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"I'm okay! We're okay!" I yell back, taking a shaky breath. The sound of a car coming up the drive is music to my ears. I watched Mr. James pull over the hill in his police cruiser, and for the first time since my mom showed up, I can feel that knot in my stomach disappear.
"No, No, No, No," she starts chanting, her head thrashing back and forth on the ground. I can hear Asher yelling from inside the house and know that I need to go to him.
"Are you okay?" Mr. James asks, running up with his gun drawn and pointed at my mom.
"Yeah," I say shakily. "Asher's inside. He's tied up. She made me tie him up," I cry. The gun in my hand starts shaking. It feels like it weighs a hundred pounds.
Mr. James' face is soft and full of worry when he holds out his hand to me. "Give me the gun, darlin', and go untie my boy," he says quietly. I hand him the gun and start stumbling my way into the house. My hip is killing me from where I fell on it. I open the door and see Asher on his knees. He has gotten the rope off of one of his ankles. His eyes come to me and he falls backwards onto the floor.
"Fuck," he roars and I run over to him. I realize it would be easier to untie him if I had a knife, so I stumble into the kitchen then back to him. He rolls to his side and I cut the rope around his wrist. Before I can do anything else, his arms are around me. I didn't even realize that I'm crying until he starts wiping away the tears running down my face. "Breathe, baby," he whispers, rocking me back and forth. One hand is on the back of my head, holding me to his chest, and the other is on my stomach where our daughter is.
"I-was-s-s-so scared." I sob. "Be...Beeasst saved me again."
"Shhhh, it's okay. You're safe." He repeats those words over and over into my ear.
I take my face out of Asher's chest as Mr. James walks in with another officer. "We have her in th-" He looks down at us and his face pales. "Call a fucking ambulance!" he shouts over his shoulder. I look down and see that Asher's sweats have blood on them.
"Oh my God!" I cry. "You're bleeding." I try to get up. Asher's face is as white as a ghost and he starts shaking his head, pulling me closer. "Let me go. We have to see where you're hurt."
"Not me, it's not me." His face is etched in worry. He picks me up and I start to squirm. Then I realize I feel wet between my legs.
"No," I whisper, looking at Asher. "No," I repeat, begging him to tell me that this is not happening. That I'm not bleeding.
"I'm taking her to the hospital. It will be faster if I drive her," he says to his dad, but it feels like a dream. This cannot be happening.
"I'm driving. Get her in the cruiser," Mr. James says quietly. I feel us moving but I'm numb. No tears, nothing. I don't even know if I'm breathing. All I can think about is our daughter.
I hear the sound of beeping. My eyes flutter open. I can see the white of the hospital ceiling and everything that happened yesterday comes back to me. When I got here, my dad and grandmother arrived ten minutes later. He was ready to go down to the local jail and kill my mother. My cousins and uncle had to physically restrain him so he didn't get arrested. The police still had to come in to take our statements, but from what I understand from Asher's dad, my mom had been trying to find a way to get the money my grandparents left for a very long time. My ex-fiancé was her boy toy long before I met him. She said they had been sleeping together for two years when she came up with the plan that he would date me, get me to fall in love with him, ask me to marry him, then something else. She didn't say what that something was, but it would happen to me. He would get the money and they would start a life together. Unfortunately for her, that plan fell through when I found out they were sleeping together.
Apparently, my grandparents left strict instructions that, if I was to die before I had any heirs, the money was to be donated to different charitable organizations. My mother had been scheming for a long time trying to get me out of the way. I guess she was on a roll during her questioning, and told the police that she set up the attack that happened to me in New York with the hopes that I would be left in a coma when it came time for me to receive my inheritance.
She figured that if I was in a coma, she would automatically be granted power of attorney and would have access to the money when it became available. Then she could transfer it to herself. She also admitted that she sent the flowers to me and paid the kid who dropped them off a few hundred dollars to get my signature on the transfer papers that she took to the lawyer.
I move my head to the side and look over to where Asher is asleep. He always looks peaceful in his sleep. His mom brought him another pair of sweats yesterday when she showed up, so he could get out of the one's that were covered in my blood. His ankle is crossed over his fleece covered knee. He has on a black thermal that is so tight, I can make out every detail of his chest. His hands are intertwined and laying on his abs. His sleeves are pushed up, the tattoos on his arm on full display. His jaw is darker than normal. He never shaves over the weekends. He worked from home yesterday, so he's extra scruffy.
Over the last few weeks, his skin has turned the color of caramel from working out in the sun. I bet a lot of women drive by his job sites just to see him without his shirt on. I know he takes it off to work, at least, occasionally. His tan is everywhere. He's always beautiful, but asleep, he's stunning. I wonder if I will ever get tired of looking at him.
My hand absently moves to my stomach. When I feel a slight flutter, I say a silent prayer that my daughter is okay. They were worried yesterday when they saw how much blood I lost. After lots of tests, the doctor found out that my cervix was bleeding due to the way I fell when I went for the gun. When I continued to bleed, they decided to keep me overnight for monitoring and put me on bed rest for a few weeks. This morning when they came to check on me, the bleeding had stopped and her heartbeat was stronger. The night doctor said that everything should be fine as long as I don't push it. He also told me that I could be released as soon as my doctor showed up to sign me out.
"You awake?" Asher asks softly and I smile.
"Yeah," I say, looking over at him. His eyes have dark circles under them from being awake most of the night, harassing anyone who came into the room with a million and one questions.
"How are you feeling?" he asks, sitting up and placing his hand over mine.
"Better. Tired, but much better."
"Good." He smiles and kisses my hand.
"Why don't you go get a coffee?" I ask him.
"Nah, I'm good."
"Babe, seriously, you look exhausted. Go get a coffee, walk around, and see if you can track down my doctor. This bed is really uncomfortable and I would like to go home."
"I don't know. We don't have that machine at the house," he says, pointing at the monitor for our daughter's heartbeat. I look over at the machine and watch as her heartbeat thumps away. Then, I look back at him and can tell that he's still worried.
"The doctor won't let me leave if he thinks it's too risky," I tell him softly.
"I know, baby," he says, bringing my hand to his mouth and holding it there after kissing my fingers. "I could have lost you both yesterday," he says so quietly that I almost don't hear him.
"You didn't. We're here and we're safe."
"When I heard that gun go off outside, I thought that my life had ended. I thought I was never going to see your face again, or be able to see our daughter take her first breath. And I knew I wouldn't be able to survive without you here with me. I would take my life in order to go wherever you were."
"Don't say that." I whimpered, shaking my head. "Don't ever say that."
"It's the truth."
"No, it's selfish," I cry. "Other people love you and count on you, not just me. No matter what happens to me, promise that you will never give up on life. That you will always fight to be happy. I'm not your only happiness."
"No, you're my bliss," he says, smiling, but I can't smile back. This is too serious.
"Promise me that you will never give up on life, no matter what, Asher. Promise me right now, because we have a daughter that is going to need you no matter what happens to me." His eyes look so lost, but I won't let him say stupid things like that. I wouldn't be happy without him either, but I would still fight to live because I know he would want that for me. "Would you want me to follow you?" I ask quietly, knowing the answer.
"So don't say things like that," I beg.
"I'm sorry, baby," he says, pulling me into his arms. "I just don't know what I would do."
"You don't have to worry about it. We're here and we're safe. Just promise that no matter what, you won't leave our daughter behind if something happens to me." I start to cry uncontrollably.
"I promise," he finally says, and I curl into his side and fall asleep.
I'm sitting in my hospital bed waiting for my doctor to show up and discharge me after he decided to keep me for one more night. Asher went to the house to get me something to wear and to drop off Beast. I hear the door open and look up.
"November?" Chris is standing at the door of my hospital room.
"What are you doing here?" I ask, scooting back in the bed.
"I heard you were in the hospital. I wanted to check on you."
"Who told you I was in the hospital?" He doesn't answer, but walks into the room, shutting the door behind him. I press the call button for the nurse.
"You were supposed to come back to me," he says, looking sad.
"You slept with my mom." I will never forget that. Seeing them together was burned into my brain forever.
"Yes, and I'm sorry about that, but once I started to fall in love with you, I left you clues so that you would catch us."
"I wanted to have a clean start with you. I just didn't know that after you caught us, you would ignore me completely."
"I repeat: You slept with my mom. That's not something that is easy to forget."
"I know," he whispers, looking at his shoes.
"The police are looking for you," I tell him and pray that one of the nurses comes in soon.
"I didn't know about the attack in New York. I didn't know she was going to do that to you," he says the words quickly.
"Okay," I say. My pulse speeds up when he looks at me again.
"I've been watching her." He looks around. "She's been in town for a while now. I wanted to warn you. I tried to scare you into going back to New York, but instead you decided to stay here with that guy."
"How did you try to scare me?"
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