Read Sweet One (Titan Book 8) Online

Authors: Cristin Harber

Sweet One (Titan Book 8) (3 page)

BOOK: Sweet One (Titan Book 8)
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Nic’s heart clutched. She had a good brother, a good man, a good team, and good people all around her. If Cash didn’t make it out of this, they’d still be okay. Her eyes burned, and a sear of pain ran down her throat.

“Up and out of the room,” Sugar said. “You’re crying away all of your calories. I’m pretty sure you need those to build body parts.”

Jared smacked her butt as he left. “Let me know if she gets out of line.”

Sugar smirked. “You know I mean well.”

Nicola smiled limply. “I’d worry if you were polite or appropriate.” Then she leaned over Cash and brushed his hair with her hands, letting her fingertips drift over his stubbled cheeks. “I’ll be back soon. I love you.” Nicola kissed his lips, lingering and scared to leave.

“Nic, he’s going to be okay.”

She squeezed her eyes shut, kissed him one more time—hating how his lips didn’t feel as though he were
just
sleeping—and followed Sugar numbly out the door. Sugar hooked an arm around her shoulders, dragging her out of the room. As they walked down the hall, the normalcy with which people seemed to live their lives struck Nicola as absurd.

“Food, then Roman.”

Nicola leaned into Sugar, needing her hug more than she realized. “Good plan.”

Five minutes later, Nic had a tray of bland food, but despite being hungry, she wanted none of it. Sugar was as bossy as Boss Man, though, so filling her tray with a couple of muffins and a bland chicken sandwich passed muster.

Sugar bagged her food at the to-go counter, and with stern orders to eat, dropped Nicola off where Roman and Jared were poring over files in a meeting room. Jared cracked his knuckles as he stood, nodding to both of them, before leaving with his wife.

“You doing okay?” Roman asked before wrapping her in a bear hug.

“You’ve already asked me that.”

He squeezed her before releasing. “You keep lying to me.”

She laughed quietly. “Guess that’s what I do.”

He closed his eyes and snagged her in another hug. “Nic.”

Somewhere in that hug, she dropped the to-go bag, and then she lost it, shedding all the pent-up tears. So many times she’d lied to her brother: when they were teens and she should have told him that she was in love with his best friend, when she should have called him while she was in witness protection even though she wasn’t allowed, and when she’d let other people tell him he was going to be an uncle.

Roman gave bear hugs. The good thing about a brother who was as broad and tall as the hospital they were in was that he could easily lift her up and relocate a heaving, sobbing, hysterical woman without a blink of effort.

“Breathe, Nic.” He rifled through her bag of food and brought out a stack of napkins then offered one for her tears.

“God. I’m such a freaking mess.”

“You’re going through a lot.” His elbows were on his knees, and he leaned forward, brows pulled down as if he were trying to read her mind.

“You’re going to be an uncle.”

Roman leaned back an inch, a tiny smile on his face. “I know. Congratulations.”

She sobbed.

“Damn, those pregnancy hormones aren’t anything to mess with.”

Nic reached out to smack his arm, but he grabbed her and hugged her again. “Seriously, Nic. Congrats. You guys are gonna make killer parents. Mom and Dad are gonna freak out, and everything is going to be fine.”

“I have secrets all the time. There’s something wrong with me. I’m going to be an awful mommy.” She bawled. “I kept secrets from you back in the day. How’d that work out? Bad. Then from Cash? Same thing. And again from Cash? He doesn’t know. He. Doesn’t. Know!”

“Take a breath. It’s not the same thing.”

“I’m so screwed up.”

“You’re not,” he said. “Why didn’t you tell him the second you knew?”

She wiped her face. “Because I wanted to plan a surprise. Something special. When he was off job. Not with just a day off but, like, a couple weeks.”

“See? You had a reason.”

“A lot of good that did me.”

She dropped her head. “He might die not knowing.”

“He won’t. He’s going to live because of that pregnancy.”

Surprise stopped the tears. “What?”

“I told him.”

“What?” Her eyes went wide. “When?”

“Right after the attack, when he was first hit, I needed something to keep him here with us—even if he wasn’t waking up. So I told him.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry. I know that’s yours to tell him. But I…” Roman stopped and rubbed his face. “He needed to hear it. Even if he didn’t know he heard it.”

Nicola launched into her brother’s arms. “Thank you.”

“A lot of hugging today.”

“You’re a good hugger.”

“I know.”

“Cocky too.”

He laughed. “I know.”

“I told him too.” She pulled back and grabbed the bag of food, suddenly finding the urge to eat a muffin. “I think it helps.”

Roman nodded. “All the medicine in the world? That baby is what’s bringing our boy home.”

“Yeah.”

They sat in silence as she finished the muffin and gauged her need to puke. It wasn’t there. That was progress. “So… Beth.”

Her brother’s eyebrows went up, and he smiled. “Beth.”

“About damn time.”

“Agree.” Roman nodded, saying all they needed to say. The tension between the two had been noticeable to the entire team, but neither Beth nor Roman had outwardly admitted any interest.

Nicola was happy for them, but it only reminded her how much she needed Cash. “I’m going to go back to my husband. I need a nap.”

Roman gathered up the papers that he and Jared had been working on. “I’m out too.”

“Take care of Beth, okay? She fights you because she needs you. When that last mental hang-up of hers is gone, she’s yours forever.”


I
know that. When she clues in, what is supposed to happen will happen.”

God, her brother was the right guy for Beth. “Right answer.”

“Glad you think so.”

“I love you, Roman.”

“Love you too, kid. Go take care of our boy. And my—niece? Nephew?”

“Too early still.” Nicola’s stomach fluttered as she wondered if Cash would want a boy or girl.

“Alright. Either way, go.” Roman turned her out the door and sent her packing.

A minute later, she was looking at Cash’s hospital bed. Nothing else mattered but her family. She dropped the bag, slipped off her shoes, and crawled in next to him, snuggling under the covers and hating every second he didn’t call her “sweet girl” and kiss her goodnight as she drifted to sleep. Memories of sleeping together under the stars on their first date, and how magical that was, replaced her worries about the stiff, silent man next to her.

CHAPTER FOUR

 

Billy Tway chewed the inside of his mouth, backing out of the door, trying not to trip over his feet as his mind raced. He somehow knew what he’d seen on the other side of that hospital room door was his ticket out of hell.

“Hey, Twat Waffle,” a uniformed Army a-hole joked as he passed.


Tway
,” Billy said, the response he’d given more often than any other in all his years in the military. Maybe more than “Yes, sir.” Everyone liked someone to pick on, and Billy had been the guy.

“You missed a spot.” The jerk—from the back of his head, he looked to be an eighteen-year-old ground pounder—never slowed down.

“I’m not the janitor!”
No one
respected him! Even the newbies. Billy couldn’t control it. Both hands went into overdrive, punching middle fingers into the air.

The kid laughed. “Easy, broke dick.”

But he never turned around. “What the fuck? What the fuck?” Billy wanted to charge and jump the man from behind but needed to concentrate on what he’d just seen in the hospital room. His mind was all over the place.

Bouncing in place, his torn mind had problems deciding which direction to take. Go after the young one who needed to know what his last name really was, or follow up on the thought tickling the edge of his mind?

The newbie looked over his shoulder before rounding a corner of a hallway. His face was pure, antagonizing bait. Billy took the bait and swallowed it—and charged.

An unseen arm jutted out. The blunt obstacle from out of nowhere caught him like a concrete clothesline, and he went down, coughing and sputtering. A med tech who had tried semisuccessfully to watch his back over the years shook his head, looking annoyed. “Cut the shit, Tway.”

Tway
. Billy’s throat might’ve been crushed, but he could breathe better at the sound of his last name. Not fucking
Twat Waffle
.

“You stand no chance with anyone on base.”

“Not true.” He sputtered.

“Keep your head low, and you’re out of here. Fuck up, and you’re in the brig. What don’t you get about that?”

Billy pushed onto his butt, sliding against the wall. “We had a situation.”

The med tech shook his head. “Keep your head low. Try to stay out of trouble, and you get to go home. Don’t you get it?
Don’t fuck up
.”

Billy pushed off the ground. “All day long, all I do is
fix
fuckups.”

“I’m doing you a favor. Guys like you need ’em. Read me?” With a pitying shake of his head, he started walking away. “Go to your bunker. I’d stay there.”

Billy hadn’t had a single friend, not one companion through the hell of boot camp and orders. Even though he was less than twenty sleeps from a ticket the hell home, barely anyone knew his name. Over the years, his med-tech
friend
had claimed he wanted to keep him out of trouble. What about the assholes who spent their time picking on Billy? Was there a poster for orientation that introduced him as the onsite entertainment? No one would miss him when he was gone—though they’d miss him fixing all their fuckups.

How could an entire medical facility be inept enough to break their computer systems on almost a daily basis? How could they have so little respect for the
only
man who could fix their screwups? Doctors might save lives, but not if they couldn’t order and review the simplest of medical reports and see MRI results.

Like the one that was done in Room 6806. That woman.

Billy’s mind processed information almost as quickly as Landstahl’s servers. In an instant, he knew that innocent face that peered up at him—although it was exhausted and older than the last time he’d seen it, which was in pictures from the news in Podunk, Virginia years ago. Nothing ever happened in his hometown, so when the story had hit, it hit big.

Billy knew that woman’s story just as well as he knew all of his true-crimes TV trivia. He might’ve even had a crush on her. It was weird to think of a dead woman as attractive, but she was, and this many years later, her face had stuck with him. Now he knew why. What he didn’t know was how she was
alive
and sitting pretty in a room reserved for military special guests.

Could it be possible that two people from a small town in the US would find themselves in a hospital facility in Germany more than a decade later? Not likely. But stranger things happened. People hit the lotto. Hopeless illnesses were cured.

No, he was smart, but he was also stressed. Maybe it was time for those pills that the doctor had offered to help calm him down. Billy hadn’t wanted anything to cloud his mind, to slow his fingers on the keyboard. Those pills would make his fingertips shake, according to everything he’d ever read on the Internet. Plus, they’d dull the acumen that kept him sharp when name-callers who wanted to see him fail surrounded him.

At a computer near the nurses’ station, Billy pulled the records for Room 6806 under the guise of doing a system upgrade. He’d land himself in a FUBAR world of hurt if he was caught snooping records—especially in public—but he couldn’t help himself.

Even as he typed, scouring for the name of the woman in Room 6806, he knew the answer: Nicola Hart—the same college kid who died in a car crash years ago. Half of the Gianori mob had gone to jail because of what the FBI had found.

But what if none of it were true, and she hadn’t died?
Conspiracy theory much?

Room 6806 was inaccessible. Yes. Huge conspiracy theories.
Holy crap.

It was time to go back to his office in the underground lair where they hid the IT geniuses who kept this place running. There he could dig, see what there was to see, maybe watch some Netflix on lunch—a good mobster documentary or two—and if that was Nicola Hart… then he had a meal ticket.

The military wouldn’t hook him up with a shiny new job when he was back on US soil in less than a month, and Billy wasn’t re-upping his contract. He had no jobs lined up and zero prospects, a small pension, and less in his bank account—
thank you online gaming
. But Nicola Hart’s existence was the kind of information that the Gianori crime family would feast on.

Or rather,
pay
on.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

Nothing was better than a dream about a hug from a man who couldn’t hug her. Nicola woke nestled in Cash’s arm. The only upside of this trip was it had scared the morning sickness out of her.

She sighed, burrowing into him, hating the shitty hospital mattress and plastic-foam pillows, but at least Cash was warm albeit unresponsive. His heavy arm draped over her acted as a security blanket, and even though she positioned it as if he were an inanimate object—almost having to growl at some of the nurses to stay away—it made her feel better.

“Morning, Cash.” She tilted to kiss his very scratchy cheek. Maybe it would be a good day to trim that beard. “It’s also a good day to wake up.”

No response—as usual.

She snuggled back in, loving the quiet moments before the doctors and nurses, Roman and the guys, and the entire world arrived to show support and give them strength. “I love when it’s just the three of us.”

Cash squeezed her gently. So nice—wait! She jumped up in bed. “Cash?”

Nothing.

Straddling him, she put both hands on his chest and willed him to move or even blink. “Cash?”

BOOK: Sweet One (Titan Book 8)
13.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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