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The fall down the B&B stairs could have killed her. His hands fisted at his sides, and his jaw clenched. “That stupid job.” If Whitney had been a workaholic before, he suspected she was working even longer hours since the breakup. He saw her vehicle in the mayor’s office parking lot all the time.

“I’m not entirely sure the job is to blame,” Jess said softly.

Trent frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Mitch suspects there might be more that Whitney hasn’t been telling us.”

Trent’s heart sank. “Like what?”

Jess shrugged. “A medical condition she may have been hiding. He’s not sure yet, but they’re running tests and he’s reviewing her file.”

A medical condition? One she hadn’t told anyone about.

Trent ran a hand over his face as he slumped into a chair next to Sarah. She reached for his hand and squeezed it. “At least she’s finally in the right place to get whatever help she needs,” the other woman said.

Trent nodded. It was little consolation when the love of his life was lying in a hospital bed with severe injuries for the second time in a year. “What do we do now?” he asked, looking at Jess.

His cousin sat in the empty chair beside him and gave him a helpless look. “All we can do is wait.”

Chapter Twenty-Four


They were all back here again.

The sight of everyone she loved and their worry-filled expressions when she opened her eyes made Whitney wish she could go back to sleep. She owed all of them an explanation and an apology, but her mind was foggy, and her head ached.

“Hi…” It was Jess who spoke. Her concern was mixed with the sound of guilt, and that made Whitney feel so much worse. Her friend had nothing to feel badly about.

Shewas the one at fault. The only one. The distance between them lately had been Whitney’s doing. She’d pushed them all away and had neglected her friendships.

“Hi, Jess…” Her voice sounded foreign to her own ears. The notes of fear and uncertainty were ringing loud. She looked around the room, her gaze settling on Trent.

His expression was so pained, so hurt, she could barely breathe as their eyes met and locked. He was pale, and the dark circles under his eyes said he hadn’t gotten any sleep. He looked even more devastated now than he had when she’d ended things a week ago.

Because now he understood.

Understood that she was sick, what her condition meant, and knew that there was nothing either of them could do about it.

He stood and touched Jess on the shoulder as he looked at Sarah and Lia. “Hey…um…could we get a minute?”

“Of course,” Jess said, gathering her sweater and purse from the chair. “We won’t be far,” she said, kissing Whitney’s cheek. Sarah approached and gave her a gentle hug.

Gentle. As though she might break.

Lia squeezed her hand. “You’ll be back to the office in no time, so just chill,” her friend said, and the fact that the other woman knew her so well caused another lump to form in the back of her throat.

Wes and Mitch sent her sympathetic, supportive looks as they ushered their partners out of the hospital room.

They all knew. Tears welled in her eyes. Why not cry? They all knew how weak she was now anyway. No more pretending.

When the door closed behind her friends, she stared at it, terrified to look at Trent. His sadness was breaking her the most.

He cleared his throat and shoved his hands deep into his pockets as he moved closer to the bed. “You broke an ankle and an arm in the fall, lots of bruising, and you have a concussion,” he said.

She couldn’t feel her injuries. A small silver lining. “I guess I was lucky.” She couldn’t remember anything after her vision had blurred at the top of the stairs and the dizzy spell had taken complete hold.

The stairs! She’d been on her way to get the baby. Her gut twisted. Thank God it had happened before she’d reached the baby’s room. What if she’d been holding Henry when it had happened? More tears burned her eyes at the thought that she could have hurt the beautiful child. Not to mention the fact that she’d probably ruined Marissa’s birthday party. So much for getting off to a good start as Auntie Whitney.

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