finished.

"I'm a fool."

"No, it just makes you human."

"No, I'm reprehensible. I dragged Jeremiah into this and he could die because he helped me."

"Divya, Jeremiah did what he did because he loved you. Believe me, you didn't make him do anything he wouldn't have done just because he cares about you."

Divya sighed against him.

"Thank you, Evan. Though I'm not convinced that I can be held blameless in all this, I appreciate your words. I just don't want Jeremiah to pay the price for my arrogance, my ignorance."

"He won't. He's going to make it," Evan said, hoping he wasn't lying to her.

Divya had had a rough year with proclaiming her independence from her family and cultural responsibilities, being disowned and disavowed from them, and her father's near drowning. She deserved happiness and though she had enjoyed a lustful and thrilling affair with Rafa, everyone knew that he wasn't good enough for her. They had supported her, especially when she had gotten hurt by him, but no one could have foreseen that Rafa would become violent. More heart breaking was that Jeremiah had been injured and was fighting for his life trying to protect her even though Evan knew, as he had told her, that Jeremiah would not have done anything different or wouldn't have changed the outcome.

He knew that Jeremiah's mild-mannered nature hid a courageous one longing to be released. He had confided in Evan that taking the job at HankMed was as much to overcome his timidity as it was to improve his bedside manner. Evan didn't think Jeremiah had expected to have his courage tested the way that it had been, certainly none of them would have wished it, but love can make you courageous in ways you'd never expect. Evan knew that first hand himself. Finding Paige, falling hopelessly in love with her and having her support had given him the courage to risk creating his own vision of HankMed.

By doing that, he had hired Jeremiah.

Though there was no reason to feel guilty, Evan did and he suddenly needed to see Hank.

"I need to check on Hank..." he said. "Will you be okay?"

"Of course," Divya said, understanding.

"And I'll be here," Paige encouraged.

"Thanks...I just want to check on him."

"I need to talk to him," Evan thought to himself.

Paige smiled and gave him a kiss.

"Jeremiah would want you to. He was taking on Hank's care for us, to reassure us. He would if he could... He's going to be in surgery for quite awhile as well depending on the dam..." Divya said, tears suddenly rising in her throat and choking her words.

"Get that cut looked at, okay?" Evan insisted, concerned.

"I'll make sure she does," Paige assured.

He kissed her again then headed towards Hank's room.

Hank was awake when he came in.

"Hank?" He queried quietly.

"Evan?" He answered back with a tired smile.

Hank could tell that something was bothering Evan, call it brotherly instinct. Even in his weakened condition he could read his little brother.

"What's wrong?" Hank asked, concern building.

Evan took in a breath. He knew the best way to break the news to Hank was just to blurt it out, like pulling off a band aid. He had to softly smile at the medical analogy that had come into his head. It didn’t last.

"Rafa tried to kill Jeremiah."

"What?" Hank said with weak shock.

"Divya caught Rafa with another woman and went to get comfort from Jeremiah...Rafa became violent...Jeremiah's in surgery, fighting to live."

"How's Divya?"

"A wreck and feeling guilty..." Evan trailed off.

Hank noticed.

"Are you okay?"

Evan took in a breath.

"With everything that's happened, it made me think...if I hadn't been so stubborn...if I hadn't created HankMed 2.0, my vision of HankMed, if I hadn't hired Jeremiah..."

Hank felt empathy for his brother.

"Evan, you can't think that way. I'm just as responsible for our rift, but we're back being brothers. Jeremiah values his role with the new HankMed...it's better because of you...we're all better because of you."

Evan felt humbled by Hank's admission.

"Thanks for saying that, but..."

"I mean it, Evan."

Evan took Hank's hand into his in a brotherly grip.

"I'm glad we're okay again. After what happened to you and seeing Jeremiah...it made me realize how life can get scary, you know?"

"I do. I'm going to be fine and so will Jeremiah. I'm more worried about Divya. Does she love him?"

"Yeh, I think so. She's feeling guilty for what happened to him."

"She's going to need you, Evan. Jeremiah is going to need you."

Hank paused and smiled.

"I'm going to need you."

Evan straightened, humbled by his brother's admission. Hank had always stubbornly protested his independence so for him to entrust Evan with such responsibility was both intimidating and yet something that Evan had always wanted from his older brother. All he could do was nod. Hank's eyes drooped closed in sleep again. Evan gave his brother's hand a squeeze.

“I won’t let you down,” he said.


A few hours passed with no word on Jeremiah's progress. Divya's medical training understood why, but her emotions were entangled in the need to talk to Jeremiah, to hear his baritone voice, the shyness in its timbre, the innocent intent of expressing himself. Only that could reassure her that he would be all right, that the both of them would be on the way to putting the nightmare of what had happened behind them. Still, she couldn’t help, but feel that she had brought the nightmare upon them both.

As she sat in the waiting room, Paige approached with two cups of coffee.

“Any word?” She asked.

“No, nothing yet,” Divya said as she took the cup. “Thank you.”

“I wish I could do more.”

“I know that the repairs the doctors are making need careful precision and that’s why it’s taking so long, but still...”

“It’s never easy when it’s someone you love,” Paige informed.

Divya looked at her.

“I don’t know if I’m capable of understanding what love really means after how badly I misread Rafa.”

“You do understand it, Divya, what you felt was real. You didn’t misread your feelings, you just misread Rafa’s like we all did. That’s not your fault. He hurt you.”

“And Jeremiah. I don’t know if I can ever trust my feelings anymore or entrust them to anyone again.”

“Divya, Jeremiah is a good and decent man. You know that. You have a foundation of friendship with him and that reveals more than love ever could. Love comes from knowing someone’s true character. Rafa was a rush of lust and adventure. Believe me, I’ve been there. Jeremiah would never hurt you and I think once you’re over the shock of everything that’s happened, you’ll see everything clearer,” Paige advised. “Don’t run away from Jeremiah because of what Rafa did.”

Divya put her hands to her face and sobbed. Paige rubbed her back in comfort. She had hoped that she had gotten through to Divya. She needed to give Jeremiah a chance.

Suddenly, they both heard the footsteps of the surgeon approaching them. They looked up and Divya felt her stomach twist with anxiety.

Paige watched as Divya seemed to shakily rise to her feet. She wrapped her arm around Divya’s waist and rose with her, hoping to catch her if her knees began to buckle.

“Is Jeremiah all right?” Divya asked, her voice was a squeak.

The surgeon took in a breath then let it out tiredly.

“Dr. Sacani is in recovery and though he came through the surgery, it was not without complications.”

Divya felt her legs go weak and she thought she was going to faint. She felt Paige propping her up and was grateful for her presence.

“The knife did considerable damage to his stomach, liver and spleen. There was extensive bleeding and we almost lost him twice as we implemented the repairs, but I would like to emphasize that he is stable at the moment and his vitals are currently strong.”

“There’s more. What are you not telling me?” Divya pleaded.

The doctor hesitated as if trying to find the right words to say.

“Dr. Sacani has lapsed into a coma," he finally said, opting for straightforward honesty.

Divya’s legs then gave completely away at hearing the words and Paige, along with the help of the surgeon, guided Divya back into a waiting room chair.

“This happens with massive blood loss such as Dr. Sacani has suffered. For now, we are observing him closely, monitoring his vitals and we have to hope that there won’t be any other setbacks such as infection or additional internal bleeding where more surgery would be necessary," the doctor tried to comfort as best as he could.

Divya nodded.

“Will he be able to have visitors?” Paige asked.

“Not until tomorrow. I’d like for him to be observed overnight to make sure his stability holds. I will let you know if there is any change. In the meantime, I’d suggest you get some rest.”

"I can't leave him," Divy said, her voice barely containing how distraught she really felt.

"You won't do him any good if you get sick," Paige rationalized. "Stay at the guest house with Evan and me. All of us shouldn't be alone."

Divya reluctantly agreed and rose back up on her feet.

"Please call if Jeremiah's condition changes," Divya insisted as she addressed the surgeon.

"Of course," he said as he turned and left.

Evan walked back into the ER after having talked to Hank. He saw Divya's dazed expression and a rush of dread crawled up his spine.

"What happened?" He asked, panic rising.

"Jeremiah's in a coma," Paige filled in. "Divya's staying with us."

"Oh my god..." Evan said in numbed shock.


Hank had inquired with his nurse about who had operated on Jeremiah so that he could get information from him. He knew he couldn't help him in the condition he was in, but maybe he could get knowledge to help his family. Jeremiah had become not just a friend, but he had also become a part of the HankMed family.

Hank had requested that the surgeon come by and see him so that he could be briefed on Jeremiah’s status. Out of deference to his reputation, the surgeon had agreed to meet with him.

“Thank you for stopping by, Dr. Farmington,” Hank said, tired, but his concern for Jeremiah and his innate drive to be a doctor first gave him the energy he needed at that moment.

“My pleasure, Dr. Lawson. Your reputation precedes you,” Dr. Farmington said.

“I wouldn’t put too much credence in hearsay. I’m far from well myself,” Hank lightly joked.

“From what I hear, you’re progressing well.”

“I appreciate your opinion and I also appreciate your time. Dr. Sacani is more than just another doctor at HankMed, he's become like family. Thank you for extending your professional courtesy to me.”

“Again, my pleasure, but I have to be honest with you, Dr. Sacani’s prognosis is grim at best. He’s fallen into a coma after massive blood loss stemming from a brutal attack. He crashed on the table twice.”

Hank heard the news and had never felt so completely helpless.

“I see. How are his vitals?”

“Those are the only good things to report. For the moment, they are stable and seem to be strong.”

“Well, sometimes that’s all a patient needs, time to recover, to heal. Miraculous things do happen from those things alone,” Hank philosophized tiredly.

“I hope you’re right, Dr. Lawson.”


The next morning, Evan had encouraged Divya to see Hank, that there was nothing they could do for Jeremiah at that moment. Dr. Farmington had wanted to run tests to check Jeremiah's progress before he could have visitors. Evan promised that he would come get her if anything changed. He was banking on Hank getting through to Divya as his friendship with her was rooted in a much deeper mutual respect as well as friendship and if anyone could convince her that none of what's happened was her fault, it would be him.

Divya entered Hank's room slowly and quietly, ready to leave if she found him asleep. Hank turned slowly hearing the door open. He spied her peeking into his room.

"Divya?" He inquired.

"If you'd rather I come back -"

"No, no, I'm glad you're here," he invited.

She then walked fully into the room and by his bedside.

"How are you feeling? I've heard that you are progressing well," she asked trying to sound normal.

"Yeh, so they tell me, but you and I know that I've got a long way to go before I can return to HankMed full time."

"I know you'll come through it all fine. We're all here for you," she said sincerely.

Divya tried to fend off the emotion that was creeping up on her when she had referred to them being there for Hank. That had included Jeremiah and they could lose him because of her.

Hank noticed how distracted and nervous she was acting and decided to help her by broaching the subject.

"Evan told me about what happened to Jeremiah," Hank offered.

"Oh, Hank," Divya said, a sob bubbling into her throat and she just let her emotions go. "What have I done?"

"You haven't done anything. It's not your fault. Jeremiah would be the first to tell you that."

"Of course he would because he is a kind and forgiving man. That only makes what happened all the more reprehensible because he had to protect me from a man whom I should never have brought into all your lives. Jeremiah could die and he doesn't deserve this. I don't deserve him."

"Ah, so you know," Hank said, her words confirming that she knew Jeremiah loved her.

Divya gave him a quizzical look.

"You knew?" She asked, surprise on her face. "For how long?"

"Well..." Hank hedged.

"So, everyone knew except me. Why doesn't that surprise me? I was so besotted with Rafa, I didn't see what was clearly in front of me. There goes my last excuse."

"Divya, stop blaming yourself. Jeremiah -"

"If you're going to say that he should have told me, he did. It was all there if I had bothered to notice; his kind comfort when Rafa left me the first time, then protecting me when..." Divya choked on recounting the brutal attack. "No, he didn't have to say it. It was all there in his actions and I missed it all. I'm awful."

"Divya, no, you're not, you're human. Look at Harper and me? I had a chance to be with someone who was truly wonderful and I actually manufactured a medical complication and ruined it. I ran away," Hank said, regret still laced his voice. "Don't run away from Jeremiah. He just needs to know that. The rest is just time and I know Jeremiah will give you all the time in the world."

Divya listened and felt comforted.

"Love makes fools of us all, doesn't it?" She said with a shaky smile which faded quickly. "I only hope I'm not too late."

"I've talked with Dr. Farmington and though Jeremiah has a long road ahead of him, there's always hope. I believe that comatosed patients can hear us. Tell him that you'll be there when he wakes up. Give him that hope, Divya. I believe that somehow, he'll hear you."


Buoyed by Hank’s confidence in her, she waited for the doctor to allow her to see Jeremiah.

Once sanctioned, she entered, pulled up a chair next to him and sat down. She grasped his hand and held it, felt the reassuring warmth, but was saddened by its stillness. Jeremiah was a tall man, but his stature belied the insecurities beneath. He was a remarkable clinician, but he was impersonal and blunt without meaning to be cruel and he was working on his bedside manner. She was seeing real progress.

A work in progress just like she was.

She had also discovered that beneath the insecurities was a man of noble heroics and principles. He had proven it with his protection of Ava from prying fans. He had proven it with her, protecting her from a violent womanizer.

As a physician’s assistant all of the various machines sustaining Jeremiah’s vitality were commonplace and necessary, but this was different. Even when Hank had been sustained by the very same machines, Hank wasn’t in a coma and despite suffering his own setbacks, he had rallied quickly thereafter and was now firmly on the road to recovery. Hank’s prognosis was good.

In Jeremiah’s case, he was in a coma. The machines were now keeping someone she cared for deeply alive and that gave her pain. She still believed that he didn’t deserve to be fighting for his life, not for protecting her.

“Oh Jeremiah, I’m so sorry. I know that you felt you were just doing what was necessary, but this is far from what you deserve for your efforts."

She placed his hand to her cheek, her tears wetting it.

"Hank believes that comatosed patients can hear and understand their surroundings. I'm not so sure, but if you can hear me, please fight and..." She trailed off for a few seconds. "I need you...I...I love you as well. If you have it in your heart to forgive me -"

She suddenly felt his hand squeeze hers. It surprised her and she stood up to confirm what she had felt. Jeremiah's eyes fluttered open and his gaze found hers. Nothing in her life had brought such relief and joy.

"N...nothing...to...forgive..." Jeremiah said tiredly, his voice a rasp.

Divya began to cry with happiness.

"P...please...don't cry...I...don’t want to make you cry..." He said, concern etched on his face.

"You heard me...You're back,” she said, her relief evident in her deep sigh and glowing smile.


Divya had learned that Jeremiah had begun emerging from his coma on his own while she had been visiting with Hank and that he had come to full consciousness when she had been with him. He wasn’t out of the woods and still had a long road of recovery ahead of him, but Dr. Farmington was optimistic that with time, Jeremiah would recover.

Divya had been allowed to sleep in a room next door as she had refused to leave Jeremiah. Evan walked in and was happy to see him propped up in his bed. At first, Jeremiah looked asleep so Evan began to turn and leave, but he awoke in time to stop him.

“You needn’t leave, Evan. I am fully conscious,” Jeremiah said, his voice still weak.

Evan smiled wide at hearing Jeremiah’s “clinical-speak” again. He turned back around and walked up to the bed.

“Glad to hear it,” Evan said, his expression becoming more serious. “You really scared us, man.”

Jeremiah was moved by Evan’s concern.

His distant demeanor had always been about guarding himself from being judged and criticized, not for his medical expertise, he welcomed contrary opinions, it gave him knowledge he needed, but for his lack of personal skills. Truth be told he had been very open at one point in his life, perhaps too open both with his emotions and with his heart. He had gotten hurt severely and it had taken him a long time to regain his footing again, to stop questioning himself in every aspect of his life, especially medicine, his fall back. He had found it easier to shut himself off emotionally and had decided to become a research physician to accomplish more isolation. It had been been a welcome escape for a while. Test tubes and centrifuges couldn’t break his heart.

But it had become less satisfying over time and he had felt as unfulfilled as ever so he had decided to take another chance: He had applied for a physician position at HankMed. Risk was something he had avoided and seeing patients again seem completely terrifying. He was both hoping that he wouldn’t be hired as much as he wanted to be hired. After his mentor had left him with his fortune, Jeremiah realized that he was becoming like him, distant and hard to know. He wanted to break out of his protected existence, but had no clue as to how to accomplish it when he had joined HankMed. When he had started seeing patients, the interactions were unmitigated disasters and he had thought about quitting, but then two things kept him from doing it.

Hank had encouraged that tapping into his research strength wasn’t counter to the HankMed way, that the only important mission was serving the patients well and thoroughly, to keep them healthy as well as to rescue them when dangerous health risks intervened with whatever methods were necessary. Hank and Evan, as well, believed that he possessed the skills he just needed time to believe it in himself. He had found a belonging where he could merge his expertise and still be effective, if a little awkwardly at first.

Then there was Divya. Her honesty, her admission to being a work in progress made him feel less like an anomaly and more like any other person. Her kindness and beauty of spirit as well as her physical beauty brought back emotions he thought had long ago become unobtainable, that he had accepted as something he wasn’t good at expressing and had decided were best left unexpressed. Facing death as he thought he had been had given him the courage to tell her that he loved her. He didn’t want to die without her knowing. In another lifetime ago, he would have taken that love to his grave unexpressed.

“I’m sorry,” Jeremiah said, not realizing that he had become important to the others as they had become to him. “It was not my intent to frighten anyone.”

Evan laughed lightly.

“Don’t apologize. We’re all just glad you’re getting better,” Evan confessed with the warmth of friendship towards a man he had come to respect.

“How is Hank doing?” Jeremiah asked, his concern for him overriding his own health challenges.

Evan was impressed at the selflessness, but not surprised.

“He’s doing fine. I think the two of you might be on the same rehab schedule though,” Evan teased.

Divya then walked in. The light that came into Jeremiah’s eyes was like a beacon. It was practically blinding and Evan couldn’t help, but giggle a bit.

“Well, I’ll see you later, Jeremiah -”

“You don’t have to leave on my account, Evan,” Divya said.

Evan’s smile only got larger.

“Uh, yeh, I kinda do, but I’ll catch you two crazy kids later, okay? Gotta dash,” Evan said and whisked himself out of the room.

Divya scrunched her face in dismay.

“Just when I think he’s finally a grown up.”

Jeremiah, on the other hand, even in his weakened state knew what Evan had done and had been grateful if a touch embarrassed at how easily he had been read by him.

"How are you feeling, Jeremiah?"

"Much improved, thank you. With time I believe I should make a full recovery," he said, the clinical jargon his nervous reaction.

"I'm glad," Divya smiled then her expression softened.

"What is it?" Jeremiah asked, concern on his face.

"Jeremiah, I'm so sorry for causing all this..."

"You are not responsible for my injuries," Jeremiah said, a certain firmness of conviction in his tone. "I meant what I said, I would do it again."

"You shouldn't have had to risk your life for me,"
she said.

"There is no better life in my opinion..." Jeremiah trailed off, realizing that the moment, his moment was now or never. "I love you."

He waited, but was also resigned to being let down again.

Divya's eyes filled with tears and she gave him a bright smile. She then caressed his cheek and slowly closed in. Her heart was beating quickly, nervous that he might turn away, thinking she was being too forward, but for the first time, she was being driven by her desire. Never in her life had she felt the audacity of making the first move. Every man in her life had taken her and she had let them. This time, she risked with her heart leading the way and it felt right.

Her lips touched his, at first tentative and gentle. Her expectations were hopeful, but her desire very real. She then felt him respond. He pressed back weakly, but there was no misunderstanding the act. She parted away sweetly, pulled away just far enough to gaze into his eyes almost nose to nose.

"I love you too," she breathed with a whisper.

Jeremiah found himself cursing his ailing body, but he knew that she felt his desire in return. He had never felt such joy racing through his veins.

She pulled futher away and gazed into eyes again.

"I, too, am a work in progress," she said with a shy vulnerable smile.

Jeremiah smiled in return.

"I look forward to our collaboration," he said with a sly grin.

For the first time in her life, she saw a man who was in many ways her equal. She may have a head start on bedside manner, but she knew that he was making up for lost time and would surpass her. He was decent, caring, noble and most importantly, he had been a friend to her when she had needed him. This passion wasn't driven by lust alone. It had "evolved" and would continue to flourish. She had never felt so excited by the future.

FIN. Thanks for reading and for sticking with the story. It's always appreciated. Looking forward to the new season of Royal Pains that's started and the blooming romance that is Divya and Jeremiah.

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Just wanted to say again how much I enjoyed this. I haven't seen Royal Pains, but I can easily picture the characters just from your writing. :)

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