Holding You Close (Ex-Con Duet Series #4) by Kennedy Fox

Chapter One





KATIE





I feel like I’m moving at hyper speed as I follow the ambulance to the hospital. It took them nearly twenty minutes to find us, and I felt relief when I finally heard the sirens. Noah’s blood is on my hands and clothes, but I don’t care. The paramedics tried to calm me down, but nothing they said registered because shock took hold. I wish Noah wouldn’t have answered Brittany’s call and ignored her ass.

Brittany.

I grip the steering wheel tight with one hand as I call Jerry with the other. When he answers, I can tell he’s smiling, but when I croak out that there’s been an accident, it quickly fades.

“Which hospital?” he asks. I hear keys jingling and know he’s already out the door.

“Mobile General Hospital,” I say.

“I’m on my way now,” he tells me. I hear Belinda in the background asking what’s wrong. “I’ll bring Owen with us too unless you want me to take him to your mother’s.”

“It’s fine. He can come. Thank you so much,” I reply, and the call ends. The next logical person to contact is Gemma, and my heart races as her phone rings. When she answers, the strength I had when I spoke with Jerry quickly vanishes. I try not to cry so my vision doesn’t blur while I’m driving, but I fail. I talk a million miles per hour as I explain exactly what happened.

“Oh my God!” she shrieks.

“I thought he was dead,” I whisper. “I can’t lose him, Gemma. Not now. Not when we’ve decided to finally be together.”

My emotions bubble to the surface, and my words come out in sobs.

“He’s strong, Katie. My brother’s a fighter. If anyone can survive an accident like that, it’ll be Noah. Tyler and I are on our way now. I’ll let Everleigh know too. I know you’re upset,” she says. “Please be careful.”

“I will, I promise. We’re in town now and should be at the hospital in five minutes,” I tell her.

“Okay, I’ll see you soon.”

When I pull into the parking lot, the ambulance goes to the emergency room entrance. I park in the visitor’s area, then run inside and explain the situation to the woman at the front desk. Since he’s just arrived, she hasn’t received any patient information yet and asks me to sit in the waiting area.

The hospital has a certain smell to it, and it brings me back to the night of Gabe’s accident. While I’ve been here a few times over the years, those memories never go away. I find myself staring at the wall, drowning out the surrounding chatter and the TV in the corner. Nothing else matters besides Noah right now.

The doctor finally comes out. He explains what’s going on, then asks me questions about Noah’s health history, mostly things I don’t know.

“They just took him back for a CT scan, and once we have the results of that, we’ll let you know. He’s banged up but remaining stable. As soon as we have more information, I’ll come find you.”

“Thank you,” I say. “Other family members are on their way now.”

He gives me a smile, then returns through the double doors.

When I sit down, I just keep thinking about the what-ifs. What if I wouldn’t have searched for him? Would he have survived? For all I know, he’d still be unconscious and bleeding in his mangled truck. There’s not much traffic on those country roads so there’s no real way to know, but not one car passed while I was there. My mind goes crazy with all the horrible scenarios, and I try to push it all away. The reality is I could’ve lost Noah tonight, and the thought makes me sick to my stomach, almost to the point of dry heaving.

I try to suck in air, but it feels like the ceiling is closing in as my mind reels. The only thing that brings me back to reality is the sound of Belinda’s soft voice. Owen rushes to me and wraps his arms around me.

“I’m fine,” I tell him, knowing he was probably worried. I never randomly leave him with anyone. In this instance, I had to follow my gut.

“How is he?” Jerry asks with concern written on his face.

“Not sure. They just brought him back there. As soon as there’s an update, they said they’d let me know.” Owen sits next to me as Belinda pulls me in for a hug. Just as she lets go of me, a frazzled Gemma and Tyler rush through the door.

As soon as she’s close, Gemma pulls me into her as close as she can. “You okay?” she asks when we break apart.