Willow & Aiden After Forty

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Chapter 34

I pace back and forth; I need Lamar’s ass here now. I need to get ahold of something, something I can manage, handle, and control. We can’t wait any longer, Gus needs to go down. He knows we are investigating. Ryan is fighting for his life, and I can’t do a single fucking thing to help him. This is my fault. My need to be righteous, my father’s need for always more. All of our fucked up decision have to lead to this, an innocent young man fighting for his life.

Oliver, Max, and Caroline walk into the waiting room. Oliver’s face is red, and Caroline has been crying. The first thing Oliver asks, “How’s Ryan? Have the caught the guy yet? I called the station, and they wouldn’t give out any information.”

“Ryan is still in surgery to remove the bullets. You spoke with your mom, she’s doing as well as can be expected. They took her for more ex-rays.”

“What do we know?”

I sigh, goddamnit, they are going to hate me if this turns out as I think it is going to. That my need to take Gus Wendle down is going to ruin everything good that has happened to me lately. I met my soul’s partner in life, and the kid, the kid was coming around, he was starting to like me.

I clear my throat, “Nothing more, she opened the door, a man was holding flowers, he pulled a gun, and Ryan tackled him from behind. The gun went off, and your mother was grazed in the upper right shoulder. The fucker got to his feet, shot Ryan twice, once in the leg, and one in the back before he took off. Your Aunt Violet and Lexi got a good look at him. They went to the station to look at mug shots and to give a description of him.”

Lexi walks into the waiting room, Al following behind her. “Any word on Ryan? His mom has arrived; they are speaking with her at the nurses’ station.”

I nod my head, “No word.”

Margaret and a nurse enter, Margaret is crying, and when she sees me and all of us, she turns and leaves. I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I haven’t talked to Margaret in years, our only communication since our divorce has been by text to schedule times to see Ryan before he had his own phone. I hate her, I think she’s a shit mother, but I can’t imagine what she is going through at the moment.

The nurse informs us that Willow is on her way to a room. They are keeping her overnight for observation. Ryan is still in surgery.

“I’m going to call my brothers and fill them in on what’s going on. I know they need to hear mom’s voice. I’ll meet you up in the room.”

Lamar enters the waiting room. I nod to Oliver and watch Lamar introduce himself to Max and Caroline. Caroline walks over and hugs me. “I know Ryan will pull through Aiden; I’ll keep praying.”

I hug her quickly back, “Thanks, Caroline.”

Lamar and Oliver shake hands, and Lamar’s eyes become severe, and he swings them to me, “I need a word, Aiden.”

Lamar and I walk out of the waiting room to find a private corner to talk. We pass Margaret; she’s on her phone. She looks up at me, and the look she gives me is one I hope never to see again. It’s one of pure hatred and extreme sadness. She’s a bitch, but no one deserves this, not even the worst kind of a mother. She loves him, and he’s her flesh and blood. Lamar nudges me, and I walk past the nurses’ station.

We find a small private doctor/family room, and we duck inside. “We both know that sick fuck is on to us, he’s responsible for this, I’m certain that bullet was meant for me, Lamar. We both know it.”

“I think you need to slow down, Aiden. I’m not here to tell you I think this was random, but I don’t think Gus Wendle is responsible. He’s shooting shit into his veins and snorting shit up his nose hourly. I’m telling you, man. He’s not onto us. My guy said no fucking way he has a clue we are looking into his dealings. My firm took the case, the company is going to start a big PR campaign, and they know they will walk away with only a fine. The company will survive and hell, probably grow, who the hell knows in this political climate. Gus and Gerald Wendle aren’t thinking and plotting against us, man; they have no fucking clue we’re looking. It ain’t Gus, no way, he may have fucked with Willow and you after the dinner run-in, but he’s so fucked up he probably can’t even remember doing it. We need to look somewhere else, what do the cops know?”

“You know everything I know, and I’m not convinced it’s not Gus or Gerald Wendle. I want everything we’ve found turned over to the police, now. Maybe Gerald wants to fuck with me for something my old man did, who the fuck knows. I have enemies but no-one to this extreme. I’ve been trying to slow the fuck down, Lamar. This is the only matter I’m looking into at the moment. Who the fuck wants me dead?”

“That may not be the question, Aiden. It may be who would want Willow dead?”

I shake my head, that’s nonsense. “What, you think some bride is pissed at her, or maybe one of my neighbors, who she baked cookies for to introduce herself? Or one of her old neighbors who she also baked and cooked for—”

“I get your point, Aiden, but we aren’t dealing with a sane person. Isn’t her ex having money problems?”

My heart pounds in my chest. Jesus fucking Christ, I never considered. I shake my head. No fucking way.


“You can fit, I promise,” I force a smile, trying to make myself seem all right. I’m not, and I need him more than want him in the hospital bed with me. I need to feel him against me, holding me, maybe letting me pretend for a moment that none of this actually happened.

I sigh with relief when he removes his shoes. I turn on my left side, my good side, and he lies behind me and spoons me tight. He kisses my wet head, and I shiver. They had to bath me to get Ryan’s blood off of me and out of my hair.

I know they are coming, the tears. Aiden senses it too because his large body surrounds me, holding me tightly but making sure he doesn’t touch my shoulder. “Let it out, baby. Let it all out. I’m here, and I’m not leaving your side again. You’re safe, Ryan has a long battle ahead of him, but he’s going to live and make it sweetheart. We’ll help him, and I’ll help the two of you get through this, I promise. I love you Willow, I’m sorry, I’m so fucking sorry.”

I let the tears fall. “It’s not your fault Aiden. We don’t know why this happened. Ryan, Ryan, saved my life. He must have come back home. He must have forgotten something, he, he had already left for the night,” I cry.

Aiden doesn’t say anything, and he let me cry myself until I have no tears left. “Try to go to sleep, baby. I love you, and you’re safe.”

I close my eyes and pretend, try to pretend, it was all a bad dream.

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