Can lifelong best friends find their happily ever after in each other?
West goes through a series of boyfriends, making Ardie wish his friend could find someone who loves him as much as Ardie does himself. Waiting for the right time to tell West he’s gay, Ardie figures he’s lost his chance when West finally meets someone who seems just right for him.
When the bottom falls out for West, there’s only one person he thinks to call. Ardie is there for him when he does. A little vacation seems to be the right thing, not just to ease West’s mind, but for Ardie to slide into West’s life again, finally letting his friend know how deeply he cares.
Will these two bet friends realize there might be more between them than just friendship? Find out if their Broken Road lead to happiness in this heartwarming read.
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Ardie took a cab from the airport straight to the hospital. He figured if he needed a hotel, he could get one later. It was late afternoon and he just hoped he hadn't missed visiting hours. It was already a day since West's call and he didn't want any other delays. He was really worried. Less by the fact that West was in the hospital, than by the fact that West had called him and asked him to come, his voice so defeated.
He hurried to the main nurses' station, overnight bag in his hand.
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said, taking his hat off. "Could you tell me where I might find West Moreland?"
She smiled, looked something up, and then asked his name. She called West's room, got permission, and then sent him up to room 224.
He had his hat in one hand, his bag in the other, and went in, calling out quietly. "West?"
"Ard?" He heard West, walked over to the second bed. West had one leg up in a cast, bandages covering one shoulder. "You came."
"Of course I came, West." He put down his bag and his hat and pulled a chair over to the bed. "What happened?"
"He got pissed off because I wanted to leave. Shot me twice."
"What? West! Jesus." He jumped up. "Where is he?"
"The police are looking. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have called. I was scared."
"The hell you shouldn't have." He settled back down, sitting on the edge of West's bed. "Why don't they have somebody posted at your door?"
He was going to have a hard time finding this guy and beating the shit out of him with the cops already looking. And of course there was the fact he hadn't a clue what the fucker looked like.
"There's security. The cops think he skipped town. He..." West sighed. "He's high maintenance."
"High maintenance? No, West, Aggie's high maintenance. This guy's an asshole who shot you."
"He said he loved me. Said he couldn't bear to lose me."
"That's not love, West." He took West's good hand and squeezed.
"I know. It... it hasn't been. He... It's been bad, Ard." West wouldn't meet his eyes.
"West..." God, it broke his heart. West deserved better than this. "Come home with me, West. Come be with the people who care about you."
"I... I want to."
"Well, then, come on. As soon as they let you out of here, I'm taking you home." He didn't need West to be in love with him; he did need West to be healthy, happy, whole.
"I can't. You've got kids there. A family. He'll come back." West sighed, closed his eyes. "Let's start over. H...how was your flight?"
He let West get away with it for now. Hell, he figured he had some time to work on the man. "Long. And the food? Damn. I've never missed Mabel's cooking more."
West chuckled. "Yeah. I hear you. Scary cardboard eggs."
"I bet it beats the hell out of what they feed you here," he teased.
"Yeah. They did surgery on my leg. I'm not even on real food yet." West looked old, scared, hurt. It made him ache inside.
"You will be soon enough. Bitching about the food and being stuck in bed. You remember when you broke your leg playing baseball? God, we drove your momma crazy."
"Yeah. Other leg this time." West's eyes filled with tears and he closed them. "Where are you staying?"
"Don't know. I just got here." He squeezed West's hand, feeling damned helpless to do anything to help.
"Stay here for a while? I know he won't come back. I do. But I can't sleep."
"I'll stay until they kick me out, West. And they're going to have to be pretty damned insistent if they expect me to go before I can spring you." It would be for the best. He couldn't roam the streets of Seattle looking for someone to beat the tar out of if he was here with West.
"Thank you. You could stay at my apartment but it's a crime scene. I'm... God, Ard. Things are so utterly fucked." The tears did come then, silent and horrible.
He wanted to hug West, hold him, but West was all banged up. So he just squeezed West's hand hard and petted the lean belly. "It's going to be all right, West. Everything's going to work out just fine."
"Is the nurse coming soon? My leg hurts."
He had no clue so he leaned forward and rang the bell. "She'll be here soon, West."
"'Kay. I'm sorry, Ardie."
"For what, West?" He wasn't going to have West apologizing for getting shot.
"For everything. For this."
"Not your fault you got shot, West." He growled a little, frustrated, angry at the world for not caring for his West properly.
"I shouldn't have made him mad..."
Ardie snorted. "No, West. He shouldn't have shot you. It doesn't matter what you did. He made the choice to pick up a damned gun and use it!"
"I... I should have..."
"Come home," he teased. "Seriously, West. The only thing I can think of that would make me shoot another man is if he did something like what Lee just did to you."
West nodded, sighed. "I know. You're a decent man."
He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. A real saint to put up with you. Come on, West. I don't want to have this argument all over again. Especially not while you're down."
West nodded again, then the nurse came in and shooed him out so they could do whatever they needed to do.
He paced unhappily, wanting a doctor to tell him what the deal was, how soon he could get West out of here and home. There was no doubt in his mind he was bringing West home. Even if it was only until the man was healed.
A young, tall nurse came over, smiled at him. "Is there anything we can help you with?"
"Actually, yes, ma'am, there is. I'd like to know when I can take my friend home."
"He'll probably be released tomorrow afternoon or Monday morning." She smiled. "He's in good health and is healing well."
Oh, that was good news. The further away from here he got West, the better. "Will he be able to travel, ma'am?"
"He'll be on crutches for six to eight weeks. Need to visit a physician to get the stitches out, but medically, I would think so. You'll have to ask the doctor."
And likely the police, but he just nodded. "Thank you, ma'am, I appreciate it."
"If you need anything, let us know."
"Could I bother you for a blanket, ma'am? I'd really like to spend the night in the chair in West's room, keep an eye on him, you know?"
"No problem. The big chair unfolds into a bed. They're actually comfortable."
Well, now, he was thinking it was time the hospital back home invested in some of those. "Thank you again."
He nodded at her and went and knocked at West's door, not wanting to interrupt if they were still doing stuff to him.
The nurse let him in, West covered again, face a little pale. "We've given him a strong sedative. He needs to sleep."
Ard nodded. "I won't disturb him, I promise."
He went over to West, settling back down in the chair. "Hey, there, West. They tell me they've given you the good stuff."
"Yeah." West blinked over. "I needed you here. He's going to kill me and I thought... I thought I'd want that. But I'm not ready to go."
"You wanted to die? West..." Lord help him, he wanted to take West and shake some sense into him. "It's okay, buddy. You just get better. I'll take you home, and you'll see."
"You don't have room for me there."
"The hell we don't."
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