“Thanks. Hold on to it for a while, will you? I’m rather busy right now.”

He nodded.

“You wanna grab some lunch once you’re done wrestling with that beast?” he asked.

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“Hmmm, maybe. This might take a while,” she grunted.

“I can wait. I’m going to have a chat with Sean,” he informed, and she watched him turn and leave, admiring his butt as he walked away.

She went back to the task at hand and was halfway done when the drift chisel slipped as she was trying to hit the end of the CV joint and angled sharply downward toward her leg. The sharp end sliced through her overalls and scored into her thigh just above the knee. She sucked in a breath as the pain hit her, and the chisel and hammer clanged to the floor as she clutched at her thigh and bit back a scream. She clamped a hand over the wound as she tried to stem the flow of blood and immediately began to feel a bit woozy at the sight of all that red.

Sean was busy telling Gabe about girlfriend number two dumping him when they heard Bobbi cry out, followed by the sharp sound of metal hitting the floor. Craig and Pieter looked up too, and they all took an instinctive step toward her that broke into a full-out scramble to reach her when they saw her listing to the side.

Gabe’s heart stopped and he dashed over to where Craig and Pieter were already crouched next to her. Craig was swearing profusely and Pieter confirmed Gabe’s worst fears by yelling at Sean to call an ambulance.

Gabe slid to his knees beside her and all he could see was red . . . so much damned blood.

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“What happened?” he asked, but everybody was bustling and panicking and Bobbi was unconscious and nobody would tell him. “What the hell happened?”

Craig looked up grimly; he had a hand clamped over her thigh and an arm supporting her back.

“Chisel slipped, I think,” he said succinctly. “I’m not sure, there’s a lot of blood. It may have nicked an artery.”

And in that instant Gabe’s own life flashed before his eyes—a future life . . . the one he should have with his Bobbi by his side. A future filled with laughter, joy, love, and children. One that he might lose before he even properly recognized that it was what he desperately wanted.

“No,” he ground out between clenched teeth. He would not lose her like this. It just wasn’t acceptable. He yanked off his tie and leaned in beside Craig, feeling sick at the sight of all that blood. It was actually starting to pool beneath her, and he tried not to think about how much she was losing and how dangerous it was. “Move your hand a bit but don’t let up on the pressure.” He instructed Craig, who did as he was told without question. Gabe used his tie to fasten a tourniquet around her thigh, just above the wound.

“Come on, sweetheart,” he urged. “You stay with me. Don’t you dare leave me.”

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He kept talking to her while Craig kept his hand clamped over the wound and Pieter and Sean both stood by helplessly clutching their hats in their hands. The ambulance took forever to arrive, and Gabe was in a state of complete terror by the time the paramedics took over. He watched her closely for signs that she wasn’t breathing, and he said a grateful prayer with every shallow movement of her chest.

When the paramedics loaded her into the ambulance, he climbed into the back with her. The female paramedic tending to Bobbi said something about the bleeding slowing down and commended him on his tourniquet. Gabe kept his focus on Bobbi, willing her to live as he held tightly onto her hand.

When they got to the hospital, Mike and Billy were already waiting; Sean had called them after calling the ambulance. Mike looked pale and old and Billy looked furious and terrified all rolled into one.

“What happened?” Billy asked, his eyes trained on his sister as they wheeled her past him and straight into the emergency room. Gabe ignored him and moved to follow the gurney but they were all strong-armed out by doctors and nurses, who directed them to a waiting room. Gabe hated not being with her and couldn’t stop prowling up and down the confines of the room.

Mike sank into a chair and sat there looking more feeble than Gabe wanted to think about right now. Billy was still demanding answers, and Gabe filled him in as succinctly as possible. Edward and Clyde came in a few minutes later, and Edward, the doctor, immediately went to see if he could get additional information.

Chase strode into the room soon afterward, and when Gabe looked surprised to see him, he said that Billy had SMS’d him. Edward returned and everybody looked at him expectantly.

“The good news is that she’s out of danger,” he informed, and everybody breathed a sigh of relief. Gabe’s legs gave out and he sank down next to Mike. “She’s very lucky, it didn’t hit her femoral artery, thank God . . . but it was literally millimeters away from doing serious damage.” Edward’s face went gray at the thought. “One of her veins was nicked though which is why there was so much blood. The tourniquet and applied pressure kept the blood loss under control.” He glanced at Gabe as he said this, and Gabe ran a shaky hand through his hair as he tried very hard not to fall apart. “She’s in surgery to have the vein stitched up—but she’ll recover quickly and there’ll be no lasting damage. They also . . .”

Gabe didn’t hear the rest, his head was throbbing and he felt nauseous. He needed fresh air, he needed to get out . . . things were too chaotic in this place. Too much noise and craziness, it made him feel boxed in—there was no order here. He shoved to his feet and was vaguely aware of the astonished looks he was getting before he slammed out of the room and walked away.

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