Sunday, June 28, 2020

Part 4

Chapter 19

Katie called Jay for him to come and pick her up at the ER. She started walking back when the hallway started spinning. Shawn found Katie gripping the wall to keep her balance from the dizzy spell that over took her brisk angry walk. At first, it did not seem like much, until he saw her sway. He ran up to her to steady her. He got behind her and put his hands on her waist to hold her. 
“Hey, you all right?” 
“Oh, yeah, I’m just hopping mad, and I can’t hop, cuz it’s so damn late, and I’m tired,” she said trying to pass off the dizziness. 
“Are you sure?” 
“Yes, I’m fine.” She grabbed a hold of his arm, and they headed back to the ER treatment area. As they walked, her grip on his arm became tighter as if she was holding herself up on her feet by Shawn’s arm. 
“Hey, you have a lot of people worried about you. We heard what you did. That little performance for Nick really busted his balls, but when you gave up that food, he really broke down. You gotta eat, girl.” Katie put her arms around Shawn’s middle, and he hugged her thin, bony, frame. 
“I should have just left the restaurant. I screwed up, again. Matthew said we should just leave. I think I kind of wanted him there. I hoped either Nicolas Paul was somewhere in there, or Scotty would take Nick Thomas to the woodshed for me. This is all my fault.” Shawn stopped and turned toward Katie. He held her thin bony chin between his index finger and thumb, raising her head to face her and have her look into his eyes. 
“Katie, don’t you go there. He started this whole thing. He had no right to go over to your table with the twisted whack job and pick a fight. We did all we could to stop him, but he was wasted and foolish. He is reaping the consequences of his own stupidity and arrogance. You can’t punish your body, for something he or Scotty did. You can’t get back at them that way. You’re playing with fire. I heard about your little episode, when you passed out in Tulsa.” Katie flipped her head up at Shawn.
“Now how on earth would you have heard about that?” Shawn covered for his constant contact with Jay. 
“Like you said, people talk. Someone told someone who told someone who told someone, and I got it. I knew that you were not healthy, but when I saw you today, you scared me. I didn’t know it was this bad. You’ve been hiding it from the media pretty well, I gotta admit. We also heard you say that you were getting Nick a lawyer and paying his bail. Really, that is not necessary.”  Shawn said to change the subject quickly. 
“Yes, I got him into this trouble, I’ll get him out of it, any way I can.”
“You did not get him into this.” 
“Oh, Shawn I should have left as soon as I saw the twit.” Shawn shook his head. They turned and started walking back. Katie put her arm around Shawn’s middle, holding herself up, with Shawn taking notice of the firmness of her grip on his waist. He responded in kind and assisted her by a firmer hold. They entered through the double doors. She leaned against the glass wall outside of his treatment room. 
“Shawn, please go back in there, see if you can make him feel better, and I’ll wait here. Jay’s on his way. I don’t want Nick to see me still here; I can’t face him, anyway. I feel responsible for this mess.”
“You are not responsible, and the only person who can comfort that man, is you.” 
“I can’t go in there. I can’t be near him.” 
“Why? Is it because being with him brings it all back?” Katie lowered her head in concession. She closed her eyes because of her dizziness. Her legs were giving out and they started trembling. Shawn noted the shakiness. She slid down the wall to sit on the floor, and she folded her knees up, hugging them to keep them from shaking. He sat down next to her. 
“You don’t know what it’s like to be near him, Shawn. Seeing him like this, like Nicolas Paul, again, makes me want to just jump in his arms and cuddle up to him and have him cover me.” 
“So what’s wrong with that?” She leaned into him and grabbed his arm, resting her head on his upper arm. 
“I can’t. I can’t go down that road, again. He knew how afraid I was to bask in the happiness of falling in love. He knew that I always expected the bottom to fall out, he promised he would not let that happen, and he did or it did, oh, what does it matter. The bottom will fall out, again, it always does.” She said in total despair. 
“Katie, as much as you’re hurting, I think inside, he’s hurting more, because he did that to you. I think he hates himself for that. Listen, his family will be here shortly, and I know you don’t want to be here when they are here. This is his only opportunity for him to have you in his presence. Our Nicolas Paul has been in agony waiting for you. I think the pain was just too much, and he disappeared. You brought him back, he needs you.”  
“That’s crazy. Shawn, we had one night. We haven’t seen each other or been together since then, two years ago. How am I supposed to love a man I only knew for  twelve measly hours, two years ago, who then turned and became a complete ass? Better yet, how can he love me? I'm such a mess.  Everyone who eventually gets to know me sees that in me.  Now, Scotty, I have a history with, over five years now. I love him. He loves me. It's good, we are safe, together.  This thing with Nicolas Paul makes no sense. ” 
“You are not a mess, Katie.  Everyone I knows loves you because they see who you really are.  You are not a screw-up, like you kept telling Nick.  Katie, the whole world loves you."  Katie shook her head in disbelief.  "He kept saying that being with you that night, felt like he had been with you all his life. He talked about you all the time. He was convinced that you are his jolt-giver, the one destined for him. If God has ordained it, then loving him, makes perfect sense. I have never seen that man so caught up in anything or anyone. Love’s Muses liner notes were his way of calling to you. He played the jilted lover, to protect your identity, hoping that would get you back to him sooner.”
“I saw that picture of us that he downloaded, in his wallet. It looked like it had been looked at, a lot.” 
“Yes, he pulled it out, every day for a long time, until the booze took over. He has piles of notebooks of letters and songs to you.” Katie dropped her head. She held her head in her hands and started to weep with regret. 
“You don’t have yours, anymore?” She shook her head no. Shawn sighed. 
“That’s understandable. What did you do, toss them?” Shawn asked. Katie took in a tearful breath, reliving the pain of that day out on her farm. 
“I burned them and the hat.” 
“I think we may not want to tell him that, right away. I think he’d be crushed.” Katie pushed herself up, sliding up the wall, pushing with her hands. She had to pause a second to get her bearings.
“Are you sure that you’re okay?” He asked.
“Stop fussing, Shawn. I’m tired for crying out loud. I’ve been ups since five AM, and now it’s after two AM, for Pete’s sake. Can’t a girl just be tired without you wigging out on me? Now, I’m going to give you my number, let me know how he’s doing, okay. Promise you won’t tell him you have it, please?” 
Shawn hugged her, and they exchanged phone numbers. She meandered into his room. Nick was sleeping peacefully and breathing deep sleep breaths. She stood by his gurney with her hands on the railing.
“I don’t want to wake him.” She whispered. 
“Wake him. He needs to see you, even if it’s only for a few more minutes, tonight.”  
Katie lowered the railing gently, not even making a noise, or moving the gurney. She sat next to him with her legs hanging over. She put her hand on his chest. His eyes opened and he took in a huge breath. He smiled, with a worried glare. He was so glad to see her. He opened his arms, and she fell into them. He put his arms around her, taking in her essence and spirit, as if it were life-giving air. He moaned over the pure pleasure of holding her, again. 
“Mmmmm, Oh, Teach, I have longed for this. I have dreamed of this moment, having you back in my arms. Say those two words to me, Teach?” Katie shook her head.
“I can’t, because you are not safe, anymore,” she whispered.  
Shawn looked puzzled. Nick raised his eyes to look at Shawn and mouthed the words ‘cover me.’ Shawn nodded, remembering what Nick told him about her need to be covered in the love of a man. It was her way of feeling safe. He kissed the top of her head. 
“I will be someday, again, princess, I promise.” 
“Your promises don’t mean anything to me.” Right after she said that, she put her arms around his middle and squeezed him tight to her, and she whimpered, regretting what she just said to him for the hurt it caused, but telling the truth about her protecting her heart. 
“I hate that. I hate myself for that.” Nick’s voice cracked. She lifted her head. 
“Don’t hate yourself. Remember, Michael hated himself, and it killed him.” Nick nodded. “Jay is on his way to get me.” 
“You don’t have to get me a lawyer, or pay my bail, by the way.” 
“I’m going to, case closed. It will really piss off Scotty if I do.” 
“Well then, by all means,” his body shook when her body shook from laughing. He joined in the laughter. She gave him that warm friendly smile for the first time that night. He put his hand on her face.
“Teach, you gotta eat something. You’re going to die on me. I couldn’t bear that.” His voice cracked, and tears formed in his eyes, showing his fear. “I won’t be able to breathe if you die. Teach, I’m scared.  You should not have given away that food to get back at Scotty, although, I have to admit, that performance was Oscar-winning," he said, smiling down on her, knowing her all too well. She pulled out of the hug, and looked up at him with regret. 
“I’m not going to die.” He he pulled her back into him and  rubbed her bony structure pressing her rib cage and rubbed her arm, pinching to show how easy it was to get to her bones. He sat her up and gazed into her eyes. 
“Yes you are. I just found you and myself, again. Even if I have to watch and love you from a distance, I still want to know that you are okay. When you gave away your food, it dropped me, and scared me.  Please, don’t use food as a weapon to take revenge, especially on my behalf. I got into this trouble myself. He put a lot of effort into that meal.” She popped her head up. 
“Are you sticking up for Scotty?” She rose from his chest.
“When it comes to your well-being, yes. If he can get you to eat, then I have to let you go. I’d rather you be alive with him, then dead with Michael.” He pulled her back into his chest and wept. “Please, Teach live for us, live for Matthew, Becca, the girls, even if not for me.  Teach, we couldn’t bear to lose you.” 
He wrapped his arms around her. She looked up, and she put her hand behind his neck. She pulled herself up and his face down to her and kissed him tenderly on the lips. This time no jab followed.  
“And I’d rather you be Nicolas Paul with anybody, than Nick Thomas, ever.” She sighed. “I’m so tired. This book thing, fighting with you, I’m tired of it all.” 
“Then rest, take time off, get your strength back. Walk away from it. Go back to your farmhouse. I have a feeling, if Scotty was with you more, he wouldn’t let you die. He seems to be like the kind of guy to hand cuff you to a table and make you eat.” Katie giggled. 
“You know him so well, already.” 
“If that is what will keep you alive, then so be it. Sweetness, don’t let so many people tap in to your source and then drain you. I’m so sorry about my part in this. I won’t put any pressure on you. I’ll leave you alone if that is truly what you want, as long as you live.” 
“I don’t know what I want.”
“Yes, you do. You want the security of Scotty. I understand that; remember what I said about my mother, and what I feared would happen if we were away from each other too long? But, now that we are together like this, you remember what it was like with us. I can tell. I know you are conflicted. Like I said, I’ll let you go if he can save you and I know that I can’t.”  
“So, now you’re pushing me on to Scotty?” 
“Yes, because right now, you don’t trust me. You have no reason to, but I’m going to change that. Someday, I hope you will trust me, again. But, right now, I fear more for your life, than my happiness of having you in my arms.” 
She lifted her head and looked at his lips. She traced his lips with her fingers, wanting them, again. She did not like that feeling. She rose from the bed and sat in the chair next to him. She folded her legs up and leaned on her arm for a quick nap.  "I'll just wait here for Jay," she said, tucking her head down, and closing her eyes. 
“I know you don’t believe me, Teach, but after longing for you for so long, I believe I love you more now, than I did back that night when we were together.” She took in a deep breath of his love, wanting it to be true, but so untrusting and afraid of him crushing her heart, again.  Shawn pulled up a chair, and the three of them fell asleep. 
Scotty had walked back to his car in the parking garage, defeated and berating himself. Becca was right about him, again. He put his head down on his arm, leaning on the roof of his vehicle. Minutes earlier, his Katie was celebrating, excited swearing her undying love for him, and now she was furious with him over a man she claimed to hate. It was evident that she loved Nick Thomas, still.
The whole point in arresting and charging him was to keep him away from his Katie. Now, he just pushed her even closer. He got into his Mustang and headed for home, but then turned back toward downtown Lexington. On his way back to the farm, his phone rang. He debated answering it, when he saw that it was Jay, assuming he was calling to bawl him out. Jay seemed to know everything at all times, and Scotty ruined their excellent plan. He answered the phone expecting to hear Jay reading him the riot act for being pig-headed. Jay and Scotty had gone toe-to-toe many times over Katie. They were on common ground in regards to her anorexia, though. Scotty kept insisting to Jay to slow down her schedule, this time, he was going to demand it. 
“Scotty, she doesn’t want him to go to jail. She called me for a lawyer for him. Has his hitting you damaged your male ego that much that you have to put the guy in jail, thus creating more stress for Katie?”
“Jay, putting him in jail keeps him from Katie and breaking her heart, again.” 
“That is not your choice to make. By doing what you did, now you’ve put them on the same team, the law and you, against them. Can’t you see that?” 
“This guy is going to hurt her. He has no capacity to love. He’s a playboy, like Michael. I can’t let him hurt her, again. I need to protect her. He’s going to pursue her. I know I can’t make her happy, but I ain’t going to throw her to the lion’s den.” 
“Scotty, you gotta find another way. You catch more flies with honey, you know."  Jay broke his promise to Katie and told Scotty about Katie’s fainting spell and for how long she was out. He told Scotty about what the doctor at the emergency room said in Tulsa when they were there on a dual speaking engagement. Scotty was even more afraid. “Now, is there any way you can drop the charges?” 
“I’ll drop the charges; you put her on furlough for no less than six months, canceling all her engagements.” 
“Agreed. I’m going to keep the tentative one at children’s hospital in Nashville. She loves those. I will schedule it the week that I get the dates of her closing on her house.” 
“Okay, I can go with her then, we were planning it. That’s fine.  Look, I’m at central booking now; I had planned to drop them anyway. I just needed you to promise to think more about her now, more than your foundation. What’s the use of saving all those children, if we can’t save Katie?” 
“I agree. I’m sorry for not taking this more serious. Scotty. We’ve all done her wrong. Let’s just work on fixing this, together. I’m willing to let bygones be bygones, for her sake.” 
“Me too. I may be able to get the charges dropped, before they put out the warrant. I hope I’m in time. I gotta get moving, fast. I’ll call you when I know.” 
“That’s great. Do what you can.” 
Jay had already pulled out his handy Rolodex, that Katie called his favor-dex, because it was what Jay used to call in favors. He kept business cards and contacts from every person he met and would note what he did for them, so that if needed he could call in for a favor. Earlier, he was able to get to the people to stall the paper work, thus putting off the arrest warrant, which gave Scotty that much more time to call off the charges. Scotty called Jay, letting him know that he was successful dropping the charges, preventing the arrest warrant. 
“Scotty, she is expecting me at the hospital. Why don’t you go get her? That way you can tell her, you had them dropped. You’ll get that much more back in with her. Maybe she’ll eat then.”  
Scotty turned his Mustang around and headed back for UK Hospital. He flashed his badge to get access to the emergency room. He peeked around the curtain and saw a man in a chair, asleep. Nick was also asleep. He did not notice Katie in the far corner, sleeping and  folded up in a chair in the darkened room. He put his hand on Shawn’s shoulder, and he awoke with a start, popping up to his feet. 
“Where’s Katie?” he asked Shawn. 
Shawn noted the familiarity of Scotty’s build, as the man who may have been with Katie at the Cheapside Bar and Grille. Scotty cleared his throat, and it awoke Nick.
 “That’s the trooper,” Nick said. 
“I thought Jay was coming?” Shawn asked. 
“He sent me.” Shawn held his hand out to shake Scotty’s. 
“I’m Shawn Everett, this moron’s friend.” 
“So, then who’s the bigger moron?” He asked. Shawn laughed. Scotty then darted a look at Nick, eyeing him with an unfriendly stare. He pointed to his own head where Nick’s wound was and flipped his head back.
“You’ll heal, I heard?” Nick nodded. “Good,” Scotty said. 
“She’s right over there.” Shawn pointed to Katie folded up, sleeping in a chair. He excused himself past Shawn, right before he was about to wake Katie. Nick interrupted him. 
“Um, Trooper Wells, I just want to apologize for everything, and I mean everything.” Scotty stood there silent and dumbfounded, having not expected that. “Well, I just wanted to say that. I’m really sorry.” Nick turned to Shawn, as if to get him to confirm of his sincerity. Shawn nodded. 
“Yeah, and I want to thank you, Trooper Wells, for throwing the brick wall at him, you brought my friend back.” Scotty turned and walked to Shawn. He held out his hand to shake Shawn’s hand. Nick interrupted the moment. 
“Yeah, she knocked me on my ass. You knocked me upside the head and did what they couldn’t do.” Scotty looked at Nick then back at Shawn.
“It’s Scotty, to you.” He turned to Nick, “To you, I’m your worst nightmare if you mess with her, again.” Nick nodded accepting his position as public enemy number one with Scotty. “By the way, I dropped the charges.” Both Shawn and Nick let out huge sighs of relief. 
“Thanks, man, thanks.” Shawn said.
“Yeah, thanks a lot,” Nick said. 
“I didn’t do it for you. I did it so she’d eat. If it were up to me, your ass would be in jail tonight. I gotta get her to eat, and that was the only way. If you come near her, I’ll refile, you hear that?” 
“Trooper Wells, I know that. I know that you can get her to eat, and I’m willing to let her go, if it means you’ll save her.” 
Scotty’s eyes widened at this man’s trust in him. He was torn between hating this guy and having just a little respect for him. He noted the difference in Nick’s demeanor, from the drunken obnoxious man at the Cheapside. 
“He means it, Scotty. He loves her. I know this man, and I know how much he loves her, enough to give her up if that’s what’s best.” Nick nodded, as Scotty looked at Shawn, then back at Nick. He then turned and got down on one knee to wake Katie. 
"I can't help her, I can't save her, but you can. She need you." Nick said in concession.  Nick looked at Scotty with such resignation and arrested Scotty's absolute hate for him at that moment.  He turned back toward Katie folded up in the chair.  
“Katie-bear,” he said softly. “It’s time to go home, honey.” Katie did not move, but moaned. He shook her body again, to wake her. She slightly opened her eyes and then closed them, again. 
“Scotty?” She said in a sleepy feeble voice. He had heard that sleepy voice many times. Katie was a heavy sleeper so he knew it would take a lot to wake her, but he never expected what he was about to experience. 
“Yes, honey, I’ve come to take you home. Jay sent me. He couldn’t come for you.” She started whimpering, forgetting where she was. Exhaustion from all the events, the months of appearances, and the anorexia, had set in, and she was barely coherent. 
“Jay, I’m so tired,” she said whining with a weakened voice. 
“It’s Scotty, honey, my little tired-bear. That’s why I’m taking you home. Jay has canceled all of your appearances for the next six months. I’m taking time off, and I’m going to get you better, stronger, and healthy, again.” 
“That’s good,” Nick said. Scotty flipped his head back to look at Nick.
 “She’ll be with me the whole time.” 
“I know, and that’s a good place for her to be.” Nick retorted. He teetered between fearing that trooper, as the only one who could take his Teach away and appreciating him as the only man who could save her. “If anyone can help her, you can. She's far better off with you.” 
Scotty’s eyes open wide, this man he hated was being nice. That was a very bad sign. Before, he hated him and feared him, now he was fearing him more than he was hating him. He knew now, for sure, that his days with Katie were growing shorter by the moment. He turned back to Katie and shook her, again. 
“C’mon, baby wake up.” Scotty shook her and then tried to get her to sit up, but her body flopped. 
“I want to go home, to Nana’s couch,” she said barely above a whisper. Scotty put his hand on her shoulder. 
“Okay, honey, I’ll take you. Can you put your arms around my neck and I will carry you?” She did not answer, or move. 
“Katie-bear wake up. Katie, can you hear me?” 
“Hmm hmm,” she replied in a mumble without moving her lips. .He noted that her breathing was extremely slow, barely even noticeable.  
“Put your arms around my neck and I’ll carry you?” She did not answer, nor move, again. Katie, c’mon, answer me,” he said with his voice cracking from fear. 
Shawn and Nick looked at each other, and they both panicked. Nick made a motion for Shawn to get a nurse, and he bolted from the room. Scotty looked at Nick after Shawn left. 
“He’s going to get a nurse.” 
“She’s barely even breathing,” Scotty said with panic rising. They had the same fear in their eyes for the same love of their lives. 
“Hey, Teach, wake up,” Nick said in a loud voice. The two men looked at each other. Scotty picked her up and tried to sit her up on his lap. He shook her more. 
“C’mon, honey, wake up,” Scotty said in a whining panicky voice. . 
“Hey, Princess Cindy, open your eyes. Talk to your trooper. Come on.” Scotty swallowed hard while darting an angry look at him for using that name. Nick shrugged his shoulders.” I love her too, you know. I do.” Scotty tossed his head back acknowledging, but not welcoming his love into her life. 
“Katherine Lynn Petersen Moore, don’t screw around. Now, answer me.” She took in a half breath and let it out very slowly. Shawn came in with a nurse, who had a stethoscope around her neck. She rushed over to Katie and spoke loudly to her, shaking her to get a response. 
“Mrs. Moore, my name is Evie, I’m a nurse here. Can you wake up and tell me where you are?” She took hold of her bony arm and shook it. “Mrs. Moore, where are you?” She spoke in a voice, as if yelling at her. 
“Tulsa,” she whispered in a quiet weak whisper. Shawn’s eyes popped open, knowing that Tulsa was where she had her last episode. He looked at Scotty. 
“Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mrs. Moore?” Katie gave a slight nod. 
“No, Katie-bear were at UK, honey,” Scotty said. She gave a near silent grunt, as if she was saying “oh” but her lips did not move, nor did her eyes open. The nurse listened to her respirations. She took her pulse by pressing her fingers to her wrist. 
“I’m going to find an empty treatment room. I’ll get a doctor in, too. Is she on any medications? Did she take any drugs that you know of, tranquilizers, maybe?”  
“No, she’s suffering from anorexia” Shawn said. 
“When’s the last time she ate, or drank anything.”  
“Did she eat at the Cheapside, Scotty?” Nick asked. 
“Just a couple of sips of her drink, then you came by and made trouble. She never did eat her meal.” Nick dropped his head, and Shawn moved over to Nick to put his hand on his shoulder. 
“When did she eat before that, do you know?” Scotty shook his head no. 
“She passed out in Tulsa, a couple of weeks, ago,” Shawn said. Nick flipped his head to the side and popped it back. Scotty looked up at Shawn. 
“How the hell did you know that?” Nick asked as eyes widened. 
“Word gets around, I heard about it recently.” The nurse left the room abruptly. 
“Well, I just heard about it, today from Jay. He’s been keeping that little information from us, by command of this little brat. Who told you?” 
“Yeah, Shawn, how would you know if he didn’t?” 
“Someone I know that knows her manager casually mentioned it, but he didn’t seem alarmed,” Shawn said, covering. 
“I’m going to bust him up good for not telling us. I’ll bet Matthew doesn’t know either.” Shawn shook his head, and Scotty studied Shawn’s face. This man knew too much about his Katie, yet he was a perfect stranger to him. The nurse returned and signaled to Scotty to follow her. Scotty rose quickly with Katie in his arms, following close behind. Shawn gave Nick an inquiring look, and Nick nodded, tilting his head. 
“Go, and let me know.” Shawn left the room and ran to catch up with Scotty. Nick bowed his head and started praying. “God, don’t take her, please, I just found her.” He cried from fear. 
Scotty and the nurse disappeared into a trauma room about five doors down. Scotty laid her on the gurney and backed up. A team of nurses and attendants came to work on her. Scotty stood against the sidewall and Shawn stood in the doorway. 
They looked at each other with genuine fear for her. “Do you mind?” Shawn asked. 
“No, come in. I don’t know what you know, or who you know, but you obviously know a lot and care about her.” 
“I do. I met her two years ago at the pub, when she was—,” 
“I know, at the love booth. Julianna’s has been enjoying that little story over and over, here two years later, still.” Scotty shook his lowered head.
A female doctor came in and joined in the chorus of people calling to her. 
“Mrs. Moore, I’m Dr. Collins. Can you hear me?” 
“Uh huh,” she said under her breath. “Ouch!” Her eyes opened to see a flurry of people buzzing around her, and she felt the painful needle stick in her arm.”  
“Oh, that’s good,” Shawn said. “She felt that.” Scotty nodded in agreement and with relief.
“Mrs. Moore, we’re putting an IV in your arm. You are dehydrated.”
“No, I’m just tired. I need a good nap and a Coke,” she mumbled. Scotty chuckled. “Well, Katie-bear, you’re going to get a good nap and some vein juice too,” Scotty said from across the room.” 
“I’m here,” he said as he moved in closer to her, picking up her hand. 
“Where’s Jay? We have an appointment.” 
“No, honey, you’re not in Tulsa. You’re at UK.” 
“Oh yeah, right, Jay’s coming. I need bail money.” The doctor turned and looked at Shawn and Scotty. 
“Katie-bear, you don’t need to bail him out. I dropped the charges. 
“Oh good, that’s good. Thank you, Scotty. I love you.” 
“I did it because I love you, but I still hate him.”
“Me too,” she said. Scotty looked over at Shawn who remained emotionless, knowing she was covering up her true feelings. Scotty bent over and whispered in her ear.
“Oh, my Katie-bear, how I wish that was true.” He put his forehead on hers. “You gotta get better. I can’t live without you.” 
“Me neither, Scotty. Can I sleep now?” 
“Yes, baby, go to sleep. You’re going to get better, now. They will see to it.” He was relieved that his Katie-bear was where she could get the help that she needed. 
“Good night, Scotty. I love you.” 
“Good night, my little sleepy cub.” He bent over and kissed her on the forehead. He shuffled back over to the wall where Shawn was standing. 
“This is a good place for her, now.” Shawn said to encourage Scotty whose eyes were tearing and looked as if he was going to bawl. He walked out of the room, leaned against the wall and partially bent over with his head in his hands. He wept from fear. Shawn followed Scotty and put his hand on the back of his shoulder. 
“She’ll be okay.” Scotty crooked his head toward Shawn and showed his vulnerability. 
“I can’t lose her to this, or to him.” He sobbed deep fearful tears. For the first time, Shawn’s heart broke for this man.
“Scotty, she told me all about you. She loves you. She’d never walk away from you.” Scotty lifted his head and turned to face Shawn. He wiped away his own tears. 
“She talked about me?” Shawn nodded. “Even back then?” 
“She said she loved you, and she couldn’t live without you.” Scotty dropped his head grateful for his Katie’s devotion and Shawn’s encouragement. Two years ago was when he was at his worst, yet she was telling this man that she loved him and couldn’t leave him, not even for Prince Charming. 
“I know she’s in love with him, but she’s afraid of him.” Shawn nodded. 
“Yep, she loves you both. She’s afraid of him hurting her, and she’s afraid of hurting you because of how she feels about him.” Scotty turned and stood in front of Shawn with his hand on his hips. His authoritative stance let Shawn know that he was serious and that Nick needed to take warning. 
“I won’t let that man hurt her, again. Felony charges have no statutes of limitations. If he comes around and pursues her, I’ll refile. You make sure that you tell him to stay away from her, if he doesn’t want to go to prison, that is.” 
“Excuse me, but is one of you next of kin?” A trauma clerk asked. 
“I’m her former fiancé. I’m as close to family as she’s got, besides her former brother-in-law from her late-husband, and he’s headed back to Louisville.”
“Does she have any blood relatives?” 
“No, Ma’am, we are all she’s got.”  
“It’s going to have to do. I’m going to need you to give me some information. Can you come with me?” Scotty gave Shawn an inquiring look. 
“Go ahead, I’ll stay with her.” 
“Thanks, man.” Scotty left with the trauma clerk, and Shawn walked back into the room. He held her hand and bent over to talk in her ear. 
“Now, you will get some rest and food. You have two men who are hurting and so afraid. They’re going to battle over you. I personally don’t know, anymore.” Scotty returned and reported to Shawn what the doctor told him. 
“No surprises. She’s malnourished, dehydrated and suffering from exhaustion. They are going to admit her for a few days.” 
“She can’t escape, and they’ll make her eat.” Shawn said, and Scotty nodded. 
“Can I go tell that moron in there?” Shawn tilted his head toward Nick’s room. 
“I’d rather make him suffer, but Katie would be mad at me.” 
“Ah, no she wouldn’t. She’s been tormenting him all night.” Shawn laughed, and Scotty nodded his head and chuckled. He turned toward Katie and walked over toward her. He rubbed her bony arm, lifted her hand to kiss it and then bent over to kiss her forehead. 
“Good for you, Katie-bear.” Scotty turned to Shawn. He gave a nod. “Just tell him I said to stay away, you hear?” Shawn nodded. 
“Do you want me to call Matthew and Becca?” Shawn asked.
“You have their number, too? What’s with you, who are you? Who do you know? It’s Jay, isn’t it? You’ve been in contact with him, haven’t you? Jay knows everyone, for crying out loud.” 
“I met Jay a few months back when he was in Nashville. I did not know Becca and Matthew, until tonight. We did exchange contact information. I was worried about her and so is my wife. She’s a huge fan.”
“I don’t have fans,” Katie whispered, causing Scotty to chuckle. Shawn looked at Scotty puzzled. 
“Right, babe, you only have friends in waiting,” he said repeating her line she always said. He shook his head, and Shawn chuckled. “She hates that word fan.” Shawn laughed at that. 
“She really helped out my wife when she lost our baby, she helped our entire family,” Shawn reported to Scotty.
“She does that for everyone, except herself.”  Scotty breathed our a sigh of exhaustion just for all the times he’s tried to keep track of her, and get her to slow down. 
“She’d sure love to meet you, Katie,” Shawn said. 
“I want to meet her,” Katie whispered. 
“I can arrange that, then I’ll be husband of the year with my Cath,” Shawn retorted. Scotty gave Shawn a half smile. “She’s easy to love,” he added. Scotty shook his head. 
“Not always, especially when she’s out for blood.” Both men laughed. 
“You better believe it, and Nick Thomas is going to bleed,” Katie said. Both men lost it and burst into laughter. 
“Oh, Katie-bear, if only that were true,” he whispered only loud enough for Shawn to hear. “Shawn, go ahead, and call Matthew. Don’t let him panic. Tell him to go home, and come back tomorrow, that I won’t leave her side.” 
“I’ll do that. I’ll be right back, if that’s okay.”  
“Yeah, sure. Hey, Everett.” Scotty said calling to Shawn. He turned and looked at Scotty, before he left the room. 
“Thanks for caring so much for my Katie-bear.”  
“She loves big, Scotty. In turn, everyone loves her. I’ll make sure this doesn’t leak in the press. We have ways of stifling them.”
“Thank you. I’ll see you in a bit?” Shawn nodded and left. 

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