Perfect Rhythm:His to Claim #6

By: Opal Carew

From Part 5

“So you think that’s why he left, too.”

He shrugged again. “I really don’t know. He’s been struggling with some shit for a long time now. Who knows what set him off?” He shook his head. “Just don’t take the blame on yourself. Okay?”

She sucked in a deep breath as he sent her a reassuring smile. “Okay.”

But it was an empty word. She couldn’t help feeling that she’d driven him away.

“Yeah. I understand,” Travis said into his cell as he walked along the aisle of the bus toward her and Diego. “Thanks for letting us know.” He shoved his phone into his pocket, then stared at her with a grim expression.

“Melanie, that was about Storm.”

Her stomach dropped like a rock. She stared at him, barely able to breathe.

“What is it?” she finally managed to utter.

“That was Storm’s brother. Storm’s been in an accident.”

Melanie’s chest tightened.

Storm was in an accident?

She sucked in a deep breath. “What happened?”

“His brother doesn’t know anything yet, except that he had an accident on the bike,” Travis said. “The hospital in Madison, a small town north of here, called him and he called us because we’re nearby. Jess and Dane are on the way to the hospital now.”

Images of Storm, broken and bleeding flashed through her mind. A wrenching pain started in the pit of her stomach. She glanced around, feeling powerless.

“I need to go to the hospital, too.”

“I know. I’m going to have the driver take a detour to Madison, which is about forty-five minutes from here, and drop you and me off.”

She gazed into his blue-green eyes. “Do you think he’ll be okay?”

“He better be. He’s my future brother-in-law.”

She just nodded. Diego returned with a bottle of water and handed it to her. She tried to twist off the lid, but couldn’t seem to get a grip on it. Travis took the bottle from her and took off the cap, then handed it to her. She took a sip, her hand trembling.

She stared out the window, barely seeing the landscape flashing by as the bus drove onward. Worry gnawed at her. Travis squeezed her shoulder briefly, then left her to her thoughts, though he was a comforting presence beside her.

What would she find at the hospital? Would she get there and find out Storm was …

A lump formed in her throat. Oh, God, don’t let him die.

As soon as the bus pulled up to the hospital, Melanie shot to her feet. Travis stood up and stepped into the aisle to let her pass. She reached for the overhead compartment to grab her pack, but he waved her away.

“I’ll get it,” he said.

She nodded her thanks and hurried to the front of the bus, Travis on her heels. When she stepped from the air-conditioned bus to the hot air outside, she drew in a deep breath, then strode to the hospital entrance. Travis opened the glass door for her and she stepped inside the cool building. It was a small hospital, with no one in sight.

“This way.” Travis led her down a hallway with arrows indicating Emergency ahead.

Anxiety swelled in her as they followed the appropriate arrows, turning several times along the way, and soon arrived at the reception for Emergency.

Travis talked to the man at the desk, asking about Storm. When the man said no one had been admitted with that name, he asked about Rafe Ranier. A moment later, Travis joined her again.

“He said that Storm was admitted about a half hour ago but they have no information on his status yet. They’re taking X-rays. He said the waiting room is this way.” He took her arm and led her through a door.

They stepped into a large area with stiff-looking vinyl upholstered chairs of metal tubing. The place was crowded, but Travis guided her to a couple of empty chairs and went and got her a coffee. He sat down beside her and she drank the hot liquid without tasting it, watching the other listless people in the waiting room, her own nerves fraying.

They had rushed here, her heart pounding the whole way, but hoping they would soon know how bad Storm was. But to have to sit here now, with no idea if he was horribly injured, or even dying, was tearing her apart.

Travis took her hand in his and squeezed it, offering some small level of comfort. She gazed at him, trying to stop tears from welling in her eyes. He just gazed back at her, both of them knowing there was nothing to say. Thankfully, he didn’t try to make small talk. He was just a comforting presence by her side. Hours passed, her stomach churning and her nerves shot. Melanie didn’t know how much more she could take.

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