Thursday, June 25, 2020


Chapter 7
KEEPING A SONGBIRD FROM BECOMING A JAILBIRD AND ALIVE

Katie walked away and approached Scotty. She was dreading what she was facing. She knew how Scotty felt about Nick Thomas. It was Nicolas Paul that Scotty did not know; and Nicolas Paul’s entrance on the scene was what worried them both. It was easy for both of them to hate Nick Thomas, it was crucial for them both to fear Nicolas Paul. She waited for him to stop talking to the other police officers. All three of them watched her shuffle over to Scotty, ready to do battle for Nick with trepidation. 
“She hates me now. I’ll never win her back, Matthew?” 
“Nicolas Paul, I’ve never seen my sister-in-law this mean to anyone in all the eighteen years I’ve known her.” Matthew smiled at him, nodding his head giving him encouragement.
“Nope, she wasn’t even this mean to Scotty when he was a complete jerk a couple three years ago,” Becca said as she put her hand on Nick’s shoulders. He looked at Becca, then Matthew with a puzzled look. 
“That can only mean one thing,” Matthew said to Becca, who looked at Nick and then grinned, looking toward Matthew. 
“She’ll never forgive me, right?” He asked. Matthew shook his head and smirked, while Becca chuckled.  
“Nope, she’s still crazy about you, but she’ll make your life miserable; you can count on it.” Matthew beamed. “The more miserable she tries to make you; the more she’s trying to fight you off and out of her heart.” Nick took in a deep breath. 
“Are you sure? Oh, God, I hope that’s true. She never did tell me how she felt about me. I may have just convinced myself that she was as in love as I was,” Nick said, watching her.
“I know my sister, Nicolas Paul, and she was toast.” 
“Yep, I’ve seen her in love, but never that much as when she came home. It’s still there, alive and trying to break out,” she said cackling and grinning with Matthew. 
“I’m worried about her. Becca, she’s so thin, she’s really sick isn’t she?” Becca nodded.
“It’s true, and we are all worried about her. Matthew’s scared. We’re all scared, Even Scotty is scared,” she said. 
“She could die. I can’t lose her too,” Matthew said with his eyes stinging from the tears forming and his voice crackling with fear. . Nick looked at the fear in Matthew’s eyes. He had already lost way more than a man’s share of loved ones. Losing Katie would probably be the end of this man.  

“We can’t let that happen,” Nick said. They all watched Katie with Scotty.  “Right now, he’s the only one who can save her, just like before. I’m afraid you can’t, right now. You need to scrape yourself up from the bottom, before she even considers trusting you. So, we are all counting on Scotty.” Nick looked at Matthew, then Becca who nodded in concession.
“He forces her to eat whenever she’s home at the farmhouse, and I saw real fear in his eyes tonight. He’s about to take out her manager to get her stopped of all her appearances. If he can do that, well, then she has a fighting chance, right Matthew?” Matthew nodded. 
“Yes, if Scotty can convince Jay to cancel her appearances against her own will, well, then yeah, I agree. I don’t imagine anyone else could put the fear of death in anyone better than Scotty, especially when it concerns his Katie.” Matthew looked at Nick, regretting saying that. Nick studied Matthew’s expression. 
“Well, she is his, now, but I’m going to change that, Matthew. I’m going to fix this. Now that I know where she is, I’m going to win her back, and never let her disappear on me, again. I’ll be grateful to Scotty if he saves her, but not grateful enough to concede. I’ll win her back.” 
“I believe you can,” Nicolas Paul, I believe you can,” Matthew said slightly worried about how this would effect Scotty. 
Scotty watched as Katie came near. He had no idea of the severity of Nick’s head injury. All he could think about was Katie’s betrayal. He was determined to rid her life of Nick Thomas, even if it meant putting him in prison with any and every charge that he could think to file. When she approached, he grabbed her thin arm and held it very tight, tugging her a few steps over, away from onlookers. 
“How can you betray me, with an asshole like that? Do you remember all the crap he said about you, even tonight? And now you are all loving and caring toward him?” Scotty asked with his jaw clenched as well as his other hand. Katie looked down at her arm in his grip. 
“If you knew what’s good for you, you just better let go of my arm, right now.” Scotty knew she meant business, having a felony of his own that she could hold over him. He released her arm, but did not release his anger. “That’s better. Look, he’s injured. I’m tending to an injured man, that’s all.” 
He looked down on her with disparagement and jealousy in his eyes. “I saw the way you two were looking at each other.  How could you forget all the shit he’s said about and to you?”  
“Scotty, two years ago, I told him my name was Katherine Lynn Petersen. I deliberately left off the Moore. I did not want him looking me up and thought that way he wouldn’t be able to find me. He never knew me as Katie Lynn Moore. He wasn’t saying those things to me. He did not know who I was. Now, why are you filing charges?”
“Because, it’s my right, and he is guilty. He’s getting Assault 3, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and public intoxication. I can get a felony conviction on him, and I’m going to do it.” He put his hand on his face which was still slightly red. “Next time he’ll think before he hits a state trooper.” Katie reached up to rub the cheek Nick hit. 
“It’s your pride that’s hurt, not your face. Can’t we just drop this? He has a head injury. Becca says it could be bad.” 
“She’s just saying that to work on your sympathies. All three of them are. They’re playing you, Katie-bear, can’t you see that?” Scott moved his lower jaw back and forth to loosen it and rubbed it, again. 
“Look who’s playing on whose sympathies.” She gave him a condescending and empathetic smile, rubbing his cheek. “You’re just mad because he got in three shots. Scotty, he doesn’t belong in jail for picking a fight with us. It’s my fault. I wanted him to get you mad enough to take him out to the woodshed.” She put her arms up around his neck to play on his sympathies for her. Scotty took Katie’s arms off his neck, angry and feeling betrayed.
“I’m doing this for you, to keep him away from you. He wants back in your life, and he’ll play you. I’m sure that once he posts bail, he’ll be on your tail, and you’ll be back in bed with him.” Katie raised her hand to slap Scotty, but his quick reflexes caught her hand and held her very tight, holding her open palm in her face. 
“You gonna hit me, now Katie?” Her look of fear forced him to let go of her wrist, and she backed away from him. His face softened immediately, having seen that look of fear in her face twice before.
She put her hands on her hips. “You jerk. How can you say something like that to me? I’m not one of your whores. How can you stand there and talk trash like that to me. I’ve never given you reason to treat me that way.” 
Katie’s anger shocked the new Scotty back into play. His memory of their past made him realize that she was right. This was no way to keep his Katie from Nick. He inhaled some calming cool air and blew out the steam of antagonism, but the jealousy remained. He put his other hand on her shoulder and shook his head in repentance.
“You’re right, I shouldn’t have said that,” Scotty said with a bland unemotional apology. 
“Yeah, well you don’t sound sorry, you jerk.” Katie took off his jacket and dropped it on the ground. She then turned to walk back over to where Nick was sitting. Scotty looked at Nick who saw the whole episode. Nick taunted Scotty with a half-smile out of spite. Nick was sitting back up all by himself, by the time Katie arrived. 
“You feeling better?” Nick nodded even though the pain was still there in both his head and his heart. “Good. Well, he’s pissed and going to be filing charges, you big stupid-star. Now I’m going to have to work him to try to get him to not file.” She sat down beside him, pulling up her knees in a self-hug. 
“Don’t do anything. I deserve what I get. I’d rather go to jail then see you marry him,” Nick said pleading. 
“Really? Felony charges, you want to be labeled a felon for the rest of your life?” 
“I don’t care, don’t marry him. Don’t put yourself at risk for me.” Katie looked at Nick, remembering him regarding Scotty as an abuser and a violent man. 
“I’m more at risk spending five minutes with you, than a lifetime with him.” She shook her head and watched as Scotty picked up his jacket and came toward them. 
Scotty kept Katie’s eyes locked in his gaze as he strolled over to where she was sitting next to Nick. His eyes went back and forth from Katie to Nick. She tried to figure out what was going on in Scotty’s mind, revenge, anger, righteous indignation, or fear. He bent over and squatted in front of Katie. His demeanor was much more softened and sweet. He put on his tender teddy-bear personality that she loved about him. He placed the jacket over her shoulders. She loved tender Scotty, and he was going to play that role exceedingly well. 
“Put your arms in the sleeves. I’m sorry honey, you’re right my sweet bear cub. I shouldn’t have said that, it was terrible. You’ve never been anything than just plain wonderful to me. I love you, my Katie-bear,” he said accentuating the word my, while looking Nick Thomas in the eye, trying to intimidate him. He leaned into her ear and said the magic words that moved her securely back into his heart. “Katherine Lynn Petersen Moore, I won’t let go, not now, not ever.” 
Katie dropped her head and wept, leaning her head on to his shoulder, just like old times. He put his arm around her nestled head, hugging her neck. Becca heard what he said, and the tension between them grew, again. He looked at Becca, knowing he had just hit Katie’s Achilles heel. 
“Oh brother, really, Scotty, that’s low.” Nick’s head turned toward Katie as she nuzzled into Scotty’s shoulder. He had a puzzled look, oblivious to Scotty’s tactic. Katie stood back up, and Scotty stood close to her. He put his hand in his pocket and started fiddling with the ring. Katie looked up at Scotty with a slight nod.
“He pulls that crap all the time and it gets her every time. I don’t get it, Matthew. Why does that work so well on her?” Matthew shrugged his shoulders, having an idea that it may have something to do with the time he saved her life. 
Katie leaned into his chest, as he wrapped his arms around her. She put her hand partially in his pocket with his hand, and he moved the ring toward her finger. She grasped it slightly and then pulled her hand out of his pocket. She knew that putting that ring back on her finger would most likely keep Nick out of jail and out of her life and heart. That ring would arrest Nick’s heart-crushing power over her by acting as a chastity belt for her heart.  
“Honey-bear, as soon as the ambulance comes, we’ll go out and raid Kroger’s like you love to, and we’ll raid the junk food aisle. We’ll get all the stuff your little heart desires, okay my little birthday bear?” He smiled and winked at her, reminding her of one of their favorite recreational past-times. Katie giggled. 
“Shit, her birthday,” Nick mumbled. 
“That’s right, asshole. You screwed with another one of her birthdays. Remember last year, jackass?” Katie looked down at Nick who looked lost. “Her book release party, when you blew her off, saying all that shit. Well, now she’s going to blow you off, and I’m going to throw your ass in jail.” 
“Scotty, stop. Let’s not keep the fight going,” Matthew said, attempting to diffuse the situation. 
Nick dropped his head, remembering all that he had said about the obscure author and her book release, not knowing who it was then, nor that it was the book that he inspired her to pen. The memory of all the things Nick said, came back to Katie, and she looked up at Scotty. She was ready to take out revenge by getting Nick as jealous as she was back then, when she had to look at all those pictures of him with his groupies in his arms. 
“So, can we build massive chocolate-chip ice cream cones?” She asked in a flirting manner.
“You bet, we’ll build them as tall as the Blue Building,” he cackled.  “Yeah, baby!” She giggled. Scotty looked at Becca, knowing that was the only way to get on her good side, getting Katie to eat. Becca battled gratitude and bitterness. Scotty wrapped his arms around Katie, pulling her off the ground, and he kissed her neck on that special spot. Jealousy brought a new rage to Nick. He wanted to stand up and hit Scotty, again. Katie popped her head back and giggled. 
“You bad boy, don’t you even think about it, now put me down,” she said flirting right in front of Nick to make him jealous. She laughed. Scotty then surprised Katie by kissing her with a long, tender and loving kiss on the lips. Katie gave in to the kiss and squeezed him close to her by wrapping her arms around his neck, remembering how concerned Nick was about Katie kissing Scotty. She put much more passion into the kiss than she had in a couple of years, surprising Scotty who came out of the kiss with a look of shock on his face. Nick dropped his head in his heartache.
“Wow, Katie-bear, if I knew him hitting me would get that response out of you; I think I would have let him beat the tar out of me for the whole nine yards.” He laughed, looking at Nick then at Becca who growled at him. Nick’s heartache fueled a fury that they could nearly detect as well as the heat that was coming off his body. His blood pressure was soaring. He was lit up, ready to attack, if he wasn’t in so much pain. “I love you Katie-bear, I’ll love you forever,” he said as he lowered her. 
“I know you do. I love you too, my crazy trooper. Now, about those charges, you are not going to file.” She smiled and winked at him, patting the ring in his pocket. Scotty looked down at where her hand was, and he received a great big shiver, as he looked forward to a night of revelry between the sheets, knowing he had Katie right where he wanted her. He put his hand on her hand, holding it over the ring. 
“Oh, I’m filing, you can count on that.” 
“C’mon Scotty.” She rubbed his chest and moved in closer. “Don’t do it,” she said with her eyebrows rising. 
“Well, maybe we can discuss it tonight at home,” he said looking down at Nick. Katie took Scotty’s face in her hands and nodded, giving him the impression that she was willing to do anything. She gave him the eye of promise. Nick clenched his fists and gritted his teeth with fury at Scotty, but not Katie, even though she was working just as hard to make him jealous. 
“Listen, he’s hurt. Don’t kick him now; I’ll do it for both of us when he’s better. We’ll talk after he gets in the ambulance, and I know he’s okay.” 
She reached up and kissed him square on the lips, with a little more passion as he wrapped his arms around her pulling her tight to his body. They were working together to return the hurt Nick imposed on her for a year. Matthew and Becca watched in disgust, as Nick conceded to Scotty’s victory of having his Teach’s heart and her lips for the time being. 
Scotty walked away with a smirk at Nick. He had her lips, and Nick had her fury. Scotty tossed his head back in a quick jerking movement, trying to look tough. The truth of the matter was that he was a scared little boy inside, so afraid of losing his Katie-bear. As Scotty walked back over, he rubbed his cheek. Nick got in three shots, and no one ever got in three shots. He was slowing down. He was getting tired, and he knew it. He grabbed his middle from the frequent pain that had started plaguing him, which he attributed to age and his inability to handle stress and tension, as well now. He was on the cusp of turning forty. Nick was a handsome, much younger Prince Charming to his tired old cop status. 
Katie turned back around and looked at Matthew, who glared at her with his head slanted in obvious disgust. He shook his head to reprimand her with his arms folded tightly across his chest. He shuffled toward her and stopped her dead in her tracks, leaning over her his seven inches. Becca claimed the spot next to Matthew, clasping the nook of Matthew’s tightly bent elbow. Katie had never seen this much anger in Matthew’s eyes in all the years she had known him. 
“Katherine Lynn Petersen Moore, you did that on purpose to be mean and hateful. Do you even have a heart anymore? Who the heck are you? I’m shocked and appalled.” Matthew walked away before he said any more.
Katie looked at Becca. 
“Disgusting,” Becca said. “That was mean, Katie, purely malicious,” she added looking at Katie. She walked over to Matthew, putting her arm around him as they spoke quietly to each other. Katie looked down at Nick, who had the saddest look of defeat on his face. 
“I deserve that,” he said in concession. Nick called after Matthew and Becca to defend his Teach and try to earn some points. “Matthew, Becca, don’t get mad at her. I drove her back into his arms. This is my fault.” 
Matthew and Becca spun around to look at Nick and Katie. She sat down next to Nick with guilty eyes and a betrayed bitter heart. With her voice cracking, she laid into him with her crying voice. 
“Yes, you certainly did, rubbing your twit’s beauty in my face, sleeping with her, plus all the other Barbie’s you’ve been flaunting for a year on your arm and sleeping with. Yes, you did. You broke your promises to me. You deserve to watch me marry him.” Katie cocked her head toward Scotty. Matthew returned to interrupt her. He squatted down next to Katie, angered more than ever before at her behavior. 
“Kate, he was drunk. He didn’t know who you were. He wasn’t in complete control of his faculties. What you just did was purely spiteful and malicious. I’m shocked that you have such a spirit of vengeance and malice in your heart. My brother cheated on you, and you were engaged, and still you weren’t that mean. You and Nick weren’t even a couple. He had no obligation to you. Remember, you returned home to Scotty and never got back to him. You broke your promise, too. You left him high and dry. Do you think maybe he may have been hurting too?” Katie dropped her head. Matthew’s anger shocked Katie and left her reeling, not knowing where to go with her responsibility in the chaos of Nick’s life. 
Nick’s eyes watered over the hurt he felt, missing her all that time, but now there were empathetic tears over her guilt and shame. He broke his promises he made to her. All that he had promised that he would not do he did, and all that he promised he would do, he did not do. He felt that he gave her plenty of reason to not return, especially with the Chelsea Bennett rumor that he could not subdue. Nick put his arm on her back when Katie folded herself in half and wept into her legs, much like she did on that sidewalk, after she hurt him. 
“Matthew, don’t yell at her. I deserve that. I bailed on her. Don’t cry, princess, I deserve so much more for what I’ve done. I sucked in the drug Hollywood, like you said I would, hell, I overdosed.”
“Damn straight you did,” she said keeping her anger alive, more alive than it deserved to be. 
“Katie, knock it off,” Matthew said. He stood there stiff, still frustrated at Katie's lack of self-control. Katie turned her head up to face Matthew and shook her head, then crooked it back to Nick as he continued his confession. Becca stood by Matthew's side, hooked on his arm. She shot pellets of impatience at her former sister-in-law.  
“You were right and I was so stupid, I never saw it coming, nor did I get out of it when I knew I should have. I knew things were spiraling out of control, and I didn’t stop it. I should have force Chelsea to make an official statement. I gave you plenty of reasons to hate me, Teach.”
All during his confession, Katie had her head crooked over to him, as she watched his eyes of guilt and remorse. There was a war raging a fierce battle within Katie now. She fought to maintain her anger, even though she could feel his repentance. She shook her head with an emotionless face. He was willing to take full responsibility, and she felt justified in letting him do it, whether or not he was right in doing so. He gave her an excuse and permission to hate him. She needed to take full advantage of that to protect her heart. There was no way she was going to give that shiverful-love another chance. Nick brushed the tears off her face as they streamed sideways over toward her ears from her tilted head. “I’m going to fix this. Princess, one day, I’m going to win you back.” She shook her head.  
“Oh no you are not,” she said with her raspy deep voice from the back of her throat, as she clenched her fists and tightened her jaw. 
“Kat, I have to. I have to; you’re my jolt-giver. I love you. I’ve lived too long without you. I’m not worthy of you, still. He is.” Both Nick and Katie turned to look at Scotty. “Know this though; I’ll never give up fighting for you.” Scotty watched as Nick worked his way back into his Katie-bear’s heart. He wanted to return to Nick and finish the job of choking the life out of him, but then realized he was feeding his rage, and he had to turn it around.
Nick reached up to grab his head. A searing pain forced him to squeeze his eyes close. He moaned from the pain and began to sway. Becca yelled for Katie who was closest, but was watching Scotty.
“Katie, he’s going down, again. Lay him down,” Becca said. Katie raised her head, just in time to catch him, and she guided his head back down on her lap. He began to lay down, losing his equilibrium. “Let me down, I’m dizzy. My head, it hurts. I’m just going to sleep for a few moments.” Becca nodded at Katie when she looked at her. Katie sat flat on the ground. 
“Lay him down.” Matthew and Katie gently lowered him back on to Katie’s lap.
The emotional shock of what he did to his Kat created a battle for him to remain conscious. His despair won out, and he decided to give in to it. There was no use staying awake, feeling so ashamed at who he had become and who he hurt. Staying awake meant both physical pain and heartache for the hurt he caused his Teach and the pain of having lost his best friend, also.
“I’m tired; I’m just going to go to sleep for a little while.” Nick closed his eyes and let the sleepiness take control. 
“Mr. Thomas, open your eyes,” Becca said. Depression was settling in, and he opted not to respond, but to give in to the forces that was putting him under.
“No,” he said with his feeble sleepy voice. His body remained still. Katie continued to try to rouse him to stay awake. 
“Nicolas Paul, wake up,” Katie said calling to him. He remained motionless. “Becca?” She asked in a panic. She studied Becca’s face, trying to see if Becca knew what was happening.
“Where is that ambulance?” Becca asked and then looked up at the police officer who was still standing nearby guarding his prisoner. “Call them again, and check on their ETA, please,” she added. He leaned into his radio. Katie noted the panic in her voice. 
“What’s the matter?” Katie asked. 
“Ma’am, they are stuck in the gridlock traffic from the concert. They are about seven minutes away.” 
“Shit, that’s too long,” Becca said with concern. Katie flipped her head toward Becca with outright fear masking her face. That sounded bad to her, especially coming from Becca who never panicked and never used that kind of language.
“Becca, your language,” Matthew said. 
“Oh stop it, Matthew! We are so sick of your holier-than-thou-I-neverswear, attitude. You should try it sometime. It relieves the tension,” Katie said with anger. 
“What is it, Becca? You never look like you do right now,” Katie said with growing concern. 
“He’s injured Katie. He needs to get to the hospital. He has a bad head injury.” She leaned over so that Nick could not hear her just in case he was semi-conscious. “He could be bleeding in his brain,” she whispered in Katie’s ear. Katie gasped, her hand automatically went to her mouth. Her eyes immediately filled with panic-driven tears at the mere thought of him dying from hemorrhaging in his brain Becca eyed Matthew, who already knew the consequences of a bad head injury, as a pharmaceutical researcher at the University of Louisville. Katie’s respirations increased ten-fold. Her worry factor increased a hundred, while anger made an immediate exit from that spot on that sidewalk at the thought of him bleeding on the brain. 
“Oh  damn, that’s bad, isn’t it?” Katie said with panic nearly strangling her, in the back of her throat. It had not occurred to her that his head injury could be that serious.  Becca nodded. 
“But he was talking and was sitting up.” 
“That doesn’t matter, he still could be bleeding in his brain,” she whispered. 
“He could die, then?” Katie asked back in a whisper. Becca nodded, and Katie’s eyes flew open in an utter fright. Immediately, her mind went back to Michael, the only other man with whom she was in love. Her eyes darted over to Matthew, and he nodded. 
“That’s why I told you not to fight with him, Kate, you have to give him a reason to want to live, and you are reason enough for him,” Matthew said, putting his hand on her bony shoulder. Remorse forced out any residue anger and battled it out with the alarm that had captured her heart and soul. 
“Oh my God, no Matthew, not again, I can’t go through that, again.” Matthew scooted over and put his arm around her. He leaned his head on hers in complete understanding. He feared that happening to her as much as she did. 
“We’ll pray, we’ll pray hard.” All three dropped their heads as Matthew prayed very quietly, only above a whisper. 
“Dear Lord, we ask you right now for your presence and your healing. Lord, please don’t take Nicolas Paul from Katie. She’s had enough trauma for one life. God, please heal him, hold him safely in your arms. Give Katie strength and peace and a forgiving heart.” He looked up at Scotty who was watching the three of them hovering over Nick’s unconscious body. He could not decide which emotion to feed, jealousy or concern.  “Lord, for Scott, also. He does not want to be responsible for the death of another human being. He’s a good man. Father, please comfort his heart and give him a heart of understanding in this matter. Strengthen him for what comes next, Lord.”  Katie crooked her head and looked at Matthew who opened his eyes and stared back in hers, communicating his intuition that a future with Nick meant a future without Scotty. Katie shook her head, disagreeing with him. Then Matthew shrugged his shoulders. “Whatever you will  LORD, we know it is for the best, and we pray that your will is not to take this young man. Let him clean up the mess he made. I know he wants to. Let him use his experiences for the Kingdom to help others on their prodigal road and bring Glory to you. We pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.”  Becca and Katie joined him with their Amen’s. 
By the time Matthew was finished, tears were not just welling in Katie’s eyes, they were running down her cheeks and dripping onto Nick’s face. She leaned over and spoke in his ear. 
“Don’t you dare die on me, Nicolas Paul. You promised that you wouldn’t. Now, you’ve broken every other promise,” she paused and wept, then hugged his head. “Don’t you dare break this one, you hear me? Do you hear me? Answer me damn it,” she said. She looked up at Matthew, but he chose to remain silent and let that one slip. Katie laid her face down on his, cheek to cheek, until she saw the flash of a camera. She then sat up and tried to contain herself. As terrified as she was of him dying, so was she fearful of the public finding out that she was his Princess Cindy and the media backlash that would ensue. 
“Wake up, PC, please wake up,” she said bending over him. 
Scotty looked over and saw Katie with Nick’s head in her lap as she called to him. He noted the tears and panicked look on her face. Jealousy exited stage left, but remained in the wings. Concern for Nick’s well-being took center stage. The first pangs of remorse began to taunt him over losing his temper so much as to take or even want to take another man’s life. If Nick died, it would devastate her, and there would be no chance for Scotty to get her back. Moreover, it would give Katie another reason to not want to eat, nor live, and not only would her heart be dead to him, but her body also.  
Katie raised her head with a hopeful thought. “Becca, couldn’t this just be him excessively drunk and passed out? Does it have to mean he’s bleeding on the brain?”
“I don’t know, sweetie, it could be,” she answered. Katie raised her eyes to heaven. 
“God, please just let this be a blackout for my drunken fool here. Nicolas Paul, my PC, don’t you dare die on me. I’ve had enough of that. Now you better wake up, right now.” Nick grunted ever so quietly. 
She sought solace in Matthew’s face. Unfortunately, there was just as much anxiety on his face as was on Katie’s. 
“Mr. Thomas, please wake up,” Matthew called. “Open your eyes.” He opened his eyes for a brief couple of seconds, but stared off into space. 
“Nicolas Paul, PC, wake up. Look at me. I’m right here.” His eyes did not move, but stayed fixed. This wrought sheer terror in Katie’s heart. It was as if his brain was not functioning at all. She turned to Becca, who snapped her fingers in front of Nick’s eyes, and he did not blink. Katie pulled in a deep breath and seized it. 
“God can do anything, remember that,” Matthew said to Katie. “He can reverse any injury, you know that.” Katie nodded with that reminder and she let out that breath. 
“That’s good, now keep breathing, Katie and keep praying,” Becca said.   Scotty watched from a distance as he heard the panicked voice of his Katie-bear. 
“Kate, you have to trust God in this,” Matthew said trying to comfort this woman he adopted into his heart eighteen years ago.  
“That is so easy for you to say, Matthew; this isn’t your heart and life at stake.”  
“Two minutes ago, Katie you were threatening to start a prison riot in his life and give him the most miserable year to pay him back for the angst he caused you,” chided Becca. 
“You know, I don’t need you throwing my words in my face, right now. I just want him to wake up right now and look at me. I’ll take him down later. Becca, he has to live through this. I can’t go through that again.”
"Immediately, her eyes went up to Scotty a few feet away, lamenting that he had just heard her compare the death of her husband with the potential death of this drunken loser in Scotty’s eyes, with whom she only shared one evening. That kind of love would most assuredly surpass any sense of security Scotty had with his Katie-bear. For two years, she had sworn off being in love with him, denying the obvious to Scotty and herself. His emotions straddled the fence between anger, jealousy, fear and concern. It was a contest every minute as to which feeling would trump another. 
The Lexington/Fayette County EMT’s finally arrived. They were preparing to treat Nick as they pulled out the necessary gear, while Becca updated them on his medical condition and what vital signs she could maintain.
Matthew’s anger subsided, and now his love and compassion for Katie ruled in his heart. He sat next to her with his arm around her shoulders, knowing the turmoil and fear that lay hold of her heart, while she lay hold of Nick’s head still in her lap. The frightening reality worsened every moment that Nick did not respond to Katie’s calling for him to awake. She looked to Matthew with tears swelling her already red-spoked eyes. 
“He won’t wake up, Matthew,” she said in her crying voice. He nodded, holding his best friend to comfort her. 
Katie and Matthew bowed their heads and prayed, again, as Katie’s tears of love and worry dropped onto Nick’s face and on to his thick wavy blood-speckled hair. Watching Katie’s panic, flooded Scotty’s heart with the truth that his days with his Katie-bear were now as numbered as tears that flowed from her eyes. This strappingly strong state trooper was powerless to stop the clock. 
“Ma’am if you want to ride in the ambulance with him, you are welcome to stay with him,” the EMT said to Becca. 
“Katie you ride with him. He’ll respond to your voice over mine. It will be good for him if he wakes up in the ambulance to not be alone,” Becca said. 
“I agree with Becca,” Mathew said. Katie turned to Scotty for his approval, and he aptly let her know his opinion on that suggestion by shaking his head. He darted over to her to voice his assessment of the current situation. 
“Don’t go with him,” ranted an angry Scotty. While his anger was in his tone and voice, anxiety forced the vigorous nervous rubbing of his fingers against his palms.
Becca rose quickly to reinstitute the back and forth bickering between them.  “Scotty, you hurt him really bad. He has a bad head injury. Do you know that he could be bleeding in his brain? Do you realize that he could die? You and your temper, showing off your authority, again, may just have killed someone. You are such a beast!” 
Becca stood in judgment with her hands on her hips, reminding Scotty of his vulnerability to his temper. Reality hit Scotty like the brick wall hit Nick with Becca’s convicting words of his anger reappearing and taking control. He put his arm around Katie as she stood next to the EMT’s who were working on Nick, getting him ready for transfer.
“I’m sorry my Katie-bear. I blew it. I thought he was hurting you, honey, I can’t believe I lost my cool like that,” he said frustrated at the setback of his two years of successful anger management.  
“Scotty, this is my fault. I played you and your notorious temper.” 
Katie tucked her face under Scotty’s arm into his chest, seeking comfort and taking blame. Carrying the burdens of the world, was just one of the many appetite suppressant that Katie was unable to manage successfully without it consuming her, figuratively and literally. 
“It’s not your fault, honey,” he said trying to comfort her. 
“It’s ridiculous for you to take the blame, Katie. You didn’t slam his head up against a brick wall and nearly choke the life out of him,” Becca said. Scotty crooked his head straight up to receive Becca’s accusation and then back down at Katie seeking some sort of consolation. 
Matthew quickened to Scotty’s side to show his solidarity to this man who was like a brother to him the last five years. He shot a reprimanding gaze toward his wife in Scotty’s defense, as he had so many other times before. He moved toward her and grabbed her arm, turning her body to face him. 
“Becca, stop it. He feels bad enough.” Matthew put his hand of comfort on Scotty’s shoulder, while Katie rubbed his other arm in agreement with her former brother-in law.
The EMT’s gently lifted Nick on to the gurney. As they wheeled him toward the ambulance, Katie looked up at Scotty, hoping to help him understand her need to attend to Nick.  
“I have to go with him, Scotty. Please understand.”
He was not going to fight her on this issue. One of the things Scotty was good at was admitting defeat when he realized he was wrong on an issue. He learned the art of that skill the hard way, by losing his Katie-bear for good almost three years earlier. He nodded his head in agreement. He bent over to give her a tender kiss on the lips. Katie turned his face to the spot that still showed some redness from where he took his never-before-threeshots from Nick, and she kissed it, again. 
“I love you, Scotty, more than you could possibly know.” Scotty’s expression showed some doubt as to whether he believed that anymore. “I do, tell me that you believe me.” He gave her a put-on smile and nodded his head. She turned to Matthew, “Are you coming to the hospital?” 
“Yes, we will meet you there?” 
Katie left the three of them and followed the gurney over to the ambulance, as she kept a firm grasp of Nick’s hand. She kept her eyes on his, waiting and hoping for them to open, continuing to call to him.
Matthew stepped up close to Scotty, again, putting his arm around his shoulders, as Scotty watched the love of his life cling to the love of hers. Crying was one thing Scotty did very little of, yet the thought of losing his Katie-bear could turn him into a sniveling willie. 
“Scott, you want to ride with us?”
“Nah, I’ve started enough trouble. Maybe I’ll just go back to the farmhouse.” He lowered his eyes to the ground, rubbing his feet together, scuffing up his shoes, feeling unwelcomed and dejected by Becca, again. He wiped away his tears and sniffled, looking up at Becca with remorse covering his face.   
“Scott don’t you want to know how he is?” Matthew asked. “C’mon, hey why don’t you go back in the restaurant and get that Cheapside Burger to go for Katie and bring it to her. She still hasn’t eaten. It may still be on the table. Here take this bill and put it on the table to pay for our meal, get a to-go box and bring it to the hospital. You are the only one who can get her to eat. She needs you there,” he said to encourage a shamed and downtrodden Scotty.  
When Becca heard those words from Matthew and remembered how he manipulated Katie into getting the bigger plate of food, conviction rolled over her and dissipated her anger. Remorse sent her over to Scotty with such guilt in her eyes. Scotty had saved her life once, and if anyone could save it, again it would be him and his strong will to will her to live. 
Scotty and Becca had a love hate relationship with both of them tending to fly off the handle and go with their first emotion on any given subject, then suffer pangs of regret most of the time after their outbursts. It wasn’t a time to fight, now, it was a time to join forces under heaven, especially if she wanted a favor from God. She put her hand on his shoulder, wanting to smooth things over from her remorse, knowing how much they needed him, again to save Katie. 
“Scotty, that’s a good idea. I’m sorry I said those things. I was wrong; you were trying to protect Katie. I know that.” She put her arms up around his neck and hugged him. “Matthew’s right, you have Katie’s life in your hands. If anyone can save her from this eating disorder, you can. I’m so sorry. I know you love her. We all do. Please get her some food and make her eat,” she whispered in his ear. Scotty put one arm around Becca’s waist pulling him into her, accepting her apology, with the realization that when it came to Katie’s life, they were on the same team. 
“Becca, I’m going to save her, just like I did before. I’m going to take care of her.” They all feared how close Katie was to death, while Katie was the only one living in denial of her eating disorder. They all watched Katie’s thin body as she stood next to the gurney that held her next great love. “I’m going to make her eat, every day, all day, if I have to string that manager of hers up by his throat, and kidnap Katie, and cuff her to a table. I will take the time off from work, I have lots of sick and vacation time. I’ll be glued to her. For as long as there is breath in my body, I won’t let her try to kill herself, again.” 
Immediately, he regretted saying that, giving away their secret. 
“I know, Scotty. She needs therapy too.” 
“I’ll get her there, if I have to cuff her, and put her in my cruiser,” he promised. She pulled out of the hug and wiped the tears off his face, as he brushed her tears away. This tender side of Scotty, Becca rarely saw. Katie saw it a lot and bragged on it, but when he was around Becca, he was JoeCop. “I’ll take care of that manager of hers, too. You know me Becca; I’ll threaten him within an inch of his life. I don’t care, Christian or not.” 
Scotty had made up his mind that night to pay Jay a visit in the next few days to put the fear of Scotty P. Wells into him. He had wanted her to slow down. She continued to stay over-booked with speaking engagements and book signings because each appearance brought in more dollars to the foundation. Becca chuckled, knowing how intimidating Scotty could be when he put on his State Trooper hat. 
“I know you will, I know you can,” she said, touching his arm. As she remained in a half-hug, Scotty pleaded with Becca to appeal to God for him, feeling unworthy of it himself. 
“You pray to God to save that stupid star for me, okay, Becca?” Fear and dread watered Scott’s eyes. 
“God can spare Nick’s and Katie’s life, so let’s both pray for that, right now, okay? He will listen to you too if you call on him.” Becca held and lifted his hands and put their clasped hands together near their faces as they both bowed their heads to pray together. 
All heads had dropped, and all eyes were watering, especially Katie’s when she turned and saw Becca comforting her Scotty, knowing how tenuous their relationship had been. Her heart was warmed as she watched Becca do all she could to comfort and pray with the man she rivaled and scolded relentlessly.
Becca walked away from Scotty to put her hand on Nick’s chest while he lay unconscious on the gurney and prayed for him one additional time. Matthew approached putting his hand on Becca’s shoulder in agreement, to what she prayed. He then walked back to Scotty and put his hand on Scotty’s shoulder. 
“Scott, we know you are sorry. Now, pull it together for Katie. She needs your strong will, right now.” 
“I’ll see you two there. I’m going to come with her food. Thank you Matthew.” He hesitated when he looked at Becca. “Thanks,” he said looking at her. 
“We’ll see you there, Scott. Thanks for taking such good care of my Kate,” Matthew said back to him. He patted Matthew on the shoulders as he walked past him and Becca.  Scotty headed back into the Cheapside Bar and Grille, determined to make her eat, and save her life, again.
Scotty walked over to the ambulance to give Katie one last hug. “You go with him, Katie-bear and stay as long as you like. I’m going to get you some food. I will bring it to you, okay?” Katie reached up and kissed Scotty on the lips. 
“You need to trust me, Scotty. I’m never going to leave you, I love you.” He nodded, hoping that to be true. She climbed up into the ambulance and stuck her head out for one last important message. “Coca-Cola, Scotty, get me Coca-Cola, no Pepsi.” She snickered and then looked at Nick, remembering the metaphor, then back at Scotty. 
“You bet, my Katie-bear.” He closed the ambulance rear doors, hitting the window two times to signal to the driver to proceed. He waved to Katie in the ambulance bay window. She nodded her head at him with tears stinging her worrisome eyes. 



Part 2
RIDING THE RAILS OF REGRETS



Chapter 8 Her Favorite Anti-Hero






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