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As long as she lived.

The nurse snapped off her gloves and then snapped her fingers in front of my eyes. “I suggest you take a seat on the gurney right there, Mr. King. You can still see her from there while I look you over and patch you up.

She finally got my attention. “How do you know my name?” I asked leaning a little to close in an effort to make her back the fuck off but it didn’t work. The bitch tossed her hair over her shoulder and took a step toward me, trying to intimidate me with all a hundred and ten pounds of pink scrubs.

“How do you know my name?” I repeated.

She rolled her eyes and bent over at the waist. She lifted the hem on one of the legs of her scrubs, revealing a small daisy tattoo on her ankle. “This, you, idiot.”

I recognized my work right away.

She released the fabric and shook the material back in place. Behind her the chaos continued around Pup. They placed a mask over her face and plugged a tube into one of the beeping and blinking machines surrounding the gurney.

“Staring at her isn’t going to make it better. We need to fix you up.”

I shook my head.

She walked over to the glass wall on the far side of the room and out of the corner of my eye I saw her pull a fresh set of gloves out of a dispenser. When she came back up to me she was pulling the latex over her fingers.

A guy in a white jacket, with matching colored hair, cut Pup’s clothes with a pair of scissors. My fists clenched so hard my knuckles were about to pop out of my skin.

The most annoying nurse in the world remained unfazed, refusing to accept that I was ignoring her. “What’s her name?” The nurse asked.

“Doe.” I said, then I corrected, “Ray, her name is Ray.”

“Doe. Ray,” she repeated, her eyebrows questioning the name just as much as her voice did. “Is there a ME in there somewhere? Her family big Sound of Music fans or something?”

“Or something”, I muttered.

“Tell me Mr. King, how the hell do you plan on taking care of Miss. Doe-Ray when she’s better, if you’re standing here in my O.R., riddled with bullet holes, letting yourself bleed to death all over my white linoleum?” she argued.

The annoying bitch had a point. If Pup came out of this. When she came out of this. She was going to need me more than ever. Reluctantly, I backed up and sat on the gurney as the nurse looked me over.

I tried to concentrate on the words I’d just said a few minutes earlier instead of the things they were doing to her that made me want to slam my fist through the fucking wall.

She’s pregnant. I’m the father.

I wished right then and there, with everything I had, to any god from any religion that wanted to listen, that both Pup and the baby were going to be okay.

Our baby.

That my girl was going to be okay. I wished that when this was all over, and she was hopefully stable, that I have the strength left to tear Tanner’s fucking head off with my bare hands.

You do not fuck with what’s mine.

It was a lesson he was going to find out the very fucking hard way.

Chapter Thirty-Three

King

Stable.

It was the word I was waiting for before I could finally let out a long held breath. The nurse who’d finally said it left the room. I sat next to Pup, holding her hand. Making promises to her that I’d never thought I’d utter to anyone. I promised her a home, a life, a family. I promised her a safe place for our kid to grow up. I told her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me.

“Grace is here, in the waiting room,” Bear said, coming into the room. He was speaking to me but his eyes never left Pup. He stood over her with his hands in his pockets. “She’s watching the kid.”

My phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out and was about to hit ignore until I saw who it was on the other end. I pressed talk and held it to my ear. “Got him,” Jake said. “Barn out on 86 passed the We Are God billboard.” The line went dead.

“Jake?” Bear asked.

I nodded. “Stay here with her in case she wakes up. I’ll be back.” I kissed Pup on the forehead and although they’d given her medications to keep her sedated, I’d hoped she could somehow still hear me when I said, “I love you, baby.”

*     *     *

Blow by blow I reigned down my fury upon the sick fuck who dared lay hands on my pup. His pale white skin swelled and ripped open, spraying red from where my fists connected, over and over again until his features morphed into something unrecognizable.

His deceiving all-American boy bullshit good looks were gone.

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