With Carter holding his left side and me holding his right, Seth cuts the binds and helps us hold him up, holding him steady and restraining him as he tries to run and fight. I can’t breathe. My muscles are too coiled as Romano struggles with the last bit of strength he has left in him.

Backing him up to the window, I stare at Daniel’s face. I expect anger, I expect hate, but agony is all that’s on his face. It’s still not enough; being the one to end Romano… it’s not enough. It won’t bring Tyler back.

We release our hold as Romano falls backward from the force of the shove Daniel gives him in his chest. Romano’s arms whip out to grab onto whatever he can, but there’s nothing there, nothing that can keep him upright. His scream dulls as he falls the four stories and then it’s silenced.

Staring down at him and the scene, I no longer see Tyler. The street’s empty. All I see is a man who killed all his life, a man impaled with the life draining from him slowly.

Turning to Seth, I tell him, “Check that he’s dead, then find the rest.”

Bethany

It’s been quiet the last few days. Too quiet.

The ominous feeling that settles in when you know things won’t last… that’s in the air. I’ve been breathing it in and suffocating from it. Jase is being careful with me and both of us are feeling bad for the other one.

It’s easy to give someone sympathy, it’s easy to love them. Accepting their love though, accepting it in the way they’re able to give… that’s the difficult part, because that’s where you get hurt.

I forgive him, but I’m waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

Jase is just waiting, on edge and waiting for something… I don’t know what.

The other end of the line goes to voicemail. So I dial the number again, stretching at the end of the sofa. Jase’s non-office is now my hideaway. The smell of old books and leather is too much to resist.

Ring. Ring.

On the second ring, it picks up and I recognize the voice instantly.

“Laura,” I say and my gut falls. I wasn’t expecting her to answer. “I didn’t know you were working day shifts this week.”

Animosity and betrayal stir in my stomach. More than that though, I miss her.

“Bethany?” She sounds surprised to hear my voice.

“I just wanted to call about Michelle, the pregnant patient with pica on floor two, and maybe talk to Aiden…” I trail off, waiting for Laura to tell me she’ll get him. After a few seconds of silence and then the way she says my name, I know that’s not going to happen.

“Bethany,” she says but I can already tell there’s too much sympathy in her tone. “Michelle died two days ago. I’m sorry. I thought Aiden called.”

The leather turns hot under my tight grip. I can barely breathe. When I worked in pediatrics before this for my internship, death was common. It was so common I’d check the paper for the obituaries before coming into work so I’d be prepared. It’s also why I left. At the center, it rarely happens, but now it feels like death’s following me everywhere.

“Beth? Are you there?”

“I’m here,” I answer her although my body’s still tense and it hurts to swallow.

“You weren’t answering my texts and I know you’re mad, but I thought you knew. I swear. I’m so sorry.”

“How did it happen?”

“Magnets. They obstructed her bowels,” Laura answers.

“If I’d been working–”

“Don’t think like that.”

“I had a rapport with her.” I can’t even say her name as tears prick my eyes. She was young and beautiful. Before getting pregnant, she was healthy. If only, if only. I think it too much now. Every day I wonder ‘what if’ in all aspects of my life. It’s not a healthy way to live.

“She wasn’t well and…” Laura stops when she hears my quick inhale. I’m not crying, but I’m damn close to it.

“There was nothing any of us could have done. The behavioral approach was working and she was released. Her husband checked her out… it happened in her home.”

With a hand over my heated face, I focus on calming down, but it takes a long moment. Struggling not to lose it, I debate on simply hanging up.

“I’m sorry,” Laura tells me again and I don’t know what to reply. It’s not okay, but that’s the answer we’re supposed to give, isn’t it? That or thank you, but there’s nothing to be thankful for right now.

“You need to come back to work,” Laura tells me when the silence stretches.

“Everything’s changed.”

My voice is tight when I answer her. “I want to come back.” Focusing on breathing, I try to calm down. “I can’t believe she’s dead. It feels like I was just with her.”

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