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

Don’t cry.

I repeated the thought over and over as I sat in my best friend’s apartment. Aideen Collins was wrapped up in the arms of her fiancé—Kane Slater—and they both focused their attention on their beautiful baby boy, Jax.

Those I loved surrounded me, and what should have been a happy time, wasn’t. Not for me anyway. I watched my little sister, Bronagh, interact with her fiancé, Dominic Slater, who, like Kane, was my fiancé’s brother, and I fought back tears as his hand absentmindedly stroked her abdomen where their baby girl was growing.

I gnawed on my inner cheek as I looked away from the happy couple and focused on the plasma screen TV on the wall facing me. My eyes watched the programme that was showing, but my brain had no clue what was happening because it was elsewhere. I straightened up and hoped I didn’t appear to be so out of sorts, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if I did, because I felt dreadful.

I was jealous.

I was green with envy every time I looked at Kane and Aideen with their sweet Jax, but my heart broke when I watched how Dominic interacted with Bronagh. She was my little sister. I was a whole decade older than her and she had surpassed me on the journey to motherhood. I had no doubt she would marry before me, too.

I hated that I felt so bitter towards my own blood. I was beyond happy for them, but I hated them a little at the same time. She and Dominic were solid. They suited each other so well, and their love, though sometimes extremely intense, was true and forever binding. The more I let myself think about them, the more depressed I felt when I looked at my own relationship.

I didn’t think it could even be classed as a relationship anymore. Ryder and I, we both changed. Somewhere along the line, we stopped being nice to one another. To a point, we stopped being loving towards one another. It started out as normal bickering that grew into full blown screaming contests. We weren’t even at that angry stage anymore; we were at the silent one.

We ignored one another, and when we did interact, it wasn’t pleasant.

I didn’t know where we went wrong, but Ryder and I, we fell out of love. It pained me to admit that, but it was the truth. I loved him dearly, but I wasn’t in love with him anymore. Not with the version of Ryder I was living with. I was deeply in love with the man he used to be, the man who would give me the world if I asked. It broke my heart because I had no idea how we had gotten to the point we were at. I had no idea what I did wrong.

It was sorrowful.

I glanced to my left to where he was sitting on Aideen’s sofa. He was, as usual, tapping away on the screen of his phone and paying me no mind. I almost snickered when I remembered, many months ago, that I used to feel hurt when he gave his phone more attention than me, but now I relished that the stupid device held his gaze, because I never wanted him to look at me and really see me like he used to, because he would see how weak I had become.

I didn’t want him to see that I was broken.

I looked away from him and picked up the bottle of water I got from Aideen’s fridge when I came over. I uncapped the bottle, took a swig and swallowed down the cool liquid. I widened my eyes when some of the water went down the wrong way and entered my lungs. I lowered my bottle and instantly began coughing as I lifted my hand and pressed it against my chest.

I jumped with fright when I felt a hand press against my back, and lightly tap away, helping me get the water up and regain my composure. I looked back to my left as Ryder retracted his hand away from me, without ever looking away from the screen of his phone.

I stared at him blankly, blinking.

I wasn’t sure what to make of his kind gesture, which was terribly sad. He was my fiancé and I was surprised that he touched me. He never touched me anymore. Not if he could help it, anyway.

“Thank you,” I said to him, my voice low.

He didn’t look at me as he said, “Don’t mention it.”

Silence settled over us again and instantly my sadness returned.

I hated feeling so down.

I looked away from Ryder and glanced around the room, my eyes landing on Aideen as Bronagh and Keela moved away from her, smirks in place on both of their pretty faces.

What were they up to now? I wondered.

I smiled to myself and shook my head at the troublesome trio. I glanced down to my leg when it vibrated. I reached into my pocket and took out my phone, smiling when my co-worker’s name flashed across the screen.

Ash Wade.

He joined our crew at the hospital about six months ago. He was a twenty-eight year old English man who moved over from London when he was twenty years old and loved it so much that he never went back home.

Ash was a hoot. He made me laugh on days that I thought I could do nothing but cry. He talked to me, and he listened to me talk. A lot. He became quite a good friend of mine, and I was very thankful to have met him at a point in my life when I needed a pick-me-up.

Ash was pure light; he would brighten up anyone’s day.

I slid my finger across the green blob on the screen then brought the phone to my ear. “What do you want?” I asked, grinning.

Ash snorted through the receiver. “It’s a good thing I didn’t misdial a hotline number and ask for phone sex when you fired that loaded question my way.”

I joyfully laughed, the sound surprising both me, and others around me. I looked forward when I felt many sets of eyes on me, but only one set that caused me to tense up.

His eyes.

We had grown apart, but I could never seem to shake the sensation that came over me when he looked at me. The moment his eyes locked onto my body, I became hyper aware of every movement I made.

“Branna?” Ash’s voice called out. “You there, Angel?”

I playfully rolled my eyes.

Ash decided to label me with the nickname ‘Angel’ when the grandfather of one of our patients a few weeks back kept calling me it when he addressed me. I asked him to drop it, but he refused and called me it as often as possible, and it had seemed to stick.

“I’m here,” I replied. “Sorry, just zoned out for a second.”

“No worries,” Ash chirped then lowered his voice. “You won’t believe what happened on the ward today after you went home.”

Ash worked the delivery ward with me, and bar a few extra hours here and there, we had an identical roster. Since he started, I hadn’t been on a shift where he wasn’t there with me. It was like the Health Board knew we would make a good team and lumped us together indefinitely.

“If you tell me the patient in room four that screamed feckin’ murder all day randomly stopped when I walked off the ward, then I’m goin’ to bloody curse her.”

Ash’s deep laughter filled my ear, and it warmed my hurt heart.

“No, she was still screaming when I left... even though she got her epidural and was numb from the waist down.”

I giggled. “There’s always one who goes way overboard.”

Ash grunted. “You’re telling me.”

I chortled. “Go on, tell me what happened.”

“The lady in room one, you know, the hot redhead with the massive tits?”

Ash was brilliant, I silently sighed, but he was still such a man.

I good-naturedly shook my head. “Yeah, what about ‘er?”

“She shit herself as she pushed. Her husband freaked out not knowing what was happening and fainted. As he fell he knocked into the bed and caused shit to literally fly everywhere.”

I leaned onto the arm of the sofa as laughter erupted out of me.

“I swear,” Ash laughed with me. “It was both hilarious and disgusting.”

I wiped under my eyes with my free hand when tears of laughter gathered and threatened to spill over the brim.

“Did she deliver fine? Is the baby okay?” I asked, automatically switching to midwife mode. “And the husband, is he okay?”

“All three are fine. The mother did well, and she had a healthy little boy, but I doubt the husband will step foot on the delivery ward ever again. He made his wife swear to bring her mother with her in the future.”

I continued to laugh. “I bet you all had a right laugh about that.”

“We did,” Ash confirmed. “Sally almost wet herself from laughing after she got the baby cleaned up.”

  • Stephenie Meyer: Twilight (Twilight #1)
  • Stephenie Meyer: Midnight Sun (Twilight #1.5)
  • Stephenie Meyer: New Moon (Twilight #2)
  • Stephenie Meyer: Eclipse (Twilight #3)
  • Stephenie Meyer: Breaking Dawn (Twilight #4)
  • Gayle Forman: Just One Day (Just One Day #1)
  • Gayle Forman: Just One Year (Just One Day #2)
  • Gayle Forman: Sisters in Sanity
  • Charlaine Harris: Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades #1)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3)
  • Abbi Glines: Fallen Too Far (Rosemary Beach #1)
  • Abbi Glines: Never Too Far (Rosemary Beach #2)
  • Abbi Glines: Forever Too Far (Rosemary Beach #3)
  • Abbi Glines: Rush Too Far (Rosemary Beach #4)
  • Abbi Glines: Breathe (Sea Breeze #1)
  • Abbi Glines: Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2)
  • Abbi Glines: Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)
  • Abbi Glines: Simple Perfection (Perfection #2)
  • Top Books
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shad
  • Elle Kennedy: The Deal (Off-Campus #1)
  • C.L. Wilson: The Winter King (Weathermages o
  • J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Chamber of
  • Mariana Zapata: Under Locke
  • Elle Kennedy: The Score (Off-Campus #3)
  • Jane Harvey-Berrick: Dangerous to Know & Love
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shade
  • Jeaniene Frost: One Foot in the Grave (Night Hu
  • Grace Draven: Radiance (Wraith Kings #1)
  • J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Deathly Ha
  • Olivia Thorne: All That He Wants (The Billiona
  • Olivia Thorne: All That He Loves (The Billiona
  • Tara Sue Me: The Submissive (The Submissive
  • Loretta Chase: Dukes Prefer Blondes (The Dress
  • Tiffany Reisz: The Saint (The Original Sinners
  • L.A. Casey: Ryder (Slater Brothers #4)
  • E.L. James: Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Sha
  • Tiffany Reisz: The Siren (The Original Sinners
  • J.D. Robb: Immortal in Death (In Death #3)