Page 19


The paramedic touched my arm. “Was that you, Miss? Are you in need of help?” Her hand slid down to my wrist, and she was taking my pulse.

I turned to her. “How’d you know where I was?”

The cop was returning, talking on my phone.

She was counting, but her partner stepped forward. He went to grab a chair, and brought it up behind me. “If you could have a seat?”

I did. My knees were about to give out anyway.

The male paramedic knelt beside me, unpacking his bag. “We had a call from a Susan Anderson, your academic advisor. She gave us this address.”

But how’d she know this address? Wait. Stone. He must’ve been in contact with the university, too. Jesus, was there anything he hadn’t already taken care of?

The cop stepped forward and handed my phone over. “He’d like to speak to you.”

I took it but had the foresight to ask the time first.

“It’s eleven-ten.”


When had I called Siobhan? Earlier. Right? Time was slipping away, but this was how it’d been before. I had sat and stared into nothing until somehow my brain told me to stand, to move, to eat, to walk, to wash, to keep going.

It was now after eleven and I had no sense of any one moment over the past couple of hours. I put the phone to my ear. “Did you win?” He had his game. It would’ve been done by now.

Silence. Then, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

I winced, but I couldn’t blame him for being angry.

“I’m sorry, Stone. I—”

“Are you okay?” he cut me off, asking roughly.

“I will be.”

The female paramedic was shining a light in my eye. I blinked, trying to turn away, but she overrode me, saying, “Ma’am, you need to keep still for us.”

I did, trying to. “I had a panic attack, and then I fell asleep. That’s it. I swear.”

“Is your head okay?”

“Yeah.” This was embarrassing. “I just got overwhelmed and I forget things and—”

“It’s okay. It’s okay. As long as you’re okay. You are, right?”

The paramedics were still checking me over, now watching my chest. They’d already finished with my blood pressure. I was talking so my airway wasn’t blocked. I was fine.

I told them and Stone at the same time, “Yes. I’m fine. I am.”

At that moment, the alarm cut off. I saw the cop on the houseline, and he hung up a second later, coming back to us.

“Yeah,” the female paramedic said, shifting back on her feet. “I tend to agree. A panic attack?”

The cop said, “Mr. Reeves said you recently experienced your own car accident after finding out—”

“Yes!” I almost shouted that word. I didn’t want him to say the words. I couldn’t—that was part of the problem. I lowered my head, unable to look up, seeing the pity in his gaze. “Yes, but I’m fine. I just got overwhelmed.”

“You were in an accident?” female paramedic questioned.

“She was put in a coma, came out of it Thursday, and was released from the hospital yesterday. Mr. Reeves said you’d gone back to the ER yesterday.”

“Yeah. I…” They were making a bigger deal out of everything, more than it was. I was losing steam. Why was everything so hard? Why’d everything take so much energy? Why’d I want to just go to sleep again?


That’s what he said. That was true. The body needed to do double work to heal after a trauma, and that went for both mental and physical trauma. I knew this. I knew this, but God. I sucked in a breath. My chest was hurting. My throat was hurting. I felt like my insides were pulling apart, one organ at a time was being ripped to pieces.

Trauma. Yes. I suppose that’s the best word to describe it.


The cop said, “Mr. Reeves said he was on his way back. He can answer any questions, but she doesn’t seem to be in need of medical assistance right now.”

At his words, a shift came over both paramedics. They began packing but stood.

I remained sitting, my head lowered, and as if just sensing I wanted my space, they moved over to where the cop was. I heard the guy ask, “Are we really talking about the actual Stone Reeves?”

“Seems like.” The cop’s tone turned almost cheerful. Upbeat. “Sounded like him on the phone.”

“They won tonight, right?”

“Reeves ran in two of the three touchdowns himself.”

The female. “He’s a future Hall-of-Famer. Has to be.”

They kept talking while I sat, listening. We all waited.

Stone got there and I swear I saw fury riding behind on his coattails. He strode in. His gaze went to me, and he was growling instantly. “Jesus! She’s freezing.”

Someone cursed.

I was fine. I started to tell him, but something was thrown around me, and someone was tucking it in front of me. Kneeling. Stone dropped in front of me. Gentle hands touched my face. “You okay?”

He was furious but concerned. And he looked tired. He was so tired. And smelly.

A second cop had joined the mix, and the paramedics were at the door. Their bags gone and their heads down, almost like they’d been caught stealing candy. The female was holding a piece of paper. The guy had a pen.

The two cops had migrated closer.

I was about to tell him I was fine when a cop started, “She never said a word.”

Stone whirled on him, his back to me. “She lost her fucking parents, got into her own car accident, just came out of a four-day coma. You expect her to know when she’s cold or not? I’m surprised she’s been able to remain sitting this whole time.”

The cop opened his mouth, then closed it. The second cop turned away. Both paramedics looked admonished.

Another growl came from Stone again, and he clipped out, “If she’s not dying, I want you all to fucking leave. And no, I’m not in the mood to sign autographs.”

Cop one stiffened. “Now, see—”

“Out!” he thundered.

The cops left, glaring at both of us. The paramedics remained, but the male one nudged the female, head nodding toward the piece of paper in her hand. He handed her the pen and slipped outside behind the cops. If Stone needed to talk to them, I was assuming he’d already said what he needed.

Once all were gone, the female waited a second. Approaching, she cleared her throat. “When we arrived, she was upright and walking. Her baseline was fine, and we checked a few more rounds while waiting for you to arrive. All sets of vitals were normal. You said she fainted again yesterday, but was released, and considering her history, you might still want to have her checked out again. Call to the hospital said you could make that decision. If you’d like, we can take her in with our wagon, or you can take her in yourself.”

Stone was silent. His shirt was molded to him, so much so that I could see every muscle in his back was rigid and tense. He was right in front of me.

Without thinking, I lifted a hand and placed it to his back.

He sucked in a harsh breath, then turned, some of the tension leaving him. “What do you want to do?”

“I’m fine. It’s the…” that word stuck in my throat, “trauma. I’m okay. Really.”

His eyes were taking me in, sliding over my face, my body, studying every single detail. Whatever he saw, he relaxed and jerked his head in a nod. “Okay,” he said to the woman, “We’ll stay.” He pointed to the paper. “I’m assuming that’s for me to sign?”

Her eyes lit up. “Would you mind? To my partner and me both.” She handed it over.

Stone took it, taking it over to the nearest table. “What are your names?”

“Cassie. Frank.”

He scrawled over the piece of paper, writing a few words, and handed it over.

She read it, a pleased smile lighting her face up. “Thank you. It’s been a pleasure to meet you.” Her eyes fell to mine, and some of that smile dimmed. “Not under the best circumstances, but you know. And congratulations on your win tonight, the two touchdowns. We’re lucky to have gotten you, I can say that much. If we didn’t have you and Doubard, we’d be hurting this year.” She went to the door. “You think we can do it? Make it to the Super Bowl?”

Stone didn’t follow, just watched her, and I could sense his irritation rising.

He didn’t respond, and clueing in, the woman’s cheeks reddened. “Right. Well. If anything happens, don’t hesitate to call. Get well, Miss.”

I didn’t respond.

Stone didn’t respond.

She wasn’t expecting acknowledgement and left, closing the door behind her. Stone let out a guttural curse before walking forward and hitting the locks. He bypassed me, going back to the kitchen area, and a few minutes later I heard a soft beeping sound.

Then he came back and regarded me. “I see you had an eventful day.”

I closed my eyes. “Sorry.”

“No.” He shook his head, running a tired hand over his face. “It’s my fault. I should’ve had someone here when you woke up, or at least told you about the security system. About shit my pants when one of the trainers brought my phone over, telling me it wouldn’t stop ringing. Had calls from your college, and then the security system.”