Home > Ride Wild (Raven Riders #3)(9)

Ride Wild (Raven Riders #3)(9)
Author: Laura Kaye

He tilted his head and stared at her. That dark gaze always felt just a little too observant, too perceptive for her liking. “Yeah? Then why were you calling from the side of the road this morning, Cora?”

She shifted feet and resisted cupping her hand to her ear and saying, Oh, I’m sorry, I think I hear Ben calling for me . . . Yeah. No. That wasn’t going to fly. “How about this,” she said instead. “It’s all over.”

His eyebrow arched, just a little. Enough for her to know he was calling bullshit even if he wasn’t vocalizing it. “Haven worries about you, so that means I do, too. Actually, I would anyway, because you’re part of the Ravens’ family now.” He kept going, as if that declaration wasn’t absolutely huge for her to hear. “And I won’t let anyone treat you bad, Cora. Not even one of our own. You hear what I’m saying?”

She gasped. “Slider doesn’t treat me badly.” Cora hated that Dare might think that. Sure, Slider was often withdrawn, distant, and quiet as a heart attack—and not just toward her. She’d overheard enough chatter around the clubhouse to know that Slider had, for the most part, dropped off the face of the earth where the club was concerned, despite once being an active member. The guys seemed to understand that Kim’s death had shattered Slider, but there was a little resentment and disappointment there, too. Still, that didn’t mean he was ever out of line with her. Even with what he’d said this morning, he’d tried to backpedal away from how harshly it’d initially come out of his mouth. “He doesn’t, Dare. Not ever.”

He gave her another penetrating stare, then nodded. “Okay, good. Glad to hear it. But don’t forget that there are people who have your back now. You’re not out there anymore. You’re here, with us.”

Her gaze traced over the letters spelling out PRESIDENT on a patch on Dare’s chest because it was suddenly too hard to meet his eyes. If she did, she was afraid she might tear up. “Got it,” she managed.

“Good, then let’s settle in,” he said.

They did. All that afternoon, and well into the evening. Dare sat with Cora awaiting any news Slider might be able to share about Ben. Doc, Bunny, and Bear—Dare’s grandfather, great-aunt, and great-uncle—joined for a while, as did Haven, Alexa, and Phoenix when they returned from their shopping expedition. And a variety of other Ravens dropped by one by one until they’d taken over nearly a whole corner of the waiting room.

The group alternated between small talk, long periods of silence imbued with a sense of togetherness, and bouts of talkative joking around. The guys told story after story—of Slider wiping his bike out and earning his club nickname in a round-robin fashion, each of them offering a new detail on what’d happened. Of how proud Slider was the first time he introduced his boys to the club. Of how he once brought infant Sam to one of the club’s Church meetings because Kim was sick, and the baby burped so loudly after finishing a bottle of milk that the whole club erupted into laughter and someone immediately proposed making Sam an honorary member. Dinnertime came and went, and while some of the others went down to the cafeteria, Cora stayed right where she was. In case she was needed.

Around nine o’clock, Slider and Sam came out to give everyone an update.

“Uh, hey,” Slider said, uneasily surveying the group as they rose to meet him. He appeared surprised to find so many people waiting for news. “So, uh, Ben’s doing pretty good. Doc thinks he’ll make a full recovery. His head scans looked clear. The elbow break was a clean one and, given his age, should heal up without any complications.” It was possibly more words than she’d heard Slider say at one time since she’d known him. And judging by the expressions the others wore, they might’ve been thinking the same thing.

But that surprise didn’t last long, because soon everyone celebrated the news with hugs and handshakes, laughter, and even a few prayers. And even though Slider still seemed a little uncomfortable with all the attention and interaction, Cora could’ve sworn she’d seen his mouth flirt with a smile. More than once. And that made her even happier that so many people had come out to show their support for him. She suspected he really needed to see that, whether he knew it or not.

“Mav’s covering your shift tonight,” Dare said, squeezing Slider’s shoulder. “So don’t worry about a thing.”

“Shit. Really? I was just gonna call out, but that’s . . . wow.” He nodded and raked a hand over his hair. “Okay, well, I’m going to spend the night with Ben, so can someone stay the night with Sam?”

Even as a half-dozen people volunteered, Sam interrupted. “No, Dad, I want to stay at the hospital tonight. I’ll just wait out here. It’ll be fine.”

“I thought two people could be in the room,” Cora said, knowing Sam would hate to be parted from his brother.

Sam gave a little shrug. “They can, but Ben would really like to see you.”

Cora’s mouth dropped open and her heart kicked into double time. Because how cute was that little boy? “What? I mean, that’s so sweet, but it should be you, Sam.”

He shook his head. “I’ll be right here. Ben’s hurt and tired, and you know how he likes to be with you when he’s not feeling good. He needs you, Cora. It’s okay. Really.”

“He’s right,” Slider said, those strange pale eyes peering into hers, asking her to be there. “Ben asked for you. Please come back with me.”

Suddenly, Cora became very aware that everyone was watching their conversation unfold. Heat filtered into her cheeks. “Okay, sure. Of course,” she said, even though the Evans men were kinda blowing her away with their sweetness.

And they really were. Every single one of them.

 

 

Chapter 4

 


She brought Blue Bear.

In the hours after they’d arrived at the hospital, Slider kept coming back to that thought. Cora had brought Ben his favorite toy. The one he always had to have when he was scared or upset. The one he couldn’t sleep without. The one that had become a lifeline of sorts in the months after Kim had died.

Slider had been concerned about getting to his son as fast as humanly possible. And Cora had been right there with him. But, still, she’d remembered Blue Bear.

And that little proof of her caring and thoughtfulness had put its hooks into him. Put them in, deep.

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