Feisty Francesca

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#51 Franny needs a break

Author’s note:

I am well aware that this is a bit of a filler chapter. I needed to put in some stuff from “Eager Annabel”, and since this novel can be read a stand-alone, I needed to explain some stuff that most readers already know from “Eager Annabel” or “Slutty Shaughna”. If you’re reading this as a stand-alone novel, just know that if some stuff is glossed over, it’s just because you don’t need all the info for this book. Go read the other books if you want the details!

Anyway, I used this chapter to wrap up the overlap between “Eager Annabel” and “Feisty Francesca”. From this point on, there aren’t many scenes from other books that will also be in this one, because we’re close to where “Eager Annabel” ended. That means that after this chapter, there is lots of exciting new stuff coming up! I can't wait to get into some exciting scenes I've been plotting, introduce yet another love interest (number 4), and we get to meet Franny's mother soon. Yay!

Enjoy the chapter!

***

James texted.

I haven’t opened the message yet, telling myself that I will read it after work so I won’t be distracted. Truth is that I am very distracted. Very, very distracted.

So I cave. During my break I sit on a bench in the drizzle, huddled in my coat, and I open his text. Part of me hopes he regrets dumping me and wants me back, but another part knows that it’s for the best that we’re no longer together. Sure, I miss him, but he needs to work on himself and maybe it’s not so bad for me to stop putting all my energy into guys and focus on myself for a while. On my music. On my job. On me.

Still, my heart is trying to jump out of my chest when I open James’ text.

I just heard from Elijah that your friends got arrested. Call me as soon as you get off work.

My eyes go wide. That wasn’t at all what I was expecting him to say. Arrested? Which friends?

“Hey,” James says, picking up right away. “Did you see the news?”

“I’ve been working for eight hours straight,” I tell him. “Four more to go. So… no. Who got arrested? Joshua? Oh God, please tell me he didn’t break his leg again or something. He should never be in a fight ever again.”

“Of course the first person you think of is Joshua,” James says, sounding a little bitter. “No. Not Joshua. Watch the news, will you? Ace Powell killed Alaster Havemeyer.”

“W-what?” I stammer, unable to believe my ears.

Last I heard from Shaughna, the situation of Ace Powell, Aston’s biological father, being tied to a kitchen chair after assaulting Annabel got resolved. Turned our Ace’s old cellmate was no other than Shaughna’s abusive ex Melchior Havemeyer, who paid Ace to go after Annabel for revenge, because she helped Shaughna last time Melchior showed up and made sure that Aston, Dshawn and Nathan didn’t end up in jail. Shaughna later blackmailed Melchior into going to an institution for his rage issues. There, he got himself into a whole lot of trouble, and he ended up in jail himself, where he met Ace and helped him to get a deal so he’d get out a whole lot sooner than planned.

Caroline and Annabel went to Alaster Havemeyer, Melchior’s father, to talk about his son. Alaster gave them money to pay Ace off to stop harassing them, and that’s the last they heard of him. It’s been two weeks since all of that went down, and now, suddenly, Alaster is dead and Ace got arrested for his murder? What the hell is going on?

“Oh God, Annabel got arrested, didn’t she?” I realize. “What about Aston?” He’s been recovering from kidney surgery with Anna by his side. I sure hope he didn’t get knocked onto the ground like last time the cops brought him in that night of the fight. The night I met James and Joshua broke is his leg.

“They all got arrested,” James says. “Annabel, Aston, Shaughna, Dshawn, Jaxon, Brittany, Nathanial, Caroline, Cooper, Angelo… Elijah texted me their names. I’m not on the case because the chief knows that I know some of them through you. I think he’s worried that I won’t keep my mouth shut about the investigation.”

“Rightfully so, apparently,” I say. “I’m so grateful you’re calling me, James. Tell me, what can I do to help them?”

“I’m not sure. I just thought you should know. I know how important especially Aston and Shaughna are to you.” He sighs. “I wish I could help them, but I can’t. I was told to go home after I tried to get in to see Aston and talk to him.”

“You went to talk to Aston?” I ask, surprised by this.

“Tried to,” James repeats. “The chief kicked me out before I could.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m not supposed to meddle in an ongoing investigation.”

“No, I mean, why did you want to speak to Aston?”

“Fran,” he says softy. “I know we broke up, and that I hurt you, but still care about you. Aston is important to you, so I obviously want him to be alright. It’s his father who got arrested for killing a guy, I figured he’d be a good place to start. Just… I don’t know, to see if there was anything I could do to get all of them the hell out of there.”

“Thank you,” I murmur, my heart clenching. “That’s really sweet of you. I just… should I go to the police station?”

“I don’t think there’s anything you can do right now,” James says, sounding sad. “Elijah is keeping me updated, and he just told me that Annabel got all of them an attorney.”

“Oh right, she’s a paralegal,” I realize. “And her sister is a lawyer. Okay, that’s good, I guess.”

“Look, just go back to work. I will try to keep you updated. There’s nothing you can do to help them right now, but I… I thought you should know what’s going on. I tried to help, I really did, but there’s nothing I can do either.”

“Thanks for trying.” This is why I loved him. Why I still do. He’s sweet and fiercely protective. He doesn’t even truly know my friends, and he thinks Aston is an inconsiderate asshole, yet he still tried to help him. That’s love. That’s friendship. That’s James. “I really appreciate this, James.”

“I miss you,” James says with a sigh. “I’m going great, but I do miss you. A lot.”

“I miss you too.”

We’re silent for a moment, and then we sigh at the exact same time, causing me to giggle. He laughs along.

“Your friends will probably be fine,” James says after a moment. “I googled the lawyers they are using, and this Chloe Connor is a real badass, apparently. I remember her from that party for Annabel. She’s fierce. There’s an article about her where the reporter calls her a shark. If she’s the one trying to get them out, I think they should all be fine.”

“Annabel has done great at getting them out similar situations,” I say, and I mean it. I have faith in Anna. “Chloe is her sister. Those two together… they will figure something out.”

“Go back to work, don’t worry. I’ll let you know if anything changes,” James promises. “That is… if it’s okay for me to call you.”

“Of course,” I assure him. “You can call me.”

We hang up and I head back into the ER, worried about my friends and hating that there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m not sure how I make it through the last hours of my shift, but I manage, somehow.

I call James when I’m walking home, hoping that no news is good news. He hasn’t called or texted, but I can’t just wait around for him to let me know what’s going on with my friends. James picks up right away and he’s got news. Good news.

“They’re out,” he says, sounding relieved. “Annabel and Chloe did it. They got them immunity in return for testifying against Melchior and Ace. They’ll be home soon.”

“Thank God,” I breathe, feeling normal again after hours of stress while trying to push through it to tend to my patients. “Thank you, James. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome. Where are you right now?”

“Erm… walking home from the hospital.”

“Can I buy you a cup of coffee or something?” James asks, sounding hopeful. “To… I don’t know… celebrate your friends being out of jail?”

“Look, I just want to go see them, make sure they’re okay,” I say, wanting to rush to Aston, Shaughna, and the others and not sit around drinking coffee. “How about we take a raincheck?”

“Okay,” he agrees. “Sounds good. Let me know when you’ve got a day off. I’d love to catch up.”

“Hmm,” I murmur, rounding the corner to my street. “Yeah, that would be good.”

I’m not sure if it will be, but what else can I say? After what he just did for me, I can’t say no. Besides, I really do miss him.

After saying goodbye to James, I call Shaughna and I’m relieved to hear that she’s alright. I head over to her place to let her fill me in on everything, and I text Annabel and Aston while Shaughna curses Ace and Melchior and throws pillows at the wall in a fit of rage. Dshawn calms her down the way he always does, calm and collected, and so unlike his half-brother Aston.

They’re all okay. Thank God. The drama is over.

Well… the drama in their lives. My own life may not involve getting thrown in jail and needing a lawyer to get me immunity, but I sure feel like I’ve been living in a soap series for the past few months.

Maybe… maybe it’s time for me to take a break. God knows I deserve one.

***

“Good for you,” Joshua says when I tell him that I’m leaving town for a week. We were originally going to work on our master plan to get Yord and Marcia together – so far all we have is “tell them to stop being stupid”, so the plan needs some work – but I managed to get seven full days off from work and I booked a plane ticket to go see my mother. It’s been five months since I’ve last seen her, and I’m excited to leave everything and everyone behind for a week.

To just be Francesca Berger for seven says straight.

Not nurse Berger, not James’ ex-girlfriend, or the girl who broke Thomas’ heart, or Joshua’s… well, whatever we are to each other. Not the girl who Leonard cheated on Teddy with, not the nurse who isn’t wanted in the pediatric wing, not the sad pathetic girl who pined for Aston for six months.

No, just Franny.

I can’t wait to feel like myself again.

“I’ll take care of the General for you,” Joshua promises, knowing what I am going to ask him before I do. I can’t exactly ask Thomas anymore, can I? “And we’ll think of a great plan to get Yord and Marcia together when you get back. Have fun with your mother.”

I smile. My mom is crazy and a hell of a lot of fun, so that won’t be a problem. “Thanks,” I say into my phone while I step out of my uber in front of the airport. “See you in a week.”

Two hours later, I’m miles up in the air, going back where it all began. Where little Francesca Berger was born. To my insane, lovely mother.

Why didn’t I do this earlier?

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