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“So what kind of treatment do I need?” Whitney asked.

Dr. Forester sighed. “I’m afraid the test results weren’t as positive as we hoped.” He paused. “You are going to need a bone marrow transplant. Currently, your bone marrow is producing blood cells with defective hemoglobin, but if we replace your cells with healthy ones from a donor, you’ll hopefully be able to produce healthy hemoglobin again.”

Jess reached out to touch her hand at the same time Sarah did, and Whitney’s gaze fell on the three hands connected.

Best friends. They’d always been there for one another, and despite Whitney’s exterior toughness and insisting that she didn’t need them—she desperately did now. She was terrified, and she didn’t even try to hide it.

“The process requires us to kill your existing bone marrow and replace it with a donor’s,” the doctor continued. “Then we monitor your recovery for a month or so to make sure your body doesn’t reject it or there isn’t an infection.”

“What does that mean? What do we do first?” Whitney’s voice held only confidence when she spoke, but her grip on her friends’ hands tightened.

“We’ll need to find a donor. I know in your case, because you were adopted, it rules out family members, who would normally be our first line of candidates for a match. Friends are next,” he said, looking at Sarah and Jess.

They both nodded.

“Absolutely,” Jess said. “How do we find out?” She was ready to go.

Support by being by her side was one thing, but this was too much. “Jess… Sarah, no. I can’t ask you—”

“Shhhh…you’re not asking. We’re doing it because we want to,” Sarah said. “I’m in as well,” she told the doctor.

“The likelihood that either of you will be a match is slim, I won’t lie, but at least we have a start. I also have an intern searching through an online donor bank registry to see if there’s anyone local or nearby.”

“Count me in, too,” Lia said as she entered with the bags of food. She turned to Dr. Forester. “I’m Lia Jameson. I’m already registered on the match database. I was a donor before; maybe we’ll get lucky with me this time.”

Lia had donated bone marrow before? Then realization dawned. For Kelli, when she was going through her cancer treatment.

But Whitney still shook her head. “Lia, I appreciate the offer…”

“Whitney, will you just stop?”

Mouths dropped in the room at Jess’s out-of-character outburst.

“Seriously. Quit acting like you’re Superwoman. We don’t need a superhero in Blue Moon Bay. We needyou. Our best friend.” Her voice broke, and tears threatened in Whitney’s eyes. “I need you. So stop being so freaking stubborn and accept our help.Lia’shelp if that works out,” Jess said, her voice softening.

Whitney nodded quickly. “Okay. Yes, I’m sorry. Lia, I really do appreciate this. From all of you.” She relaxed back against the bed and closed her eyes. “Thank you all for being here.”

Sarah and Jess hugged her, and Lia’s smile was wide as she wrapped her arms around the outside of the group hug, squeezing tight.

“We are going to get through this,” Jess said. “Together—the four of us.”

Whitney didn’t know how she’d ever gotten so lucky to have three of the most amazing friends, but she knew she’d never make it through this without them.

Chapter Twenty-Six


Concentrating on anything else while Whitney was lying in a hospital bed across town was impossible. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t eat. Working used to provide a distraction, but being at the bar only made him feel guilty and stressed that he wasn’t by her side at the hospital.

But she didn’t want him there. She’d pushed him away. He had no idea where things stood between them, and now their relationship was the least of his worries. She was sick and needed a bone marrow transplant. He’d gotten tested along with all the others, but unfortunately, he hadn’t matched.

Feeling helpless was the hardest damn thing.

“Hey, man. Why don’t you go home and get some sleep?” Max said, coming up behind him.


The only home he had was the one he’d shared with Whitney. One he was pretty sure wasn’t his home anymore. He’d been staying at the bar, showering at the sports facility after workouts, and hadn’t even started to look for a new place yet. A part of him had been holding out hope of the two of them getting through this, reconciling, and getting back together. He hadn’t truly believed that it was over.

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