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“What the hell is going on?” Trevor demanded, climbing onto the truck. He went to put his arms around Zoe, but stumbled back as the small woman suddenly turned the most vicious glare that she’d ever seen on the man.

“You!” Zoe said accusingly as her eyes narrowed to slits on her husband.

For a moment Trevor simply sat there, looking at his wife until finally he sighed and gestured to Connor. “Do you have any rope?”

“Rope?” Connor repeated as Rory asked, “What the hell do you need rope for? She’s in labor!”

“It’s to stop her from trying to rip my balls off,” Trevor said with a fond smile for his wife, who looked like she wanted to do just that.

Definitely the most interesting family reunion, she thought an hour later when the ambulance finally showed up just as the twins arrived and she decided against telling Connor that she was “late.”

Chapter 36

September

“What time is it?” Rory asked around a yawn as she rolled over onto her side so that she could face him as she struggled to keep her eyes open.

“A little after two,” he said softly, resisting the urge to go to her and kiss her, because he knew that if he did that he would want more, need more from her and he couldn’t do that to her, not now.

“You’re just getting home?” she asked, but made no move to get up or open her eyes this time. For the first time in months, he was thankful for the exhausting hours they put in every day. It was probably the only thing stopping Rory from asking a million questions that he didn’t want to answer.

“Go back to sleep, baby. We have to get up in a couple of hours,” he said, smiling for the first time in hours when Rory let out an annoyed little growl and flopped back over onto her stomach.

He walked into her bathroom, carefully closing the door behind him, wincing as pain shot through his battered hand. For the last couple of hours he’d been able to ignore the pain in his hands, but now that he wasn’t busting his ass and taking all his frustration and anger out on two by fours and sheetrock, he was starting to feel all the damage he’d done to his hands. He held up his hands and cursed.

Shit!

His hands were torn up, bloodied, blistered and he could hardly move them without agonizing pain shooting from the finger tips and down his arms. Over the past month he’d f**ked up his hands with his late night adventures, but never like this. He’d be lucky if he could move his hands today, but with his luck, his hands would get infected and he’d be seriously screwed.

He walked over to the bathroom sink and carefully opened the medicine cabinet. When he didn’t spot what he needed, he closed the door and looked beneath her sink, cursing as crippling pain shot through his hands, but at least he found what he was looking for. He grabbed the bottle of peroxide and stood up only to have the bottle ripped from his hand.

“What the hell did you do to your hands?” Rory demanded, sounding very much awake now and looking extremely pissed.

“Nothing. They’re fine,” he said, trying to close his hands and when that didn’t work he tried putting them behind his back and out of her sight, but of course Rory was too damn stubborn to let it go and leave him alone.

She grabbed onto his left arm and yanked it forward. Before he could pull it back, she was holding his bloodied hand and glaring up at him. “Yeah, they’re real fine, Connor,” she said with disgust as she released his hand and stepped past him.

“What are you doing?” he asked, kind of hoping that she’d just go back to sleep and forget all about this so that he wouldn’t be forced to lie to her.

“Helping you get cleaned up before your hands get infected,” Rory said, turning the shower on.

“I don’t need help, Rory. Go on back to bed and get some sleep,” Connor said, trying not to think about how exhausted he suddenly felt.

For the past couple of weeks he’d been running on barely two hours of sleep a night and putting in about twenty hours a day and it was catching up to him. As much as his body was begging for him to stop, he couldn’t. He just couldn’t. If he didn’t stay busy, stay focused on something other than his life, then he was afraid that he was going to lose it.

“Is this about Andrew quitting?” Rory asked and although he’d been waiting for her to get around to bringing it up since Andrew decided to quit and cut him out of his life, he wasn’t ready to talk about it. He didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t want to think about it. He sure as hell didn’t like waiting around for the phone call letting him know that his best friend died all alone, because the stubborn ass**le was too damn proud to let Connor be there for him.

“Leave it alone, Rory. It’s over,” he said, shoving aside the agony that once again threatened to take over.

“I know that you’re upset that your friend quit,” Rory said, sounding sympathetic as she checked the temperature of the water, “but it’s probably for the best. He wasn’t showing up at work. When he did show up he was late and he always left early and I know you don’t want to talk about it, but I think he had a problem.”

“Like you said, he quit so let it go,” he said, yanking his shirt off and tossing it aside, ignoring the fresh wave of pain that shot through his hands as he forced his hands to work through the pain and remove his pants and boots.

“I can’t,” Rory said, moving to step in front of him, but he was in no mood to deal with her or anything else at the moment. He just wanted to take a shower, pass out for a few hours and get his ass back to work where he could work himself into exhaustion and forget about how f**king bad it hurt losing his best friend.

“You can’t or you won’t?” Rory demanded as he stepped into the shower.

“Both,” he snapped, yanking the curtain closed.

He stepped beneath the hot water, allowing it to seep into his pores and work its way down to his hands, stinging his sensitive skin as it washed away the blood. It wasn’t enough to make him completely forget, but it was enough to keep him from losing it, something he’d been fighting since Andrew told him over beers and a Yankees game that he had a rare form of Leukemia and that he wasn’t going to fight it.

Andrew had type AB negative blood, a very rare blood type. The chances of finding a matching donor were very slim and Andrew didn’t hold out much hope of finding a match, but the main reason why Andrew was refusing to look? Because he would rather see the bone marrow go to a child or someone with a family, someone that would be missed. Andrew wasn’t married, broke up with his girlfriend last year and his parents died years ago leaving him all alone so in his book, his death wouldn’t be a loss. The ass**le was trying to be noble to the end and Connor f**king hated him for it.

“We’ve put this off for long enough,” Rory announced as she stepped into the shower behind him.

“Go away, Rory,” he said, feeling his hold on the situation slipping and he didn’t want her around when it did.

“Not until we talk,” she said, stubbornly.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” he said, tightly, forcing his eyes shut while his hands clenched by his sides as he tried to stay calm. He needed her to leave so that he could focus on pretending that everything was okay just for a little while longer.

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