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|Beat of the Heart(Runaway Train #2) by Katie Ashley|
Abby glanced over her shoulder. “Jake, do you want to ride to the hospital with Frank?”
He ignored her question. Instead, he murmured absentmindedly, “You were crumpled on the ground.”
Rising to her feet, Abby’s blonde brow lined in confusion. “What?”
“Your white dress was stained with blood…Then, she was on the ground at the stables when she had the last seizure.” Jake shuddered. “She never got out of bed again after that.”
Tears sparkled in Abby’s bright blue eyes as she crossed the distance between them to put her hands on Jake’s face. “Baby, I’m here. Don’t go back there,” she crooned softly.
One of the paramedics poked his head out the door. “Okay, we’re ready to go.”
Abby threw a panicked glance over at me. I knew she wanted to go, but she couldn’t bear leaving Jake in the state he was in. “Don’t worry. I’ll go.”
“Thank you,” she replied, before wrapping Jake in her arms.
I hopped in the back of the ambulance and slid across the bench. Reaching out, I grabbed Frank’s hand, which was already wrapped in IV tubing, in mine. He squeezed it back. The doors closed behind us just as the wailing siren started up. I glanced out of the window to watch Jake and Abby’s retreating forms. Kylie threw up her hand, and I felt a pang of remorse that I hadn’t even said good-bye. As I waved back to her, it was almost like my dick felt an intense pang of frustration that there would be no getting busy tonight. Glancing down at Frank’s ashen face, I felt like a gigantic ass for even thinking about a missed hook-up. The dude was like a father to me and the guys for fuck’s sake.
As we started down the road, Frank tugged me closer to him. “This means a bypass,” he croaked.
“You don’t know that. Could be they just need to put another one of those stent thingies in those old, crusty arteries of yours.”
He shook his head. “Doc said so last time.”
With a shrug, I replied, “So you’ll have a bypass or two. It’s not the end of the world. People have them all the time. My abuelo in San Antonio had one a month ago. Good as new.”
Frank seemed to be weighing my words. The heart problems he’d dealt with in the last two years weren’t a secret to anyone on the crew or in the band. He’d had two separate angioplasties while during our down time not on tour. We hadn’t given it much thought since he had bounced back so easily both times.
“I just want to get it done back in Atlanta, okay? I want it to be with my doctor and where my boys can be with me.”
“You got it, man. We’ll get you back there ASAP, even if we have to call the label’s jet.”
With a wink, I squeezed his hand. “No problem.”
“Hey stronzo, why don’t you learn to use a fucking turning signal!” I shouted at the car that had just cut in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes and almost drop the bagel I was balancing on my thigh. Just like every morning as I battled Atlanta rush-hour traffic, I cursed like a sailor, or probably more like the hot-blooded Sicilian men I’d been raised around. I also pondered why I thought it was necessary to continue living in the burbs, rather than closer to the city and St. Joe’s—aka St. Joseph’s hospital—where I was a charge nurse on the Cardiac Care Floor.
Traffic edged along at a snail’s pace while I ate my bagel and cream cheese. I didn’t dare glance at the clock on the dashboard because I knew it would only piss me off more at how late I was going to be. Finally after a small eternity, I whipped into the parking deck. Once I eased the car into a parking spot, I reached for the hair clip on the strap of my purse. I wound my long, dark hair into a tight twist and clipped it into place. After throwing a glance in the rearview mirror to make sure I didn’t have bagel crumbs or cream cheese in my teeth, I grabbed my purse and threw open the car door.
When I pressed the lock on the key fob, I was once again reminded of the sting of grief that always accompanied that beep. A subtle grief trigger, as my therapist had called it. It certainly felt like a trigger had been pulled on a gun, lodging a bullet into my heart. The Mercedes convertible, SLK250, which was way out of my usual budget, had been Mama Sofia’s, my late grandmother.
After she died unexpectedly of a heart attack nine months ago, I found she had left implicit instructions in her will that I should have the car. Regardless of her slew of other grandchildren, she reasoned, that since it had originally been a gift from my father, it was mine outright. Considering her feisty personality and status as family matriarch, no one dared to question her motives. Whatever Mama Sofia said, you did. She was the youngest acting eighty-five-year old you would ever see. With a decorative scarf wrapped around her perfectly coiffed, bouffant hair, she always had the top down—even on her daily trip to mass.
Shifting my cup of coffee into my other hand, I rubbed my chest over my aching heart. After my mother had bailed on my dad when I was just a baby, Mama Sofia had been the only mother I’d ever known. She’d left her home in Jersey to come to Atlanta to help my father raise me. Her loss had shattered me to the core. As I made my way out of the parking deck, I shook my head, trying desperately to shake myself of the cloak of dark, smothering grief that seemed to hang tight around me.
Just a few minutes before seven, the hospital slowly stirred awake from the evening shift. I smiled and bobbed my head at the stream of bleary and beleaguered looking doctors and nurses heading out to their cars. I remembered all too well what it was like to pull the night shift—I’d gotten that experience years ago during my clinicals.