Love Realized (The Real Love Series)
Author:Melanie Codina


Jake was sitting on the bench outside the entrance to the hospital waiting for the boys to come down with Gillian. He hated that she seemed upset or distracted by something last night. He couldn’t be one hundred percent sure what was the cause of it, but he only hoped that it wasn’t him. Being around a woman like Gillian could be equal parts funny and frustrating as he tried to figure out what was wrong with his girl and attempt to not be the cause of it. Clearly, Gillian was upset about something and while he didn’t know what it was, he was going to do whatever he could to make her happy until he could figure it out. He had thought about asking Allie about it since he knew she was over yesterday, but he felt that was almost like cheating. It was his job to make her happy, and he wasn’t about to take a short cut. Not yet at least.

The thought of that little blue bag, which contained that infamous little blue box with the ribbon around it that was stuffed inside his sock drawer made him smile. Maybe he should just propose sooner rather than later. No, he wanted to plan it out, and he wanted to wait and do it in a memorable way. It would mean more to the both of them that way. He wanted to propose, was going to propose, and he wasn’t going to take no for an answer, but he wanted the memory of it to be a powerful one. A big smile spread across his face as he thought about Gillian as his wife.

His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the fire alarm going off. He reflexively jumped to his feet and was met by the crowds of people making their way out of the building to escape whatever it was that set the alarm off. Jake knew for a fact that these alarms go off frequently, but a sinking feeling overtook him, sending him on high alert. He could hear the sirens of the trucks coming and was slightly relieved they were close by. He started to move, trying to make his way in through the doors that everyone was filing out of to see if he could help. Fortunately, the crowds of people appeared to be well controlled, and the scene didn’t present itself as one of chaos like you might think—probably because this was routine for them. Hospital personnel, medical professionals, and patients who were mobile made their way out of the building, guided by those who were instructed on evacuation procedures.

The boys crossed his mind, but he was comforted by the fact that they were with Gillian, and she would make sure they got out safe if there really was a fire. He heard the fire truck pull up, but then he heard the police cruisers pull up, as well. He turned to see Gillian’s brother Sean get out of a car with a radio to his mouth talking as he took in the scene around him. Well, that many officers showing up for a fire alarm wasn’t normal procedure. He was turning to go talk to Sean when he heard Ryan call out to him, “Dad! Dad!” Both boys suddenly accosted him, looking a little on edge by what was going on around them. Of course they were freaked out. They may think it cool later, but at the moment, it was a lot to take in.

Right about that time he heard Sean call out to him, “Jake! Get the boys out of there now!”

Jake immediately concluded that there was more going on in there. He ushered the boys over to where Sean was standing and asked, “What the hell is going on, Sean?” The boys were trying to talk to him, but he was looking at Sean when he heard him say, “We got a report of shots fired in the building just when the fire alarm went off! Now get the boys out of here!”

Then it hit him—the boys were here, but Gillian was not. He looked at the boys and demanded, “Where is your mom, Dylan? Did you see her?”

Dylan nodded and said, “Yes! We were on the second floor, holding the elevator doors for her, and waiting.” He had to come up for air because he was breathing so fast. He continued, “She said I love you, and then she pulled the fire alarm thing on the wall. Then the elevator doors closed and brought us down here.”

Sean, who was next to them, dropped to his knees in front of his nephew and asked, “Did you say your mom pulled the alarm?” Dylan nodded. Sean pressed on, “Did you see a fire? Or any smoke?” Dylan shook his head. “Was your mommy alone?”

Dylan shook his head no and said, “She said she had to see Adam before we went to lunch. She was standing there talking, but then pulled on the red box on the wall.”

The child pulled in a deep breath and looked at his uncle Sean and asked, “Is Mommy gonna get in trouble for setting off that alarm if there is no fire?”

Sean smiled at his nephew, who looked a lot like his sister and said, “Don’t you worry about Mommy getting in trouble. I’ll take care of it.” He then stood and looked to Jake and said, “Get the boys out of here, Jake.” As he started talking into his radio, motioning to another police officer near him, his hand perched on the gun holstered at his side. Sean was on high alert, and Jake didn’t like that Gillian had pulled that alarm. He had to get in there to her.

Just then Jake saw one of Gillian’s coworkers stroll past him, and he reached out to her. “Marsha?”

She turned and looked at Jake, then at the boys next to him, and smiled. “Hey there boys, where’s Gillian?”

Jake was relieved when the woman recognized him and asked her, “Could you please watch the boys for me? I need to find her.” The desperation on his face was enough for the older woman to instantly see, so she grabbed each of the boys’ hands as she continued with the crowd heading out of the building. Jake knew that Gilly spoke highly of the woman and would trust the boys with her. Right now, he needed to find Gillian because that sinking feeling in his gut was now like a ten-ton weight pulling him down.

Jake caught up with Sean near the elevators as he saw some familiar faces pass him by, but none of them were Gillian. “Sean, I have to get up to the second floor!”

Sean turned to Jake and barked at him, “Get your ass out of here, Jake!”

“Bullshit! I'm not going anywhere! The boys said Gillian pulled the alarm, and you said there was a report of shots fired! We have to get to where she was on the second floor. I know my way around the building! She had to be near x-ray because that is right where the elevators are.” Sean just stared at Jake, obviously trying to figure out if getting Jake to leave was a battle worth fighting.

He saw the resolve spread across Sean’s face when he decided he didn’t care about procedure. Finding his sister was top priority. Sean nodded at Jake and then motioned for another officer to follow them. They made their way through the door to the stairwell that came out near the elevators. Jake stayed behind them and let them do their thing, making sure everything was safe and secure—not moving in a new direction without making sure all was clear. They got up the stairwell and looked through the window, but the fire doors were still closed so they couldn’t see anything. They were going to have to go open them. As Sean opened the door from the stairwell, they could immediately detect the lingering scent of gunpowder. This is where the gun was fired. Shit! This is where the boys had last seen Gillian. Only years of working as a paramedic helped Jake control the panic that was starting to rise at the thought of anything happening to Gillian.

As Sean and the other officer made their way toward the fire door, Jake heard something. Was that someone crying? He rushed forward, touched Sean on the shoulder, and put his finger up to his mouth. He then pointed to his ear, gesturing for him to be quiet and listen. That was when they heard it—there was someone on the other side of that fire door, and they were crying. Placing his hand on the fire door to feel for heat, Sean then shoved the door slowly forward. As he pushed forward, the blood was the first thing that jumped up and grabbed Jake’s attention. The puddle was in front of the door and the movement of the door just moved the blood with it. Until the door hit something, and they all froze. Was the gunman behind the door? This wasn’t good.

Sean motioned for Jake to step back, which he did. He motioned for the other officer to cover him as he counted backward from three with his fingers in the air. Three … Two … One, and swung himself behind the door with his gun drawn and pointing at whatever it was that was there. Jake didn’t realize he was holding his breath until he suddenly released it when he heard Sean curse and drop to his knees while holstering his weapon. “Get a damn medic up here! A doctor! Someone!” Sean yelled at the officer as if Jake wasn’t even standing there. Jake was a medic—why was Sean asking for one when Jake was capable of helping. Unless … Jake sprinted forward around the officer calling for help to see Sean hovering over Gillian. His first thought was thank God they found her. Then he really took in the scene before him as he noticed all of the blood. All of the blood covering the floor and covering Gillian.

Her eyes were open, and she was trying to tell Sean something, but Jake couldn’t hear it. Sean’s jaw clenched as he reached for his radio. “The suspect’s name is Adam Wallace! He is an employee of the hospital! He was last seen exiting the second floor approximately five minutes ago. He is armed and dangerous! I repeat, he is armed and dangerous!” Jake blinked and thought to himself, Adam? Adam did this? He saw that bastard walk right out of here like he was part of the crowd. Damn! He was responsible for all of this blood? Gillian’s blood?

Jake dropped to Gillian’s side, and he knew the minute she realized it was him next to her. She sat there against the wall, with her left hand over her stomach and her right hand covering her bullet wound. Jake hollered for the officer standing behind him to grab a cart he saw down the hall, which he knew would have supplies. He then placed his hand over her hand, applying more pressure to the wound and said, “I got you now, Gilly. I'm here for you, baby.” Her skin was pale and clammy, which were signs of shock, but her breathing looked good. When the officer came back with the cart, Jake let his training kick in.

He immediately had gauze in his hand and pressed it to the wound on her shoulder and told Sean to apply pressure to it. Gillian was clearly weakened by the blood loss, which was spread out over a few feet. He realized that she must have scooted herself against the wall to help apply pressure to the wound. “Gillian, look at me.” He waited while her eyes tracked toward his and focused. She was in pain, and he knew it, which really pissed him off, but he had to concentrate.

“Is the wound a through-and-through?” She nodded once while breathing through the oxygen mask he had strapped to her head. “That’s my girl; good job getting up against the wall to apply pressure.” She gave him a weak smile, and a tear rolled down her face. “I know you’re in pain, baby, but I need you to focus for a few more seconds … can you do that for me?” She once again gave him a weak nod. “Are you hurt anywhere else? There is a lot of blood, so I can’t tell for sure.”

She tried talking, but he couldn’t hear her through the mask. He pulled it away from her face slightly, but kept the flow of oxygen flowing toward her airways. “No … only … one … shot … shoulder … arm hurts, too.”

He nodded at her. “Good, that’s probably all related. I guess the positive way to look at this is that you won’t need to ride in the ambulance to get the help … you’re already here. And since you work here, I'm sure they have all of your information on file. No paperwork for you.” He was talking to her as he was routinely placing an IV line in her right arm and going about his normal actions for this kind of trauma.

She blinked, and her eyes took a little longer to open back up and look at him. She attempted to say something to him, but her voice was weak. The lump in his throat was enormous, and he was afraid that he was going to lose his cool any second. “… boys … baby … sorry.”

He couldn’t make out all she was saying, but he assumed it was about the boys. “Shh, it’s okay, baby, the boys made it down, found me, and told us you pulled the alarm. They’re the reason we knew where to find you.” Jake looked over to Sean who looked like he was ready to kill someone with his bare hands. “Remind me to buy those boys anything they want for telling us where she was.” Sean gave Jake a tight nod and then looked back at Gillian.

Gillian again attempted to speak, but he could barely hear her. The only word he could make out was baby. All he could do was comfort her and wait for help to arrive. It took a few minutes to get help up to where they were since they had to reset the fire alarm and get the elevators working. Somewhere in that period of time, Gillian closed her eyes, but her breathing remained steady. While they were riding down in the elevator to take her to the emergency department, Jake called his brother and gave him the brief version of what happened, and most specifically, who was responsible for what happened. Jake heard his brother swear up a blue streak over the phone and gave him instructions to let everyone know and get over to the hospital.

They had to take Gillian down into the ER to get the doctors to work on her and figure out how bad things were. Of course, they wouldn’t let Jake in with her, but he put up a fight because, let’s face it, Gillian was worth fighting for. He didn’t want her to be alone.

“Procedure, Jake! You know how it works—family waits out here. Give them the space to work on her,” the head ER nurse told him. He did know it was procedure, but he also knew it sucked! He was usually on the other end of it. Not the receiving end of that line.

While standing there, feeling like he had his thumb up his ass, Sean marched in and headed straight for Jake. “We got him!” he said in low growl through his clenched jaw to Jake. All he could do was nod at Sean. Jake recognized the look in Sean’s eyes, and he could totally relate. It was the look of pure anger, the look of pure menace that warned everyone around them of a man who needed to inflict pain on the person who was responsible.

“Have they come out yet?” he asked Jake. As he shook his head no, they both turned when the door opened again. Logan came running in, with Jonathan and Maddie at his sides, the look of panic on all their faces. Jake wanted to punch Logan for this. His hands fisted at his sides, and he glared at Logan. He knew it wasn’t Logan who did this, but he really wanted to punch him anyway since he was the catalyst for what happened today. Sean talked to Logan through gritted teeth, obviously reciprocating Jake’s feelings.

While Maddie stayed close to Logan for support, Jonathan walked up to Jake with a look of questioning in his eyes—almost as if he was afraid to talk ‘cause he might lose it. Jake placed his hands on Jonathan’s shoulders and said, “She was shot in the shoulder; looks to be a through and through injury, which is good. She did lose a lot of blood, and the doctors are checking to see if there is any severe damage inside. We are just waiting to hear from them now.” He pulled Jonathan into a hug to let him know he was there for him and felt the kid release a big sigh. He knew that Jonathan was not as close to his dad lately because of everything that had happened, and was already closer to Gillian before the family was thrown into turmoil. Jonathan was certainly a mama’s boy, by definition, but really, who could blame him? All that being said, he knew this was definitely hard for him.

They all sat down and offered each other silent support while they waited for the news. It felt like forever. Sean paced the floor, while his wife, Morgan, sat in the corner with Dylan and Ryan. Then Allie walked in the room and paused just inside the doorway. She looked around and stopped when her eyes landed on her brother. Logan stood in a corner, leaning against the wall. He had his arms around his daughter, who was leaning against her dad, actually looking concerned for her mom. This was a shock in itself since Madison usually only delivered an attitude toward her mom lately. And if he were being honest, he felt she was quite selfish.

She had taken Logan’s side in the divorce and really made a job out of being a bitch to Gillian. This was, of course, because Madison had no idea why her parents were getting divorced—she just blamed her mom. Jake tried to convince Gillian to tell Madison the reasons, but her only response was, “If she needs to be mad at me, then she can go right ahead. Her father may have done wrong by me, but he has, and will always make her a priority. I will not be the person who changes him in her eyes.” Jake could understand where she was coming from, but it really pissed him off because Logan didn’t deserve protecting. But he also knew it was about Gillian protecting her daughter, even if it was at her own expense. It was just another reason to admire Gillian.

Allie stood still for a few moments, her face hard, as she stared her brother down. Jake noticed when Logan looked up at Allie, his usually hard face was submissive and full of shame. Clearly, he realized that his soon to be ex-wife was lying in the other room with a bullet hole in her shoulder because of him. Well, it’s about time he showed some shame or responsibility for his actions. Jake was aware of how hypocritical he probably sounded since it was Logan’s actions that brought Gillian into Jake’s arms.

He was still watching the two siblings stare at each other and then Allie was in motion. She stomped right over to her brother, who continued to look pathetic, and smacked him hard across the face. Logan’s head whipped to the side and made contact with the wall he leaned against. Madison, who still stood in front of him must have had her eyes closed because she startled and looked up at her aunt in shock. Logan slowly let go of his daughter and moved her to the side as Sean went over to retrieve her from what was going down. All the grown-ups knew, but the kids didn’t. Well, Jonathan knew, but that was only because he overheard his father pleading his case.

As Madison was unwillingly pulled away from her father’s comfort, Logan’s head came back to face his sister, and she slapped it again, hard.

“This is all your fucking fault, you selfish bastard!” she growled at him through gritted teeth with eyes full of tears. “You did this to her! She told us she feared something like this would happen, but you just thought she was overreacting. You said she was just trying to find a way to rub your nose in your mistakes! Well, guess what you ASS … this was about your mistakes! My best friend was shot because her husband couldn’t keep his dick out of another woman!” And then she slapped him again. His left cheek was a bright pink color now, and Jake saw the tears that were previously welling in his eyes finally slip down, but he didn’t say anything to defend himself.

Allie started to cry as she began to pound her fists on Logan’s chest saying, “It’s all your fault. Why did you do this to her?” But Logan continued to let her beat on him and not say a damn thing. It was like watching a train wreck—you couldn’t not look at it. As Allie began to cry harder, her body began to lose steam, and she slumped against her big brother. He instantly embraced her and cried with her.

“I'm so sorry, Allie … so sorry.” The siblings continued to comfort each other, and suddenly it felt as if watching was an intrusion. Jake looked over to Sean, who had an arm around a shocked Madison, standing there staring at her father and aunt, while tears streamed down her face. She certainly knew now that her father had wronged her mother, and that was the reason for the divorce. She looked up at her uncle with a pleading look on her face, almost as if she was hoping he would tell her otherwise. All Sean could do was give her a sympathetic look. She’d clearly heard it all.

Madison then looked to Jake with the same look. It was Jonathan, who had been sitting next to Jake, that finally got up and went over to his younger sister. She looked up to him with so much pain in her eyes before she burst into tears and threw herself into his arms. Jonathan didn’t miss a beat and wrapped his arms around her and began comforting her.

“It’s going to be okay, Maddie. Shh, Mom is strong, and she’ll be fine.”

Madison looked up into her brother’s eyes and said, “She has to be, Jonathan … she just has to be! I have been so awful to her. I need to tell her I'm sorry.” And then she sobbed into her brother’s shirt some more. Jonathan looked over at Jake and then over to where his father was watching over Allie’s head, still hugging her. Logan gave his son a nod of acknowledgment and approval.

When the doctor finally walked in the room, they all stood quickly and just stared at him, waiting for him to speak. Waiting. And waiting. Then the doctor gave a slight smile and nodded. It was only then that everyone let out a collective breath they were holding.

Jake approached the doctor quickly and pleaded, “Please doc, can I see her?”

The doctor smiled as he replied, “Yes, Jake. You can. She’s been asking for you. But I must warn you that she is not very comfortable at the moment. Of course, she has plenty of energy to boss us around, but is still quite weak. She lost a lot of blood so she was given a couple transfusions, and the bullet wound is closed up, but since we couldn’t put her to sleep to fix it, she went through more pain than I would like my patients to go through.”

Jake was slightly confused as to why they wouldn’t put her under for that. “Why wouldn’t you put her to sleep for that? She had to be in agony.” The doctor looked at Jake as if he sprouted a second head. He wondered what the hell that was about as his irritation at the doctor rose.

The doctor just shrugged and said, “Because she wouldn’t let us. She didn’t want to risk the baby.”

Baby? Did he say baby? “Excuse me doctor, but did you just say … baby?” Jake heard himself ask the question, but didn’t remember giving himself the order to speak it.

Again, the doctor looked at him like he was an idiot and nodded. “Yes, Gillian’s approximately six weeks pregnant. Did you not know?”

The look of shock on Jake’s face had to be enough to answer the doctor’s question, as he muttered, “Well, I'm sure she’ll chew me out for saying it, but she should’ve warned me. But, if she is well enough to chew me out, I’ll be happy. I’ll have the nurse come for you when she is settled in a room. We’ll be keeping her overnight for one or two days to follow both her and the fetus, but things look good.” Jake barely got out his thank you for the doctor before he was gone.

Baby. Gillian was pregnant—very newly pregnant. Was it his? Of course it was, it had to be his. Jake turned to see everyone looking at him expectantly. What was he supposed to say? Hey Logan, I knocked up your wife. Or—hey Maddie and Jonathan, you’re gonna be older siblings again. Hey Sean, I did the nasty with your sister and now she’s having my baby? No words. There were literally no words to say to any of them.

The nurse came in and called Jake’s name, but everyone rushed toward her. She calmly directed everyone to have a seat and that Jake was going back first. He glanced over at Sean then to Logan, feeling like he needed them to acknowledge that it was okay for him to go back first—that he was more than just a friend to Gillian. Not that they could’ve stopped him. Jake knew for a fact that he was now listed as her emergency contact, along with Allie, in her personnel files.

Jake numbly followed the nurse towards Gillian’s room, lost in thought. Why didn’t she tell him she was pregnant? She had to have a good reason … but whatever the reason, he was happy Gillian was carrying his child. He couldn’t stop his smile.