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Reverie: Chapter 35


I HADN’T LOOKED up from my computer since I’d arrived that morning, long before anyone else. I’d blacked out the windows and put my focus where it needed to be.

Victory Blakely had stolen too much of my attention already. She’d muscled her way into my thoughts, my dreams, and my damn hopes for the future.

And I wasn’t a man who planned happily ever afters.

In the conference room, we’d gone back and forth about her keeping the one secret she should have told me. But I understood why she hadn’t. I saw the fear in her eyes, the way she’d seized up during that commercial.

Like a puzzle piece clicking into place, it all made sense. She rushed into life head-on, afraid she’d run out of time to live. She focused on the good, the positive, the brightness of life because she didn’t want to waste time with the crushing darkness of the reality she’d already endured.

I couldn’t sleep thinking about how she drew people in with her magnetic optimism, the force actually helped her maintain a buoyant momentum despite her depressing past. My heart ached.

My pride held on to being right with a death grip. She should have told me. I should have been the first person to know. Not Bastian. Not a damn stranger.

I sighed and took two of the paperweights in my hand to roll round and round.

Brey shoved the door to my office open so violently it would have smacked the wall had we not installed a door stopper. “What did you say to her?”

I raised my eyebrows at the dark-haired woman my brother married. Her face was tight with emotion, and her green eyes blazed bright against her olive skin. She shook with anger. I knew she wanted to lash out—her claws were sharpened, her fangs bared.

I didn’t reply. I waited. Just as in business, waiting pushed people to open up, even when it was personal.

“She didn’t come to work, and she didn’t answer my calls last night. Jax told me about the …” Her eyes closed momentarily in pain. “I should have known. She never told me. But you did something. She wouldn’t have skipped work because of this.”

I looked back at my keyboard, pride rearing its ugly head because she hadn’t called me either, and I wanted her to apologize. I knew I should be apologizing too. I wanted her to do it first though. “Maybe she’s sick.”

“Get real!” Brey bellowed.

I jumped at the volume of her voice. “Woman, we are at work.”

She folded her arms across her chest. “You think I care about that more than I care about the well-being of my friend?” She waited a beat and when I met her with silence, she stalked toward my desk and slammed my laptop closed. “Call her right now!”

“I’m not calling her, Brey.”

She narrowed those blazing emeralds at me. I set down my paperweights and lined them up. “You should get back to work.”

Maybe she contemplated it as she chewed the inside of her cheek, but I doubt it. Because the next thing I knew, she swiped the paperweights off my desk so forcefully, the burst of color shattered everywhere.

Then she slammed her hand down on the desk. “Call her and find out where she is. Now.”

Getting emotional over a phone call wasn’t worth all this. I picked up my phone and dialed her number.

No answer.

Of course.

I hung up. “She’s ignoring me.” When Brey glared at me, I figured I would do a check. “Alice, ask Gloria why Vick’s not here.”

Alice responded a moment later. “Gloria is coming to your office now.”

“Why …” I started to grumble but then Gloria strode in. “Gloria, I didn’t ask—”

“Victory’s in the hospital.” She cut me off with four words that shot fear as cold as absolute zero dry ice into my veins.

I shot up from my desk. “What?” My feet wouldn’t move; my body wouldn’t cooperate. Brey was already heading out the office with her phone to her ear.

Gloria marched up to me and forcefully grabbed my elbow. “Move,” she commanded. “Your driver’s out front.”

“I’m supposed to fly out to …” I blanked, not knowing for once in my life where I was supposed to be going for work.

“None of it matters.” She dragged me to the elevators and jackhammered the down button. “She’ll need you there when she wakes up.”

“Wakes up?” The words jarred me, my autopilot screeched to a halt. “What the hell happened? Is she okay?”

“Her mother didn’t give many details. She’s passed out. They’re monitoring vitals and running tests.”

I left Gloria with instructions to cancel appointments indefinitely and manage the team. Jerome went double the speed limit when I told him. She’d impacted his life just like she had my office, my family, my business, everything.

She touched it and it glittered—that was the brilliance of Victory Blakely. An enigma of a woman so in love with the world, I thought her sheltered to believe in all that goodness. But her approach to life had grown on me. I began to find her naivete refreshing.

Now, her outlook on life was striking, blinding, and shockingly beautiful. Like the amount of pressure that creates a diamond, she’d been put in extreme circumstances. She came out shining so damn vividly, the world took notice.

The world wanted every ounce of the light she gave, but I’d seen that light drained. I saw the way she persistently gave it out, even when she was sapped of energy, emptied of all power.

I wondered when she’d get a break, if she’d ever get one.

I wondered if the fact that she might not was my fault.

I jumped from the vehicle before Jerome could bring it to a full stop and ran into the hospital. After finding her room, I shoved open the door.

Her parents sat on one side of the bed. Harvey perched on the couch in the corner. Brey and Jax arrived a few minutes later, holding hands. We watched my Pix sleep, a bruise and a couple stitches on her forehead. An IV was in her left arm and a heart monitor beeped on her right.

The room was quiet except for the sound of the machines operating. Her hair was matted around her face and dark shadows encircled her eyes. In the white hospital gown, she looked small.


Void of life.

I cleared my throat, trying to clear away the fear too. “What happened?”

Her mother’s eyes didn’t leave her daughter’s face. She whispered, “Something to do with her heart. They think it caused her to falter on the sidewalk and a vehicle hit her. I …” She choked on her words. “We weren’t safe enough.”

Her husband hushed her and told her nobody was at fault.

She whispered something about medication and diet.

Brey whispered softly to Jax and then went to stand by Vick’s mother. She said a few things and listened. Brey relayed the information, “The car grazed her.” Then she shook her head a bit as her eyes started to glisten. “Well, she looked dazed according to the person who called 911. The driver must have not been paying attention. The doctors are running tests.”

“She woke up for a few minutes. She remembers a little,” Vick’s mother whispered. “They sedated her though. Her heartbeat is irregular.”

The woman broke down again.

Jax’s phone rang and he took the call, face grim. When he handed it to me, I shook my head. “I’m not taking work calls.”

“This one you have to,” he sighed and shoved the phone into my chest.

I glanced at the caller ID. “Bastian, I don’t care about the deal.”

“That hit was the FDA.”

The words registered slowly, nailed themselves into me like a torture device. The pain was real, the recognition of it excruciating, and the desire for revenge stronger than everything else.

“Be clear,” I commanded. As I stared at my brother, seeing his tight jaw, his tense neck, his eyes burning with the same rage that was in me, I knew. I knew what Bastian’s next words would be.

“The FDA’s guy, Young, put a hit on her so the commercial wouldn’t work. My guys are doing some digging. I’m not sure if they pulled this because of a grudge against my family or solely because of greed. We’re lucky she hesitated on that sidewalk.”

His words rocked me as I stood in that hospital room with the woman I loved, her family and friends buzzing about. I loved her and I had almost lost her to the stupidity of the business. Like a steel anchor hitting the bottom of the jet-black sea, the importance of my place within my city and business dropped to exactly where it needed to be. “Do what you have to do. I want Mr. Young to know who owns this city.”

“Is that you or me?” Bastian asked snidely.

“Partners, Sebastian. I’ll offer you that. That’s all.” I stared at Vick and knew I needed a partner if I was going to give her everything anyway. And I would give her everything.

“Done.” With that, he hung up.

After the call, doctors and nurses filed in and out.

Brey and Jax went to look for a few more chairs. Harvey tried to make small talk. My woman was a statistic to him. He couldn’t run a commercial if she wasn’t in good health. I wanted him gone but didn’t want to aggravate Vick’s already drained mother.

I kept my mouth shut.

I pulled a chair up to Vick and took her small hand in mine. I didn’t say a thing. I didn’t have to. With my hand in hers and my other rubbing up and down her arm, she had to know I was there. I was never one to make idle talk with her. I wouldn’t now.

I’d be her rock when she needed me most.


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