“Fine, I’ll let you pamper me. But only if you’ll make that chicken soup I love so much.”
Piper threw her arms in the air and sighed. “Don’t milk this, Ryan.”
He laughed and extended his hand for her to take. She moved closer and he wasn’t about to mention the trembling he instantly felt when they connected.
“Tell me about Alex,” he said, stroking her palm with his thumb. “What are the doctors saying? Did you call Cara?”
Piper eased a hip onto the edge of his very narrow, very thin E.R. mattress. “The doctors are still unsure as to whether or not the amnesia was caused before or during the accident. He has old bruises, so he was in a fight or some other accident before today. His wrist has several breaks and he’ll be going to surgery soon to repair that. More than likely they’ll either do a plate or at the very least pins.”
Broken bones were reparable, death was not. Ryan couldn’t even believe that Alex was here after all these months of wondering what had happened—whether he’d run away or been the victim of foul play. But now he was back and hopefully this amnesia was short term so he could explain just what the hell had happened.
“What about Cara?” he asked.
“I just checked with the nurse and Cara has been notified. I’m sure she’s on her way.”
“What did they tell her?”
Piper looked down at their joined hands. “That Alex was found alive, but he’d been in an accident. He has some memory loss and a broken wrist.”
“She’s got to be worried sick,” Ryan said.
“I can’t even imagine.”
“When can I get out of this bed?” Ryan grumbled. “I want to go see Alex and I think someone should be with Cara when she arrives. They’re going to need their friends.”
Piper nodded. “Dr. Meyers said you were free to go as long as someone stays with you overnight. I assured him you would be in good hands.”
Ryan only wished he’d end up in her hands. But, alas, Piper would never see him as anything other than her best friend. Even if she did have deeper feelings, the woman was stubborn and because her father had pretty much abandoned his family to dominate the rodeo circuit, Piper would never turn to a cowboy for any kind of a relationship beyond friendship.
And that left him out, considering he’d traveled the circuit for years and now intended to open a school for children to teach them his love of rodeo. The new ranch he’d purchased a few months ago just outside town had a vast amount of acreage, perfect for teaching young children the basics and allowing them to progress to higher levels of learning all in one location.
But as much as he loved his sprawling new ranch, he was more than willing to go to the small bungalow Piper was renovating.
“Let’s get to Alex’s room,” he told her as he eased off the bed, concentrating on his movements so he didn’t get dizzy, stumble and cause Piper to have him admitted. “Is he still in the E.R. or in his own room?”
“They just put him in a room and they’re going to do the surgery in a few hours once the surgeon is available and up to speed on what happened. They have to be careful with the anesthesia because of his head trauma.”
Piper slid the curtain aside with a swish and took off down the hall toward the elevators before she froze and turned back to him.
“Sorry, Ryan,” she said as she waited for him to catch up. “I’m so used to going at lightning speed, I wasn’t thinking you’re probably sore.”
“I’m fine, Red.” Though he wasn’t going to object when she slid her arm through his to guide him. Not that he needed it, but he appreciated her care. “I’ve been through worse with my job.”
They reached the elevator and rode up in silence. When the doors slid open, he let Piper take the lead because she knew the hospital better than he did and he wanted her to think she was actually assisting him in walking, though he really wasn’t in all that much pain except for the ribs.
“He’s in the last room on the right,” Piper said as they rounded the corner. “Should we both go in or just one at a time? I don’t want to bombard him or overwhelm him since he won’t remember us.”
Ryan held on to his sore side. “He’s already talked to you and I don’t think I’m that intimidating.”
Piper nodded. “Just don’t pressure him about details. The doctors said the memories need to come naturally and not be forced.”