Authors: Alyssa Rose Ivy
Copyright 2013 Alyssa Rose Ivy
Cover Design: Once Upon a Time Covers
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To anyone who has been saved by love.
As always, this book would not have been possible without my family. Grant, you know how much your support means. Thanks to Kris Kendall for your editing expertise and Kristina Scheid for proofreading. A special thank you to Jessica Watterson for your willingness to read a very early draft of this book, and thank you to Jennifer Snyder for everything. Thank you to all of the bloggers who have helped me spread the word about my books, and thank you readers for continuing to take this journey with me.
As the speedometer hit seventy, I knew I had to go faster. Nothing could be fast enough to get away from the night I’d had. In the course of a few minutes, I’d probably lost my brother’s trust forever—and I deserved it.
I should have expected Daniela would be trouble when she cornered me at a barbeque in her brother Tom’s backyard. She had that gleam in her eyes and a drink in her cup that was probably a hell of a lot stronger than the beer I was holding. I tried to shrug her off, but she wasn’t having any of it. She followed me around like a lost puppy all night.
I finished off my beer and headed back onto the deck so I could get another. I took a seat, trying to ignore the conversations around me.
“Do you want to get out of here?” Daniela came up behind me, putting her arms around my neck.
I turned in my seat, pushing her off me in the process. “Is that a joke?”
“Why not? We used to have fun, didn’t we?” She smiled at me in a way that used to work. It didn’t anymore.
Our hook ups in high school weren’t something I was proud of. “Fun? I’d call it self- destruction. I think I’m okay.”
“Doesn’t it bother you?” She took a seat next to me and scooted her chair as close to mine as she could.
I leaned away from her. “Doesn’t what bother me?”
“That Molly is having Ben’s baby.” Daniela nodded toward where Molly laughed with her friend a few feet away. My brother, Ben, was looking at her out of the corner of his eye. He was so in love with Molly it was hard to watch sometimes.
“She’s his wife. It’s kind of expected she’d have his kids.” I ripped the label off my beer. I needed to make my exit.
“Come on. You know it bugs you.” She ran her nails across the back of my neck.
I shrugged her off again. “What the fuck is your point, Daniela? She’s my sister-in-law. She’s pregnant with my niece or nephew.”
“He still doesn’t know, does he?”
“Don’t go there.” I tried to think of a way to get Daniela out of there before she said something really dumb.
“I know it bothers you just as much as it bothers me.”
I looked her straight in the eye. “It doesn’t. I’m happy for them.” I was. Ben had been miserable without Molly. He didn’t even act like himself. It was nice to have him back.
“Please. You couldn’t have changed that much.”
“I have. I got over it a long time ago. I had a stupid crush. You were obsessed.” It still seemed insane I’d liked Molly at all. We couldn’t go ten minutes in the same room without fighting.
“Bullshit.” She got that excited look again. With Daniela, that always meant something bad.
“What are you thinking?”
“If you’re over it, you wouldn’t mind me telling Ben and Molly, would you?” She put a hand on my leg. She needed to stop touching me already.
“You wouldn’t dare.” I ran a hand through my hair nervously.
“Don’t be an idiot, Daniela.” She was always a mean drunk.
“Don’t be an idiot?” She got out of her chair. “You mean don’t tell Ben how you wanted Molly in high school?” She raised her voice loudly enough to get everyone’s attention.
“Daniela, shut up.”
“Or wait. Maybe you don’t want them to know how you had me try to seduce Ben so he’d cheat on Molly. Oops… I wasn’t supposed to tell him that, was I?” She put a hand in front of her mouth like the words had just fallen out or something. I was ready to kill her.
I dared to glance at Ben, who was shooting me daggers, while walking over to Molly.
“What is she talking about?” Molly took a few steps toward me.
I played with the keys inside the pocket of my shorts. I needed to get out of there. “It’s nothing. She’s just drunk.”
Daniela laughed. “It’s true, Molly. Jake wanted to break you guys up.”
Molly turned to Ben. “Is she telling the truth?”
“I never slept with her!” He put an arm around Molly. “I remember a night during senior year when she, uh, offered, but I said no.”
Daniela sneered. “He did say no. He didn’t want anyone but his precious Molly.”
“Okay, you need to go sober up.” Tom grabbed his sister’s arm and dragged her inside.
Ben looked like he was ready to kill me. I knew I deserved it. “Did you try to set me up?”
I made a decision in that moment. Maybe it was a dumb one—but I decided to be honest. “Yes.”
“You set me up to cheat on Molly? What? What fucking reason would you have to do that?” He turned red and had both hands in his hair. He was ready to explode.
“I know how dumb it was. Daniela suggested it, and it made sense at the time.” A lot of stupid ideas sound great when you’re drunk.
“Her suggestion? Why the hell would she suggest it?”
“She always had a crush on you.” Molly spoke so softly I barely heard her. She turned to Ben. “Was it at that party at Tanner’s? The one I didn’t go to because I was grounded?”
Ben nodded nervously.
Molly crossed her arms. “It was probably Daniela who sent me the picture then.”
“What picture?” Ben looked panicked.
“It was of you shirtless with a girl’s hand on your chest.” She paused for a second and let out a deep breath. “I assumed you were just playing around. I would have known if you actually cheated on me.”
“That was April, right before you changed your mind and decided to go to college in Boston.” Ben kept his eyes fixed on some invisible spot in the distance.
“It was a few weeks before.” Molly twisted the material of her t-shirt with her hand.
“Is that why you decided to move so far? I thought it was because you were afraid I’d leave you behind.” Ben’s voice got all scratchy. I could tell he was trying to keep his temper reigned in.
afraid of that. The picture just reinforced my fear.” Molly looked like she was ready to cry. Ben pulled her into his arms.
She turned and looked right at me. “Do you know who sent the picture?”
I let out a deep breath. I was about to make things ten times worse. “I sent it from someone else’s phone. I’m sorry.” I didn’t wait around for Ben to process what I’d just admitted. I turned and walked away. I probably should have stayed to talk it out, but instead I headed to the bar. After a few glasses of Jack, I needed fresh air.
I got my Jeep up to eighty. The open, country road was the perfect place to let out my frustration. With the top down, the wind blew through my hair, stinging my face as I continued to accelerate. The only lights were from my car, and I enjoyed the darkness. I felt my eyes start to close just as I lost control, and everything went black.
Two more hours. Two more hours and I could go home. I was already dreaming about the comfort of my bed. My eight hundred thread count sheets were my only splurge in the past year. I’d used the summer to take as many extra shifts as I could. I needed the money, and there were very few things that seemed worth dipping into my funds—a good night’s sleep was one of them.
I reattached the blood pressure cuff to Mrs. Nevelle. I really hoped her kids got there soon. She didn’t have much time left. I loved working as a nurse in the ICU because there was always something going on, but dealing with really sick people had its drawbacks. The worst was, of course, when they died. Mrs. Nevelle seemed ready. She was eighty-eight and, during the brief time she was coherent, she told me how excited she was to join her husband. I hoped that when my time came I’d have that attitude.
The unit was quiet that night. My shift had been easy. My second room was still empty, so Mrs. Nevelle had my undivided attention. I should have known it couldn’t stay that calm. I heard the phone ring so I went over to the nursing station—already confident it was going to be a report on a new patient.
I listened to the nurse down in the Emergency Room and took notes.
23 y/o male. Motor vehicle accident—BAL 0.3—arrived in respiratory distress—collapsed lung –intubated on arrival—scans negative for internal bleeding and vitals stable.
Great, a DUI. I couldn’t help it. I never had the same kind of sympathy for those patients. Anyone reckless enough to drive with a 0.3 blood alcohol level was most likely a certain type. It didn’t matter though. He still deserved the same care as anyone else. I got ready for the transport and waited.
As expected, it took a while. I wrapped my cardigan sweater around my shoulders. The worst part about summer was that they blasted the air conditioning in the hospital.
Transport wheeled the bed in, and I got my first look at the patient. He had brown hair, and was obviously tall, but I got pretty distracted by all the bruising. By the looks of him, he was lucky to be alive.
I went through the motions of getting him set up in the new bed, and connecting him to the monitors. I already knew he’d be intubated, but it was still hard to watch someone so young with a tube down their throat. I did everything carefully and methodically. I was a perfectionist when it came to my work.
Transport and the respiratory therapist left, leaving me alone in the room with the patient.
I picked up his chart. Jake Mathews. I guess he looked enough like a Jake. He wasn’t from Wilmington, but one of those tiny towns north of the city—Clayton Falls. I’d never been there, but I knew it was where my best friend, Mel, from nursing school grew up.