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Breaking News (Prime Time #2)
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Breaking News is the continuation of Xander and Sean’s story and should only be read after book one, Inside Affair.
Sean Bailey, the older brother of my lifelong best friend, has always been a surly, temperamental pain in my ass. But sometime during the last few weeks, I’ve gone and fallen head over heels for him.
Gruff and charming, charismatic in his own way, I’ve found myself looking past my preconceptions and discovered a whole new side to Detective Dick—a side I could fall in love with.
But life isn’t always easy—it can change course in the blink of an eye. Sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. I know this because last night I experienced both sides.
I went to Sean for help in guarding my body; what I didn’t expect was for him to steal my heart.
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I don’t know how I missed you all these years, but I’m sure as hell not missing you now.
“I KNOW THIS is difficult and you’ve been through a lot tonight, but if I could ask you a couple of questions about what you remember, that would be very helpful.”
Blinking, I tried to focus on the man talking—Detective Nichols, I think he said his name was—but it was close to impossible to concentrate with the cacophony of sounds swirling around me in the ER waiting room.
I had no idea how long I’d been standing out here—ten, twenty, thirty minutes? But it was long enough for me to realize that whatever was happening behind the double doors they’d wheeled Sean through earlier was nothing good.
My name was merely an echo inside my head as I started to pace, the repetitive action something I could focus on other than the tragedy that had brought me here in the first place.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Cool fingers wrapping around mine made me stop, and when I looked into the familiar face staring at me, I stopped in my tracks. Bailey.
Somewhere between the Fairmont Hotel and University Hospital I’d had the foresight to call him, and as I stared down at him now, I could barely recognize his features.
His lips looked set in stone, perhaps to not let free the shout of sorrow he was no doubt feeling. His eyes were red-rimmed from crying, and when he squeezed his fingers around mine, I looked down to see the bloodstained cuff of my white dress shirt and couldn’t help but think of the last time Sean had done the same.
“Xander?” Bailey’s voice was the only thing that seemed able to penetrate this trancelike state that had come over me since arriving. “Why don’t you sit down?”
I looked to the vacant seat to Bailey’s right, but shook my head. I needed to move. I needed to keep active. When I stopped, memories flooded in. Memories I’d rather not think about, like all that blood…all of Sean’s blood.
“Do you think he could do this a little later? He’s been through a lot tonight.”
Henri. That was Henri speaking now, and when I turned back to face the detective, he was looking at me with sympathetic eyes.
“Yeah, we can wait,” Detective Nichols said, and then turned his attention back to Henri. “I’m gonna stick around until I hear word on Sean’s condition, anyway. If he feels like talking, lemme know.”
“Will do. I think he just needs to know that Dick—Sean—is okay before he can focus on anything else, you know?”
“Yeah, I get it, trust me.”
“Thanks, we’ll keep you updated.”
The two of them shook hands, and as the detective left the waiting area, Henri came back over to Bailey and me.
“Whenever you feel up to it, he really needs to talk to you.”
I knew that, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel up to reliving what had happened tonight. I understood that the detective needed a statement, and probably had a whole slew of questions about the man who’d been killed. But I could barely manage to breathe right now, let alone answer questions.
“Look,” Henri said. “It’s going to be a long night. How about we go and find a coffee or vending machine?”
Bailey nodded and got to his feet, but when they turned to me, I shook my head.
“I’m not leaving.”
“I’m not asking you to. Just get some coffee or something to eat.” Henri wrapped an arm around Bailey’s shoulders, and I had to look away from the picture they made. It was too painful to look at when the person I wanted wrapping his arms around me was in surgery.
“It might do you some good to get away from here for a little bit. You haven’t sat down in nearly four hours.”
So that was how long it’d been. Why hadn’t anyone come out to tell us how Sean was doing yet?
“Maybe we could find a gift shop and get you a clean shirt or sweater?” Bailey suggested as he looked me over.
I glanced down at my bloodstained shirt, then pulled my jacket shut and buttoned it. “I’m fine,” I said, not about to go anywhere.
“Xander…” The sadness in Bailey’s voice made my eyes sting, and when I squeezed them shut, he wrapped his arms around me. I stiffened at the contact, not feeling worthy of such comfort. But that was Bailey’s way. His gentle and caring nature just exuded from him, and if I tried to fight it, I would just hurt a man I loved. “It’s okay to leave for a—”
“I’m not leaving,” I said again by his ear.
He pulled back and ran a hand down my cheek, his blue eyes boring into mine. “This isn’t your fault. You know that, right?”
No, I didn’t know that. How could I? Sean had been at that award ceremony tonight because of me. He’d been fighting off that man because of me. And now he was lying in surgery, bleeding out, because of me.