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“Sorry, not even close to correct.”

She flipped him off and he nodded. “Getting closer.”

With a groan she covered her head with her pillow. “Seriously? Go away.”

He pulled the pillow off. “Bitchy,” he noted. “So you are okay.”

It was his tone that reached her. “More okay than you,” she said, and relented. He was in scrubs, which meant he’d come straight from work. She squeezed his hand. “You can stop worrying about me.”

“Sure I can. Any second now,” he said dryly, but his eyes were dark and serious. “You took another five years off my life.”

“I’m sorry. I was trying to be independent. You know, like I used to be, in the old days?”

He laughed softly at that and his face cleared of a lot of the stress. “And just like the old days, your crazy streak is still intact.”

“Hey,” she said. “Independent, not crazy.”

“In this case, same thing. Now tell me why you were trying to go it alone? Why do you still think you have to?”

“I knew you were busy at work.”

“If you’d called and said you needed me, I’d have been there.” Temper flashed in his eyes. “Anyone would’ve been there. I get that a lot of you not believing it is on our parents, but at some point you’ve gotta open your eyes, Darcy, and realize that pushing away everyone who cares about you on the off chance they might hurt you is stupid and selfish.”

“Selfish,” she repeated slowly, working her way up to her own mad. Which hurt her mother-effing head, thank you very much. “How in the hell is me trying to figure out my own shit without bothering anyone selfish?” she asked.

“Because you don’t have to fucking figure it out on your own! We’re a fucking family.”

Wyatt rarely swore and usually only if sorely provoked. But that’s what Darcy did best, provoke. And she’d always been pretty proud of that fact, too, but at the moment she felt nothing but ashamed of it. “I know, Wy-Ty,” she murmured, using her childhood nickname for him, knowing it would soften him. Blatantly manipulative, but hey, she was the baby sister and manipulating him was her job. “I’m working on it.”

He relented, sighing deeply, shoving his fingers into his hair. “Shit, Darce.”

“I know,” she said again, more softly.

“Just let us in,” he said. “Me and Zoe, that’s all we’re asking, okay? She’s out there blaming herself for not being around when you called. You know she’s like a mother bear when it comes to you.”

A small smile curved her lips. “So are you.”

“True.” He pointed at her. “But if you tell anyone I said that, I’ll find a way to cut you off from Gummy Bears.”

“Hey,” she said. “No need to get hasty.”

“AJ’s beside himself over what happened to you,” he said. “Do you have any idea how much he cares about you?”

AJ did care about her, she knew that. He just didn’t care about her in the way she wanted him to.

Which wasn’t his fault. She knew that.

“I know I drive him crazy,” she said. “I drive all of you crazy. I also know I’m not easy to care about.”

“Hold up,” he said. “I’m trying to cut you a break since you hit that hard head of yours, but you’re flat-out wrong. You’re easy to care about, goddamnit, and anyone who says otherwise—”

“Mom, Dad, every teacher I’ve ever had, Xander, AJ—”

“Mom and Dad were wrong,” he said fiercely. “And Xander’s got his head up his ass right now. But AJ? No. I don’t believe that. You haven’t seen him, Darce. He’s a mess over this, over you. You’re strong, one of the strongest women I know, and that makes it hard for you to let others in, but it’s worth it, I promise you.”

She got that he was talking about Emily and how he’d found love with her and also a home base for the first time in his life.

Darcy hadn’t been the only one her parents had screwed up. They’d done a number on both her siblings as well. But Wyatt was right. She was strong, strong enough to let someone in. She just needed that someone to want in.

And to not break anything while they were there. And also to not ever let go …

But she could no more force AJ to love her than she could force herself to love Xander. “I’m not sure it’s in the cards for me,” she admitted. “Love.”

“You’re wrong about that, too,” he said. “But because you’re a Stubborn-Ass Stone, I know you won’t believe it until it hits you in the face. Get some more sleep.” He rose and brushed a kiss to her forehead. “Love you, Darce.”

“Love you, too,” she murmured. “You big, obnoxious oaf.”

“See? How hard was that to say?”

She smiled but froze as she remembered. “Wyatt, there’s a dog at Johnny’s …”

“Rest now,” he said at her door. “Dog later.” He closed the door behind him so she couldn’t argue with him.

“Dammit.” She rolled over to get out of the bed and the room spun. She closed her eyes for a minute and woke up a short time later when Zoe came in and made her sit up to drink some tea and eat a piece of toast.

“Eat,” Zoe said.

Darcy ate some toast, trying to remember what was bothering her.