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|Beat of the Heart(Runaway Train #2) by Katie Ashley|
It was more than just the betrayal of the man I loved and the girl who I’d thought was my friend. It was the fact it had happened a mere three months after Mama Sofia’s death—the truly darkest period I’ve ever known, and I’d seen some pretty bad ones. Dev’s betrayal kicked up a shit-storm of emotions that wounded my pride to my very core. It had done a number on my self-esteem that I had yet to overcome.
After swiping my eyes with the back of my hand, it took me a moment to meet Dee’s intense gaze. I sighed. “Deep down somewhere inside, I believe that. But unfortunately, it’s hard to get it through my thick skull.”
“The right one is out there for you—I have no doubt of that. Just because it wasn’t Dev, the epic dickhead, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”
I gave a bark of a laugh at his summation, but then the mention of the elusive Mr. Right caused a different pang of regret in my chest. “You sound like Mama Sofia.”
“That makes sense.”
“Let me guess. Because you’re both wise, know-it-alls?”
Dee shook his head. “No, because she always loved you and wanted you to have the happiness that you deserve, and I feel the exact same way.”
“Stop it, or I’m going to cry again,” I moaned.
He grinned. “Can’t help speaking the truth, baby girl.” He gave me a smack on both my thighs. “Come out dancing with me and the boys tonight to get your mind off things.”
“Um, I’m not sure how hitting up ATL’s finest gay nightclubs is going to make me feel better about myself.” When Dee started to protest, I reached over and patted his cheek. “It’s a sweet thought, Dee, but it would just be a constant reminder that all the good guys are gay.”
“You gotta get back in the game.”
Dee gave a grunt of frustration before rising out of his chair. “Whatever. Guess it’s time we hit it, huh?”
I grinned. “Hey, who is the shift supervisor here?”
Making praying hands, Dee bowed deep at the waist. “You, oh great and powerful one.”
As I started out of the station, Dee smacked me on the ass. I couldn’t help the snort of laugher that escaped my lips at his antics. He was one of a kind, and I couldn’t have had a better friend and nursing partner. He’d stood by me through the last year when a lot of friends would have bailed. His friendship, along with working with him, kept the fragile pieces of my sanity intact.
Rhys and I stepped off the fourth floor elevator of St. Joseph’s Hospital armed with gifts for Frank. Although it felt like an eternity had passed, it had been just a week since Frank’s collapse at the Oklahoma City concert. Once he had arrived at the hospital, he had received both good and bad news. He would need a bypass, but his condition was stable enough for him to return home for the surgery. With a nurse at his side, he’d flown home the next day to meet his sons at the airport.
As for the guys and me, we felt like shit doing it, but we had to keep up with the next few stops on the tour. Frank’s oldest son, Rob, kept us updated on his condition during the surgery and while he was in CCU. Fortunately, we had two days off in a row where his second family, the band, could come back home to check on him.
“Which room is it again?” I asked.
Flipping out his phone, Rhys scrolled through his messages. “405.”
I glanced at the sign across from the elevator doors, reading off the room numbers. “Okay, it’s that way,” I replied, pointing to the left.
When we got to 405, I rapped lightly on the door. “Come in,” Frank called.
I poked my head in the door. “Hello, hello. You gotta little room for two wickedly handsome and charming men?”
Frank’s face lit up. “Look who is here!” he exclaimed, pushing himself up in the bed.
Holding the door open for Rhys, we stepped inside. The room could have doubled for a florists with all the Get Well Soon flowers and balloons. I knew Abby and Lily had gone a little overboard on sending daily reminders to Frank about how much he was loved and missed.
I stepped over to the bed. “Hey old man, how you holding up?” I questioned, leaning over to hug Frank’s neck.
Wagging a finger at me, he replied, “Almost good enough to smack you upside the head for calling me ‘old man’!”
I chuckled as I pulled away. “You look a helluva lot better than the last time we saw you.”
“I know. I feel a lot better too.”
Rhys stepped forward to hug Frank. “Bray, Lily, and Abby are coming by to see you in a little while, but Jake…” Rhys grimaced.
Frank smiled knowingly. “I understand. He’s gun-shy between what happened with Abby’s attack and poor Susan’s illness. It’s only been six months, so it makes total sense that hospitals and illness spook him.” He waved his IV-clad hand dismissively. “Besides, he doesn’t need to come by and see me. Hell, he called Rob three or four times a day when I was in the CCU, and I’ve talked to him several times.”
My brows rose in surprise. “Really?”
“He didn’t tell us that,” Rhys replied.
“He probably didn’t tell you that he put me on three months paid leave either, did he?”
Rhys and I exchanged a glance before shaking our heads in unison.