There were sixty-seven yellow tiles visible on the floor of the emergency room–visible to his eye anyway. He’d been counting them since the doctor shoved him out of out the trauma room almost forty minutes ago.
He concentrated on the tiles, convincing himself that it was important that he know exactly how many tiles he could see from his position sitting on the floor, his back against the wall, his knees bent and his elbows braced on his denim-clad thighs.
Because as long as counting those tiles was the most important thing in his life, Ric Lansing wouldn’t have to think about the reason he was here. If he didn’t close his eyes, he wouldn’t be back at on those stairs, peering down at her motionless body on the cold concrete.
His father had taught him this trick once when Ric had been cramming for the SATs in high school. He’d been going nuts over some mathematical formula and his father had told him that memorizing it wasn’t going to do any good. Trevor Lansing suggested he think about something else. That if he wasn’t trying so hard to memorize the formula, he might realize he already knew it.
It’d worked–he’d gotten a perfect 1600 on the SATs and now Ric was desperately hoping it would work again.
It wasn’t but he was persistent. Time to count the white ceiling tiles. One, two, three…
He was at forty-nine when a doctor finally emerged from the room. Ric launched to his feet. “How is she?”
“She’s stable,” the doctor replied. “We stopped the internal bleeding.” He drug a hand through his short brown hair. “Your wife was very lucky, Mr. Lansing. There’s going to be a lot of bruising and she’ll have to stay in the hospital for about a week.”
Ric nodded, letting out a relieved sigh. He hesitated and asked the question. “Elizabeth is pregnant…” he trailed off. “The baby?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Lansing,” the doctor apologized. “There was too much damage. We couldn’t save the fetus.”
The fetus. His child, their child. The reason she’d forgiven him and married him was gone and had been reduced to a mere fetus. He inhaled sharply. “Is she awake?”
“She’ll be moved to a recovery room in a few moments and after a few hours there, she’ll be moved to her own room.”
“I want a private room,” Ric said immediately. “She has to have the best you can give her.”
“I’ll mark it on her chart,” the doctor replied. “A nurse will come and get you when you can see her.”
“Thank you,” Ric told him. The doctor strode away and disappeared in the trauma room again. Ric exhaled slowly. It was okay–Elizabeth was alive, she’d be okay. She’d be fine. He was disappointed that they’d lost their child and he knew this would devastate her.
But she loved him and he loved her. It was going to be okay.
His fists clenched at his sides and he allowed himself to think about the reason Elizabeth had just gone through emergency surgery and had lost their child.
He took a deep breath and tried to quell the anger rising in him. He had to believe that Sonny wouldn’t push a pregnant woman down a flight of stone steps. His own wife was pregnant–and Sonny had to be better than that. Elizabeth could have tripped and fell, there was always that possibility.
Because Ric had promised Elizabeth he was done with Sonny…and if he believed for one second his brother had pushed Elizabeth, he’d have to break that promise.
Sonny set the phone down and eyed Johnny carefully. “You’re sure about this?”
The seasoned guard nodded. “He didn’t leave the hospital all night.”
“Did you find out why he was there?” Sonny asked.
“No. He wasn’t admitted. He went in there last night and hasn’t left yet.” Johnny shrugged. “I don’t know why he’s there.”
Sonny sighed and looked away. “Check and see if Elizabeth Webber was admitted. Or an Elizabeth Lansing.”
Johnny frowned. “Ms. Webber married him?”
“Yeah.” Sonny shook his head. “She’s pregnant so I suspect that had something to do with it.”
“You’re not concerned about it?” the guard asked, surprised. “You’ve got someone watching him all the time, you think he tried to blow up everyone…and someone you’ve known for years marries him…and it doesn’t bother you?”
Sonny gave Johnny a withering glance. “Elizabeth makes her own choices.”
“Yeah…but….” Johnny shifted. “Does Jason know?”
“Yeah,” Sonny said, feeling strangely defensive. “I told him. He thinks she’s making a mistake but it’s none of his concern anymore.”
“None of his concern?” Johnny repeated. He frowned. “Did he say that?”
“No…but I’m sure that’s what he thinks,” Sonny replied. He narrowed his eyes. “You questioning me?”
“I don’t question your business decisions,” Johnny told him. “But I can question your personal motives. It’s not disloyal to do that. If you think Ric is such bad news, why didn’t you say something to her?”
“Why do you care?” Sonny asked, turning the tables on the guard.
“Because Francis would have wanted me to keep an eye out for her,” Johnny snapped. Sonny fell silent at the mention of Johnny’s cousin and Elizabeth’s former body guard. He’d been killed in Puerto Rico a few months ago. “Francis thought very highly of Ms. Webber.”
“I know he did,” Sonny replied. “He always requested her detail when the need arose. Look, Johnny, I can’t do anything to convince her he’s just going to hurt her. She wouldn’t listen. Elizabeth has a lot of loyalty and tends to believe the best in people.”
“That she does. I mean, she never listened to anyone about you or Jason,” Johnny remarked, dryly. “If you ask me, maybe she should have.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sonny demanded.
“Nothing,” Johnny answered. “I’ll try and find out if Ms. Webber was admitted.”
“Let me know what you find out.”
Johnny headed to the door, but Jason opened it and stepped through first. “Hey, Johnny.”
“Jason,” Johnny said shortly, pushing past the enforcer. He closed the door behind him.
“What’s his problem?” Jason asked.
“Ah, he’s a little upset,” Sonny replied. “He found out Elizabeth married Lansing and he’s worried about her.”
Jason frowned. “Why does Johnny care?”
“Because Francis used to guard her and I guess he asked Johnny to look out for her,” Sonny answered. “I’ve got Johnny watching Ric’s every move. He’s been at the hospital all night.”
“Don’t know. He wasn’t admitted, so he’s there for someone else. I’ve got Johnny checking to see if Elizabeth was admitted.” Sonny shook his head. “You know…I talked to her last night and I can’t remember a single word I said. I don’t even remember leaving.”
Sonny shrugged. “I don’t know. I was just so angry at her. She used to be such a nice girl, reasonable and smart, you know? Now…I barely recognize her.”
Elizabeth moaned slightly and her eyes fluttered open to see Ric perched on the side of her bed. “Ric? What happened?”
Ric sighed and brushed her hair off her face. “You fell down the stairs at Rice Plaza. Do you remember?”
Elizabeth frowned and looked away. “I was talking with Sonny…and I walked away.” She looked at him. “Someone pushed me as I was going down the stairs.”
Ric exhaled slowly. He’d been afraid of that possibility. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah,” she breathed. “I felt someone’s hand at my back.” Her blue eyes widened with fear. “The baby…?”
Ric looked down and took her hand in his. “I…I’m sorry…but the baby…” He shook his head, unable to speak past the lump in his throat.
“I lost the baby?” Elizabeth said softly. Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. “It’s gone?”
He nodded and closed his eyes. “I’m so sorry…”
Her lower lip trembled and she closed her eyes too. “Oh, God…”
Johnny strode back into the penthouse a half hour after he’d left and crossed his arms. Sonny and Jason looked at him, waiting for him to speak.
“Elizabeth Lansing was admitted last night,” Johnny reported in a calm voice. “She had internal injuries and a concussion. She’s in stable condition but she miscarried. Ric Lansing also filed a police report.”
Jason blinked. “Miscarried,” he repeated slowly.
“She was nine weeks pregnant,” Johnny told the enforcer, glaring at him.
“Why did he file a police report?” Sonny asked. “What happened to her?”
“Someone pushed Elizabeth down the stairs at Rice Plaza,” Johnny replied. “You’d better hope that Lansing doesn’t suspect you, because he already came after you because of your mother. What do you think is going to happen if he suspects you pushed his defenseless pregnant wife down a flight of concrete stairs?”
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