Pinning Paige with a dissecting stare, he studied her intently. She clearly didn’t want to be there, so why was she still standing by Johnny’s side? The prick wasn’t even touching her now.
Confusion sullied Austin’s brain.
Still preening for the crowd like a fucking rock star, Johnny continued. “As weak as he is, I had the privilege of speaking with Raymond for a short time this morning.”
Paige’s brows slashed in confusion as she blinked at Johnny.
“I’m honored to tell you that he gave me his blessing to do this.” Suddenly, Johnny dropped to one knee and pulled out a blue velvet box—just like the one sitting in Austin’s office drawer—and lifted the lid to reveal a tiny, but shimmering diamond.
The color instantly drained from Paige’s face as she gaped down at him, subtly swaying on her feet.
“Paige Nelson, will you do me the honor…the utmost privilege of being my wife?”
The crowd gasped, then started cheering. Some were even chanting, Say yes! Austin helplessly watched as Paige’s eyes rolled to the back of her head before she crumpled to the stage.
“Paige!” he screamed, scaling the front of the stage like a spider monkey before lifting her into his arms and brushing the hair from her pale face.
“Oh, shit,” Johnny blurted before dropping the mic, causing feedback to screech through the speakers.
Heart in his throat, Austin gently shook her.
“Paige, wake up. Come on, baby. Open your eyes.”
She didn’t respond, didn’t even flinch or moan.
Panic surged even harder.
Austin dragged a beseeching stare over the crowd as people began murmuring Doc Knight’s name.
“Somebody get him!” Austin bellowed.
“Get out of the way, Carson. I’ll take care of her,” Johnny demanded as he bent and tried prying Page from his arms.
“Touch her again and I’ll kill you,” he snarled as Mayor Berger cupped the prick on the shoulder and hauled him back.
“Lay her flat on the floor, and lift her legs above her heart, Austin,” Doc Knight instructed as he made his way through the parting crowd, carrying his black medical bag. “I’m coming, son.”
“Paige. Oh, god. Paige,” Gina wailed from in front of the stage. Nate had his arm around her waist, supporting her visibly shaking body. “Wake up, honey. Come on…open those eyes.”
“Relax, Gina,” Doc Knight murmured sternly as he knelt down next to Austin and opened his bag. Without looking up, he quietly said, “Nate, take her inside and get her some water. This much stress isn’t good for…her.”
From the corner of his eye, Austin watched Nate lift Gina into his arms and carry her away.
“Why isn’t she waking up? What’s wrong with her?” Austin asked, struggling to keep terror from swallowing him whole.
“Might be too much heat. Or the shock of being proposed to in front of God and the entire town,” Doc muttered under his breath as he donned his stethoscope and listened to Paige’s heart. He then lifted her eyelids and checked her pupils. “Paige, honey. It’s Doc Knight. Open your eyes for me, sweetheart. Can you do that for me, child?”
He lashes fluttered briefly.
“That’s it, little girl. Come on, you can do it. Open those pretty hazel eyes for us,” Austin pleaded in a whisper.
“Can someone get a bottle of cold water up here?” Doc Knight called out.
Austin’s dad raced to the front of the stage, twisted off the cap, and handed the icy bottle to him as a hush fell over the crowd.
“Thanks,” he choked out past the lump of emotion clogging his throat.
His dad winked, then stood beside Bubba, as they both watched in visible worry.
“I need to get Paige out of this heat and into my office. Can you carry her?” Doc Knight asked.
“Of course.” Carefully lifting her into his arms, Austin held her against his chest, then followed the doctor across the stage, down the stairs, and through the murmuring crowd.
When he stepped into the cool, air-conditioned office, Austin had no clue Johnny had followed them until he’d eased Paige onto the exam table and stood upright.
“Is she gonna be all right?” Johnny demanded.
“I’m sure she will be. I just need to check her vitals,” Doc explained calmly.
Austin swallowed tightly as the doctor took her temperature and blood pressure.
“Her vitals are within normal range,” Doc announced. “Has she ingested any drugs or alcohol that you know of?”
“No,” Austin replied.
“Not that I know of,” the ballsy prick answered.
“Does she have a history of fainting that either of you know about?”
“No,” they answered in unison.
“Is there any chance she could be pregnant?”
“No,” Austin replied.
“Yes,” Johnny grinned. “Paige is pregnant.”
The air in Austin’s lungs turned to sand.