Target for Love Ch. 19byJazzMatthews©
Grant slipped from the deepest sleep he hadn't experienced since he was shipped from Africa. As he awoke in his hospital bed, it seemed as if what had happened to him was days ago. It had all occurred so fast.
Alexa was taken out of his arms and rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and he was taken by car. While she was in the emergency room, Grant was outside the ER's waiting room nearly bleeding to death. But it didn't take them long to admit him, remove the bullet, and place him into a single bed hospital room. Later that day, they prohibited him to see Alexa, who was his first concern each time he woke up. They had to drug him twice to keep him in bed. However, after a day and a half of not seeing her, Grant couldn't take it anymore.
Grant glanced sleepily around his room, aware of the two men who kept a vigil by his side. Gage was in a chair next to the bed, reading Soldiers of Fortune magazine while their youngest brother, Graham, was standing by a window overlooking the parking lot.
Graham had gotten in from Philadelphia yesterday evening before after Gage had contacted him about what had happened. He was angry that he wasn't part of the action, but was glad that everything had turned out for the better.
Even though each had various lengths and styles of thick black hair and slightly different features, it was difficult to tell them apart. Graham was the only one with loose curly hair while Gage was the only one to possess green eyes that made the ladies shiver in desire and Summer Eddington flinch in horror.
Grant yawned, drawing his brothers' attention. Graham turned from the window, a grin on his face as he approached the bedside. "Well, look who decided to join the livin'," he said. "Let's see if we'll have to drug him up...again."
"What time is it?" Grant asked groggily.
Gage checked his watch. "Two thirty-one in the afternoon. That last dose sedated you pretty good for a while. Then again, they gave you enough to keep you knocked out before you did somethin' foolish."
Grant licked his dry lips. "A-Alexa..."
"You can't see her," Graham reasoned. "Doctor's orders."
"To hell with doctor's orders." Grant groaned at the slight pain as he tried to move his arm. "How is she?"
"She's restin' and doin' fine," Gage informed. "Last we checked, she was still knocked out from her surgery, even though that was yesterday."
That was too long ago. Grant pushed the covers back from his body and attempted to rise. "I gotta...see her."
His brothers came to placate him. "After tryin' this yesterday, don't you ever learn?" Graham playfully scolded.
"He's a Ryan, smartass," Gage pointed out. "It takes a while to sink in."
A nurse who was walking by was alerted by the commotion and walked into the room. "What's the problem?"
"This idiot's tryin' to get outta bed again," Graham pointed out.
And Grant was still trying to. "I gotta...see her."
"See who?" inquired the nurse.
"Alexa Harden? The doctor's in with her now."
Grant's eyes widened. "She's awake?" He didn't slow for an answer, but began to untangle himself from the IV in his arm and all the other electrodes and rose out of bed.
"Wait a minute there, badass," Gage pacified. "What the hell do you think you're tryin' to do? You ain't supposed to move that arm."
The nurse glanced fearfully at Grant, nervously nibbling on her bottom lip. "Sir, I don't think that's wise."
"Save it, honey. I've waited too long to see her. I ain't waitin' anymore."
Grant made it toward the open door, but when he felt a horrible draft, he realized immediately something was missing. He turned to the other people in the room as he shut to door to hide his buttocks from the view of everyone.
"Where the hell are my pants?"
Graham shrugged. "Garbage."
"I'll need some."
"We haven't gotten to those in your truck," Gage replied as his eyes illuminated in amusement as he regarded his brother's modest condition. "You wouldn't wanna show off what's left of your dignity, would you?"
Grant's eyes displayed his deepening thoughts. "You'd be surprised."
"So, I'll go home in a couple of days?"
Dr. Zarganis flipped through the papers of Alexa's medical file. "Well, your father wanted to take you home tomorrow, but I'd like to keep you a couple of days longer to let you recover and allow me to recheck what I had found on one of your tests."
Alexa's heart lodged firmly into her throat. She knew that her family had a history of health problems, but she had made it a priority to stay healthy.
Frowning, Alexa asked, "Dr. Zarganis, is it serious?"
Dr. Zarganis sighed. "It depends on how you want to look at it," he responded. "I only wanted to ask if--"
He didn't get to finish thanks to the door being thrown open. Alexa struggled for breath as she beheld a barely standing Grant in a hospital gown, a blanket wrapped around his hips like a kilt and a sling bracing his arm.
"Grant!" she cried out at the lovely sight of his scowling face. "What are you doing?"
"You all right?" he asked.
"Yes, but why aren't you in bed?"
Grant hobbled until he stood beside the doctor at the foot of her bed, his handsome features shadowed by anger. Why in the hell was he angry? "Because I've been worryin' my ass off tryin' to find out if you're even breathin' properly," he answered with concern, but that shifted to something totally different. "Now that I've seen you for myself, I oughta beat the livin' hell outta you for scarin' me like that, girl! You shouldn't have leapt in front of a bullet intended for me."
Alexa looked away. "I didn't try hard enough. It still got you."
"Try hard enough?" Grant echoed in an incredulous voice. "Damn it all to hell, woman. You try a stunt like that again, I'll take you over my knee and spank some sense into you. Shoulda done that ages ago."
Throughout the whole charade, Dr. Zarganis listened to Grant's words and was astonished by the man's threats and how lightly Alexa took them. However, such language would not be tolerated, not in front of someone important as Alexa Harden.
"Sir, we are in a hospital and you're disturbing Miss Harden. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave."
"It's all right, Dr. Zarganis," Alexa said. "He doesn't really mean this."
"The hell I don't," Grant countered darkly.
"Grant, I'm fine, okay?" she breathed. "Now, please go before you hurt yourself."
Grant came to her bedside. "I ain't gonna leave you again."
"Sir, Miss Harden has just awakened. Now, unless you're immediate family--"
"I will be," Grant cut in quickly, not once taking his intense gaze from Alexa. "We're gettin' married."
That one statement was enough to blow every fish on Earth out of the water. Grant Ryan wanted to marry her? The gold hue of Alexa's eyes flickered, part of which was due to her brimming excitement. "We're what?"
"I ain't about to leave it on the table. We gotta get married."
Why on earth would they? They had nothing but the passion to bind them and their love. She still loved him more than anything, despite the fact that she knew his true designs toward her and her father. It seemed that everything about him was a lie, but she could look into his eyes and honestly tell that the love he had for her was real.
Fighting back the oncoming of tears, Alexa looked down. "Grant...I..."
"May I take this chance to ask a question so you may continue your lover's quarrel?"
Even though the guy was standing in his white doctor's coat, Alexa had forgotten he was even in the room. She forced her attention to him, trying to cool the jitters Grant placed in her body by his presence.
"Does this have to do with what you found?"
If it was possible for Grant to turn even more serious, there was a way. His demeanor was so close to being black, it was frightening. "Found? Somethin' wrong with her?"
Dr. Zarganis didn't answer the question directly, but brought out the problem in another way. "Have you two been intimate?"
Alexa glanced nervously at Grant and was blushing intensely at the very personal question. "Why...we..." she stuttered, unable to grasp a clear thought.
"What are you tryin' to say?" Grant inquired in his smooth, undeterred voice.
The doctor rubbed his brow. "It's a huge possibility that she may be pregnant."
Alexa was too astonished to say anything, but managed to choke out two words.
"It's too early to tell," the doctor confided, "but I'm confident it's not a cyst. I'll do another test to make sure."
Grant heavily sat down on the side of her bed with his mouth hanging open, and stared at the doctor as if he had just said aliens had landed.
Alexa was breathing in the news of it slowly, yet it was there. Even though it was just a possibility, Alexa could feel that it was true. She was carrying Grant's baby and it only made her happier than ever.
"So you're saying that there's a chance that I'm carrying a child?" she asked again.
Dr. Zarganis nodded and gave them both a warm smile before heading toward the door, tucking Alexa's file beneath his arm. "Congratulations to you both," he replied. "I'll be back to check on you," he promised. "A nurse should be by to give you more medication and bring lunch."
His eyes transferred to a still shocked Grant. "And you get back to bed, son. You'll need all your energy for the future you'll have to look forward to."
Dr. Zarganis left two prospective parents in a pregnant silence as they dwelled on the news that was evolving around them so quickly. They knew now that it was a greater possibility than not. They had never considered protection and all the times they had made love, however small, the thought to use it never occurred. They were just so determined to melt into each other that they had forgotten the reality that they could create this single life inside Alexa.
And that's what got them.
Alexa shook her head. "Pregnant?" she expressed slowly. "Oh, my, I didn't plan for this at all, Grant."
"Jesus, Alexa, nothin' in life goes as planned," Grant jumped in, suddenly having the will to break out of his trance. "Just like you weren't plannin' to sleep with me or jump in front of that damned bullet. I coulda lost you and a child I prolly wouldn't have known about unless an autopsy woulda been done!"
"I probably would have done the same even if I had known about the baby," Alexa disclosed honestly. "I would have done anything to keep you safe, Grant. Still will."
Grant knelt beside her bed, his unrestrained hand reaching out to cup the soft texture of her cheek. "I know that, baby," he cooed lightly, "but nothin' will make me forget what just went down. So many times I coulda lost you. I don't think I can take another scare like that. Not when it comes to your life. I love you too much."
"I know you do," Alexa acknowledged. "And I love you too."
Grant had been troubled by whether or not she could feel love for him, and Prescott's words came back to haunt him. Nevertheless, the sweet sincerity in her face told him all the truth a man in love needed to know.
"Are you sure that you do? I mean, now that you know I was involved, I was sure that you'd be angry as hell with me."
"I am because you didn't tell me."
It was difficult to tell that she was angry, but he supposed it was that cool anger or the kind that, beneath the surface, she was still coming to grips with the situation.
"You wouldn't have slept with me otherwise," Grant mentioned, "and you woulda done more than try to cut me with a cleaver."
Alexa didn't laugh, her face strained with seriousness and thought. It was enough to make Grant squirm beside her.
"How much were you being paid for the job?" she inquired in a quiet voice.
Grant was almost too ashamed to say it, but breathed out, "Fifty thousand."
She didn't even blink at hearing the price that was placed on her father's head. "Did you see any of it?"
"I asked for half of it up front, but only got twenty."
Alexa sighed as she pushed the information around in her mind. She nervously worked her bottom lip. "Was that all you were asked to do?"
Alexa frowned, her pretty face scrunching up. "I don't understand. Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money. Why didn't you follow through?"
"The face of a lil' girl stopped me."
Alexa's eyes widened, which displayed her eagerness for an explanation. "I was doin' research on your father when I came across pictures of you. Honestly, from the first moment I laid eyes on you, I knew life would have a different meanin' for me."
Grant leaned closer, his hand gathering hers in a confident squeeze. "I knew then that you could save a man like me from himself and give me salvation," he said, tilting his head slightly to the side. "You know I love you more than the blood that flows in me. That very same blood I'd sacrifice for you, and that's the very same blood that flows through the veins of our baby."
Alexa's face radiated at the thought of their future, which had once been one of obscurity. "Do you think it's true? There's really a baby?"
"There ain't a doubt in my mind." Then his voice turned down notches to a curling, intimate tone that made a familiar, hot feeling to settle awkwardly in her stomach. "When I came deep inside you, I was sure there was more than desire in your belly, but somethin' else that's so special."
He studied her fingers, teasing them with his own. "Many times, I've imagine you with another man's child, bein' his wife and lover and I didn't like that one damn bit. I wanted that for myself. I wanted to give you my children and to have you in my bed to love for the rest of my days."
Grant touched her stomach lovingly. "Consider this as one of the many gifts that I'll give you, darlin', along with my love."
He touched her face with a smile on his before giving her a gentle kiss upon her lips. Alexa reached up to kiss him as they shared a few precious seconds of loving exchange. She stretched to the best of her ability, smiling with the warmth that now resided into her being. "Oh, Grant," she beamed dreamily. "What are we going to do?"
"What he better do is get the hell away from you."
The couple both glanced up, Alexa particularly surprised at who decided to grace them with a visit. "Daddy!"
Emmanuel Harden marched into the room, followed by a surly Ducky and two bodyguards. His turbulent dark brown eyes glared wrathfully at Grant with the look of a concerned father for his only child.
"Arrest that man!"
Grant scowled deeply. He thought they had shared an understanding when Grant had left to save Alexa. Harden had begged him fervently to bring his daughter back safely. Apart from Alexa being shot, almost raped, and not to mention pregnant with his child, she was still alive and well. Hell would freeze over twice before Grant would allow himself to be the scapegoat.
"What the hell is this?" he fumed, not caring that this was a man who attributed to Alexa's upbringing. Grant was irritated that the man didn't do more than give the girl a car and money for tuition. During a critical portion of her life, she lost the favor of her mother and Harden didn't do a good job stepping up to his role as a father. His daughter or not, Alexa had depended on him and he had let her down.
"Daddy, what are you doing?" Alexa demanded, holding on to Grant.
"This man was hired to make an attempt on my life and he dared to touch you," Harden replied with a shake of an accusing finger. "I want him put away."
"This man saved my life," Alexa cried.
"It doesn't redeem his past sins and you were still shot!"
"Alexa, baby," Harden replied, coming to the other side of Alexa's bed and held onto her hand. "I'm sorry for the man you see before you who's been a sorry excuse for a father. I should have been there when you needed me and I didn't listen to to your pleas. But now, I'm here and I'll be the father you need me to be."
His dark eyes lifted with outrage to the man that caused so many problems within a matter of two weeks. "Get away from her, you son of a bitch!" he growled.
Grant wasn't going to her give up without a fight. If it involved getting into a row with her father, it was fine, but even if they threw him on the sidewalk with just his hospital gown, he would do his damnedest to find his way back to her.
"Why don't you step off, pop?"
"You don't tell me to step off!" Harden barked fiercely. "I'm her father!"
"But I'm the father of her baby!"
Harden's face shadowed at that abrupt announcement, shock crossing his strong, dark features. His eyes, full of distain, fell upon his daughter in disbelief. "Is that true?" he asked in a quiet voice. "God, Alexa, please tell me that's not true."
Seeing the disappointment in his tone and his searching gaze made Alexa's guilt filter throughout her being. Her glance drifted down to her lap. "The doctor told us just a few minutes ago of the possibility. He's going to run another test to make sure but he's positive that I'm pregnant." She sighed. "We're still reeling over the news ourselves."
Harden looked to Grant before his eyes browsed the three other men in the room musingly. "Get out."
The bodyguards had a look of deep surprise before they filed out, but it was Ducky who remained rooted in place. He glared at Grant, his lips pursed in a thin line to refrain from saying something that would offend. Grant lacked that kind of delicacy to consider other people's feelings and told what he felt.
"I think that goes for you too, Quack. Beat it."
Ducky opened his mouth, but nothing fell out. His gaze strayed upon the expression of Alexa and her father, and they were both silently begging him to leave them alone to their discussions. After Ducky exited the room, Harden settled down uneasily into a nearby chair, his visage grim and drawn.
"My only daughter," he breathed. "I never expected this to be your future."
Alexa's face dimmed in shame. "I know, Daddy, and I'm sorry, but things happen. I think you know that what you and I wanted for my future were totally different."
Her father raised his hurting, chocolate brown eyes to consider her. "That could have been worked out between us, but this..." Harden sighed. "This wasn't exactly what I had in mind for you."
"Neither did I, Daddy, but I wouldn't change the outcome for this for anything."
Emmanuel glanced murderously at Grant. "This is your fault! By God, didn't you even think about using a condom?"
Grant merely shrugged. "Some thangs are better left unprotected."
Harden immediately rocketed out of the chair. "You son of a bitch!"
Alexa instantly quieted them both. "Settle down! Both of you! Nothing will get settled if you both bicker like children, now stop it."
Her outburst left the room quiet for a brief second, but it was long enough to make everyone involved in this drama awkward. Her father had something deeply troubling him, for he was a man who was dealing with a daughter who was now a beautiful grown woman and cursed his own pride for forbidding her to grow up.
"Did you allow him to touch you?" Harden inquired in a subtle, inquiring voice.
Alexa swallowed, nervous that she was suddenly growing courage to talk to her father in such a way, but she would do anything for Grant.
"I wanted him to touch me, yes," she cautiously admitted.
"Why, Alexa? You're capable of doing so much better. Your life was pure of anything that would've endangered your future. Then you sleep with him? He's guilty."
"Of course he is," Alexa complied. "He's guilty of having a sin, but we all have them, Daddy. What he did was wrong and it fills me with sorrow that it was him all along when everyone else thought I was insane, but that doesn't change the love I have for him."