Nothing Lasts Forever

Chapter Twenty-three


Mallory was seated across from Kat at Schroeder's restaurant on Front Street. It's the bottom of the ninth, he thought, and so far it's a shutout. What was going to happen when he couldn't pay the ten thousand dollars? Word would spread quickly around the hospital, and he would become known as a welcher, a sick joke.
Kat was chatting about one of her patients, and Mallory was looking into her eyes, not hearing a word she said. He had more important things on his mind.
Dinner was almost over, and the waiter was serving coffee. Kat looked at her watch. "I have an early call, Ken. I think we'd better go."
He sat there, staring down at the table. "Kat ..." He looked up. "There's something I have to tell you."
"I have a confession to make." He took a deep breath. "This isn't easy for me."
She watched him, puzzled. "What is it?"
"I'm embarrassed to tell you." He was fumbling for words. "I ... I made a stupid bet with some of the doctors that ... that I could take you to bed."
Kat was staring at him. "You ..."
"Please don't say anything yet. I'm so ashamed of what I did. It started out as a kind of joke, but the joke is on me. Something happened that I didn't count on. I fell in love with you."
"Ken ..."
"I've never been in love before, Kat. I've known a lot of women, but never felt anything like this. I haven't been able to stop thinking about you." He took a shaky breath. "I want to marry you."
Kat's mind was spinning. Everything was being turned topsy-turvy. "I ...1 don't know what to ..."
"You're the only woman I've ever proposed to. Please say yes. Will you marry me, Kat?"
So he had really meant all the lovely things he had said to her! Her heart was pounding. It was like a wonderful dream suddenly come true. All she had wanted from him was honesty. And now he was being honest with her. All this time he had been feeling guilty about what he had done. He was not like other men. He was genuine, and sensitive.
When Kat looked at him, her eyes were glowing. "Yes, Ken. Oh, yes!"
His grin lit up the room. "Kat ..."He leaned over and kissed her. "I'm so sorry about that stupid bet." He shook his head in self-derision. "Ten thousand dollars. We could have used that money for our honeymoon. But it's worth losing it to have you."
Kat was thinking, Ten thousand dollars.
"I was such a fool."
"When is your deadline up?"
"At midnight tonight, but that's not important anymore. The important thing is us. That we're going to be married. We - "
"Yes, darling?"
"Let's go to your place." There was a mischievous glint in Kat's eyes. "You still have time to win your bet."
Kat was a tigress in bed.
My God! This was worth waiting for, Mallory thought. All the feelings that Kat had kept bottled up over the years suddenly exploded. She was the most passionate woman Ken Mallory had ever known. At the end of two hours, he was exhausted. He held Kat in his arms. "You're incredible," he said.
She lifted herself up on her elbows and looked down at him. "So are you, darling. I'm so happy."
Mallory grinned. "So am I." Ten thousand dollars' worth! he thought. And great sex.
"Promise me it will always be like this, Ken."
"I promise," Mallory said in his sincerest voice.
Kat looked at her watch. "I'd better get dressed."
"Can't you spend the night here?"
"No, I'm riding to the hospital with Paige in the morning." She gave him a warm kiss. "Don't worry. We'll have all our lives to spend together."
He watched her get dressed.
"I can't wait to collect on that bet. It will buy us a great honeymoon." He frowned. "But what if the boys don't believe me? They aren't going to take my word fork."
Kat was thoughtful for a moment. Finally, she said, "Don't worry. I'll let them know."
Mallory grinned. "Come on back to bed."