Beat of the Heart


Page 4






A wave of nausea overtook me at the mere mention of my ex fiancé. With my legs feeling wobbly, I flopped down into the nearest chair. Wrapping the stethoscope around my neck, I fought not to hurl the bagel and cream cheese I'd just scarfed down. "Did you have to bring him up?" I whispered.

"Mimi," Dee said softly, using his nickname for me. "It's been six months. You gotta let go."

"I'm trying." At Dee's 'You gotta be shittin' me look', I threw up my hands. "Give me a fucking break, okay? I have a reason for being completely on edge about Dev."

"Oh really?"

I huffed out a breath that was coupled with both frustration and grief. "I got in last night to a fuckload of Facebook notifications alerting me that he and the slutbag were living it up in Fiji-the same place we were supposed to go on our honeymoon."

Dee grunted. "Only you would have the screwed up luck to have your ex-fiancé not only cheat on you, but the bastard had to do it with one of your friends, which means you're forever stuck seeing and hearing about them from the rest of your circle."

"I'd call it more of a curse than luck-I am Sicilian after all." I gave a mirthless laugh as I pulled out another chart. "Let's face it. My whole fucking love life has been a curse from start to finish."

"Seriously, Mimi, a curse? Quit being such a drama queen." He mimed playing a violin-a small one at that. In a sing-song voice, he said, "Oh, poor pitiful me of the sucktastic love life."

"Asshole," I snapped. When he chuckled, I crossed my arms over my shoulder. "Don't make me play the Jason card this morning…it won't be pretty."

Dee's comical expression faded. Scooting his chair closer to mine, Dee leaned forward to place his palms on my knees. He rubbed them tenderly. "You know that Jason is in a whole other realm than Dev."

"Still a curse."

"As for Dev, he didn't deserve you, Mimi."

Although I fought like hell and wanted to slap my own face for being weak, tears still stung my eyes, making Dee's appearance before me wavy. Dev had burst into my life three years ago-a bright beacon of light that had been impossible to turn away from. I thought we had the perfect relationship, right down to the glittering diamond on my left hand and the wedding dress being altered at the designers. But the shining façade had shattered when I discovered he'd been sleeping with one of my close friends. And once again, I was left to pick up the pieces…and fight the urge not to inflict bodily harm on him and the skank he ran off with.

It was more than just the betrayal of the man I loved and the girl who I'd thought was my friend. It was the fact it had happened a mere three months after Mama Sofia's death-the truly darkest period I've ever known, and I'd seen some pretty bad ones. Dev's betrayal kicked up a shit-storm of emotions that wounded my pride to my very core. It had done a number on my self-esteem that I had yet to overcome.

After swiping my eyes with the back of my hand, it took me a moment to meet Dee's intense gaze. I sighed. "Deep down somewhere inside, I believe that. But unfortunately, it's hard to get it through my thick skull ."

"The right one is out there for you-I have no doubt of that. Just because it wasn't Dev, the epic dickhead, it doesn't mean it won't happen."

I gave a bark of a laugh at his summation, but then the mention of the elusive Mr. Right caused a different pang of regret in my chest. "You sound like Mama Sofia."

"That makes sense."

"Let me guess. Because you're both wise, know-it-alls?"

Dee shook his head. "No, because she always loved you and wanted you to have the happiness that you deserve, and I feel the exact same way."

"Stop it, or I'm going to cry again," I moaned.

He grinned. "Can't help speaking the truth, baby girl." He gave me a smack on both my thighs. "Come out dancing with me and the boys tonight to get your mind off things."

"Um, I'm not sure how hitting up ATL's finest gay nightclubs is going to make me feel better about myself." When Dee started to protest, I reached over and patted his cheek. "It's a sweet thought, Dee, but it would just be a constant reminder that all the good guys are gay."

"You gotta get back in the game."

"Someday…just not…now."

Dee gave a grunt of frustration before rising out of his chair. "Whatever. Guess it's time we hit it, huh?"

I grinned. "Hey, who is the shift supervisor here?"

Making praying hands, Dee bowed deep at the waist. "You, oh great and powerful one."

"That's right."

As I started out of the station, Dee smacked me on the ass. I couldn't help the snort of laugher that escaped my lips at his antics. He was one of a kind, and I couldn't have had a better friend and nursing partner. He'd stood by me through the last year when a lot of friends would have bailed. His friendship, along with working with him, kept the fragile pieces of my sanity intact.

3

Rhys and I stepped off the fourth floor elevator of St. Joseph's Hospital armed with gifts for Frank. Although it felt like an eternity had passed, it had been just a week since Frank's collapse at the Oklahoma City concert. Once he had arrived at the hospital, he had received both good and bad news. He would need a bypass, but his condition was stable enough for him to return home for the surgery. With a nurse at his side, he'd flown home the next day to meet his sons at the airport.

As for the guys and me, we felt like shit doing it, but we had to keep up with the next few stops on the tour. Frank's oldest son, Rob, kept us updated on his condition during the surgery and while he was in CCU. Fortunately, we had two days off in a row where his second family, the band, could come back home to check on him.

"Which room is it again?" I asked.

Flipping out his phone, Rhys scrolled through his messages. "405."

I glanced at the sign across from the elevator doors, reading off the room numbers. "Okay, it's that way," I replied, pointing to the left.

When we got to 405, I rapped lightly on the door. "Come in," Frank called.

I poked my head in the door. "Hello, hello. You gotta little room for two wickedly handsome and charming men?"







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