“Stop him!” I shout, running after Tubs, who is racing away from me with one of my bras hanging from his mouth.
Kenton blocks his path and bends down, picking up the fur ball, who is still gnawing on my bra, and when Kenton tries to take it from him, he starts acting like it’s a game of tug-of-war.
“Bad puppy,” I tell him, unlocking his jaw with my fingers and grabbing my bra, which is now covered with dog slobber. “It’s not funny,” I snap at Kenton when his laugher follows me as I go back into the bathroom, tossing my bra into the hamper before going to get a new one out of my underwear drawer.
“I told you having a puppy is a lot of work,” he says, walking into the bathroom behind me.
“I know, but he’s so cute,” I say, putting my bra straps over my shoulders and hooking the clasp behind my back.
He starts to laugh again, but this time, the vibration of his laughter is against me as he slides his hands around my waist. “You sure you gotta go to work?” he asks, kissing the skin of my neck.
“I wish I didn’t.” I move my head to the side so my neck is more exposed to his mouth.
“Stay home with me.”
I hear the plea in his voice and turn in his arms, looking up at his face. I know that, after what happened with Sophie and Nico a few weeks ago, he has been on edge and hasn’t wanted me too far away from him, and it’s not surprising. Having someone you know and care about kidnapped and then having to help rescue them would do that to anyone.
I’ve tried to reassure him that nothing like that will happen to me the only way I know how. The cops are still looking for the hit man, but the men who hired him gave their word that I’m not on his list, and as stupid as it may be, I believe them. After all, they are the ones who paid him. Kenton and I talked though, and he knows that, if they catch the guy, I will testify against him for what he did. I never made any deals, and there’s no way I could refuse to be the only person to help the families of the five people I watched get murdered in cold blood get justice.
“I love you,” I say, coming out of my thoughts. I wrap my hands around the back of his neck and press my mouth to his before he has a chance to reply. If I only knew what was going to happen in a few hours, I would have kissed him a little bit harder and held him a little bit tighter, but that’s the thing about life—you never know what’s going to happen, so every moment you have, you need to act like it’s your last.
“Why are you here?” I stop outside the emergency room doors as soon as I see Sid standing there. My heart starts beating wildly as I scan the parking lot, trying to see if there is anyone else around.
“I want to apologize.”
“That’s not necessary.” I shake my head, pulling out my keys as I make my way to my car. I have never been afraid of Sid, but something is off. My insides are twisted into knots. I ended up having to work a double tonight, so the darkness isn’t helping with the fear turning in my gut.
“I would never hurt you.” the pain in his voice is evident, and I slow down, turning to face him.
As soon at my eyes meet his, a car squeals around the corner of the building, coming to a halt behind Sid, who looks stunned for a second before his eyes get big as he watches a man jump out of the driver’s side door and pull a gun from behind his back. I’m frozen in place as I watch the scene unfold in front of me.
“Run!” Sid roars, causing me to come out of my freeze.
I look around, gauging if I should try and make it into my car. I realize I won’t be able to get there in time and start to take off on foot towards the emergency room entrance. I hear one shot then a grunt, and I know it was Sid getting shot. I don’t even pause. I keep running, but I don’t get far before I’m grabbed around my waist. I start kicking my legs and clawing at the arm wrapped around me, but due to the fabric covering his skin, I can’t do any damage.
“No!” I yell as my face is shoved into the hard ground. I feel a gun shoved into my cheek so hard that I know I will bruise. I’ve heard stories about people coming back from flatlining, but I’ve never experienced it myself, so I don’t know what it feels like, but I swear I die in this moment. I feel two shots as pain explodes in my body, but after that, all I feel is myself floating away.
“Man, Kenton. Fuck.” Justin’s distressed voice sounds over the line as soon as I put my phone to my ear.
“What?” I ask. I’ve been on edge all day; something has felt off since I woke up.
It took everything in me to let Autumn go to work. I knew that, if I tried to stop her, she would’ve flipped the f**k out, but something isn’t right. I’ve been in contact with her all day. She even joked during the last call that I must really miss her, ’cause I wouldn’t stop phoning.
“I need you to get to Vanderbilt,” Justin says with forced calmness.
My gut tightens, and I know before he even says it that it’s Autumn. “Tell me she’s okay.”
“I don’t know, man. I’m gonna meet you there,” Justin tells me, and I can feel the pain in his voice as the words leave his mouth.
“I’m on my way,” I clip, hanging up, and I race out of the office, jump in my car, and head downtown.
When I pull into the parking lot of the hospital, I see that the news cameras and police cars have settled around the entrance of the emergency room. I spot Finn near the front doors in the crowd. I pull my car into the ambulance parking lot and get out, ignoring the yells from everyone around me. I toss Finn my keys before running into the building.
The minute I make it around the corner, the nurse’s station comes into view, and unlike most of the times I’ve been here, it’s completely empty. I run down the hall to where they took Finn the night he had been shot and stop dead when I reach the door. My eyes lock on Autumn through the small, glass window.
Her shirt is off.
Her skin is covered in blood.
Doctors and nurses are surrounding her.
My legs start to get weak and my stomach starts to turn. I swear I feel my life ending as I watch them work on her. I hear, “Code red,” from the other side of the door as someone pulls a set of paddles off the wall.
“You can’t be here,” someone says as I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn my head. “This is a personnel-only area.”
“That’s his girlfriend.”
I look over the nurse’s shoulder and see Justin coming down the hall towards us. Girlfriend? Yes, she’s my girlfriend, but she’s also my future…and she is lying on the other side of that door, covered in blood, and they are calling a code red. FUCK!