“Good morning Ellery, I hope you slept well.”

I smiled and headed to the cabinet for a coffee mug. “Good morning, I slept very well in that monstrous bed.”


He lightly laughed. I poured some coffee and sat at the table across from him. “There are bagels over there, please have one.”

“Thanks, but I’m not hungry.”

He looked at me with his morning green eyes, “You have to eat Ellery.”

I sighed, “I never eat when I first wake up, but don’t worry dad I’ll have one in a little bit.”

A slight irritated smile graced his face, “You’re even a smart ass first thing in the morning.” I held up my cup and smiled.

“What are you doing?” I asked as I pointed to his laptop?

“Just sending some emails and rearranging some meetings.”

“Did you overschedule or something?”

He looked at me and cocked his head, “You question everything, don’t you?”

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I looked up at the ceiling, “I guess I do,” I smiled.

I sat and stared at him as he was looking at his computer screen. He was freshly showered, and his hair was still damp and perfectly sexy.

“What are your plans today?” He curiously asked. I set my cup down and wrapped my hands around the mug.

“I have to call work and tell my boss I will not be in because of the funeral; then I think I’ll stop over at the soup kitchen and volunteer this afternoon.”

Connor looked up from his laptop, “You really enjoy volunteering there don’t you?”

“Yes, I love it. Even though they are homeless and whatever problems they may have, they are human beings, and they need help.”

He looked at me for a second and then continued on his lap top. I took a sip of my coffee and looked out the enormous window at the view of New York City.

“The reason I was rearranging my meetings is because I’m taking you to Michigan.”

“What?” I exclaimed.

He got up from the table and put his cup on the counter. “It’s not up for discussion Elle; we are leaving tomorrow morning, and we’re driving.”

“Driving? That’s a 10 hour drive Connor.”

He turned around and faced me, “I know how long of a drive it is; consider it a road trip.”

I sighed, “A road trip? Flying will get us there in an hour and a half.”

“Do you have a problem being with me in a car for 10 hours?” he casually asked.

“No, but…”

He walked over to where I was sitting and stood over me as if he wanted to touch or kiss me, but he didn’t, he just said, “No buts, we will go by car.”

“I don’t think Denny wants to drive us to Michigan.”

He laughed and walked away, “Denny isn’t driving; I am.”

I rolled my eyes and heavily sighed, why was he going anyway? I am more than capable of going back home by myself, and that’s the way I prefer it, ok maybe not, the thought of being in a car with him for ten hours was exciting. I smiled and got up from the table.

I grabbed my bag and stepped into the elevator; Denny was waiting for me outside by the Limo.

“Morning Denny, where is Connor?” I asked as I looked, and he was not in the Limo.

“Good morning Miss Lane. Mr. Black took the Range Rover to work today.”

“Can I ask you a question Denny?”

“Sure Miss Lane,” he said as he looked at me through the rearview mirror.

“Did Mr. Black tell you why he’s driving me to Michigan?”

“No Miss Lane he did not, he just told me to take the next few days off because he was going on a road trip. Miss Lane, can I tell you something?”

I looked curiously at him, “What is it?”

“I’ve worked for The Black family for the past 10 years. I was his father’s driver, as well. I have never seen Mr. Black behave in such a way as he has since he's met you. Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this.”

I smiled, “Nah, it’s ok Denny, we’re friends, and maybe that’s all Connor needs is a really good friend.” It saddened me that it’s the only way things can be.

I stepped into my apartment and headed to the bathroom to take a hot bath. I needed to think about everything before I headed back to Michigan. I climbed into the hot bubbly water and closed my eyes taking in the lavender scented bubbles. My phone rang just as I was starting to relax.

“Hey Peyton,” I answered. There was a screech from the other end.

“OMG Elle, I have the best news.” Even though, I couldn’t see her, I knew she was jumping up and down.

“Elle, all three of your painting sold.”

I sat up, “What? Are you kidding?”

“No, I would not kid about a thing like that, and the best part is the same person bought all three and paid triple the amount for them. They said your paintings are the most beautiful they have ever seen. Elle, Sal wants to talk to you about becoming a regular artist for the gallery; he wants to contract you for more paintings. Listen, the money you made off those three alone, you can quit your job to paint full-time.”

“Who was the buyer?” I asked.

“I don’t know, Sal said it was some woman. I have your check; can you meet for lunch later?”

“Lunch sounds great. I’m going to volunteer at the soup kitchen for a couple of hours then we can meet after that, I’ll text you.”

I hung up the phone and laid back against the tub reveling in my good news. I never dreamed any of my paintings would sell, especially all 3 of them. I couldn’t wait to tell Connor. I wanted to text him, but he was at work and I’m sure he was busy, so I figured I shouldn’t bother him. I got out of the tub, pruned skin and all, and threw on a pair of skinny jeans and a long sweater. I walked across the hallway as a wave of dizziness came over me and then suddenly everything turned black.

I awoke lying on the floor and my head hurting. I laid there dazed and confused trying to focus and remember what happened. I was pretty sure I fainted. I sat up as I felt something dripping down my face. I took my fingers and swiped them across the drips and looked in horror at the blood all over them. I took a deep breath and got up to look in the mirror. I had a deep cut above my eye, and it was bleeding pretty badly. I opened the medicine cabinet, took out some gauze and applied pressure to the wound. I kept begging god to make it stop and not have to go get stitches. I reached back inside the medicine cabinet. I took out the box of butterfly bandages that I had left over from when Kyle cut his finger on a knife. I applied the bandage and hoped for the best. Why now? Why did this have to happen now? Just an hour ago, I was basking in the glory of the sale of my paintings, and now I was standing in front of the mirror with a gash above my eye that may or may not require stitches.

I went to the cupboard and pulled out the bottle of Motrin. I took two caplets and headed over to the record company to give my notice. Peyton was right, if Sal wanted to contract me, then painting would become my full-time job. I just hope I would make enough money to live on.

Chapter 16

I was walking down the street as I felt the wetness through the bandage. Shit, I knew I was going to need stitches. I reached in my bag for my cell phone and dialed Peyton.

“Peyton, I fell and cut my head. It won’t stop bleeding, so I’m heading over to the hospital to have it looked at.”

“OMG are you ok? I’ll meet you there Elle, don’t worry.”

Before I could tell her not to go, she hung up. I was nowhere near the hospital, so I tried to catch a cab. Of course, when I desperately needed one, they won’t stop. As I was standing on the curb with my hand on my head, a Limo driving by pulled up and rolled down the passenger side window, “Miss Lane are you ok?” Denny asked with concern. I couldn’t believe he was here at this moment.

“Denny, thank god, can you drive me to the hospital? I had a little accident, and I need to get it checked out.”

“Of course, get in the front seat and let me take a look.”

I opened the door and climbed in the front seat. Denny removed my hand. His eyes widened. He opened the glove box and took out a small white towel and folded it. “Here, keep this over that cut and apply pressure,” he said as he pulled into traffic and drove me to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital, and he helped me out of the car. I thanked him as I saw Peyton waiting in the lobby for me. He walked me into the ER as I introduced him to her.

“Thank you Denny for your help.”

He smiled, “Not a problem Miss Lane, take care of that and feel better.” I gently hugged him as he left through the automatic doors.

A nurse named Carla sat me in a wheel chair and pushed me through the corridor to a room. She helped me out of the chair and onto the bed where she made me lay down to prevent any more injuries. Peyton sat down in the chair next to my bed and cursed at me for not coming to the hospital sooner. I hated hospitals; I saw and been in enough of them to last me a lifetime.

Carla was a larger woman, and by the looks of her, she was not one who played around. She was funny. She had me and Peyton laughing our asses off with the way she talked about the nursing staff and some of the doctors.

Not too long after she took my vitals, Dr. Beckett came in. Peyton was in the middle of a sentence, and when she saw him she fell silent. He was a hot young resident with short black hair, baby blue eyes and sun-tanned skin.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Beckett,” he smiled as he held out his hand.

Peyton jumped up and held out her hand, “Hi, I’m Peyton Bennett,” she flirtatiously smiled.

I rolled my eyes, which hurt because of the cut. “So Ellery, tell me how this happened,” he spoke as he examined the wound.

“I’m not sure; I took a bath and got dressed. I started to feel a little dizzy as I was walking down the hallway and I think I passed out. I must have hit my head on the corner of the wall or molding.”

“Is it normal for you to get dizzy suddenly?”

I looked at him, straight into his baby blues and said, “No.”

“Ok, well I’m going to get my suture kit, put in a few stitches and get you out of here.” I smiled and nodded my head as Peyton drooled over him.

“OMG, he is gorgeous, I’m obviously getting his number. Did you see a ring on his finger Elle? Did you?”

Just as I was about to answer, the curtain opened, and there stood Connor, looking as sexy as when I left him this morning. Peyton’s eyes widened, “Oh god, another one, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.” I frowned at her and lightly smacked her on the arm. Connor stood there holding the curtain in his hand.

“Elle, my god what happened?” He walked over to me and put his hand on my head. “Are you ok?” I looked at his face; he genuinely seemed worried. It’s a look I haven’t seen before.

“Connor,” I put my hand on his arm, “I’m fine.”

“So, you’re Connor Black?” Peyton tilted her head and asked.

“I’m sorry, Connor this is Peyton; Peyton this is Connor.”

“Nice to finally meet you Peyton, I’ve heard a lot about you.”

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