I quickly take a drink of my own coffee to get rid of the taste, and Gabe chuckles.
“Did you move the car? Thinking you probably shouldn’t have bothered, as I’ll be done here soon.”
“Oh, yeah. About that…”
“You didn’t smash up my car, did you?”
I give him a look. “No, of course I didn’t.”
“Run over some other innocent person?”
“No! Shut up, will you? You got a parking ticket.”
“You mean, you got me a parking ticket.”
“Well, no. I only parked there, so you would be closer to the hospital and wouldn’t have to walk too far.”
“And I’m only in the hospital because of you.”
“Fine.” I throw my hand up in the air. “I’ll pay the damn parking fine.”
“No, you won’t.”
“Yes, I will.”
“Yes! And why are we arguing about this exactly?”
He stares at me for a long moment. “If you haven’t figured that out yet, Speedy, then you never will.”
I open my mouth to ask what the hell he’s talking about, but Tate reappears, interrupting us.
“I’m going to take you down to the fracture clinic and have the boot fitted there,” he tells Gabe.
“Should I wait here? Or come with you?” I ask.
“Come along,” Tate tells me. “Gabe’s going to need a ride home when he’s done. Would you be okay driving him? I’m on shift until ten tonight; otherwise, I’d take him.”
“I am here,” Gabe pipes up.
“Of course I’ll drive him,” I answer Tate, ignoring Gabe.
“I can get a cab,” Gabe says to me. “You don’t have to drive me.”
“You don’t want me to drive you?”
“Well, I do quite like living, Speedy, but that’s not what I meant. I’ve taken up most of your day. I’m just saying, you don’t have to give up any more of your day for me.”
Hang on. Was he just being nice?
“Was that you…being nice…to me?”
His brows draw together. “Maybe.”
“Okay”—I shake my head—“I’m not sure what to do with that. But I want to drive you. It’s the least I can do after breaking two bones in your small foot with my tiny car.”
He gives me the middle finger, and I’m back on steady ground, which was shaking a moment ago from shock at his niceness.
Tate wheels him over to the elevator, and I follow, my coffee in hand.
We all get in, and Tate presses the button for the first floor.
I feel like I’ve spent too much of my day in this elevator. I’ll be ready to never see it again.
“You’re going to need some help around the house,” Tate says to Gabe. “Is Donna away?”
“Yeah, she’s on vacation, but playing nursemaid for me isn’t part of her job description as my PA. And, anyway, I’ll be fine. I can manage.”
“No, you’re going to need help. I don’t want you on your foot at all for the first few weeks, so I’m putting you on crutches. Getting around is going to be tricky. I can try to take some time off to help you, but—”
“I can help,” I hear myself saying.
Two sets of dark eyes swivel to me.
Me and my damn guilty conscience.
Well, I’ve said it now, so I can’t take it back.
I clear my throat. “I mean, if you need help while you’re stuck, Gabe, I can help you. After all, you are in this position because of me, so the least I can do is take care of you.”
“No way,” Gabe says at the same time as Tate says, “That’d be great.”
“What?” Gabe jerks his gaze up at Tate.
“It would be a big help, Gabe. I can’t be there all the time to help you out. You know what my shifts are like. I’ll only be worried about you being there on your own. Having Ava take care of you would ease my mind.”
“I’m a fucking grown-ass man. I don’t need you to worry about me, and I definitely don’t need a goddamn babysitter.” He looks at me when he says that last part.
Also, I’m trying not to feel too insulted that Gabe’s first response to my offer was, “No way.”
Sure, I know we argue, but I’m not a bad person. I’m actually a good person to have around. And I kind of got the impression that he liked arguing with me. Clearly, I was wrong.
“I’m not suggesting I babysit you.” I frown down at him. “I’m just offering to help you out when you need it. I’ve got some free time at the moment”—thanks to being fired—“so it’s not a problem.”
“Sounds perfect,” Tate says.
The elevator reaches the first floor. The doors open.
“Sounds like hell,” Gabe mutters as Tate starts to push him out of the elevator.
I rear back at his words. “What did you just say?” My body is bristling, as I know full well what he said, but I want to hear him say it again, so I can tell him that he can go fuck himself and that my offer is officially rescinded.
That was mean and uncalled for. I was trying to do something nice, but then he had to go and say that. I’m actually hurt.
I wait for Gabe to respond, but Tate speaks before Gabe does, “He said it sounds like heaven. Didn’t you, Gabe?”
Gabe swivels his head to look at Tate. I see Tate frown at him and then flick his eyes in my direction.
“You know what? Forget it. I heard what he said.”
I get Gabe’s car keys from my bag and toss them at him. He catches them.
“Sorry that I broke your foot, and I’ll pay for the parking ticket. It was really nice to meet you, Tate. Wish I could say the same thing about you, Gabe, but it wasn’t.”
I turn on my heel and head for the stairs. The last thing I want to do is get back in that damn elevator again.
And, now my eyes are stinging with tears, which is stupid. I don’t even know why I’m upset.
I guess it’s just been a butthole of a day, and it’s only going to be worse tomorrow when I have no home.
God, my life sucks monkey balls.
I always try to stay positive, but life is really testing my positivity at the moment.
I push open the door to the stairwell.
The sound of Gabe’s deep voice stops me.
I glance at him over my shoulder. Whatever he sees on my face makes him wince.
He’s alone. Tate’s not with him. He must have wheeled himself over here.
“What do you want?” I let go of the door and turn to face him.
“That was an asshole thing to say. I don’t know why I said it…except that I’m an asshole.”
“Yeah, you are.”
“And…I’m…sorry.” It sounds painful for him to say.
Of course I’m going to milk it. “Can you say that again? I didn’t quite hear you. And wait while I get my phone out, so I can get this on camera.”
“Ha. Very funny. Don’t push your luck, Speedy.”
I smile, and so does he. Then, silence falls between us.
“It was a really shitty thing to say.” My words are quiet.
“I know.” He sighs. “I just have a hard time with accepting help. I don’t like to feel useless. I took that out on you. I shouldn’t have.”
I meet his eyes. “You’re forgiven.”
His eyes smile back at me. “So…”
He scratches his cheek, looking uncomfortable. “Well, if the offer’s still there…I’d really like to take you up on it.”
“Oh, I don’t know…”
“Please, Speedy. If you don’t, Tate’s gonna hire some scary-ass nurse called Big Bertha to come and take care of me.”
“I’m not kidding. He just threatened me with it. And, apparently, she’s mean as hell.”
That makes me laugh harder. “I don’t know, Gabe. I think Big Bertha is just the punishment you deserve for being an asshole.”