and her eyes were red and swollen. “You helped me more than you’ll ever know.” Her smile grew wider.

“Don’t give up the fight,” I said, walking out the door.

“I won’t,” she yelled, as the door swung shut.

I shook my and wondered what the hell happened to my normal stressful day at the hospital. Today had been one for the record books.

The night had been relatively calm compared to the nutty nurse and thinking Michael had been seriously hurt.

His brother was in ICU for the night due to his injuries and the surgery. When I looked at his chart earlier it stated that he would be moved to a regular room tomorrow if he did well through the night.

The ICU was quiet and the lights were dim as the sounds of the ventilators, heart monitors, and other machines filled the hallway. I wanted to check in on him and see if he needed anything.

Michael’s brother crouched in the hall outside his room, leaning against the wall, typing on his phone. Looking up at me, he smiled. “Hey,” he said, trying to stand but fell over, catching himself on the wall. “Fuck,” he mumbled.

Rushing to his side, I reached for him. “Hey, are you alright?” I asked.

Waving me off he said, “Yeah, just exhausted. This has been a day from hell.” His shoulders slumped as he sighed.

“Why don’t you try and catch a couple hours sleep in the visitor’s lounge? He wouldn’t want you to make yourself sick.”

“I will soon. You looking for Mikey?” He grinned, making the bags under his eyes more pronounced.

Laughing at the nickname, I replied, “Yeah, is he still here?” I looked around.

“He’s inside but he was asleep when I came out here,” he said, pointing to the room behind him.

“I’ll just text him. Everyone may be sleeping and I don’t want to disturb anyone.”

He laughed. “My family is the disturbance. They’re loud and obnoxious in the most loving way, but I don’t blaming you for not wanting to go into the lion’s den.” He shook his head. “At least not armed.”

I barely knew any of them but I wanted to. They seemed loving and playful, just my kind of people. The funny smartass personality must be hereditary.

“You make them sound horrible.” I said, shaking my head, laughing.

“Nah, just Italian.”

“Don’t wake him. Just tell him I stopped by and have him text me in the morning. I’m going to try and get some rest while the ER is slow.”

“Okay, Doc. I hope to see you again soon.” The sides of his eyes crinkled as he smiled at me.

I nodded and walked away, leaving Michael to rest. I wanted to catch a few minutes rest in the doctor’s lounge while I still could. I thought about the Gallo boys as I made my way down the corridors. They were all handsome, but Michael was heart stopping.

I flipped off the light in the lounge before I collapsed on the couch. My head began to spin from exhaustion when I closed my eyes. Lying on the lumpy couch, I covered my face with my arm and thought about Michael.

“What?” I asked as someone touched my shoulder. “My eyes were closed for only two seconds. Jesus,” I mumbled.

“It’s been an hour, Doctor, and someone is at the desk asking for you.”

“I’m coming,” I said rubbing my eyes, waiting for them to adjust to the harsh fluorescent lighting. I grabbed the Visine from my pocket, dropping the liquid in hoping to alleviate the stinging.

I prayed I didn’t look like the walking dead. I sure as hell felt like it.

Walking like a zombie, my mind clouded, eyes blurry, I made my way to the reception area. Michael stood there looking exactly how I felt. Fidgeting with his hands, he leaned against the desk and looked around.

I touched his back lightly, trying not to startle him. “Michael, everything alright?”

He rubbed his hands across his face as he turned to me. “Yeah, Anth told me you came by while I was asleep. Thought I’d find you down here.”

“I decided to sleep a bit too,” I said, a yawn breaking free as I quickly covered it.

“Shit, I’m sorry I woke you.” He frowned. The lack of sleep and stress had dulled their luster.

“I’m fine. I needed to wake up anyway,” I said, wiping my eyes. “How’s your brother?”

The huge smile on his face said it all. “He woke up for a bit and mumbled some nonsense,” he said, laughing.

“Anesthesia can do funny things to a person’s brain.”

“I thought about messing with his head, but my ma would’ve beat me. He seems okay, but he’s pretty fucked up. The surgeon said it’s going to be a long recovery. They had to put a metal rod in his leg and there’s pins sticking out and shit. His hand is in a cast and his fingers are swollen. Yeah, he’s fucked for now.” He shrugged. “At least he’s alive.”

Touching his hand, I caressed the rough skin on his palm near his fingers. “It’s going to be tough on him, but your family will help him through it. How are your parents holding up?” Stepping closer, I leaned against him.

He stared at my fingers as I stroked them. “They’re doing okay. Worried, naturally, but better now that he’s out of the woods. They need sleep. I keep telling them to go home and rest, but they’re hard-headed.”

He wrapped his arm around me and feathered a kiss against my forehead.

“Seems to be a family trait,” I said, laughing and gripping his shirt. I closed my eyes, inhaling his musky cologne.

“Code blue, room two,” a voice blared through the hallway.

Damn. I wanted more than a minute against his warm hard body.

“I have to go.” I frowned, resting my head against his chest. “Go home and rest, Mikey, and I’ll see you tomorrow or today… whatever it is,” I said, pushing off him and started to walk away.

Grabbing me around the waist, he brought his lips to my ear and whispered, “It’s Michael, Doc. I don’t remember hearing you moan Mikey as you came on my cock.”

The vibration of his voice and his breath in my ear made me shiver.

“I have to go. You’re a naughty boy, Mikey,” I said, as I pushed away from his body, freeing myself from his grip.

I could hear his deep laughter as I ran toward room two and the patient in cardiac arrest.

Chapter 14

I kept a vigil at my brother’s bedside with the rest of my family throughout the night. On the verge of collapse, I found a quiet spot to close my eyes. Pulling up a chair, I stretched my legs out, and rested my head against the wall. I wanted to wait for Mia to finish her shift.

I tried to quiet my mind but all I could think about was Tammy. I didn’t believe for a moment that she was pregnant, let alone with my child.

I knew sure as shit, we weren’t engaged so why would I even remotely believe her bullshit? The woman was clearly delusional and I needed to find a way to set her ass straight and quick, before it blew up in my face.

Using the front of my shoe, I pried the other one off my foot before repeating the process with my toes. I grabbed my shirt, bringing it to my nose and sniffed. Didn’t smell as bad as I thought after being at the hospital so long.

Rubbing my face, I yawned and crossed my arms, resting them on my chest.

What the fuck was I going to do about Tammy.

Bat shit crazy Tammy.

A pregnancy test would show her for the bullshitter she was and put her lies to rest in a hurry, but how?

We didn’t have sex more than a couple times in the last six weeks and I always wore a condom.

I didn’t want a baby – at least not yet and certainly not with a woman like her.

Could someone even know that they were pregnant in that time?

I had a dick and the female reproductive system mystified me.

I tried to force Tammy out of my mind. Just the thought of her pissed me off, making my blood pressure rise.

I thought of Mia, trying to calm my nerves. There was something different about her, but I couldn’t put my finger

on it. There was a natural ease I felt when she was at my side.

What if they knew each other? Fuck, I never thought of it.

My heart pounded as my eyes flew open. My palms grew sweaty as I thought about the possibility of my worlds colliding in one giant clusterfuck.

I couldn’t make myself crazy.

I pushed the thought of Tammy out of my mind and thought of Mia – the feel of her skin, her brilliant smile, and her infectious laugh.

My head fell to the side, scaring the living shit out of myself. I needed my bed, solid sleep, and a good ass kicking in the gym to set my body and mind right. I felt stiff after sleeping for three hours in an unnatural position.

I cracked my neck, gaining my bearings as I walked back to Joe’s room. I needed to check on him.

My parents, Izzy, and Anthony had disappeared while I was gone. Suzy had crawled in bed and carefully placed her body around him. He watched her as she slept in his arms.

I cleared my throat to get his attention.

Holding his finger to his lips he motioned for me to sit.

“You scared the shit out of us, Joe.” I grabbed the chair, setting it down on the opposite side of the bed that Suzy laid.

“I wouldn’t go out like that, brother. I have too much to live for to leave this world,” he whispered, looking down at Suzy. “I feel like shit though.”

“You look like shit too.” I smiled.

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