He nodded, unable to speak. He nodded good-bye to Drake and headed for his cold, lonely bed. He hated making mistakes, and he knew he made a huge mistake in ignoring Alicia. He should have stalked her until she listened to him. She was stubborn, but she was about to find her match in him.
Alicia waited for her brother to bring the wheelchair. She was tired of being in the hospital. It had been a few days, and although her body was sore, she felt well rested. The bruises on her face were slowly fading. Her shoulder had been dislocated but the doctor had set it. It was achy and sore. He advised her to keep it in a sling for a few more days.
She couldn’t wait to sleep in her bed with her own fluffy pillows. She was still getting headaches every time she tried to remember what happened to her. Noah explained how she had been missing for two days. It was a surreal idea. Why couldn’t she remember anything? She had been through something bad, but what? And poor Janice. Noah and Alana had broken the news that Janice was found dead. She felt such deep sorrow. Janice was so young. Alicia had been relieved that Kelly had not gone with them. She had a small son to raise.
She knew Noah had questions, and she felt guilty she couldn’t answer them.
So many people had visited her in the three days she was in the hospital. She was touched with all the flowers and balloons. Tony had been unique in his gift, and it touched her more than she wanted to admit. He knew how much she loved Faith’s raspberry scones and had Holly bring her a box of them. She was disappointed he didn’t come in person, but she would not admit that aloud to anyone. She had warned Jasmine and Holly both that she did not want to hear his name or Dee’s, and they had accepted her wishes.
“Ready, sis?” Ray smiled, wheeling a chair into the room. Her parents had brought her some loose sweatpants and a comfortable sweater to wear home.
Alicia smiled. Alana and Jasmine had already collected her flowers and balloons and taken them home for her. Jasmine had promised to spread them around her bedroom to cheer her up. “I am ready to blow this place. No offense, Allie.”
The dark-haired nurse who was walking beside Ray smiled. “None taken. This isn’t my idea of a vacation.”
Allie had been very nice to her in the last few days, always bringing her late-night snacks and chatting with her when Alicia couldn’t sleep. Holly had taken her lunch hour to sit with Alicia. She never mentioned Tony, and Alicia was glad. She was not ready to think of him yet. Alicia had not been alone, but she looked forward to resting in a familiar place.
Alicia carefully got off the bed and into the wheelchair. Her ribs felt so much better already. She could move without wincing in pain. “This is silly. I could have walked to Ray’s truck.”
“Hospital policy,” Allie apologized. She pushed the chair down the hallway. Alicia waved to the nurses she knew. It was a cloudy fall day and Halloween was three weeks away. Usually she was excited about the holiday, but right now all she felt was exhaustion and sorrow.
“I am going to pull up the truck to the front entrance,” Ray said when it started to drizzle lightly. Alicia liked the cool breeze hitting her face. It felt so nice to breathe in fresh air.
“Is there a welcome-home party planned?” Allie asked her.
“God, I hope not,” Alicia replied, looking horrified. She looked and felt awful. “Holly’s at work. My sister and my friend Jazz are helping my mom get my room ready. I just want to sleep.”
Allie laughed at Alicia’s grumpiness. “There is your brother’s truck.”
She pushed the chair further out into the parking lot. Allie looked up at the gray sky. “I am so tired of these gray days. I say we head to Florida and lie on a beach, soak up some sun and margaritas.”
“I’m game.” Alicia chuckled. Before she could say any more, she heard a weird sound. It sounded like a buzzing sound. It wasn’t until a piece of the concrete crumbled beside her that she realized it was someone shooting at them. “Oh my god, someone just shot at us.”
Allie screamed and tried walking backward with Alicia still in the wheelchair. A second shot whizzed by Alicia and she covered her head. She heard tires squealing and a door slamming. Ray was kneeling before her. “My god, was that a bullet?”
Alicia nodded and looked behind
her. “Are you okay, Allie?”
Allie had a hand over her heart. She was pale, but she nodded yes. Ray pushed Alicia back inside. Allie looked her over while Ray called Noah. Alicia was now happy about the wheelchair. She wasn’t sure her shaky legs would have held her up.
Before she knew it, the hospital entryway was filled with deputies. Noah looked furious as he paced up and down the floor. “Matt said he found the spot where the shooter was waiting. Matt and Tony are out trying to track him.”
Tony’s name sent an arrow through her heart. She had done nothing but think of him. When he told her he missed her friendship, she couldn’t deny she felt warm and giddy inside. It had been hard to act distant with him, but she had to. She felt weak and tired. She was afraid she would give in to him and be hurt again. She was tired of being the one to walk away wounded. She wanted Tony here with her. She wanted his arms around her, but she stayed quiet. She had to go on without him. It was better for her to stand alone and figure out who was trying to kill her. Alana had let it slip that they thought it might be Holly’s kidnapper, Mario Novak. Was she putting her family in danger? She had never met him, except for a brief glance last summer. There had been so much going on at that moment that she’d barely paid attention to the man who would kidnap Holly.
Drake kneeled in front of her and took her hand. He gave her an encouraging smile. He was like another brother to her. “Hanging in there, kiddo?”
Alicia smiled. She looked into his familiar brown eyes. She remembered running after him and Ray as a child. She had wanted to hang with the big boys, and Ray would get so angry and yell at her. Drake had always treated her with kindness, even back then. Alana had spent all her time mooning over Noah and trying to get him to notice her. “I’m all grown up now, Drake. Yes, I’m okay. I’m glad we weren’t hurt.”
He stood up and groaned. He arched his back. “Don’t remind me you are all grown up. It means I’m getting old.”
“Can I go home now? I’m exhausted. I just want my bed.”
Noah heard her and nodded. He gently caressed her hair. “Sure thing. Ray and I will take you home. Alana has your room all ready. Prepare to be spoiled, honey.”
* * * *