Home > Tossed Into Love (Fluke My Life #3)(2)

Tossed Into Love (Fluke My Life #3)(2)
Author: Aurora Rose Reynolds

Shoving away that depressing realization, I walk across the black marble floors to the office, take off my coat, and stow my bag before clocking in and getting to work.

More than nine hours later, my feet are tired, my head is throbbing from inhaling hair products all day, and my stomach is grumbling from not having had time to eat lunch. I head into the hospital and try to focus on sending a text to my sister Fawn to let her know I’ll see her later tonight. My sisters and I have plans to go to an art show in SoHo, where one of Fawn’s friend’s pieces will be on display. It’s not something I’m really looking forward to after being on my feet all day, but I miss my sisters. It will be worth it to spend some time with them. I take the elevator up to the third floor, then follow the directions the lady at the front desk gave me. My shoes click-clack loudly, the sound bouncing off the walls with each and every step. Shifting my purse and the huge bouquet of lilies and roses I’m holding in my arms, I scan each room number until I finally reach the one I’ve been looking for. I shift the bouquet again, then reach for the handle of the door just as it begins to swing open. As I look over the top of the flowers, a familiar set of dark-brown eyes lock with mine. My heart starts to race.

“Princess.”

Antonio’s rough voice greets me with the annoying nickname he uses for me. He crowds my space, forcing me to shuffle back to avoid being pressed against him. (I totally don’t want that.) Once I’m standing in the middle of the empty hall a few feet from him, he closes the door behind him. He crosses his arms over his chest and plants his boot-covered feet wide apart. Lowering the flowers so I can see him, I wish—not for the first time—that I had magical powers to make him seem grotesque. Unfortunately, I don’t have those powers. He only seems to become more handsome each time I see him. His dark hair is lazily styled in a way that makes it look like he just ran his fingers through it, and his olive skin that’s not even been kissed by the sun is a gift from the Italian blood flowing through his veins. He has cut cheekbones, a strong square jaw, full lips, and dark eyes surrounded by thick, dark lashes. Last but totally not least, there’s his body—tall, lean, and powerful. I hate him . . . Or I really wish I could hate him.

“Dad can’t have flowers,” he states, moving his eyes from me to the bouquet I’m holding.

My stomach drops.

“Wh-what?”

“Can’t have flowers. He just had surgery, so they don’t want flowers in his room.”

“Oh.” I look from him to the flowers, feeling disappointed. I should have asked before I bought them. I just thought anyone staying in a cold, sterile hospital deserved to have flowers to look at. “I’ll—”

He cuts me off. “I’ll take them to the house.”

My eyes go back to his, and I could swear I catch a flash of regret. I know I imagine it, though. He’s never, not ever, nice to me. Why would he regret being mean now?

“Mom will enjoy looking at them when she’s home.”

He’s right. His mom will enjoy them. She loves flowers, and I know this because even though their house doesn’t have much green space, she plants flowers every spring in the hanging baskets outside their windows and in big pots on either side of her front door. She even has flowers outside the pizza shop in one of the big planters near the street, which on other blocks are normally collecting a fair amount of garbage from passersby.

“Thanks.” I bite my lip as I hold out the flowers toward him. His eyes drop to my mouth and turn angry as he takes them. His angry looks really don’t surprise me anymore. While I’ve been lusting over him, wishing I could hate him, he’s been doing a really great job of hating me. I don’t know what I did to make him dislike me as much as he does, but there is no denying he totally dislikes me.

“You gonna go in and visit?”

“Yes,” I answer, but I don’t move. I don’t move because he looks tired, actually exhausted. I can see that he’s trying to hold himself together and stay strong for his parents.

“Are you okay?” I ask softly, taking a step toward him. Without thinking, I rest my hand on his upper arm. His eyes drop to my hand, then shoot up to mine. Releasing him when I see the look in his eyes, I brace myself. Good thing I do, since the next words that come out of his mouth feel like a punch to the gut.

“My dad had a heart attack, he had surgery, he can’t work, I gotta run the shop, and Mom’s a mess. How do you think I’m doing?” he replies in a clipped tone.

I take a step back and pull in a deep breath so I don’t do something stupid like cry in front of him.

“Why”—I pull in another breath through my nose, fighting back the sting of tears—“why are you always such a jerk to me?” I hold up my hand to cut him off when I see his mouth open. “Never mind. I don’t care.” I turn away from him, put my hand on the door handle, push down, and walk into the room without knocking. I close the door behind me.

When I step into the room, the sight that greets me makes my stomach twist. Tony is lying in the hospital bed asleep, looking pale and thin. Martina is sitting in a chair next to his bed, holding his hand, with her head bowed and her eyes closed.

Seeing Tony in that bed and Martina at his side, a different kind of pain slithers through my chest.

“Cara.”

Martina’s voice startles me, and I focus on her.

“Hey.” I step farther into the room and get close to her. I curve my hand around her shoulder, then bend at the waist to kiss her cheek.

“Cara.” She repeats the Italian word for “dear,” and my eyes start to sting again. I can hear the pain in her voice.

“How are you holding up?” I ask, leaning back to look at her.

Her eyes close as she shakes her head. When she opens up her eyes again, she turns her head toward Tony, who’s still asleep.

“Doctors say he’s gonna be okay, so I’ll be okay,” she answers.

My heart twists again. There is no doubt that she loves her husband, and I know that she loves him in a way that if, god forbid, he were to pass, she would follow behind him. That’s how strong their love is. I don’t think either of them would survive without the other. No way.

“I would have come sooner, but Mackenzie just told me this morning,” I say.

She lets out a long breath. Her eyes leave her husband and come back to me.

“I . . .” She takes a shaky breath, and tears fill her eyes. “I haven’t thought much about anything since he told me his chest was hurting him and I forced him to come to the hospital. I’m sorry I didn’t think to call.”

“Please don’t apologize,” I whisper, watching her eyes close. A single tear slides down her pale cheek. “It will be okay.” I take a seat in the empty chair next to her.

“I know, cara, I’m just worried not only about Tony but about Antonio. He’s been running himself ragged working at the shop—and he’s still going in to the firehouse. It’s too much for one person. I don’t know what to do.”

“He’ll be okay as long as you and Tony are okay,” I assure her, taking her hand and squeezing it. “I rearranged my hours at the salon today so I can help out at the shop for a few hours in the evenings, and Mackenzie said she’ll help out as well.”

“You’re a good girl.” She covers my hand with her own, giving it a squeeze. “One day Antonio will open his eyes and see that, too.”

Her statement doesn’t surprise me. She’s gotten it in her head that her son and I should be together. I used to tell her it’d never happen while secretly hoping it would. Now I don’t secretly wish for anything having to do with her son.

“You look pretty today. Did you do anything fun?”

“Just work.”

“You work too much.”

This is spoken in a rough, low voice. My eyes fly to the bed. Tony’s tired eyes are open and on me.

“Hey, you.” I get up and walk around to the opposite side of the bed so I can lean over him and kiss his cheek. “How are you feeling?” I ask when I lean back.

He rolls his eyes. “I’m fine. Just wish everyone would stop worrying so much,” he says.

   
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