We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Reckless (Chestnut Springs Book 4): Chapter 9

Theo

 hiss out a breath when we hit a pothole. It’s not as bad as the dirt road leading out of the fairgrounds, but it’s not ideal either.

The other thing that’s not ideal is the small blonde stewing in the corner of the ambulance. I can’t even turn to look at her properly with my head strapped down onto the board like this. If it didn’t hurt to laugh, I’d laugh right now.

I knew I’d see her again at some point, but this isn’t quite what I’d pictured.

From the corner of my eye, I watch her stare down at one hand while her opposite arm wraps around her midsection.

The thing that woke me up was her snarky little voice barking at everyone to back off, and the feel of her finger stroking my neck. Before I even opened my eyes, I knew it was her. It’s been well over a year, but I still remember how her hands felt on me. The way she felt under my own, all damp and writhing.

I thought we had a good time. A really good time.

“Why are you ignoring me?” Just the vibration of my voice in my chest sends shocks of pain through my collarbone.

I know it’s broken, because it’s sticking out through the skin. I passed out for a second time when I reached up and ran my fingers over the jagged edge.

Winter tilts her head and gives me a thoroughly unimpressed look. “You must be kidding me.”

“Listen, I know you said it was a secret, but it’s just us here. So you can stop pretending that wasn’t the best sex you’ve ever had. How many times did I make you—”

“Theo. Shut up,” she snaps, but it’s not her usual Tinkerbell vibe. There’s an edge of something I can’t quite place.

Pain.

And it silences me.

The minutes filled with silence stretch between us. The hum of the road beneath the ambulance tires and the light rattle of the drawers in the back are our only companions.

Anxiety replaces discomfort as the main thing I’m feeling. There’s an unfamiliar heaviness. I didn’t expect to see her again, and I for sure didn’t expect the cold shoulder—even from her.

“How many concussions have you had, Theo?” Her voice is emotionless, but confident. Very doctor-y.

I sigh. “A lot.”

“How many is a lot?”

“We talking diagnosed or suspected?”

Her head flips away. “Jesus Christ.”

“Last time I got one, I was told not to get any more.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Probably three concussions ago.”

Her head taps back against the single seat she’s strapped into. “I can’t even tell if you’re joking right now.”

“I’m not joking, just trying to lighten the blow. No pun intended.”

I see her shake her head, but she says nothing. I am joking a little bit. It’s keeping me from falling into a pit of despair over watching the most epic season circle the drain before my eyes. All my hard work and sacrifice gone up in a puff of smoke because I did a friend a favor and offered to do a demo ride at his small-town rodeo on an “easy” bull.

Epically stupid. Just like many of the decisions I’ve made in my life.

“When I started out, I didn’t think wearing a helmet looked as cool.”

“Yeah, brain injuries make you look so cool,” she scoffs, jaw popping with tension.

“Have you seen the episode of Grey’s Anatomy where McDreamy dies?”

Her expression is one you’d use on a child, full of deprecation. But it’s a little lighter somehow.

I’ll take it. I love watching this woman thaw.

“Are you telling me you watch Grey’s Anatomy?”

“Every episode of all eighteen seasons.”

She looks confused. “Why?”

I go to shrug and instantly regret it. “My mom loves it. When I was younger and lived with her, we watched it together every Thursday. Now, I watch it on my own and then call her so we can talk about it. It’s the only reason I still have cable.”

“How often?” Winter’s eyes are comically wide.

“Every week. Well, while the season is running.”

She stares at me like I’m some exotic animal in a zoo. “That’s . . .”

“Are you going to say weird? Don’t bother. You won’t convince me. I never thought it was that weird. Sure, the guys have made fun of me for it along the way. But I don’t give a fuck. She’s my mom. Seems like the least I can do for her.”

Winter almost jolts in her seat before she drops her eyes to her lap. Her voice is hushed when she says, “I wasn’t going to say weird.”

“You’re gonna make sure they do a CT scan so that doesn’t happen, right?”

Her head snaps up. “What?”

“Remember? We were talking about the episode where Derek dies. You sure I’m the one with a concussion?”

“I’m not Meredith. And you are certainly no McDreamy.”

“They got married on a Post-it note.”

Her brows scrunch. “And?”

“And we made a sex contract on a coaster. What was it? One night only. We never tell anyone . . .”

I don’t need to ask. I know what’s on that coaster, and I’m trying to see if she does too.

The ambulance stops, and she stares at me, not even a twitch of her lips. Blank and icy and thoroughly unimpressed. “That’s not funny, Theo.”

“I wasn’t trying to be funny—”

“Okay, we’re here,” the paramedic announces as he yanks the doors open.

I see the reflection of flashing red lights bouncing off the hospital.

And the silhouette of Winter escaping the ambulance, getting away from me as fast as possible.


My eyes blink open to take in the hospital room around me. Dim lights. A steady beeping. Dryness in my mouth.

“You must enjoy spending time at the hospital,” Rhett quips from beside me.

I squeeze my eyes shut once more to get my bearings and eventually grumble out, “I hope your stupid rodeo was a huge success, asshole. Where’s my dog? One of the girls was watching him.”

The sound of Rhett shifting in a vinyl hospital chair joins the chorus of beeps. “Don’t worry, Summer has him. He might as well be a child, considering she just sent me a photo of him in our bed with her. And it’s not my fault you dropped that inside shoulder like a rookie. Right down the well you go.”

My eyes open only so that I can shoot him a glare. “Hilarious. The best season of my life is trashed because I did you a solid and you’re sitting here telling me what I did wrong. Next time, you ride the fucking bull yourself. You’re the one everyone wants to see anyway.”

His lips flatten and his arms cross. “People were there to see you, Theo. Don’t kid yourself.”

I glance away, noting that whatever drugs they gave me after surgery are doing a great job because there’s no pain to speak of. “People are there to see me because I’m Gabriel Silva’s son and your protégé. Not because I have any accolades of my own.”

Rhett’s amber eyes narrow on me, his hands steepled beneath his chin. “That’s not true.”

“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Eaton. Tell me what I’m known for in the WBRF?”

His lips twitch. “Chasing tail.”

I swallow my frustration and focus on the ceiling. I fucking hate that for me.

“Theo, you’re gonna bust a tooth grinding your molars like that. Everyone knows who you are because you’re piecing together one of the most impressive seasons anyone has seen. A better run than your dad or I ever went on. That’s for sure.”

“So much for that.”

“Don’t be a pessimist. It doesn’t suit you.”

“I’m allowed to have a moment, Rhett. I’ve seen you brood over shit. I remember how hard you sulked when you first got saddled with Summer as your babysitter. This is ten times worse. I don’t have to always be in a good mood.”

“You’ll be back this season. You’re far enough ahead that you can pull it off. We’ll make sure that you—”

A slightly raised voice cuts in from the hallway through the open door. “You didn’t check his head?”

A deeper one responds. “He was perfectly alert. Laughing. Joking. I’m heading in there now. He’s already awake.”

“Have you not seen the episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Derek Shepherd dies? It was one little CT scan to double-check the brain of a man who has had multiple head injuries—”

“Winter, relax.”

Rhett’s eyes widen at me. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Winter Hamilton likes you. She’s been a fucking terror out there, checking your charts and demanding updates.”

I’m about to respond to that, but a stout man with gray hair wanders into my room.

He stops near my bed, glasses dropped low on his nose, while he stares down at a clipboard. “Mr. Silva, I’m Dr. Forrester. Nice to see you’re awake. Surgery went well—”

Winter storms in behind him, doing her best crabby Tinkerbell impression, and I can’t help but smile. “How’s your head?”

“Winter,” the older doctor admonishes her.

It annoys me. He introduces himself as doctor but calls Winter by her first name.

“Doctor Hamilton,” I correct, letting steel seep into my voice.

The man glances at me, head quirking to the side. “Yes? What about her?”

“You keep calling her Winter. But she works here, right? It’s Dr. Hamilton, isn’t it?”

An awkward hush permeates the space. Three sets of eyes lock on mine. Rhett’s amused. Dr. Forrester’s taken aback. And Winter’s confused.

The man clears his throat and offers me a flat smile. “Right, well, yes. Dr. Hamilton here is concerned about head trauma, but I’ve assured her that you are most likely concussed. The helmet is what saved you.”

“I’ll take him for a CT myself, then.”

The other doctor lets out a beleaguered sigh and Rhett fails to stifle a laugh.

I have to confess I’m a little lost as to why Winter cares so much about this. I’m not mad about it though. If she wants to play doctor, I’ll be the patient.

“I think Dr. Hamilton is right,” I pipe up, lasering my eyes in on hers even though I’m addressing the other doctor in the room. “I’d like to go for a CT, just to be safe. I’d hate to pull a McDreamy.” Her lips flatten and she looks away. I’m pretty sure that’s her version of holding back a laugh. “But first, how did surgery go? All fixed up? When can I get back on?”

“Surgery was a success. You’ve got a shiny new set of screws to go with the plate along your right clavicle. You’re going to need to do physio, though. I’m thinking you’ll be back to regularly scheduled activities in about three months. You’re young and fit. We’ll just have to see how those bones heal up. Could be sooner. Though I can’t recommend you getting back on a bull.”

Winter scoffs and rolls her eyes, hip cocked out and foot tapping the polished floor.

“Something to add, Dr. Hamilton?” He uses the right words this time, but the way he says them is almost worse.

“Yes, actually.” Her eyes narrow and she doesn’t back down at all. “His job is riding bulls. Telling him not to get back on one isn’t helpful. We need to come up with a rehabilitation program that caters to him as an athlete.”

“Excellent idea, Dr. Hamilton. I love your youthful exuberance.” He smiles and stashes his pen into the top of the clipboard. “If you’re so passionate about his rehabilitation plan, I invite you to come back from your maternity leave and take it over.”

Maternity leave?

Winter pales, her cheeks losing their angry flush right before my eyes. She bites at her lip and nods, ignoring my gaze in such an unnatural way that it makes me stare at her even harder.

“Maybe I will,” she says coolly. And then she spins on her heel and marches out of the room.

Disappointment roils in my gut, because I’ve been carrying a torch for her since that night. And clearly I covered it well, because Rhett never brought this up. Or her up at all. But I didn’t care. I thought when the dust settled for us both, I’d be back, annoying her into giving me more than one night. Maybe into giving me a shot at more. Like maybe if I got myself together enough, I’d be worthy of that shot.

Clearly that ship has sailed. She wanted this. And I should be happy for her.

But in the wake of everything that’s gone down today, I don’t feel happy at all.


Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Options

not work with dark mode
Reset