Chapter 6 ~ Dangerous hearts
I waited and waited and waited, all for a dream to come back…
I sat staring at the door that never opened…
Expecting any sign of life, any movement, anything… and I was growing desperate.
They had left in the evening, Mr and Mrs Ramalio and I had made dinner, we had made dessert, we played cards and drank hot chocolate like it was a real honest to god family night, it was nice, they were warm and friendly - but it wasn’t my family and now, the moon was even torturing my overly worried mind. There had been no word, nothing, and I knew a simple exchange did not take this long, my heart told me something had gone wrong.
About three in the morning as I sat on the couch in the front room of a mansion that belonged to Arlo’s parents, Aiya, his mother came to see me, I guess she was a little worried too.
“You’re still up?” She sounded surprised.
Holding my heart from fright, I turned to her, “you scared me.”
“Are you really that worried about him?”
“I know it’s probably stupid and he’s probably done this sort of thing a thousand times but yes, I’m worried about him... the team… I’m-I’m… w-worried about the team.” I gave an unconvincing smile to cover up the fact that I was indeed waiting for Arlo.
“I’ve seen the way you two look at each other, like magnets, drawn to each other... like you are meant to be…”
“But we can’t,” I cut her off.
“Why?” Aiya was breathtaking, she had long curly black locks and big brown eyes, for an older woman with adult children, her figure had remained impeccable. She had become a songwriter but Arlo bragged about how incredible his mother’s voice was and that she really should have taken up a career as an artist. He said she had worked with some unbelievable musicians but she always preferred to stay out of the spotlight.
I sat there and breathed deeply, tossing up whether I should tell her the truth or not. They had been so kind and accepting of me that after a very pregnant silence, I finally decide the truth is best. “Because when I get Paisley, I have specific instructions from Carmelito, in the event of extended absence or death.” I lick my suddenly very dry lips and returned my gaze to the door.
“You don’t seem scared of him?”
My eyes snap to her, “why would I be?”
“He’s a Mob Boss.”
“He’s a father - a bloody great father. He kept everything away from his girls, his right hand had never even seen them, who he was outside of the home never crossed paths… until now. Paisley has lost everything - I am all she has left.”
“What about her sister?”
“She took off that night, a few hours before the house was invaded, said she’d had enough of being hidden, came to say goodbye and then she was gone.”
She nodded her head at me as if understanding my responsibility. “When Chase started doing these covert operations, I was pregnant with Arlo. I would sit, just like you, all night and wait. Eventually, I realised I had all this time to do things like playing the piano, write music or do laundry. I filled my waiting up so much, that it made the time go faster, what do you like to do?” Aiya sat down on the couch beside me.
“I don’t think I can concentrate at the moment,” I admitted.
“Well, it’s better than waiting,” she offered.
“Does it get easier?”
“The waiting?” I nodded at her question. “No, this is why I’m still up, with Chase here it’s not so bad, I will have broken sleep but with Arlo out there - I still toss and turn, once I hear that car I will be good…” Just as she was talking the door slams open.
I look up to see a blood-covered Tristan and Arlo dragging him. Both Aiya and I race forward, “what happened?” I panic.
“He’s been shot, Eddie was doing two deals at once,” Aiya ran off, I presume to wake her husband. “Can you save him? He’s lost a lot of blood.”
“Do you have a first aid kit?”
“Yes, Brady... in the main closet under my staircase is a big first aid kit.”
“On it,” Brady moved quickly for such a bulky muscular man, very agile and limber.
I bolted to the kitchen to wash my hands, “we have to get him to a hospital, it’s more dangerous to remove the bullets then leaving them in there.”
“What?” Arlo spat incredulously.
“It’s true, I have to pack the wounds then he needs an x-ray… simply removing the bullets will not save his life, we need to see if it’s worth leaving them inside him or taking them out. Oh, and he needs a dose of antibiotics quickly.”
“Arlo?” Chase comes screaming in with Brady hot on his tail.
“Get him some Brandy,” I ordered Tamelia and she shot into action straight away.
“I’ll call Dr Talia Merlo,” Zavion said as I pulled open the first aid kit, slipping on the gloves and getting to work, packing the bullet holes and stopping the bleeding.
“Tristan… look at me...” he warily moved his head to look up, those sparkling blue eyes full of promise - he was going to make it through this. “There is a chance I would do more damage poking around to get out the bullets, okay? I’m going to pack up the wounds and stop the bleeding.”
“Here’s the brandy,” Tamelia thrust it in my face.
“Tristan, take a big swig of this...” I fed the brandy down his throat to numb the agony. “Great, you’re doing awesome Tristan,” I encouraged.
“I have Dr Merlo on the phone,” Zavion stood over us.
“Zav, can you hold the phone to my ear?” He nodded and held the phone. “Dr Merlo, my name is Harlyn Royce I am a nurse. I have a 27-year-old gunshot victim that needs a scan, I’m packing the wounds as we speak… Yes, ma’am… yes okay… Zav you can take the phone.” Continuing my effort to try and stop the bleeding while instructing Arlo, “I need a car ready, we’re taking him to the loading bay at Hutchinson Private Clinic, I need a white sheet or as close as white as you can get, we are about to be invisible.”
“What do you want us to do Harlyn?” Aiya calls from behind.
“Please, can you inform his parents and whatever you do - do not come to the hospital. Brady, Blitz and Tamelia, you need to stay here - Zavion you’re driving, Arlo, help me carry him.”
I packed the last bullet hole just as Zavion toots the horn, “here, I’ll carry him it will be faster.” Arlo picks him up bridal style and carries him into the car as I follow and jump in.
“What’s his blood type?” Arlo whips out his phone, “mum, we need Tristan blood type… thanks, mum,” he hangs up the phone. “O+”
“Zav, get through to Dr Merlo, tell her his blood type is O+.”
Zavion did as I instructed without question as I focussed in on trying to keep him awake. We finally arrived at the clinic with Dr Merlo and a stretcher meeting us at the loading bay doors, Arlo deposits him onto the bed. “Go, I’ll call you when it’s done.”
Arlo began to protest about coming in, “no, if we have to operate we can’t have you being caught.” Dr Merlo said just as I threw the white sheet over his now unconscious body and we rushed Tristan in.
Dr Merlo was a senior specialist at the clinic, she had informed them, a celebrity was coming in and no one is to be anywhere near her theatre room. After the scans were done, we took Tristan into surgery.
We were racing against the clock, he had already lost a significant amount of blood but I swore, right there and then, I would do whatever it took to save this man.
“Tristan gave us a fright a couple of times but after twelve hours in surgery, he was finally stabilized and all the bullets were extracted safely. I stayed with him for the two hours after his operation to make sure he had no side effects from the anaesthesia. We are going to need a van to move him, we are taking the hospital bed, can you organise that?” My phone call to Arlo sounded like he had been up just as long as I had, I actually suspect everyone had been awake waiting to hear the news.
Once Tristan was back safely in his room, his parents took over while I sleepily shuffled back to Arlo’s room, he held my arm in his as my head rested against his shoulder. “Were you waiting up for me?” He questioned.
I yawned before answering, “I knew something was wrong.”
“That doesn’t usually happen though, so my goddess…” my eyebrow lifted, “were you waiting for me?”
“Goddess?” I teased, only to receive his arched brow. “Yes Arlo, I was worried about you.” We entered his room and kicked off our shoes, I naturally removed my pants and bra and slid in the sheets. He too, removed all clothing apart from his boxers, my mouth watered, his body was incredible, long, lean, taut deliciously carved muscles, all that sexiness had stripped the air from my lungs. I pulled my sinful hazel eyes away and promised myself not to eye rape him ever again but when he slipped under the sheets and pulled me into his embrace, I couldn’t help but melt into his arms. His scent, so musky and his skin so soft, I could lose myself in these strong, safe muscular arms - and that alone, was cause for concern.
“How bad was the extraction?” I whispered almost fearful of his answer.
“It was pretty bad,” he confessed truthfully.
“And Paisley?” He gripped my chin, tilting my head toward him and locking our eyes.
“We will find her, okay. I promise, we will find her.”
My eyes gathered unshed tears as his thumb began to trace a burning blaze, back and forth along my chin. I wanted to give in, I wanted to fall over the cliff edge but I couldn’t - I was already far too attached as it was and after spending so much time wide awake, I could not trust any responses to him. My entire system was wired and running off pure adrenaline. I broke away from his capturing greens, pressing my lips lightly to his chest before closing my eyes and allowing Mr Sandman to claim my frazzled mind.
We both awoke the following day, just after twelve. Getting dressed and hurrying to see Tristan, I was desperate to find out how his night had been and how his vitals were looking.
I gently pushed open his door and was greeted with some very exhausted looking parents.
“How did he go?” I asked empathetically.
“He didn’t wake up, there was some whimpering and when Dr Merlo arrived this morning, she said he was running a slight fever.” Mags looked as though she was about to cry, my heart bled for her. I sat down next to her on the couch and grasped her hand.
“Why don’t you and Luca go and freshen up, Arlo and I will stay here until you get back, I will take a look at his vitals and if anything happens, we’ll come to get you right away. I know this is difficult for you because he is your child but he has a massive support team and he’s a strong, healthy young man. I think he’ll be more upset if he sees you not taking care of yourself, so go get something to eat, showered, change of clothes so you feel fresher, because he’s going to need you when he wakes.”
“Thank you Harlyn,” Luca held Mags’ arm and swept her out of the room. I guess he’s been trying to do that for hours, with the same reason.
I stood up and collected his chart, flicking through the notes Dr Merlo had left. “How can you be so under pressure and yet, so calm?”
I looked at Arlo with a smile on my face, “this is what I was born to do.”