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Echoes of You: Chapter 47


I landed with a thud, Nash’s body covering mine. Lawson shouted something, but I couldn’t make out the words over the blood roaring in my ears.

Pop. Pop. Pop. Another round of shots sounded.

My mind struggled to put the pieces of the scene around me into place, to make sense of it all. But I couldn’t.

Nash’s body pinned me to the ground. He wasn’t moving. He wasn’t speaking.

The panic set in. “Nash?”

I struggled to get free of his weight, to see his face. Finally, I rolled us as one so that Nash was on his back. And that was when I saw it.


So much of it that it covered his T-shirt, spreading out like a terrifying sea as the tide swept in. “Nash?” I croaked.

His eyes were closed, his face pale.

I pressed a hand to his cheek. Still warm. Still here.

“Wake up. You have to wake up.”

I didn’t know what to do. How long had it been since I’d taken a first-aid class? I couldn’t remember. Was I supposed to do chest compressions or rescue breaths? Both? I didn’t know.

“Nash, please.” My voice broke, shattering the way my soul was.

“Maddie!” Lawson barked, striding toward me.

Some part of me recognized that Dan was lying on the ground, not moving either.

“He’s shot. I-I—what do I do?” My hands trembled.

“The EMTs are on the way.” Lawson dropped to his knees and pressed a finger to the side of Nash’s neck. “Can you do the rescue breath?”

His voice was calm, but his eyes were anything but.

I nodded quickly.

“Breathe,” Lawson ordered.

I did as he instructed, pinching Nash’s nose and sealing my mouth to his. I pushed the oxygen from my lungs into his and then sat back.

Lawson locked his arms and pressed his palms down on Nash’s sternum. Each compression forced more blood from Nash’s chest. My tears started to fall, slipping over my eyes and down my cheeks.

“Breathe,” Lawson said.

I bent, closing my lips over Nash’s. The salt from my tears slipped into my mouth and his. Please. I prayed with my breath. I silently promised my life for his if God would intervene. I would give anything just to see those green eyes again.

Sirens sounded as Lawson started compressions once more. They grew closer with each pump of Nash’s chest.


I covered Nash’s mouth again, forcing my life into his body.

“Step back,” an EMT shouted as he ran toward us.

“There was no pulse,” Lawson said flatly.

The EMT pressed his fingers to Nash’s neck. “Defibrillator!” he yelled as he cut away Nash’s T-shirt.

There it was. A hole. Way too close to his heart. A wound because he’d dove in front of me.

The second EMT placed pads on Nash’s chest. “You need to let go,” he said to me.

It was only then that I realized I was clutching Nash’s shoulder. I gave my hands the order to release him, but they wouldn’t obey.

Lawson rounded to me, gently pulling me back. “Come on. I’ve got you.”

“Clear,” the second EMT said.

There was a sound, and Nash’s body jolted. I shoved my face into Lawson’s shirt.



Another sound. So unnatural.

“I’ve got a heartbeat. We need to move now, or he’ll never make it.”

I stared down at my lap. Wren had brought a change of clothes to the hospital for me. The sweatpants were covered in polka dots. I traced an invisible constellation between them—anything to keep from taking in the faces in the room.

Their grief and fear grated against my already raw skin.

A hand closed around mine and squeezed. “He’s strong. A fighter,” Wren said softly.

“I know.” I forced my gaze up to meet hers. Wren’s face was pale, but there was hope in her eyes.

Lawson sat in the corner with his three boys. The youngest was curled on his lap. Charlie had exhausted himself with a crying jag that had sent him into a deep sleep. The eldest, Luke, had his eyes glued to a handheld game console, but there was tension in the teenager’s jaw that gave away his worry and anger. The middle boy, Drew, stared straight at the door as if willing the doctor to show.

Nash’s parents, Kerry and Nathan, sat next to them. Nathan had his arm curled around his wife the same way Nash’s had done around me. A sob rose in my throat, but I shoved it down.

Grae sat opposite me, her hand clutching Caden’s as if he were her lifeline. Next to them was Roan, a darkness emanating from him that was otherworldly—grief and rage that stole my breath.

Holt bent, brushing his lips across Wren’s temple as if he needed that contact to ground him. “I’m going to get a soda. Does anyone need anything?”

No one else asked for anything.

Just as he stood, the surgeon entered the space. Her black hair was pulled into a bun, and she’d smoothed her face into a careful mask. “Nash Hartley’s family?”

Nathan stood. “Yes.”

“I’m Dr. Chung. I performed the operation on Mr. Hartley.” Her voice was even and measured. There was a kindness to it but nothing overly emotional. And I couldn’t read her at all. “The shot was a through-and-through, but it nicked his aorta.”

My fingernails dug into my palms, piercing the skin.

“His heart stopped twice on the table, but we were able to get it beating again both times.”

“What does that mean?” Holt demanded. “Is he going to be okay?”

Dr. Chung turned her focus to Holt. “We won’t know the level of damage until he wakes up. The next forty-eight hours will be critical. I can escort two of you to intensive care now if you’d like to have someone with him.”

My chest burned, and I rubbed at the spot, the same place Nash had been shot. His heart had stopped. Not once. Not twice. But three times all in all.


My head jerked up at the sound of Kerry’s voice.

Her eyes were glassy with unshed tears. “Do you want to come see Nash with me?”

“Can I?” My voice broke on each syllable, the shattered pieces swirling around my vocal cords.

She crossed to me, holding out a hand. “Let’s go see our boy.”

I held on to Kerry, and I didn’t let go. Not on the walk to the elevator or the ride up to the ICU floor. Not during the walk down the second hallway or as we paused outside the double doors. I only released her when we had to coat our hands with sanitizer.

Dr. Chung led us to a room with an open door. “The ventilator is helping him breathe. We’ll wean him off that in the next twenty-four hours as his vitals improve.”

I barely heard her. I only had eyes for Nash. The man who had always made me feel tiny somehow seemed dwarfed by the hospital bed. There were so many wires and tubes I couldn’t keep track of them all.

My feet moved before I gave them a conscious command, taking me toward the man who had always been everything to me.

I sank onto one of the two chairs next to his bed. His pointer finger had an oxygen monitor clipped to it, and his skin was far too pale. My hand trembled as I took his, and I lifted my gaze to his face.

I hated that I couldn’t see his eyes. I needed those green orbs on mine, so full of life and mischief and love. I held his hand tighter, my tears spilling over and falling onto them. “I love you, Nash. It’s you and me. You can’t leave me.”


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