Her brothers weren't the coddling type and took her at her word. Craig took Bunny home with him for the night and they promised to give Dad an update so that he wouldn't worry. Not that he would. If it wasn't serious enough to warrant a night in the hospital then it wasn't serious enough to worry about, was her father's motto. He'd checked up on her at the ER, spoke with the doctor and when she told him that she was fine, he took her at her word.
Her brothers weren't so easily dissuaded, but giving her a ride home was pretty much the extent of their nursing abilities. They made her promise to call them if she needed anything, but other than that they left her to get a good night's sleep. That was all she needed, she thought as she drifted off.
It was pitch black when she woke up, biting back a cry of pain. Why did it hurt so much? It hadn’t hurt this badly when it broke and that had definitely been a memorable occasion. Her head pounded and with every breath she took, her ribs screamed in protest
Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to send her brothers away, she realized as she turned slightly to bury her face against her pillow and let out a scream of agony. She needed her pills or at the very least have someone knock her out so that she didn't have to experience this much pain.
She barely heard the whisper or registered the large strong hands on her shoulders as she was turned over onto her back and pills were pressed against her lips. Once she accepted them into her mouth, the rim of a water bottle quickly followed. She swallowed her pills as she struggled not to scream out against the pain.
This was too much. She couldn't handle this, couldn't do this, she realized, panicking at the thought that there would be no escaping from this pain. She would have to-
"Shhhh, I've got you," the deep familiar voice said soothingly as she was carefully shifted until she was lying on her right side with her injured arm resting across a firm stomach. Her face was pressed against a warm shoulder as a strong arm came up behind her and pulled her closer.
"Connor?" she whispered softly, but apparently not softly enough since the sound tore through her already throbbing head.
"Go to sleep, Rory," he whispered against the top of her head.
If Connor was taking care of her, it could only mean one thing.......
"How long do I have?" she asked, squeezing her eyes shut against the pain.
She felt him go still beneath her. "How long do you have for what?"
She scoffed even as she adjusted herself so that she was lying tightly against him, accepting the comfort he offered during her last hours on this earth.
"Before I kick the bucket. What the hell do you think I'm talking about?" she snapped, immediately regretting the action when it sent sharp pain through her skull.
"That really depends on how much you piss me off," he sighed as he pulled her impossibly closer as if he needed the comfort as much as she did.
She thought over what he said and could only come to only one conclusion. "So it'll be soon then?"
He chuckled softly. "Probably."
She was so damn beautiful, he thought as he gently pushed her hair away from the small cut on her forehead that hadn't needed stitches. He hoped it didn't leave a scar, not that it would lessen Rory's appeal, but it would be a constant reminder of the time that he failed her.
Instead of stubbornly standing there yesterday while she worked, he should have taken over. Then it would have been him falling through the floor and not her. He'd take a broken arm and bruised ribs over the scare she'd given him any day.
After she was placed on a backboard, hoisted up through the hole and placed in the back of the ambulance, he forced himself to walk away like it didn't bother him. He spent the rest of the night thinking. Rory was stubborn, holy hell was she stubborn and no matter what he did or said the damn woman wasn't going to stay away from the job site even with a broken arm. He could either fight with her and waste precious time and energy or he could give in, with a few conditions of course.
Rory needed someone to watch over her and since her brothers were too damn lazy to do it, that left only him. Not that it bothered him. He'd been doing it for most of their lives after all. At first he did it because he hadn't liked the idea of anyone else tormenting her and of course it did make it easier to make her life a living hell, but later on when they were both adults he did it out of guilt. He'd f**ked up her life, big time, and he couldn't stomach the idea of her ever going through that much pain again, not because of him.
He'd tried to apologize several times, but she wouldn't listen to him. She hated him and he couldn't blame her. He'd done it for her own good, but he knew there was nothing that he could say to get her to see that. So instead, he kept an eye out for her and if anyone hurt her, he stepped in. A few of her boyfriends hadn't treated her right. They treated her like shit, cheated on her left and right, and just made her miserable.
A few of them, her brothers stepped up and handled, but there were a few that slipped their notice. He noticed. The ass**le that shoved Rory in the parking lot over on Harrison after she dumped his ass ended up in the hospital later that night when Connor caught up with him. The ass**le that bragged to his buddies that Rory was a bad lay ended up taking back every last word through a mouthful of broken teeth. He did his best to make up for what he’d done and this time would be no different.
He'd watch after her and keep her out of danger. Keeping an eye out for her would add to his workload, but if it meant keeping her safe then he'd do it. He owed her that much at least. If he hadn't interfered all those years ago she'd probably be head of the PTA by now with a dozen or so kids at home fighting for her attention instead of the pain in the ass dog with a f**ked up name. Thanks to him that's not how things turned out. Thanks to him, she was doing a job that she had no business doing and was alone.
Not that he took the entire blame for her being alone. He didn't. Rory was easily the sexiest woman in town. Every man in town with two working eyes agreed. She was Playboy level hot. Great body, beautiful long hair with natural highlights and a face meant to take a man's breath away and she knew it, too.
Rory James knew how hot she was, but didn't care. Her focus was on her company and that was the problem. If she stepped back or let her brothers take over, she'd be able to find a decent guy to settle down with. Not that he was going to push for that. Oh hell no, she was his to torment. He might watch over her because of the damn guilt that racked him, but that didn't mean he didn't enjoy their daily antics. He did and he fully planned on continuing with them until she either slapped a restraining order against him or a doctor called his time of death.