Falling for the Wrong Guy (11 page)

BOOK: Falling for the Wrong Guy
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Drew witnessed in her eyes exactly what she had meant. That he’d think the same applied to him because of his burns. “I know what you meant. That his scars aren’t going away, so he may never choose to accept them. It’s okay. I’m not like your father,” he tried to reassure her.

She averted her gaze and stared down at her lap. That wasn’t the reaction he’d expected. She couldn’t have looked guiltier if she’d tried. Which probably meant she did think he was going down the same road as her dad. He didn’t want to press her on it. Not yet. And in a way it didn’t matter.

“Please could you get me something to drink?” she asked.

He poured her some water and handed her the plastic cup, then took a breath. “I’m sorry for what happened between us. I shouldn’t have ended it with you.” He paused for a moment. “Forgive me?” Drew wished he could work out what she was thinking. Most other times, her face was so expressive that he always knew. This time, for some reason, she was giving nothing away.

“What do you mean, exactly?” she asked, taking a slow drink of her water. There was a flash of…something in her eyes. Optimism? Hope?

“That I want to keep seeing you,” he replied, allowing himself just the tiniest bit of hope in return.

“Like boyfriend and girlfriend?” She widened her eyes.

That felt right. “Yes, like we were before,” he answered.

“But do you still want to keep it a secret?” she asked, her voice suddenly less soft.

He hadn’t even thought about it, and it surprised him that she had. He didn’t see the importance of it in the grand scheme of things. “Yeah, I guess.” He wanted things exactly as they were before.

“Because of Blake?”

He nodded. “Partly, yes. I want to protect you from his anger and the gossip that would result from it being out in the open.”

“You said
partly
. Why else do we have to engage in this subterfuge?”

This wasn’t going at all as he’d planned. He’d hoped Ruby would accept his apology, fall back into his arms, and laugh at how stupid he’d been. “Because I don’t want to rub anyone’s face in the fact that I’m happy. You know that. Nothing has changed in that respect. I don’t deserve it, but I can’t let you go, either.”

She put her glass down on the bedside table, wincing at the movement, and traced a line along her arm cast. “Then my answer is no. I’m sorry, Drew. I could just about go with your plan if it was because of Blake or the gossip, although I’m not totally convinced it’s the right thing to do. But, you thinking that you’re not worthy of happiness is crazy. It’s self-obsessed and reminds me too much of my dad. I’m not prepared to be part of it.”

“But


“Sorry, no buts.” She lay back against the pillows and closed her eyes. “I think you better leave now,” she said drowsily. “I’m feeling really tired.”

Chapter Sixteen

T
ears stung the back of Drew’s eyes as he stormed down the hospital corridor, narrowly missing slamming into someone being pushed on a stretcher. He had to get out of there before he broke down and made an absolute idiot of himself.

He’d given more of himself to Ruby than he’d ever done to anyone else. She knew his innermost feelings. The things that haunted him. His anxiety about what had happened. Yet it wasn’t enough, and now he was back to where he’d started. Alone. But was he surprised? No. He’d had his head in the clouds when thinking that he could be with Ruby and forget everything that had happened in the past.

For the first time, he wondered what it would be like if he was more like his parents and could grab a bottle and drink until his senses were dulled and his troubles disappeared into nothingness. He shook his head. He wasn’t like them, and he didn’t intend to be. Ever.

He finally reached the hospital entrance and pushed open the double doors that led into the parking lot. He’d left his car in the overflow parking garage as there was nothing closer when he’d arrived earlier, so he turned and made his way toward it.

“What are you doing here?” a voice said to his left.

Blake. The one person he really didn’t want to see at that precise moment.

“I’m just leaving,” Drew said guardedly. Blake looked like he was spoiling for a fight, all nervous energy and blazing anger. And although in the past they would have been evenly matched, Drew didn’t like his chances now. Recovering from the fire had decimated his fitness level. Plus, he didn’t want to hit Blake. And Blake obviously wanted to hit him.

“Not yet, you’re not.” Blake stepped in front of him, blocking his way, his arms folded across his chest.

“What do you want, Blake?” Drew let out an exasperated sigh. “If you want to hit me, take your best shot. I’m not going to hit back.”

Blake blinked, obviously surprised at that. “No one hurts my sister and gets away with it,” he sputtered.

“I didn’t mean to. I love Ruby.”

Love.

He’d just admitted his love for Ruby, before his conscious mind had even realized. He had never doubted how much he enjoyed being with her, and how much he liked her. But love?

Saying it felt right. No matter what happened with them in the end.

“You’re such a punk, Drew.” Blake shoved him, and
Drew’s
muscles tensed as he counterbalanced to keep from falling. But that’s all he did.

“Come on, fight back.” Blake shoved him again, square in the chest.

“No.”

“Dammit!” Blake pulled back his arm, and Drew swallowed hard. Then his face erupted in pain as Blake struck a blow right in his nose, and Drew fell to the ground.

“Ow!” He cupped his hands over his face, his eyes watering. God, that hurt. He could feel blood dripping through his fingers, and he wondered if his nose was broken. He took a few deep breaths until the agony subsided.

Then, he braced his hands on his knees and raised himself to standing. He’d been burned on 30 percent of his body—a broken nose was nothing. He faced Blake, who was breathing hard, his face tomato red.

Blake’s hands were still clenched into fists in front of him. “Come on.”

“I don’t want to hit you, Blake,” he said. The slight stuffiness in his voice made him feel like the punk Blake had called him.

With a shout, his former best friend charged at him. Drew ducked and then stepped out of the way just as Blake tried to land another punch. “I never said I’d let you hit me twice,” he snarled.

Blake whirled around and came at him again, clipping him painfully on the jaw with his fist.

“Screw this.” Drew immediately responded with a punch of his own, and caught Blake on the shoulder, causing him to growl in pain. But Blake recovered in a split second and in response gave a swift jab that Drew couldn’t avoid. It connected with the side of his head, causing him to lose his balance and stumble. He turned and gut-punched Blake, who doubled over with a volley of curses, clutching his stomach. Stubborn ass, he rose up, clearly intending to throw another punch.

“Stop!” Drew hollered. Pain shot up his leg from his earlier stumble. He turned and faced Blake squarely.

Blake took one step toward him, but Drew stood his ground.

“I get it. You hate me. I don’t blame you. But punching me won’t change anything.” Drew’s eyes darted to the side, making sure he had sufficient space to get out of the way should Blake take another shot at him.

“You violated my trust. You betrayed our friendship. Hurting you will make me feel better,” Blake snarled. But he put his hands down, spitting on the ground and then wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“You don’t mean that.” Drew’s muscles relaxed, as he realized that the fighting was likely over.

“What do you know?” Blake scowled at him and took a step closer.

“I know you.”

“Yeah, right,” Blake said.

“Yes,” Drew continued, ignoring Blake’s response. “And it cuts me up to know that I’ve hurt you. The one person who’s the closest to family that I’ve ever had.”

“You have a funny way of showing it.” Blake shook his head.

“I know. I totally screwed up.” Drew’s voice cracked. “I used to be so jealous of you. Your relationship with Ruby. Your mom. I know it wasn’t easy, with your dad and not having money. But I’d have given everything I had to swap with you.”

Blake opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, then settled for looking awkward. “You never told me.”

Drew laughed, but there was no mirth in it. “Well, I was hardly gonna take out an ad in the paper.” Silence hung in the air. “I’m sorry,” he blurted out. “For Reese. For the fire. Reese told me you’d broken up again, and she swore she was through with you. I didn’t— My parents’ drinking had gotten worse, and I know that’s no excuse, but I was just feeling so… I just wanted someone. She was there, and she kissed me, and I let her.” He stared at the ground, unable to look his old friend in the eye. “We were going to tell you, and I swear, Blake, if you’d said you didn’t want me to see her, I wouldn’t have. Your friendship meant more to me than anything else in the world.”

He looked up then, facing Blake, who had returned to his normal color. All the fight seemed to have left him. He wasn’t even scowling anymore. “Except for Ruby,” Drew added. “But I won’t come between the two of you. You’re her brother, and she adores you. So I’m going to go. Tell her I’m sorry. I won’t bother her again.”

Drew turned and began walking toward the parking garage, just wanting to put some distance between him and every Davis on the planet.

“I always thought you two would be good together,” Blake said.

Shocked to his core, Drew pivoted, wondering if he’d heard right. “What?”

One corner of Blake’s mouth turned upward. “You heard me.” He turned and walked into the hospital.

T
he door opened, and Ruby glanced up from reading her magazine, expecting to see the nurse who had gone to get her a Popsicle to cheer her up. After Drew left, she couldn’t stop crying. She’d made the right decision saying no to him, she knew that, but it didn’t stop the hurt. Instead of the nurse, though, Blake stood there rubbing his knuckles, which looked red and bruised.

“What happened?” She hoped he hadn’t been hitting the wall again. Something he’d done on a regular basis the past twelve months.

“Nothing.” His sharp tone took Ruby by surprise. She’d hoped they’d gotten beyond their conflict. He’d been so kind to her yesterday at the accident.

“Sorry, I only asked because of your hand.”

He shook his head. “No. I’m sorry. I’ve just had a run-in with Drew.”

Ruby’s good hand flew up to her mouth, her eyes wide. “Is he hurt?” She couldn’t bear it if Blake had injured Drew. For all Drew’s hard exterior and his stupid idea that he deserved all the bad karma life could throw at him, Ruby knew that he probably stood there like some idiot martyr and let Blake punch him in the face.

“No.” Blake walked over and sat down on the chair beside the bed, lifting his legs and resting them on the lower bed rail.

Not counting the immediate problem with his hand, Ruby sensed something different about him. She didn’t know whether it was the way he sat there so relaxed, even after his fight with Drew. Or the fact that his face didn’t have its usual tightness about it, or what. Just something.

“Thank goodness.” She sighed and couldn’t help allowing a tiny laugh of relief to escape her lips.

“Good to see whose side you’re on.” Blake leaned back in the chair and lifted his hands behind his head.

“I still care about him, you know,” she said, biting on her bottom lip to stop the urge to cry which had suddenly taken hold again.

“Even though he dumped you?”

“And asked me back out,” she pointed out. “But I said no.”

“Ah. So that’s what he meant,” Blake said, his voice quiet and thoughtful.

“What?”

“He said to tell you he wouldn’t bother you again.”

“Oh.”

“He also said he’s in love with you.”


Oh!
” Ruby’s heartbeat quickened. He loved her. Why hadn’t he told her? Then again would it have made a difference? No. Because the situation was still the same. “I love him, too,” she admitted. “But that’s not enough. It would never work between us.” She let out a long sigh, wishing that everything could be different.

“Says who?” Blake looked across at her, and she looked right back.

“Says me. Until he can learn to forgive himself for what happened to Reese and to you, then there’s no point.” She wanted to fold her arms and glare at her brother, but her stupid cast wouldn’t let her, so she settled for the glare. “And you not forgiving him doesn’t help matters.”

“I did.”

“What?!” She sat up, then immediately regretted the rapid movement. “Owwww.”

Looking helpless, he grabbed her water glass and offered it to her. She took it, if only to make him feel like he’d helped. She took a sip and handed it back to him. “You did?”

He hitched a shoulder in a half shrug. “Well, I stopped trying to hit him, and I told him I didn’t mind you two together.”

Her vision blurred as tears filled her eyes. It had been a huge step for her brother, and she was so grateful. “Blake—” She reached for him with her good hand, and he leaned forward, took it, and squeezed it, before putting it back on the sheet and patting it awkwardly into place. Which, for Blake, was a momentous declaration of brotherly affection.

She wiped the tears as they started to fall. “That’s not completely forgiving him, you know.”

He ignored that. “Maybe you can help him. He…needs somebody,” he said.

She couldn’t believe she was sitting there having a conversation like that with Blake. She thought he would’ve done what he could to stop her being with Drew but now it seemed like he was trying to persuade her to give him a chance. She didn’t get it. “No. He has to help himself. Because if he doesn’t, he’ll only end up half a man. Like Dad.”

She hated to think of her father in those terms. And she hated that down the road, Drew could be in the exact same position.

“And if he does help himself, will you go back with him then?” Blake pressed.

“What’s with you trying to push me toward him?” she demanded. She waved her arm and then wished she hadn’t because of the pain.

He swung his legs down from the bed and leaned forward in the chair, looking intently at her. He cleared his throat. “I’m not. Well. Look, it’s gonna take a long time for me to get over what he did. But Reese’s death wasn’t…it wasn’t his fault.” He shuffled in his seat and looked very uncomfortable.

Ruby placed her hand on his knee and gave it a squeeze. “He hates himself for what happened, more than you’ll ever hate him. And I agree it wasn’t his fault. Maybe, in time, you’ll be able to forgive him for being with her in the first place.”

She believed that if Drew and Blake could even begin to repair their relationship, it would help both of them more than either could have imagined. They had too much history for them to let it all go.

“Maybe. If I’m being honest with myself, I think that Reese and I wouldn’t have gotten back together. It was probably our last breakup,” he said thoughtfully. Then he scrubbed a hand across his face. “You still haven’t answered my question about whether you would get back together with him if he straightens himself out.”

She took a moment before answering. Would she get back together with him? She didn’t want to think about it, because she wasn’t convinced he would change sufficiently for everything to work out. She gave a resigned shrug. “Let’s wait and see what happens.”

BOOK: Falling for the Wrong Guy
11.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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