Ryder (Slater Brothers #4)(4) by L.A. Casey

Thirty minutes later I was off the bus and walked into the Coombe Maternity Hospital. I shook off the cramp in my behind from the hard bus seats and counted myself lucky that I managed to get a seat in the morning rush. I disliked public transport, and I missed car-pooling dearly. There was a time when Ryder drove me to work before he went off for the day, but that abruptly ended when things started going south between us. Most days Ash would collect me for work and Bronagh would pick me up when my shift ended. I had recently thought about getting myself a cheap car because I hated having to depend on others or have them go out of their way for me, but money was an issue.

Ryder, and his brothers, made a considerable amount of—blood—money from their past work, but I recently learned that a bad investment with Brandon Daley left Dominic, Alec and Ryder broke. I overheard something from the brothers months ago that I shouldn’t have and brought it up to Ryder a few weeks after Aideen was hospitalised.

I found our joint account was dangerously low on funds but was quickly shut down when I asked Ryder about it. I asked where the money had gone, but he never gave me a direct answer, he just told me ‘not to worry about it, and not to talk about it’. I asked if it was something to do with Brandon or his old life, but he ended each conversation with arguing. He never allowed any talk of Brandon or his old life in our house, and enforced it with foul words.

I never countered him because I never wanted to talk about it either; it brought back too many horrifying memories, but something was going on with Ryder, and I knew it had something to do with where he went every night. It was too much of a coincidence that the brothers lost a lot of money over the last few months then for Dominic to start working for Brandon to earn an income. I didn’t know what Alec had his hand in, but I knew it wasn’t legit.

Kane made his money legitimately. I wasn’t supposed to know about it, but I overheard him and Aideen discussing expansions for his apartment complexes. I asked Ryder about it and he reluctantly filled me in on what Kane wanted to be kept private. I kept my mouth shut and pretended to be in the dark on his business ventures, but what I really wanted to do was congratulate and hug the hell out of him. He had managed to stay off the trail that Dominic, and possibly Ryder and Alec, had fallen back onto.

“Branna,” Taylor Carey beamed when I walked onto the delivery ward.

Taylor was cool. She wasn’t the type of friend I would confide in or tell my secrets to, because I didn’t know her that well, but she made the job interesting when we were on shift together. I liked her.

I lifted my head and wiggled my fingers. “Hey, Tay.”

Taylor lifted her arms over her head as she stretched and yawned.

My lip twitched. “Long shift?”

She nodded. “Busy night. There have been eight births in the last twelve hours since I came on shift at eight last night.”

I whistled. “Good for the mammies, babies and the staff. Quick labours benefit everyone.”

Taylor yawned, again. “They benefit the time passin’ for me. I can’t believe me shift is over already. I love when that happens.”

I grunted. “I can’t believe me shift is just startin’, I feel like I’ve gone twelve rounds with Mike Tyson.”

Taylor winced. “I noticed your eyes were a little puffy but I didn’t want to say anythin’. Are you okay?”

I nodded. “Just a touch of the sniffles.”

Lie.

Taylor frowned. “You shouldn’t have a busy mornin’ so you can be miserable here in peace. Rooms one and two are occupied and the women are only three and four centimetres dilated. I already noted their bloody pressure, temperature and pulse ten minutes ago so you’re solid on that for another hour before you have to check them again. Both are teenagers, so they should keep occupied with chattin’ until the others get here.”

I grinned. “I bet in an hour five or six women from the holdin’ wards will go into active labour and I’ll have me hands full.”

Taylor stood up and bumped her hip with mine. “That’s the job.”

“Aye,” I agreed.

“Is Ash on shift with you today?” she casually asked as she gathered her belongings.

I took her place on the chair behind the nurses station.

“Yeah, he should be here now,” I said as I seated myself. “We’re always on together, I can’t remember the last time I was workin’ and he wasn’t here.”

Taylor sighed, dreamingly. “I’m so jealous, he is gorgeous and so bloody funny.”

“Who is gorgeous and so bloody funny?”

I looked up when Ash spoke from behind Taylor and laughed when she spun around and almost knocked him out when her bag went airborne. Ash reacted faster than what seemed humanly possible and grabbed hold of Taylor’s bag before it hit the floor. He straightened himself then handed it back to her with a bright smile. I could see the tip of Taylor’s ears were red, so I could only imagine how flushed her cheeks were.

“We were talkin’ about Ryan Reynolds,” I said to Ash. “You know the actor who is the star of the new Deadpool film?”

Ash looked from Taylor to me and he nodded. “I know him, good actor.”

My lips twitched. “He’s gorgeous, and so bloody funny.”

Taylor turned to face me and her eyes were bugged out making me laugh. Ash looked between us, confusion marring his handsome face, but he shook his head and decided against saying whatever question was on his mind. He was a smart cookie.

“I’m gonna head off,” Taylor mumbled, avoiding eye contact with Ash who went into the break room to put his things away in his locker.

I grinned. “That amused me greatly.”

“I’m so feckin’ mortified,” she whispered, her cheeks still flushed. “Do you think he knew I was talkin’ about ‘im?”

I shook my head. “Nah, he wasn’t payin’ attention I’m sure.”

Taylor exhaled a relieved breath. “Okay, I’m gonna go before I say somethin’ else that makes me want the ground to open up and swallow me whole.”

I laughed. “See you.”

Taylor pulled a face then scurried off the ward. I got up and brought my bag and coat into the break room and placed them into my locker. I attached my phone to the clip on my trousers then I glanced at Ash who was leaning against the small kitchen counter with his arms folded across his chest and a smug grin on his face.

I raised my brows. “What’re you lookin’ at me like that for?”

“I know Taylor was talking about me, I was paying attention.”

I feigned annoyance. “You eavesdropper!”

Ash devilishly smirked. “So I’m gorgeous and so bloody funny, huh?”

I shrugged. “She thinks so.”

“And you?” he pressed. “Do you agree?”

I pretended to think about it and it caused Ash to scowl which only made me laugh louder than before. “I think you’re funny... so bloody funny,” I teased.

Ash gripped his chest. “And not gorgeous?”

I playfully rolled my eyes. “You’re alright.”

He sobered up and waggled his brows. “I’m a bit of alright?”

“Yeah,” I snorted. “You’re a bit of alright.”

“I’ll take it!” He cheered.

I cringed. “You’re too energetic for this hour of the mornin’.”

Ash pointed at the kettle. “You want a cuppa to wake you up?”

I nodded. “Yes, please.”

He got to work and made me a cup of tea that had me humming as I swallowed it down. We settled behind the nurses station and greeted three other co-workers who would be working the day shift with us. Shannon, Katie, and Jada. I relaxed as they checked on the two patients that were currently on the ward.

“Anything exciting going on this month for you?” Ash asked as we flipped through the files of the two patients on the ward.

I shrugged. “Bronagh turns twenty-three on the tenth, I’m sure we’ll be doin’ somethin’ for that. You, of course, are invited to come along.”

Ash chuckled. “Thanks, but I haven’t met Ryder or his brothers yet, and from the sounds of things, I’d want to do that when everyone is sober.”

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