Monday, June 29, 2020

Chapter 22

Scotty leaned over the railing with his head turned to stare at Katie sleeping. The doctor’s had ordered a weight check and she weight eighty five pounds, which was four less than the day that  Scotty forced her hand by picking her up and stepping on the scale with him in her arms. Scotty’s sniffling woke Katie, and she turned to look around. She saw him wiping his nose with his hand. 
“Scotty?” He lifted his head right away. He gave her the biggest smile. 
“Hey there, my little bear-cub.” He reached over the railing and rubbed her concave cheek. 
“Scotty, why am I in a hospital bed?” 
“You passed out, again. Honey, I couldn’t wake you, and you scared the crap out of me.”  He bent over the railing and kissed her on the lips. When he rose, her eyes followed him. She looked up at the IV bag and followed the tubing to her arm. “You are dehydrated and malnourished. You’re here for a few days. They are going to make you eat, and if you think that you are going to give them a hard time, you have another thing coming. Later, we are going to have it out, for you not telling me about you passing out in Tulsa.” She sighed and turned her head, then back to Scotty. 
“Put this railing down, please, and scoot me over. I want you to lie down with me.  I want you to hold me.” 
He put the railing down, climbed up on the bed and gently lifted her into his arms. She rested her head on his shoulder and moaned. “This feels so good. I miss this, Scotty.” 
“Honey, you can’t possibly miss it more than I do. You are going to get well now, and I’m going to see to it. Katie-bear. I won’t let you die. I can’t die with you this time.”  The memory of him offering up his life for her, brought the tears of remembrance. “Oh, with the water works, again. Honestly, Katie-bear, do you ever stop crying?” She chuckled and shook her head no. 
“Why were you crying? You never cry.” She asked with her head laying on his chest. 
“I was thinking about those two times I was out of control with you.  I can’t believe I did that to you twice. I’m so disgusted with myself, still. Now, tonight, I almost killed a man. I thought I had it under control, but the rage took over when I saw him on top of you.” 
“I know. It won’t happen, again. I provoked you and him. It was just as much my fault. Did I hear you say that you dropped the charges, or was that a dream?” 
“No, it wasn’t a dream. I dropped them,” he said, as he rubbed her back with his other hand, while she laid on top of his chest. “Do you really love him that much?” 
“No, it’s not that at all. It just wasn’t fair. You went after him, first. You almost killed him, like you said. He’s a jerk, but he shouldn’t have to go to jail for being a jerk.” 
“I’m going to keep him away from you. I can’t let him break your heart, again.” 
“He didn’t break my heart. I was just disappointed in who he turned out to be, that’s all.”  
“Oh, and those nights you cried yourself to sleep, that was just disappointment?” 
“You heard that?” 
“Do you think I am that dumb that I did not pick that up? Katie-bear, I know you better than you know yourself.”  
Katie reached up and touched his face. He in turn touched her face and brushed away a tear that sat still right under her eye. “I’m so sorry if I hurt you. Scotty. I just got caught up in the romanticism of it all, his Prince Charming act. I don’t love him like I love you.” 
“Sweetie-bear, you don’t love me like you love him.”  She shook her head in denial. 
“No, that’s not right. I need you. I love you,” she said, doing her best to ignore the fire in her belly that raged for Nicolas Paul. 
“It’s my fault. I pushed you away back then by being so mean. I set you up to fall in love with him. I took you for granted. I fooled around with Collect, and fathered a son by her. I lost my head, it’s no wonder you fell for him. He’s a younger better looking guy than me, that’s for sure.” 
“Scotty, don’t say that. You’re my strong, handsome sexy trooper.” She paused, remembering what she looked like in the window’s reflection. “I’m the one looking so ragged and awful, now.”
“You don’t look ragged and awful, but, Katie-bear, you are so thin now. I’m so scared. I need you to live.” 
“I will, I’ll eat. Maybe you will be able to call me your chub cub, again.” With that comment, he cried again. 
“Again, with the water works. Gee, Scotty, you think I’m bad.” He chuckled. 
“I’m so sorry about getting rid of that wonderful picnic supper you made for me. It was wrong and a hateful thing to do. I know how desperate you were and how much trouble you went to make that sack lunch for me.  Can you forgive me?” 
“Yes, absolutely, honey.  I’m sorry that I made you that upset by filing those charges. I just hate that guy,” he said. 
She put her hand up on the railing, then found the button to raise her bed. She patted his right upper thigh, looking for the ring. 
“Where is it? It’s gone.”  He pulled his arm out from under her and reached in his left pocket.
“Is this what you were looking for? I just put it in the other pocket.” She took the ring from his hand and studied it.  
“Is the offer still good?” She asked as she fiddled with the ring slipping it on and off her finger. It was two sizes too big, on her bony finger, now. Scotty took the ring off her finger. He leaned up on his elbow and bent over her. He stared into her eyes, trying to find her motivation for such a question. 
“No, Katie. You can’t hide behind me to keep him at arm’s length.” 
“I’m not hiding. Seeing him, now, just makes me realize how much I love you, and why I love you. I want it back on my finger.”
“Yeah, for how long? One year, if that? I’m going to lose you soon, I know it. You are going to be gone out of my life soon,” Scotty said with such sadness. 
“Scotty, I won’t ever leave you, I promise. You are permanent in my life. You are as much family to me as Matthew is. You know I can’t live without you. I don’t want him. Look, I may have gotten a little crazy a couple of years ago. I was younger and stupid then. He was younger and a naïve dreamer. He was different, and it kind of took me in, but look who he is now. What the hell would I want a man like that for?” 
“When he grows up, he’ll work like hell to win you back. What then? He’ll do it, you know, he’ll fight for you.” 
“No, he will never grow up. He’ll always be center-stage and a child. I love you. I want you. I want a grown man that I can love, honor, respect, and admire. I love the man you have become. Please, Scotty, marry me.” 
“Are you sure you really want that?” 
“Yes, now more than ever,” she said. In the back of her mind, she admitted only to herself that marrying Scotty was protection from Nick’s shiver power, which he brought back with full force. Scotty was safe. He loved her. He would never hurt her like Nick could. “You take such good care of me. I’m so much better off with you. I can’t live without you. I can live without him. I can’t let go of you, but I’ve proven I can let go of him.” 
“My Katie-bear, I won’t let go, not now, not ever.”  She snuggled in tighter to him and wept. 
“I don’t love him. I love you, and I’m all yours. That is a promise.” He slipped the ring on her bony thin finger and it spun around. 
“One year,” he said as he laid back down and pulled her on to his chest. She picked her head up, resting her chin on his chest to face and question him. 
“What do you mean, one year?” 
“You wear this for one year. If you still love me, and he is completely out of your system, I’ll marry you.” 
“I have to wait a whole year, seriously?
“Yes, one year. If you really love only me, then you can wait one year.” He turned her head toward her and kissed her forehead. 
“Okay fine, one year, now kiss me.”  
“Scotty rose, bent over her and gave her a warm loving, but short kiss.
“Is that it? We just got engaged.” 
“My skinny-cub, if I kiss you more than that, well, then I’ll want to practice some medicine between the sheets.” He laughed, raising his eyebrows. Katie started laughing and then remembered what Nick said about making love to her in the hospital. She contemplated it with Scotty, but talked herself out of it, for the time being. She held her left hand up, and they studied it. 
“Looks good, don’t’ it?” 
It’s gorgeous on you, gorgeous.” She put her left hand on his chest and laid back down with her head resting near his heart. 
“Gorgeous, I’m not now, I’m sure of that. I look like crap. I’m so tired now. I’m hungry, but I’m more tired than hungry. After I sleep a while, I’ll have a feast for you. Okay?”
“Good, you sleep my little sleepy bear.” 
“Will you stay here with me, while I sleep and not let go of me?” 
“You just try kicking me out. I’m not leaving your side.”
“Good, g’night Scotty.” 
“G’night my sleepy-cub.”
Katie and Scotty slept peacefully until the morning, when a food service worker awoke them when she knocked on the door. The worker put the food on the tray and departed. When they both open their eyes, they were surprised to see Shawn, asleep in the chair at the end of the bed. Katie pointed to Shawn. 
“I wonder how long he has been there,” she said. 
“I wonder why?” He asked. 
Scott rose out of the bed and tapped Shawn on the shoulder. He woke, a little disoriented for a second or two.
“Hey Everett, you couldn’t find a more comfortable spot in this place to sleep?” Shawn stretched his legs and arms and rubbed the sleepiness out of his eyes. 
“Actually, I didn’t know I fell asleep.” He stood and walked over near the head of the bed. “So, how are ya doin’ kiddo?” 
“To tell you the truth, I’m starving to death,” she cackled. Scotty twisted his head shooting a disapproving glare. 
“That’s not funny,” he said as he walked over toward the tray.  
“Well, they just served breakfast. So, what’s cookin’?” She asked. Scotty lifted the cover off the dish and then abruptly slammed it down. 
“Oh, for Pete’s sake,” he said. 
“What?” She asked. Then it hit her. “Ewe! Scotty, get it out of here, I just got a whiff.” She covered her mouth and held her breath. 
“I’m on it.” He quickly took the tray and ran out of the room with it. Shawn looked at Katie, and she looked as if she were going to get sick. When Scott came back in, he was shaking his head.
“The only other thing that can make me vomit besides vomit is sausage. Ewe, gross.”
“I can’t believe the very first meal, and they bring the thing that she loathes the most. Just the smell of it makes her sick.  You want me to go to McD’s for you.” 
“Will you?” 
“Hell yeah. Let’s see, Egg McMuffin, three hash browns, orange juice, right, honey?” 
“Well, that all depends. Is one of those hash browns for you?” Scotty chuckled. 
“Okay, I got it—four hash browns,” he cackled. 
“Shawn, what can Scotty get you?” 
“Oh, I’m fine. I don’t need anything.” Shawn looked at Scotty, gave him a half-smile, put his hands in his pockets and leaned against the counter adjacent to the window. 
Scott turned his head to Shawn. “Well, then I’ll just have to guess, or you can just tell me what you want. Just don’t get anything with sausage and have it in this room.” 
“Thanks, dude, I’ll just have what she’s having, minus a couple of hash browns.” 
“Scotty, you wanna change that orange juice to a chocolate shake with extra whip cream?” 
“You betcha!”  Scotty bent over and kissed her cheek. He picked up her left hand, and kissed it, smiling at her. “I love ya, babe. I’ll be right back.”
“Hurry, Scotty, I’m really hungry.” Katie chuckled. Shawn laughed. 
“See ya, dude, keep an eye on her, okay?” Scotty asked of Shawn.
“Sure will,” he said. “Oh, and thanks a lot.” 
“Just keep that jackass away from her. I’m trusting you, Everett.” Scotty tilted his head with that tough cop look. 
“I promise, if he comes up here, I’ll throw him up against a brick wall myself.” Scotty patted him on the back. 
“Well, my Katie-bear, looks like this guy’s pretty smart.” He turned to Shawn. “So why are you friends with that jackass anyway?” Shawn tilted his head back and forth.
“Well, someone has to; I mean the idiot has pushed everyone else out of his life being an ass. If I left him alone to himself, it’s no telling what he’d do.” Shawn shook his head. 
“That’s the kind of man Shawn is, Scotty. He’s a good man, dumb, but good,” Katie said with a short giggle. “Loyal to a fault, huh?” She asked. 
“It takes one to know one, Katie, right?” Shawn asked. Scotty shook his head.
“I just don’t get you sentimental saps.” He walked over and gave Katie a tender loving kiss on the lips, then crooked his head toward Shawn. It was obvious that he was sending a message. “But, I sure do love this one,” he said. 
“And she’s a lucky lady to have such a great man taking such good care of her, Trooper Wells. If anyone can save her from herself, you can.” Scotty nodded. 
“Damn right,” he turned to look at Katie. “She’s not going to die on us, I guarantee that. I’m responsible for her life, and she’s going to get better if it’s the last thing I do on this earth.” 
“Not if you don’t get the heck out of here, and get me my McD’s. Now hurry, I’m starving, I want my hash browns,” she said. They all laughed. Scotty put his hand out to Shawn. 
“I told you, Everett, the name’s Scotty to you. To your friend, I’m his worst nightmare. You better remind him of that.” Shawn nodded. 
“Already did, he’s stupid, but not a complete moron,” Shawn said. 
“I’m not convinced,” Scotty said. 
“Are you going to get me my food, or do I have to go myself, Scotty?”  “Okay, okay, geez, she’s cranky, probably PMS.” 
“It’s not PMS, it’s call H-U-N-G-R-Y, now scat.” They all laughed as Scotty left the room. 
“Well, I love hearing that.” Shawn said to her. 
“So, how is the idiot, anyway?” She asked.
“He’s going to be fine. His parents got here, and he sent them to a hotel. His sister stayed to bawl him out. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s still doing it. Oh, and she says to tell you that she’s one of your biggest fans, but,” he hesitated.
“But what? Does she think I’m a total bitch?” 
“No, now that she knows who you are, well, she’s practically getting her bride’s maids dress picked out and pretty ecstatic that her favorite author in the whole world is her brother’s one true jolt-giver. She read your book a long time ago.” 
“Tell her not to go shopping, it ain’t gonna happen.” Katie sat up and adjusted herself, putting her hands on her lap. 
Shawn sat back down in the chair and looked at her left hand. She noted where he was looking. 
“It’s not what you think,” she said. 
“And what do I think?”
“You think I bargained for the charges to be dropped, right?” 
“No, but is that ring on your finger to keep him from re-filing charges?”
“Shawn, this ring is on my finger, because I love Scotty, and it was my idea. As a matter of fact, he balked at it at first, but then said he would give me one year. I actually have to wait a whole year to marry him.” 
“Why, Katie? Running from your feelings from Nick by marrying him, is that fair to him?”  
Katie lowered her head. “Shawn, I’m going to try to forget Nick. I have to. Scotty loves me, and I love him. We belong together.” 
“You know that’s not true. You know that your destiny is with Nicolas Paul. Otherwise, those feelings you had for him would not have come back at full force, yesterday, and I know they did. You couldn’t hide that from me or him. I mean, Katie, don’t get me wrong, I like that guy, the trooper, since I’ve gotten to know him, but he is not who you are meant to be with.”  Katie adjusted herself in the bed, put her head back and closed her eyes. 
She sighed. “Shawn, just because someone is attracted to another person does not make them destined to be together.” 
“It’s not just an attraction. I saw you two together, two years ago. You fit together like a perfect match. I thought for a second as if it were a scene I’ve looked at a thousand times. You said then that you both felt that way, also.” 
“Well, that was a lifetime ago. Why are you here anyway? Did he send you?  Shawn hesitated. He put his head down. 
“No, he actually kicked me out of his room and told me to go to hell, again.  He’s pretty mad at me. I told him that I knew for over six months who you were. He accused me of letting him go on and on, digging himself in a grave with you, deeper and deeper and of being jealous.” 
Katie’s nostrils flared with righteous indignation. “Oh, did he? Well, that little bugger is now going to find himself buried even deeper in that grave, and I’m going to have fun throwing dirt on it.” Katie took in a deep breath and started to get out of her bed. She reached over for her bag of belongings. 
“What are you doing?”
“If you wouldn’t mind to close the curtain, I’m going to get dressed, then I’m going to go to his room and throw another brick wall at him. Now, hurry so we can do this before Scotty gets back.” 
“I don’t think you are supposed to leave your room.” 
“I don’t care. Why don’t you go get me a nurse, and tell her that I am going to his room, that I will be right back? I’m not taking no for an answer.”  Shawn chortled and left the room. 
A few moments later, a nurse came in the room with a wheel chair. “Mrs. Moore, I’m not supposed to let you leave the floor, but your friend here says that if I don’t let you go, you’ll climb out of the window, so, I insist that you let him take you down to your friend’s room in this, and he promised to bring you right back.” 
“That’s fine, now disconnect this bag of water from me, so I can go,” Katie demanded.  After the nurse released her from her IV pole, leaving in the venous catheter tapped and taped to her arm, Katie rose and held on to the bed rail to keep from being dizzy. Shawn reached out his hand and guided her into the chair. “I’ll be right back, when my fiancé gets here with my breakfast, just tell him I needed to go out for a smoke.” 
“Mrs Moore, you can’t smoke on this campus.” 
“Oh, I’m not going to smoke a cigarette. I’m going to light someone’s butt on fire and smoke him off his high horse,” she said with an aggravated and snorted laugh. Shawn guffawed.
“Oh, this ought to be good. Maybe I should record it,” he cackled. 
When Shawn and Katie arrived at the doorway to Nick’s room, she told him to stay in the hallway. She wheeled herself into the darkened room and noted a woman sitting in a chair with her long legs folded, as if trying to fit her long body in the hospital patient chair. Her upper body was leaning against the opposite armrest. She was holding her head up by the inside of her arm and sleeping. Katie looked toward the doorway, and Shawn mouthed the words, “His sister.” She nodded. Katie locked the wheels on the wheel chair and tiptoed over to tap the woman on her leg. 
Annie opened her eyes, blinking the sleep out of them. She popped up, to see this thin, frail, waif like woman smiling bent over her. She jumped up out of her chair and whispered, excitedly, putting her hand out to shake Katie’s. 
“Oh, my gosh, hi, Mrs. Moore. I’m Annie McDaniel. I’m this idiot’s sister. It’s such a thrill to meet you. I loved your book. I’m a huge fan, bigger than him.”
This woman standing at about 5’10 with a medium build, had large round brown eyes and wavy, shoulder-length, chestnut-brown hair that was tousled from a difficult night trying to get comfortable. Annie brushed her hair with her fingers and straightened out her jeans and Tennessee Vol’s hoodie. The resemblance to her brother was remarkable, and Katie found it precious. She hugged Annie, and then they looked over at a sleeping Nick.  Annie looked at the doorway, saw Shawn standing there and waved to him as she walked over to give him a thank you hug. 
“Thanks for bringing her down here.” 
“Oh, I didn’t have a choice. She was coming if she had to climb out of the window and scale the wall to his room.” Annie looked at him puzzled. “I told her what he said, and did last night, and no force in the universe could restrain her from giving him a good tongue lashing. Watch her at work,” he said, flipping his chin up in a jerky movement and chuckling. 
Katie went near Nick’s bed, put down the railing and sat down. She shook him to wake him. Annie turned to watch Katie go to work, humbling the arrogance right out of Nick.  
“Hey stupid-star, wake up,” she said with angry enthusiasm. Nick woke up quickly, and when he saw Katie sitting next to him, a huge smile enveloped his face. He flashed his pearly whites and his nearly hidden dimples from his widened face attempting to call to her, to no avail. She didn’t like this Nick Thomas face, as it reminded her of all the hatefulness and seeing him with groupies flanking him, everywhere.
“Teach, you’re here. Hey, you look better already! You look refreshed. Even your face is brighter and fuller.” 
“Yeah, well they pumped about a gallon of fluid into me last night, so I’m actually all bloated.” 
“Well, you look wonderful to me.” He touched her face, and she took his hand down. 
“I’m not going to by the time I’m finished with you, and you can pull back those pearly whites, because they aren’t doing it for me, right now,” she said putting her hands on her hips. He adjusted himself, sitting up straight. “What’s the matter?” He asked. She slapped him on the arm. 
“What the hell is wrong with you, treating Shawn the way you did?” Nick’s smile left his face immediately. 
“Teach, you know, he knew for over six months. We could have been together six months ago, instead of all the shit that’s happened in that time.” He reached over to grab her hand, and she pulled it away from his grasp. 
“Oh, and who the hell told you that I’d have anything to do with you, six months ago. You were an asshole then. Why in the hell would I want you? Now, what would you say if I told you that I told Shawn not to tell you who I was, because I wanted nothing to do with Nick Thomas, the big stupid-star?” 
He threw his head against the back of the bed, then reached back and grabbed at his wound, attempting to rub the pain away. “Did you do that?”
“No, but I would have, had I seen him. I wouldn’t have come near you with a ten foot, no a hundred foot pole then, unless I was going to be allowed to hit you with it. You’ve been the bastard, not him, not anyone else—well maybe your twit girlfriend, but that’s to be expected. You don’t deserve a friend like him. You definitely don’t deserve me, and why your sister is bothering with you is beyond me, except that she’s a blood relative and could inherit whatever money you may have, because if I was your sister, that would be the only reason I’d be here.”  
Shawn and Annie chuckled in the doorway. “Oh, she’s good. He needs her to knock him on his ass,” she whispered. Shawn nodded and laughed. 
“Told ya,” he said with a slight chuckle.
“Teach, if he had told me, I could have..,”
“Don’t you call me Teach. You could have what, started up the Prince Charming act again, that much sooner?”
“No, but got my act together, straightened my life out, or cut back on the drinking.” 
“Oh, really. If you knew you needed to do that, then you should have done it then. If you weren’t noble enough to change your ways before I came around, then screw you. I don’t want a man like that. I don’t want a man who changes like a chameleon, just because he wants to get in someone’s pants. You have plenty of groupies to do that with, and you had your chance with me, and you didn’t do it. I’m thanking God that you didn’t. Now, I can tell Scotty that I’ve been saving myself for him, again. You owe Shawn an apology, and if he accepts it, I’m going to have his head examined.”
Nick’s face was blank. His breathing rate dropped to nearly nothing, as the woman he loved was bawling him out, again. He looked down at her left hand, which she was leaning on, and he puckered his forehead with shock that she actually did it.   
“Why is that ring there? Did you put that ring on your finger to keep me out of jail?” 
“You stupid egomaniac, I did it because I love him.  Scotty changed, but he didn’t change because someone threw a brick wall at him, or he wanted back in my pants, or my heart. He changed because he wanted to be a better man, whether I came back to him, or not.” 
“So, I don’t get a chance to do the same?  Don’t I get a chance to make the change, and to become a man worthy of you?” 
“If you wanted to be an honorable man, then you should have done it already. It should only be because you want to become that man, not because you want to get in my pants, or my heart, in that order. Change only because you want to be a man God can be proud of, remember love’s muses? Did you forget all that this teacher taught you?” 
“No, I didn’t forget it. I got off track. I’m modelling clay, remember? The potter has smashed me down and is starting all over again. I’m not silly putty. I’m the finest in modelling clay, a grandfather’s treasure, you said, remember?”  
Katie immediately softened. She dropped her shoulders at the disappointment of what he became.  She took in a breath of remembrance. She put her hand on his chest, and he put his on top of hers, sending a shiver to her, while she passed him a jolt. 
“I remember a Nicolas Paul, who was the finest quality modelling clay, and who could have become a masterpiece from the expert Potter. Yes, he was a grandfather’s treasure. But, you are not him, not anymore in my mind, and you never will be.” 
“Teach, please don’t rush into anything. Please give me a second chance. I can’t bear the thought of you marrying him.” 
“After seeing you, I’d marry him tomorrow, if he would. Believe it or not, he said he won’t marry me for at least a year. I have to prove my love for him. Can you beat that? He thinks I’m hiding from you, how ridiculous.” Nick put a huge smile on his face. “What’s that smile for?” 
“Because, he’s giving me a year to win you back and away from him. I ought to thank him.” 
“Oh, and you think I’m going to become putty in your hands in a year?”  
He smiled confidently and put his hand up to her neck. Without warning, he pulled her into a passionate kiss. At first she resisted, but then the shiver got the better of her, and she became lost in the kiss, as if it were two years ago. She melded her body into his, and he wrapped his other arm around her, pulling her in tight. The moment of silence caused a curious Annie to pop her head around the curtain. She turned back with a huge grin. Shawn looked at her, and she nodded. 
“She’s toast, isn’t she?” He asked whispering. 
“Looks like it from this angle.” They both laughed silently and left the room to talk in the hall. 
“She really does love him, doesn’t she?” Annie asked. Shawn nodded. “Do you think she’ll marry the cop?”  Shawn shook his head. 
“No, but Scotty is who she needs right now. He’ll fight to hold on to her and keep her alive. Nick could reach her eventually, but he needs to get his act together, and learn what the hell love means. Sometimes, you have to lose something all the way to get it back, all the way.” 
“Shawn, you are so wise. My brother doesn’t deserve you. She’s right about that. He needs to lose you all the way, also, to really appreciate you. Don’t you go back in there. I’ll go get her out of there, before he gets her clothes off,” Annie said laughing. 
The passionate kiss lasted a few heavenly minutes, with Katie moaning. Then that familiar feeling from two years ago hit below the belt. When they came out of the kiss, they stared into each other’s eyes for a few seconds, lost in each other, trying to catch their breath as if they were still on that sidewalk in Indianapolis. Katie shook her body, shaking out the memory and shoved him, pushing herself away. He knew he had her, and she couldn’t hide it.
“You see, you still want me. You want Coke, not Pepsi.” He picked up her left hand. “He may be better for you now, but I’m going to take that ring off your finger, again, like I did two years ago. I have one year. I guarantee you, Katherine Lynn Petersen Moore, this time next year, that finger will be waiting for my ring to be put on it.” 
Shocked and disgusted that he could still do that to her, even with Scotty’s ring on her finger, she shook her head at him and shot him out of her heart. She snapped her hand away from him and jumped back off his bed. Fury brought color back to her pale complexion. His cockiness caused her anger to over-rule any concern, or love that she once had for him. 
“You over confident cocky country cad, you’ll never change, will you? How dare you take liberties with me like that!  You’re such a dreamer. You go ahead and keep that fantasy in your head, but remember this, a fantasy is never real, and what you think I feel for you is just that, a fantasy.” 
“You love me, you can’t deny it. I feel it in your kiss.” He smiled victoriously. “I promised you a fairy tale life, and I’m going to give it to you.”  
Her bottom lip quivered as if she was going to cry, not with sadness, but with anger and resentment. He laid back and put his hands behind his head with his fingers clasped with all the confidence in the world that a year’s time could buy him. 
“You ass, there’s nothing I love about you, except that every minute I’m with you, Scotty looks better and better. Don’t bother working for a year to earn me back, you can’t afford me. I’ll be married long before that year is up.”  She breathed fire from her nostrils and clenched her jaw. Her lips pursed, and she shook her head as she scuffed back toward her wheelchair. She stopped and paused for a second and then turned to face him. “You know what?”
“What?” He asked. 
“A year my ass, I know how to get Scotty to give me what I want, and I want him. I certainly don’t want you, now or ever. I’m outta here, and don’t try to contact me, or I’ll have Scotty refile the charges.” She disappeared behind the curtain to be met by Annie, blowing out the steam of frustration at his affect over her.  
Nick laughed from behind the curtain as Katie pursed her lips and grunted, furious with herself for losing control over her feelings for him, and furious with Nick for having no respect for her, or the hurt feelings he caused.  
“Oh, Mrs. Moore, you are good. I love the way you take him down,” she said acting as if she did not know about the kiss. 
Katie swallowed hard, got back in the wheelchair and wheeled over toward Shawn, disgusted with how her heart betrayed her every time she was with him, alone.  “Take me back upstairs, quick before Scotty knows I’m gone, and don’t you go back in there, either. He doesn’t deserve you anymore than he deserves me.” Shawn turned the wheel chair around, and they headed toward the elevator.
Annie ran after her. “Mrs. Moore. I hope someday, we can maybe go out for coffee, or something if you are ever in Nashville. I have a little something I want to share with you.” She patted her lower belly, looked up at Shawn and smiled. 
“Hey, Annie that’s great!” He hugged her, happy for her, but feeling empathy for his wife’s longing, knowing this news, although, she would be happy for Annie, would still bring pangs of jealousy for his Cath.’  Katie watched the two friends hug. 
“It’s a secret, don’t tell anyone. Your wife knows.” 
“Well then it won’t be a secret for long,” he said, and they both laughed. 
“She promised not to tell.” 
“With my Cath,’ that means nothing. My lips are sealed, though. Does bozo know in there?” 
“No, I’m holding out telling the family, but I wanted you to know, and you, Mrs. Moore, because you are the one who encouraged me to hope and trust, again, after my miscarriage.” 
Katie’s eyes teared up at Annie’s sentiment toward her. She locked the wheel chair, and she stood to hug Annie. “Call me Katie. I’m actually going to be buying a little piece of property down there. We should be closing on it by the end of next month. I’ll look you up when we get down there. Don’t tell that jerkwad in there, that I’m coming, or when I get there, okay?”  Annie nearly jumped out of her skin when she squealed. 
“Oh, that’s the greatest news I’ve heard since I saw that little purple plus sign: Katie, my Gran and Gramps would love you.”  Katie chuckled, not knowing if she should tell them that they had already met a couple of months ago. 
“You know, Annie, with all that your brother told me about them, I feel as if I already know them.” 
“Please, tell me that you’ll come to one of her Sunday dinners after church when you get down there.” 
“I wouldn’t miss it. I heard all about them. You make sure that cocky country boy won’t be there, and I will be there, but it will be me and my Scotty.” 
“Gran will be so pleased to have you both.” She looked up at Shawn and winked, confident in her brother’s ability to win Katie Lynn Moore back into his life. “I’ll make sure that Nick knows that you brought her down, but wouldn’t come in to see him. He needs to be taught a lesson.”  
“Good for you Annie.  You straighten him out, and let him know how little I think of him, right now. C’mon Shawn. I’m going to get in trouble. You are going to have to cover for me with Scotty, okay?” 

       “I got your back, Katie.” Shawn said as they disappeared into the elevator.

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