By: Sarah Mayberry

“You okay? Need me to call a nurse?”

“I don’t think so. It just hurts.”

“You’ve got some busted ribs and a lacerated liver.”

She blinked, taking it in. “Is that all?”

“Concussion, bruising, and a broken leg.”

“No wonder I feel like shit.” Another thought occurred to her. “How’s the other guy?”

“Fine. Barely a scratch. The police are talking to him.”

“It was my fault. I should have crossed at the lights.”

“He was speeding. He came out of nowhere.”

Eddie raised the glass to her lips and she took two grateful swallows before he eased it away.

“I’m not done,” she protested.

“They said you need to take it easy at first.”

Normally, she would have argued with him, but her body felt heavier than lead, and suddenly it was impossible to keep her eyes open. She sank onto the pillows, her good hand tugging feebly at the covers. Eddie pulled them up for her, and she struggled to stay awake to thank him.

“Go to sleep, coração,” he said gently.

She wanted to, so badly, but her mind wouldn’t let go until she’d puzzled something out. Her Portuguese was limited to a handful of words — most of them rude — courtesy of her time spent with Rafel and Eddie. She’d heard both Eddie and Rafel say coração before, and suddenly the translation came to her: sweetheart.

He’d called her his sweetheart, more than once.

Puzzle solved, she let sleep take her.

Chapter Three

[Eddie waited until Maggie came to relieve his bedside vigil before allowing himself to leave Blue’s side.

Blue was okay, and he knew he’d be good for nothing if he didn’t get a shower and some sleep. He’d been running on vending-machine coffee for more than twenty-four hours now, and the need to lie down was dragging at him.

There was one task he needed to do before he hit the sack, though. Tooling through the early morning streets, he made his way to the ugly red-brick apartment block that Blue called home.

They both had spare keys to each other’s places, just in case, but he’d never had reason to use his before. It took him a few seconds to remember the security code at the entrance to the building, and he climbed two flights of stairs to her level before letting himself into her apartment. It was overcast outside, and the interior was dim enough that he reached out to flick on the lights.

Her place was small — one bedroom, with one living space, one bathroom and a small kitchen. She’d been here for a couple of years, even though he knew she could afford to rent something much more spacious and luxurious, or even buy a place of her own if she wanted to.

His gaze took in the black leather two-seater couch, the wide-screen TV with its proliferation of video-game consoles, and the Ikea coffee table sporting a caddy full of remote controls. Everything was scrupulously clean and tidy, and he knew before he went into the kitchen that it would be the same. Blue was anal, verging on obsessive, about keeping her spaces military neat and spare. There wasn’t a single cushion or throw blanket, vase or knickknack in sight. The kitchen was the same — no funny fridge magnets with pithy sayings, no cookie jars shaped like Winnie-the-Pooh. She kept things spartan, and claimed she liked it that way.

He had his own theories about the way she lived, but he wasn’t stupid enough to share them with her. She was incredibly reticent about her childhood, and he knew he was very privileged to know what little he did about it: that both her parents had died in a car accident when she was six, that no relatives had come forward to claim her, and that she’d grown up a ward of the state, bouncing from group home to foster home and back again.

He hesitated when he came to her closed bedroom door. He and Blue had done many things together — shared a one-person tent while camping, spent hours at the beach in next to nothing, given each other shoulder and neck rubs after long sessions at the studio — but he had never been in her bedroom before. He’d caught glimpses when he’d visited, but he’d never actually set foot in her most private, most personal domain.

He reminded himself of why he was here, and opened the door.

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