But I’m not interested now. I only want Elena. I don’t know if it means forever because that would be a poor bet to make in my situation. But that’s the way it is now.

She responded, Good answer. See you tonight.

Yes, she would. I’m thinking we are long overdue for a little bit of exhibitionism. While everything we’ve done lately at the club has been outside of the private rooms in The Apartments, I was thinking of a bigger display. Maybe one of the new sex machines Jerico put in at The Silo. Or maybe I’ll get her off with my hand in the Social Room. Sex is not off-limits there, but it usually doesn’t happen. It would guarantee many eyes would be on us. I can certainly say it appeals to my ego, having everyone watch and knowing Elena is mine… if only for a moment.

Two vaguely familiar doctors walk into the lounge. Orthopedics, I think. A man and a woman who are chattering away.

Based on purely a glance, I can tell by the expressions on their faces that my reputation of being an asshole precedes me. They try to avoid eye contact, but not before I give them an engaging smile. They blink, jaws dropping slightly, before hastily turning away.

I snicker, getting a little bit of amusement over how discombobulating a smile can be.

The two doctors grab their food out of the refrigerator, then move clear across the room to sit away from me. The lounge is still small enough I can clearly hear them as they start talking.

I continue to scroll through my phone and eavesdrop, because I’ve got nothing better to do. I need to push my thoughts of Elena aside, otherwise I’ll be walking through the hospital corridors with a hard-on.

The male doctor launches into a complaint I only half pay attention to. It has to do with his ex-wife.


“I had it all planned out,” he tells the female doctor. “I was going to take him fishing. I requested this weekend off eons ago, and she agreed to it. And now she’s saying I can’t have him because it’s not my normal weekend.”

So much drama. Rolling my eyes, I turn over to the weather app to look at the forecast for the next few days. I was thinking about getting my boat out of storage to take it out on the lake. Maybe I’ll even invite Elena.

“I’m so sorry,” the female doctor says in commiseration. “Of all the weekends she would do this to you.”

“Right?” the male doctor demands. “Father’s Day should inherently go to me, don’t you think?”

My entire body locks tight, and I look over at the doctors. Father’s Day?

I didn’t know that. Had no reason to. I don’t pay attention to holidays these days. I only look at my surgical schedule, my patient schedule, and that’s it.

Father’s Day.

I’d only celebrated five with Cassidy. Last year, I’d still been immersed in closing myself off from the world, doing outpatient rehab, and working insane hours. I hadn’t even known what had happened. Looking back, I’m quite sure most people made sure to stay clear of me, making sure not to mention it.

If these two fuckers hadn’t walked in, I probably would have been oblivious about it this weekend, too.

I’m not prepared for the overwhelming sadness sweeping through me. I’ve managed to put Cassidy out of my mind for the most part, and I’m not quite prepared to handle the resurgence of her memory. The mere thought of what I will never have with her again is crushing. I had moved her and April into my “past life,” where I keep them securely tucked away and treasure them from afar. I’ve had to accept I had five amazing years with Cassidy and nine with April, but that time is over now.

It’s fucking over, and I’ll never feel Cassidy put her hands on my face and whisper, “I love you, Daddy, to the moon and back,” or have her crawl in bed with me and April on a Saturday morning to cuddle and watch cartoons, or ask me to fix her little scrapes with Band-Aids because I’m a doctor and Mommy isn’t, and—

The pain hits me like a burning fire through every molecule of my body. Worse than I ever felt when my mom first told me April and Cassidy had died. At least back then, I was under the heavy influence of narcotic drugs to dull my physical pain. It had made it a little bit easier to cope with the devastating news.

But now, this pain is oppressive, and I feel like I’m drowning. It’s even worse than how I felt when the judge convicted Pettigrew and sent him to prison for killing my family. He hadn’t shown a shred of remorse. I’d wanted to kill him, but I couldn’t. It had hurt so bad I’d never wanted to feel pain like that again.

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