“Please answer, please, please,” Tabitha prayed as she heard the phone ring. She was on Preston’s cell, pacing back and forth outside the operating room, hoping the number he’d programmed in wasn’t Cary’s business line.

“Hello?” a sleepy voice finally answered.

“Is this Cary, Preston’s friend?”

“Yes.” The voice was suddenly alert. “Who’s this? Oh hell. What’s wrong, why are you calling and not him?”

“Pres was shot.” She took a deep, gasping breath. “We were at the park and someone… He’s in surgery now.”

“Damn it! Which hospital?”

She started to tell him before she heard him talking to someone in the background. He was back seconds later asking again which hospital and then telling her he’d be there as quickly as possible before hanging up.

Sticking the phone back in her pocket she continued pacing, rubbing her arms as she kept her eyes on the operating room door.

Twenty minutes later she heard an angry voice from the waiting room telling the nurse on duty there that she’d better let him know where Tabitha was. Tabitha hurried out to see a man she presumed was Cary glaring at the nurse.

“I’m right here,” she told them both as she hurried towards him. “You must be Cary.”

He nodded sharply. “How is he, what happened, is he going to be alright?”

Tabitha took his hand, squeezing it. “He was shot twice in the back. One bullet nicked his lung, the other shattered a rib. There’s a lot of internal bleeding. They’re working on him now. Unless there’s more I don’t know about he should come out of surgery just fine.”

Cary raked a hand through his hair. “What the hell is going on? Who would want him dead?”

“I don’t know. It was dark, we were almost ready to leave the park.” She smiled slightly. “He was doing so well at facing his demons about going out in public by the time we were finished with our walk.”

“And now this. Damn it. I take it you didn’t see anyone.”

“No. I just heard the shots and knew he’d been hit. I was more worried about him than who did it. I called 911 and did the best I could until the ambulance and the cops got there.”

Cary finally really looked at her, seeing the blood on her sweats. “Thank god you were there.” He smiled tightly. “Hell of a way for us to meet by the way.”

“Yeah. Frankly I was rather hoping it would be at the apartment over dinner with the three of us.” She was about to say more when she saw the surgeon step into the waiting room and jumped up to go over to him, Cary right behind her.

“He’s going to be fine, Tabitha. He’s in recovery as we speak,” the surgeon told her, patting her shoulder. “Speaking very unprofessionally someone seems to have a hate on for your young man.”

“And we’re going to find out who,” Cary growled before introducing himself as a friend of Preston’s.

The surgeon nodded. “If I were you I’d leave that up to the police.”

Cary scowled at him. “They didn’t do such a good job last time.”

“None the less,” the surgeon replied, “it is their job. But I’ll quit lecturing. You won’t be able to see him until later this morning when he’s moved to a room and even then he probably won’t be aware of much. Tabitha I’ll have you assigned as his nurse but not until after you’ve gone home and slept. You look, if you’ll excuse me, like death warmed over.”

“Feel like it too.” She gave him a tiny smile. “Alright. I’ll see you in eight hours, give or take. And thank you for everything.”

“Just doing my job.” He patted her shoulder again before leaving.

“I suspect you need a ride home,” Cary said once the surgeon was gone.

“Do you mind?”

“Not in the least. Let’s go.”

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