Max walks up, clasping my shoulder. “Do we know anything yet, Luc?”

“No, but my aunt is checking on her now. We should have news soon.” I turn to the attractive woman standing at his side. I assume she’s the detective he spoke of, but her attire gives me pause. She’s wearing an above-the-knee fitted dress with high heels, and her long, brown hair is curly and hangs loose on her shoulders. Maybe there’s a reason Max is on a first-name basis with her.

“Luc, this is Carly Michaels. She’s the lead investigator in the violent crimes division.”

“Mr. Quinn, I’m sorry to meet under these circumstances. I know it’s tough, but I need to take a statement from you and also from the young woman who was with you. Also, just to let you know where things stand, I have a couple of detectives at Miss Adams’ apartment now overseeing the evidence collection.” She motions for Max and me to follow her to a quiet area of the waiting room. Max gives me a hard look, which I can’t interpret before she pulls an iPad from her purse and motions for us to sit. The nervous energy and my anxiety make this difficult for me, but I manage to lower myself to the edge of a chair, my feet moving restlessly. She had my complete attention with her next sentence. “Mr. Quinn, I understand you’re Miss Adams’ fiancé, is that correct?” She is busy typing, allowing Max a brief moment to nod just once. I have no idea what’s going on but know there must be a reason for this deception.

“Yes, that’s correct,” I answer easily. It surprises me that I feel no panic at the thought. I answer her questions, giving her as much information as I have. After about ten minutes, she moves across the room to speak with Rose. I look to Max who exhales wearily.

“I told her you were engaged to Lia because otherwise they would have to limit the information given to you. I’d advise you to carry that forward with the hospital if your aunt will go along with it. Not one of my greatest moments as a lawyer, but Lia needs you.” Lowering his voice, he looks at me with concern while asking, “How are you holding up?” I wonder if he has noticed the slight tremor in my hands. I have the fleeting urge to admit that I’m fucking falling apart, but showing weakness is something I rarely do.

Instead, I ignore the question. “I want that fucker found. I don’t care how many people you need to put on it; I want to know every step he has taken since the moment he left prison.”

“I’ve already made the calls, and we should have something soon. Is there anyone I should contact for Lia?” Max looks pained as he asks the question. Our minds both go to her mother knowing that’s not even remotely an option. One person does come to mind, though.

“She has a friend she’s close to. Her name is Debra. I don’t recall the last name, though.”

Max nods. “That’s not a problem. I remember her from Lia’s background report. I’ll pull the information and contact her. Is there anything else I can do for either of you?” Before I can answer, the sound of a loud slap fills the room. Both of our heads twist around to see an angry Rose and a swiftly retreating Jake. I grit my teeth, not wanting to deal with any drama.

“Yeah, how about seeing what in the hell’s going on with her and handling it.” Without complaint, Max stands and walks toward Rose. He raises his hand in a wave to Carly who is standing outside the hospital doors now on her phone. She looks curious, having obviously witnessed some of the scene through the clear-glass walls.

Unable to sit still any longer, I start to pace again. I see Sam sitting in the narrow hallway with his eyes closed and his head bowed. I think he’s praying, and for the first time in so long, I have the urge to drop to my knees next to him. A life filled with loss and tragedy had long ago turned me away from asking for miracles. Now I wonder if maybe having Lia come so suddenly into my life was indeed some act of divine intervention. If so, it would be a dagger to the heart to have her pulled from me in such a brutal and sudden fashion. Surely, God wouldn’t be that cruel.

As I make another lap, there’s a hand on my arm. Jerking around, I encounter the worried eyes of my aunt. She leads me past Sam until we have relative privacy. “I shouldn’t be talking to you since you aren’t her family,” she says while looking back over her shoulder.

“I’m her fiancé,” I say quietly. She simply looks at me for a long moment without comment.

“Lia is stable and sedated right now. The trauma team is working on her. It’s going to be a while before the extent of her injuries is known. I…”

Before she can finish, I interrupt her. “Why is she sedated? She’s been unconscious except for a brief time. Was she awake?”

She rubs her temple, as if debating her answer. Finally, she says, “She awoke right after she was brought back. She…asked for you, and then in the next instant became almost hysterical trying to move from the gurney. She had to be sedated before…”

That’s all I hear. I’m down the hallway in an instant pounding on the locked double doors of the emergency entrance. “Open the fucking door,” I snap to the startled receptionist gaping at me from the desk nearby. She hurriedly picks up her phone, just as my shoulders are grasped from behind. I shrug the hold off as my aunt steps between the doors and me.

She shakes her head at the receptionist, possibly trying to reassure her I’m not a lunatic, which is exactly what I am right now. Lia is lying somewhere beyond those metal doors, scared and needing me. All rational thought has left my body and I’m focused only on getting to her. “Luc!” she snaps. “Stop this right now! If you keep this up, you’ll be banned from the hospital and you won’t be able to see Lia. If you cannot think of yourself, then think of that girl who is going to need you.”

As her words hit me like arrows, I allow the hands, which are once again on my shoulders to pull me away. As if expecting me to bolt, Sam and Max take up positions on either side and steer me down the hall and into an empty restroom. My frustration boils over as I brace my hands on the porcelain sink before throwing a fist through the mirror above it. Both Sam and Max are utterly still as I pull my hand back and send it through the now-shattered glass. Shards fly all around me as I prepare to do it again. Strangely enough, the pain searing through my knuckles grounds me, helping me to find an outlet for the torment, which is suffocating me.

Max grabs my fist before it can make contact this time. “Enough, Luc. Fucking get it together before they have you locked up.” When I make no effort to fight his hold, he slowly releases me and slumps against a wall. “What in the hell happened to bring this on?”

Tags: Sydney Landon Lucian & Lia Billionaire Romance