Point of No Return
Kathleen Turner - 5
For Maria, my amazing editor. This book is better because of you.
I hated hospitals.
Sickness and death. Grief and worry. The endless antiseptic corridors of a hospital were filled with them.
Which was why I was standing in the maternity ward, gazing at the newborn babies through the window.
It was the middle of the night or really early in the morning, depending on your point of view. Since I hadn’t gone to sleep yet, I guess it felt more like the former than the latter.
It had been only a bit over twenty-four hours since my world had nearly ended.
Since Kade had almost died.
Kade Dennon. Ex-FBI agent, assassin-for-hire, cyber hacker with no fear of ever getting caught. He’d seemed larger than life. Unstoppable. Then he’d stepped into the path of a bullet to save his brother.
A few inches higher and it would have been the last thing he did.
The babies swam in my vision and I gasped for air, just then realizing I’d been holding my breath. My nails cut into my palms as I clenched my hands into fists. Holding myself together was getting harder and harder the longer Kade was unconscious.
I’d left the hospital earlier today for a few short hours. Mona had made me. A surrogate mother to Kade, she’d taken me under her wing as well, making me go home to change and eat something.
I hadn’t wanted to take off the bloodstained bridesmaid’s dress I’d worn. It was stained with Kade’s blood, and I felt an irrational fear that taking it off would make it seem as though I’d forgotten about him.
But I forced myself to put the dress carefully aside, shower, and pull on fresh clothes. I wasn’t sure what—I just grabbed the first thing I touched when I opened my closet. Eating was out of the question. If I’d had any food in my fridge, which I didn’t, there was no way I could’ve eaten it. My stomach was cramped in knots, and the thought of trying to get something down made me nauseous. All that mattered was getting back to the hospital. Back to Kade.
It was surreal, the people I passed as I drove back to the hospital. Everyone acted as though life were normal. My world had fallen apart, but the sun still shone like it was any other day.
Mona frowned when she saw me return so quickly. I gave her a wan smile and she sighed.
“He’s going to be okay,” she tried to reassure me. “The doctor said he’ll recover. Trust them, Kathleen.”
That’s me. Kathleen Turner. It had nearly been Kathleen Kirk until my fiancé, Blane Kirk, had broken our engagement. He’d accused me of having an affair with his brother. His brother being Kade.
Blane Kirk was a Navy SEAL turned attorney and politician. He was an expert at reading people, and it was nearly impossible to lie to him. Blane’s accusation and our subsequent breakup had broken my heart. He’d been wrong about Kade and me. We hadn’t been having an affair . . . then.
Now, I wasn’t so sure.
Kade had swept back into my life months after Blane and I broke up. He’d taken me to Las Vegas, shown me the town, partied with me Vegas-style. Then he’d made love to me. Told me he loved me. I hadn’t realized until later that I was in love with him, too.
Now he lay unconscious in a hospital bed with two gunshot wounds, and he had no idea how I felt. Because I hadn’t told him. Afraid it would only drive Blane and Kade further apart, I’d pretended to feel nothing, to want Blane only for his money and Kade for sex, practically daring them to hate me.
I’d prayed it would be enough to repair their relationship, broken because of me, and I had nearly succeeded. If Blane had been less intuitive, if both of them hadn’t known me as well as they had, it might’ve worked. But they’d seen through my lies, my desperate gamble to remove myself from their lives.
I didn’t know where things stood now, not really. A grief-stricken father had precluded any discussion, and Kade had stepped in front of a bullet intended for Blane, sacrificing himself for his brother without a second’s hesitation.
Yes, they said Kade would recover, that he had made it through surgery okay, but that didn’t relieve the guilt gnawing at me for how I’d treated him. And until he opened his eyes—until I could see for myself that he was still the Kade I knew—I could think of nothing else, do nothing else.
Blane and I sat through the day at Kade’s bedside. We watched as they removed the ventilator, our hands tightly connected as we saw Kade’s chest rise and fall on its own. We took turns running home, at Mona’s behest, to change. Occasionally, one of us would take a break, leaving the other to keep vigil for a short time.
Which was how I found myself standing in the maternity ward staring at the babies.
One of them, a little boy, by the pale blue cap on his head, was fussing. Somehow he’d gotten his arms free from the blanket swaddling him, and his tiny hands were curled into fists as he cried.
A nurse walked over to him, scooping him up in her arms and settling him on her shoulder. She wandered closer to the glass as she shushed him. When she turned her back, I could see he’d quieted. He was wide-awake, his blue eyes open and taking in the world around him. He was beautiful, perfect, and it seemed as though our gazes met through the glass as he began sucking on his fist.
Pulling myself from my reverie, I glanced at my watch, surprised to see I’d been gone from Kade’s room longer than I’d intended. Blane was probably wondering where I was.
Hurrying back, I was both relieved and disappointed to see that Kade was still unconscious. They wanted him to wake up on his own and I prayed that would be soon. The pain medication they had him on was heavy-duty.
Blane had fallen asleep in the corner armchair while I’d been gone, but even in sleep, his face was creased with lines of worry.
I sank into the plastic chair drawn up next to Kade’s bed. His lax hand rested on top of the sheet covering him. I curled my palm into his, carefully scrutinizing his face for any reaction.
His hair was inky black against the stark white pillow, the silky strands mussed. Reaching forward, I pushed back a lock that had fallen across his forehead. My fingers brushed his cheek, the stubble from two days’ growth softly abrading my skin. I ached for his eyes to open, to hear his voice, for his lips to curve into that knowing smirk I knew so well—the kind that said he knew exactly what you were thinking. And it seemed he had always known what I was thinking, had always been looking out for me, from the moment we’d first met.
Carefully, I rested my head on Kade’s arm, savoring the feel of his warm skin against my cheek. I closed my eyes and breathed in. Kade’s scent was faint, the smell of medicine and antiseptic masking him. I let out a long sigh. I wished I could sleep—I was so tired—but I knew I wouldn’t.
Kade’s fingers twitched slightly in mine and I sat up with a start, my gaze flying to his face. His eyes were open, his gaze steady.
Emotion clogged my throat and I couldn’t speak, my face crumpling into tears.
Kade’s hand slowly lifted to my face. I covered his hand with mine, tipping my head into his palm cradling my cheek.
“Don’t cry,” he whispered. The ventilator had been rough on his throat and his voice was a low rasp.
Kade had always hated to see me cry, so I tried valiantly to stop. Turning my head, I pressed my lips to his palm, then forced a watery smile.
He opened his mouth again, but I pressed a finger to his lips. “Shhh. Don’t try to talk.”
He ignored me. Big surprise.
“C’mere,” he said, the word barely audible. He tugged on my hand.
“I can’t,” I said, wondering if the pain medicine was making him a little loopy. “I’ll hurt you.”
“Bullshit. Need you.”
Kade tugged again and this time tried to sit up, too. A grimace crossed his face. Alarmed, I put my hand on his shoulder to still him.
“Okay, okay,” I said quietly. “Just lie down, all right?”
He lay back down on the bed with a sigh. I kicked off my flip-flops and climbed into the bed, carefully arranging myself on my side and trying not to disturb any of the equipment still hooked up to him. Kade wrapped one arm over my shoulders and pulled me closer.
It was him. He was alive, and judging by how he was already bossing me around, he was the same Kade. And despite everything I’d said—all those things that had hurt him—he still wanted me. Everything was going to be okay. Somehow.
Kade’s lips pressed against my forehead. I looked up at him. His blue eyes were clear as he studied me.
“I love you,” I whispered. “I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you before. But I do. I love you.”
Kade didn’t react for a moment, and I was suddenly afraid that he hadn’t understood—that the pain medication and being unconscious for so long had made him too groggy. But then he spoke, his words a low rasp in my ear.
“You would have to tell me that when I’m laid up in the fucking hospital,” he said.
I huffed an unexpected laugh, and his soft smile made my heart feel lighter than it had in weeks. My whole body relaxed into him and my eyelids drooped. God, I was so tired . . .
Blane Kirk watched the scene from the shadows in the corner. He’d woken when Kat had settled into the chair by Kade, but had remained quiet. His heart had leapt when he saw Kade’s eyes open, relief flooding him. Kade was okay, was going to recover.