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Bailey's Run - Chapter 1

Prologue

 

A lone figure sat on the grassy hillside of Memorial Gardens next to a black marble headstone. She had tearstains on her face and her hands absentmindedly twirled the bouquet of pink carnations she held. They had been her favorites. 

 

The deep shadows forming reminded her that the sun was rapidly disappearing and she knew the gardener would arrive soon to secure the cemetery for the night, so she stood, kissed the top of the headstone, and placed the bouquet on the soft grass. “Goodnight, my love,” she whispered, and slowly walked away.

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

A large mass of dark storm clouds roiled the skies west of Memphis, bringing a storm in from Arkansas. Bailey Chambers shifted gears and raced the clouds, hoping to be off duty and on her way home before the skies opened and rain pelted the city. She pulled her rig into the company parking lot, released her trailers, and took her logbook and keys inside. She tossed the keys to the warehouse supervisor and placed her logbook on the counter. “I will see you guys bright and early on Monday,” she said as she headed for the door leading to the employee parking lot.

 

“Have a great weekend and be careful,” he answered. Bailey waved as she strode to the door. 

 

The sun was rapidly disappearing in the darkening skies as she made her way to the bright yellow Jeep for the short drive to Midtown. She needed a shower and a bite to eat before she made her way to her second job. During the week, Bailey drove a semi for the Memphis-based FedEx hub, her run taking her to Nashville and back every day. It paid the bills, with good money left over, but her weekend job bartending at a gay bar owned by her cousin, Louise, was the one she really enjoyed.

 

She looked forward to the weekends and her nights at the club. Her brother Tommy and his best friend Joe were the headliners for the Friday and Saturday night drag shows. The club, generally packed to the gills with men and women of all ages and ethnic groups, had become her second home.

 

The smile on her face grew ever wider as she pulled into the alleyway next to her brownstone and parked the Jeep as the first raindrops began to fall. Even the rain could not dampen her spirits tonight. It had been a long week and Bailey was ready for some fun.

 

Inside the house, she preheated the oven for dinner while she got her clothes ready for the evening. With her clothes freshly ironed and starched, she placed her dinner in the oven then headed to the shower. The hot water washed away the miles she had driven during the week and her body began to relax under the calming flow.

 

Once finished, she dried off, caressed some hair product into her shoulder-length hair, and slipped into a thick terry robe. She left the bathroom and turned on her stereo system as she passed through her living room, dancing to the beat of one of her favorite disco tunes on her way to the kitchen. Bailey smiled as she remembered growing up with Tommy sashaying through the house as he danced to Donna Summer and various other disco artists. She arrived in the kitchen with two minutes remaining on the oven timer and spent the time pouring a glass of iced tea and setting a place at the table.

 

Tommy was four years her senior and had been performing as the drag artist Marie Lepanto for nearly five years. He and his best friend Joe, aka Victoria Luxora, had spent years traveling the gay club circuit in the south and had spent over a year in San Francisco before returning home to Memphis. Except for Louise, Tommy was her only remaining family and Bailey had missed him terribly while he was away. She was ecstatic that he had settled back into life in Memphis.

 

The timer sounded on the oven and she pulled her dinner out to cool. Reaching inside the refrigerator for the leftover salad and a bottle of dressing, Bailey began singing along with the tune as she dished up the potpie and prepared her salad. She checked her watch and knew Joe and Tommy would be getting off work soon and going home to prepare for their evening at the club. 

 

Bailey dug into her meal as the rain began to fall harder, pounding out a rhythm on the tin roof of her home. She usually joined the boys for dinner at least once a week. However, the fun they had on the weekends was what she looked forward to the most. Watching them perform their shows always brought a smile to her face.

 

Louise was a brilliant businessperson and had taken Club Fubar to the top of the dance and show clubs in Memphis. Cleverly, she refused to pay them a salary for their work at the club, which saved them a bundle in taxes. Instead, she had established investment funds for all three of them many years ago and the investments she managed continued to grow even in the bleak economy. Louise had purchased the best equipment for the club and spared no expense in continually improving the club for her patrons and her staff. Bailey never complained about not receiving a salary and knew that if she ever needed anything, Louise would provide the money she needed. 

 

She finished her meal and placed her dishes in the dishwasher before walking back into the living room. Bailey reached for the remote to crank up the music, and her eyes fell on a photo of her and a beautiful cinnamon-skinned woman taken on the deck of a long-ago visited beach house on the Gulf of Mexico. Her fingers shook as she reached out to pick up the photo and caress the image of the woman in the photograph. Her heart ached with a longing that paralyzed her for several moments as tears flowed down her cheeks.

 

“I miss you so much, Nessa,” she said as she wiped the tears from her face. It had been two years since she was murdered and Bailey still missed her with every beat of her heart. Tommy, Joe, and Louise had done everything they could to bring her out of the deep funk she had fallen into after Nessa’s death, but there were moments when the heartbreak was almost too much for her to bear. She wiped a speck of dust from the top of the frame then placed the photograph back on the shelf, her excitement dulled by the painful memories.

 

Releasing a deep sigh, Bailey walked into her bedroom to dress for the club. She was not oblivious to her good looks or the women who came to Fubar with hopes of catching her eye. However, she was unsure if she was ready for any kind of emotional commitment. 

 

Since Nessa’s death, Bailey endlessly ran away from potential mates, much to Tommy and Joe’s distress, and she felt their growing frustration with the failed attempts to hook her up with eligible women. Even though neither of them had a permanent partner, they knew how much Bailey needed a new love interest in her life, even if Bailey did not.

 

Slipping into a favorite pair of black Harley boots, Bailey looked at her image in the mirror. The handsome woman that looked back at her with haunted eyes was an image she almost did not recognize. The jeans that once fit snuggly were beginning to feel loose, even with the tail of her oxford tucked inside them. Bailey knew something in her life needed to change. The lust for life she had when Nessa was alive was gone and Bailey had no idea how she would light that spark again or even if she could. 

 

Nessa had been the one she always dreamed she would spend her life with and without her Bailey felt empty. The boys and Louise did everything they could to lift her spirits, but Bailey finally realized change would have to begin with her.

 

 

Black leather bands circled her wrists and with a splash of cologne, Bailey was ready to go. She turned off the music on her way through the house and retrieved her keys from the kitchen before slipping out into the gentle Memphis rain. She pulled the Jeep onto the main street and carefully made her way to Fubar, luckily finding a spot close to the door.

 

The club was already crowded and noisy when she opened the door and stepped inside. The packed dance floor filled with a crowd of twenty-somethings, who would make the rounds of the dance clubs, was the first wave of customers for the night. Their gyrating dance moves created a heat wave and customers flooded to the bar for liquid refreshments. Bailey rolled up her sleeves and stepped into the fray, filling orders as quickly as she could. Louise caught her eye and smiled as she too rushed to fill orders.

 

When the rush died down, Louise approached. “I’m so glad you came in early tonight. It has been a wild night already,” she said, brushing back the hair that had fallen into her face.

 

“I can see that,” Bailey said with a huge grin. A thirsty crowd was good for business and good for tips. She glanced at her tip jar to find it was filling with bills after the rush of the crowd.

 

“How are you tonight?” Louise finally asked when she had caught her breath.

 

“I’m doing good, thanks. I was ready for this weekend,” Bailey answered with a chuckle.

 

“Are you getting burnt out on your run?”

 

She took a rag and wiped down the bar as they chatted. “No, actually it is a pretty straight shot and not a difficult run at all. They offered me an overnight run, but I think I’ll stick with Nashville for a while yet.”

 

“It’s okay to stay in your comfort zone,” Louise said as she leaned against the bar.

 

Bailey flinched at Louise’s comment but knew she was spot-on. Bailey was hesitant to step outside her comfort zone. Louise was the most aggressive of the three in pushing Bailey to move forward with her life, and even though Bailey knew her intentions were pure, she felt the growing pressure her cousin was putting on her. 

 

“I know, I know,” Bailey said. “One step at a time is all I can do.”

 

Louise smiled at her younger cousin. “Just don’t forget how to move those feet,” she said with a wink.

 

Becca, a regular of the club and an avid admirer of Bailey, stepped up to the bar. “Is something wrong with Bailey’s feet?”

 

“I’m not sure, Becca, why don’t you take her for a spin on the dance floor to see if they still work,” Louise suggested.

 

“Not a bad idea, Louise,” she said as she stepped around a barstool. “Will you dance with me, Bailey?”

 

“Sure.” Bailey walked around the bar and took Becca’s hand then led her to the dance floor. It had been a while since she had danced with a partner, but she quickly caught the rhythm of the song and her body moved fluidly on the floor. Many sets of eyes watched Bailey’s moves. She was a natural dancer and Louise smiled as the hormone level in the club skyrocketed when Bailey was in her element.

 

Bailey was breathing hard but wearing a smile when she finally escaped ten minutes later and made it back to the bar.

 

“Damn girl, you still got the moves,” Louise said as she tossed her a bar towel.

 

“Not bad at all, huh?” she said with a grin as she stepped behind the bar. Dancing had felt wonderful, she thought as she approached Louise.

 

 “Not at all,” Louise said, happy to see a glimpse of the former Bailey. 

 

“Do we have a full show on the menu tonight?” 

 

“Yes, Tommy and Joe will be joined by a couple of queens they met who are up from New Orleans for the weekend,” Louise answered. “Apparently Tony and Charles were in need of a short break from Bourbon Street.”

 

“I can’t imagine a queen getting tired of Bourbon Street,” Bailey said. “Every time I have ever visited the clubs they have been packed from floor to ceiling.”

 

Becca had returned to her barstool and had picked up their conversation. “Maybe you should join me for a weekend in New Orleans then,” she told Bailey and flashed a wink at Louise. 

 

“You do have vacation time to use,” Louise reminded her.

 

“Yeah, I do. Do you think New Orleans is ready for you, Becca?”

 

“I only know of one way to find out,” she answered.

 

“We will see how things go this summer,” Bailey surprised them by saying.

 

Becca clutched her chest, and with flair of dramatics said, “Don’t build my hopes up just to watch me crash back down to earth.”

 

“You are such a goof,” Bailey said with a smile and grabbed an empty tray as she moved past Becca to clear some empty bottles from the tables.

 

“Well, that wasn’t an outright ‘no’ for an answer,” Louise said with a grin.

 

“Nope, and she’s going to find out how persistent I can be this summer,” Becca said and took a long drink from a fresh beer Louise had placed in front of her.

 

Bailey returned with a tray full of empty beer bottles and took them to the storeroom to place them in empty case boxes for recycling. When she stepped behind the bar, she asked, “Do we need to restock anything?” 

 

“No, I think we are good for now.”

 

The door swung open and two of the most beautiful men she had ever seen walked over to the bar, carrying large bags similar to those Joe and Tommy used when they performed. The smaller of the two gave Bailey the once-over from head to toe and looked back at his friend. “This must be the place; Tommy said there would be a gorgeous bartender working tonight, and I do believe we have arrived.”

 

Bailey could not help but grin at the pair. “You must be Tony and Charles, welcome to Club Fubar. Take a seat, and I’ll get you both something to drink. The name is Bailey, by the way, and Tommy is my brother.”

 

“I’m Tony,” the smaller man said, “and this big lug is Charles,” he said as they sat on barstools.

 

“The boys should be here in just a few minutes. What can I get you two to drink?”

 

“I would love a gin and tonic, darling,” Tony said.

 

Bailey looked at Charles and waited for his order. “Surprise me,” he said with a devilish grin.

 

She whipped up a gin and tonic quickly and handed it to Tony. They watched as she went to work blending several liquids into a tall glass with crushed iced. “A Smokey Blues,” she said as she sat the drink in front of Charles.

 

Charles took a sip of the drink and began fanning himself. “My goodness, this is heavenly,” he said. “I better be careful though, I still have to put my face on.”

 

Bailey chuckled. “That is definitely a sipping drink,” she agreed.

 

The door opened again and Bailey looked past the large man who was collecting the cover charge and checking IDs to see Tommy and Joe enter the club, carrying their bags. Tommy smiled brightly when he saw Bailey talking with his friends. “Hey, baby sister,” he said and kissed her cheek. “I see you’ve met my friends.” 

 

“She is taking very good care of us,” Charles said with a wink to Bailey as he hugged Tommy and then Joe.

 

“It looks like a good crowd so far,” Joe said as his eyes surveyed the room.

 

“Good tippers too,” she said, nodding toward her tip jar.

 

“Yeah, but you always get good tips, you hunk a hunk of burning love,” Joe teased.

 

“Have you ever considered performing?” Tony asked.

 

“Who me? Heck no, Tommy and Joe have that market covered for this family,” Bailey said as she nervously wiped down the bar.

 

“Honey, with your looks, you could make a fortune performing in New Orleans,” Charles said. 

 

Bailey blushed at their compliments. “Thanks, but I think I had better stick to bartending.”

 

“If you ever change your mind, look me up and I will get you introduced to all the best clubs in Nawlins,” Tony promised her.

 

“Thanks, I will,” she said and turned as Louise returned from the restroom.

 

“This beautiful lady is the mastermind behind all this,” Tommy said and introduced Tony and Charles.

 

“Thank you for having us this weekend,” Charles said.

 

“You are welcome anytime,” Louise said.

 

“Are you girls about ready to get dolled up?” Joe asked.

 

“Lead the way, handsome,” Charles said and picked up his drink.

 

“I’ll see you in a bit,” Bailey said as they picked up their bags and headed for the dressing room. She watched as they disappeared through the crowd and when the current string of songs ended waited for the rush of thirsty patrons.

 

Some of the younger crowd began to thin out, moving on to make a circuit of the city’s clubs, replaced by a slightly older crowd as the time for the first show approached. By the time the lights flickered to announce the show was about to begin, there was not an empty seat in the club.

 

Bailey wiped down the bar as Marie Lepanto stepped out on the stage and took a microphone from the DJ. “Welcome all to Club Fubar,” she said. “Are you ready to have some fun?”

 

“Hell yes,” came the response from the crowd.

 

“I can’t hear you,” Marie said as she placed a hand to her ear.

 

“Hell yes,” came a louder response.

 

“Now that is what I was waiting to hear. Put your hands together for a warm Memphis welcome for the Fabulous Nikki Simone, visiting us from New Orleans,” she said to a roar of applause. 

 

The lights of the club went down and a spotlight glowed on the middle of the stage where Nikki, aka Tony, stood, head hanging low as the song began slowly. As the beat picked up, Nikki went into full gear and the crowd roared their approval, as her dance moves were incredible.

 

 Dollar bills were waving in the air and Nikki slowed down long enough to accept the tips and give the owners a quick brush of a kiss on their cheeks as the performance continued. Tony was a beautiful man, but he was gorgeous as a woman, Bailey thought as she watched the performance.

 

“Isn’t it a shame one of the most beautiful women in here is a man?” Louise said as she walked around the bar to stand next to Bailey.

 

“I was just thinking the same thing.” Bailey returned her cousin’s smile. “What is this world coming to?”

 

“I’ll be damned if I know.”

 

Becca returned to the bar. “May I get a fresh cold one?” 

 

“You most certainly can,” Bailey said and got a new beer for her friend. “What have you been up to these days?”

 

“Just working and chasing the occasional woman,” Becca said.

 

“Have you caught any?” Louise asked.

 

“None worth keeping yet, but I’m still hopeful,” Becca said with a wink to Bailey before heading back into the crowd.

 

Bailey watched her go and turned to find Louise watching her. “What?”

 

“You know she adores you.”

 

“I know, but Becca is more like a sister to me,” Bailey said. “She is a fantastic woman, but I feel no attraction to her.” 

 

“What about the other fifty or so women in here?”

 

Bailey had a pained look on her face. “I had what I wanted most and it was taken from me. I don’t think I can ever replace that.”

 

“You will never replace it, darling, but there are plenty of good women left in this world that would be lucky to have someone like you in their lives.”

 

Bailey let Louise’s words sink in. Deep down she knew her cousin was right. Nessa would not want her to go on like this. She would want her to be happy.

 

The number on stage ended and Marie came back out to introduce Charlise, aka Charles, and the show continued. People continued to crowd through the door and the bar was packed with drink orders most of the night, much to Bailey’s delight. If she stayed busy behind the bar, her mind would not wander to places better left alone for now.  

 

When the first of the two shows ended with roaring applause for all four performers, Bailey took a tray of drinks back into the dressing room. “That was quite a show,” she said as she passed drinks to the heated performers.

 

“A good crowd for tips too,” Charles said as he plucked dollar bills from his costume.

 

“Just don’t spend it all in one place,” Bailey teased. “Is there anything I can get you all?”

 

“No, baby sis, I think we’re good for now. We have another hour or so before the next show, so once we touch up our makeup a bit we’ll go socialize with our audience,” Tommy said.

 

“Okay then, just give me a holler if you need anything.”

 

“Thanks, love,” he answered as she left.

 

Bailey collected empty bottles and glasses as she made her way back to the bar. Her tray was full before she made it halfway there. She set the tray on the counter and looked at Louise. “You know, we really should think about hiring another serving staff.”

 

“I’ve been giving that some thought. Annette is great, but these weekend nights, she just cannot keep up with the crowd. Do you have anyone in mind?”

 

“I don’t, but I bet Tommy could suggest someone who could use extra work on the weekends. It may help to have a little male eye candy in here.”

 

“True, but it may make it difficult to keep him from flirting with the customers.” Louise chuckled.

 

“That’s always a risk, but I’m sure we could keep him under control.”

 

“I will talk to Tommy about it later then,” Louise said.

 

Bailey nodded her head and went back to work stocking the coolers. It was almost midnight when she finished and the lights flickered to let everyone know the last show of the evening was about to begin. The DJ let the song fade out and handed the microphone over to Marie as Bailey stepped outside for a breath of fresh air.

 

The rain had ended, at least for a time. The streets, washed clean by the rain, were shining under the moonlight and Bailey took a deep breath. The air had a freshness that only followed a good rain. She leaned back against the building and looked up into the sky. The heavy clouds were gone and the stars winked down on her as she breathed deeply, filling her lungs with fresh air. Off in the distance she could hear the blare of sirens, probably more of the senseless violence that plagued the city she had always called home.

 

The door to the club swung open as a young couple left and Bailey could hear the thumping bass of the dance music that would play for another hour after the show, before they announced “last call” for the evening. She watched the couple walk hand in hand to their car and then disappear into the shadows of the city. Her heart ached with the memory of holding Nessa’s hand as they strolled together. Before complete melancholy could overcome her, she sighed deeply and walked back into the club.

 

The crowd began to thin out over the next hour. Tommy and his friends packed away their gear and sat in a booth together to enjoy a drink before Tony and Charles would head back to their hotel. Bailey took them drinks and pulled an empty chair to the end of the booth. She straddled the chair, propping her arms on the back, and grinned at her brother. 

 

“That was a great show,” she said.

 

“Not a bad performance for a Friday night,” Joe said.

 

“Indeed,” Tommy agreed. “The kids were out in force tonight.”

 

“Didn’t you say that Saturday night is even better?” Charles asked.

 

“Generally speaking, yes, they are,” Tommy answered. “Especially when we have performers visiting from out of town. You’d be amazed how fast word spreads through this city.”

 

Bailey glanced at the bar to see Louise swamped with thirsty customers. “I had better get back to help Louise. Is everyone good here?”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Tony said, and raised his glass to her.

 

Bailey was returning from the stockroom when the boys approached the bar. “Tony and I are going to go crash for the evening. Will we see you tomorrow night?” Charles asked.

 

“I’ll be right here. You two be safe and don’t get into any trouble,” Bailey said.

 

“We would never even consider it,” Tony said with a boyish grin.

 

“Come on then and I’ll walk you out,” Tommy said.

 

“Hand me that dishpan and I’ll bus the tables for you,” Joe told Bailey, who had begun washing up the glasses.

 

She handed him the pan and resumed washing as Louise prepared the cash register for the final money drop of the evening. 

 

Five minutes later, Joe placed the pan on the counter, looked around and then back to Bailey. “Has Tommy not come back inside?” he asked.

 

Bailey had not seen Tommy return, but hadn’t thought it strange. “Why don’t you check to see if he is still outside chatting up the boys?” she asked.

 

With a smirk, Joe walked out the front door as Bailey dumped the last of the glasses into the dishwater. She was startled several seconds later when Joe flung the door wide and yelled for her.

 

“Bailey, come quick,” he screamed. The horrified look on his face made her blood run cold.

 

On her way toward the door she reached under the bar and grabbed a Louisville Slugger she kept there in case of an emergency, and this sure felt like it was going to be serious. She hit the door with Louise hot on her tail. She looked in horror at the scene in front of her. Tommy was down on the ground in the parking lot and two men were pounding him with vicious blows. Tommy tried to curl up in a protective ball as they screamed and kicked at him. 

 

Bailey turned to Louise. “Call nine-one-one,” she said and took off at a full run.

 

Joe was screaming at the men to leave him alone but the men were in a frenzy of rage as their brutal attack continued. 

 

“I can’t believe you only have ten bucks, you stupid fag,” one of them yelled as he kicked at Tommy.

 

Bailey, fueled with a rage of her own, rushed to Tommy’s defense. She had not been there for Nessa, but by God, she would be there for Tommy. These men were not taking another of her loved ones from her without a fight. She swung the bat with all her might and landed a blow just above the closest man’s right elbow. She felt the crunch of splintering bones as the man’s pain-filled screams rang in her ears. She reared back for another swing, but the man had stumbled from the blow and started to run away. Bailey took aim at the other assailant and swung for the man’s head. Lucky for him, the man ducked away at just the precise moment to prevent his head from sailing over the Mississippi River from the force of her swing. He stumbled backward but was able to regain his feet before Bailey could take further aim with her bat. 

 

She chased him across the parking lot until she was sure they were both gone before turning back to find Joe kneeling over Tommy. She ran back to him and sank to her knees when she saw the blood covering his face. Her heart raced a mile a minute. 

 

Louise ran back out with the tiny first-aid kit they kept at the bar, but there was so much blood covering Tommy they didn’t know where to begin. He was still conscious and trying to speak as Joe cradled his head in his lap, tears streaking down his face.

 

Sirens wailed in the distance as the bat slipped from Bailey’s grip and she took Tommy’s hand. “Just hang in there, Tommy, help is on its way,” she said through a throat so parched she feared it would come out as a croak.

 

Tommy looked up at her, his eyes glazing over with pain. “That was one hell of a swing you took at him. I always knew you had the best swing in the family,” he said and when he managed a weak grin, Bailey saw that several of his teeth were broken.

 

“Those bastards,” she said through gritted teeth. “I’d kill them if I could get my hands on them.”

 

“Easy girl,” Louise said as she dabbed at the blood on Tommy’s face. “We don’t need both of you going into the hospital tonight.”

 

Bailey rocked back on her heels as she waited for the ambulance to arrive. The sirens seemed a hundred miles away and she feared they would never arrive before Tommy slipped away from them. Please God, let them hurry she prayed to herself as Tommy coughed and spit up blood.

 

She could hear a gurgling deep in his throat as panic overtook her. “Joe, you have to turn his head to the side before his lungs fill up with blood,” she said and helped him ease Tommy onto his side. A large amount of blood ran from his mouth and pooled on the damp asphalt beside her. Bailey looked up when she heard the screeching of tires, happy to see the red lights of the ambulance approaching at a rapid pace. “Thank God,” she breathed as the ambulance skidded to a halt and two paramedics grabbed their gear and rushed over to where Tommy lay.

 

“What happened here?” one of the men asked.

 

“My brother was jumped by two men who wanted to take his money,” Bailey said as the rage boiled up inside her again.

 

“You all need to step back now and let us do our work,” the other man said as he gently backed them away from Tommy. 

 

Bailey watched through tear-filled eyes as the men hooked up several monitors to her only brother as he lay in a pool of his own blood in the parking lot. The men worked quickly to assess Tommy’s injuries as Tommy tried to explain what had happened to him.

 

“You’re going to be okay, buddy, just relax and let us take care of you,” the man said.

 

Never one to miss a chance to flirt with a handsome man, Tommy said, “You can take care of me anytime, you sexy beast,” and then promptly passed out. 

 

If the situation had not been so dangerous, Bailey would have almost found his comment hilarious as the air leaving his lungs across the broken teeth made his comment sound like “you sexy feast,” which is exactly what Tommy would make out of a man as handsome as the paramedic. Even in the dim lighting of the parking lot, she could see the blush on the man’s cheeks and she couldn’t help but grin when his partner looked to him and said, “Will you go get the gurney, you sexy beast.”

 

The same man looked over to Bailey. “Is this your brother?”

 

“Yes, it is. His name is Tommy.”

 

“Will you be going with him to the hospital?” 

 

“Yes, I will,” Bailey answered.

 

“I would suggest grabbing a coat if you have one, it can get cold in there. We’ll put Tommy on the gurney and be ready to load him in just a few minutes,” he said.

 

Bailey nodded her head and handed the bat to Louise. “Will you be okay closing down the club?”

 

“I’ll stay and help her and then we’ll come to the hospital,” Joe said. 

 

“Thanks. Joe will you grab my jacket from the Jeep?” Bailey asked as she handed him her keys with a hand shaking with fright.

 

Louise started back inside and Joe ran to her Jeep, returning with her jacket. “He’s going to be all right,” he said and kissed her on the cheek. “Louise and I will see you soon.”

 

The paramedics had carefully placed Tommy on the gurney once they were sure he didn’t have a back or neck injury and they were slowly pushing him to the back of the ambulance. “Do you want to ride in the back with your brother?” the driver asked.

 

“Yes, if I can,” she answered.

 

“Don’t worry. Stan will let you know if you are in his way,” he said with a comforting smile.

 

“Is that the sexy beast?” Bailey asked and then snickered with nervous laughter.

 

“I’ll admit, I have been called a lot of names on this job, but never a sexy beast,” Stan answered.

 

“Well, Tommy never misses a chance to flirt with a good-looking man,” Bailey said.

 

“It’s a positive sign he still has a good sense of humor after what he’s gone through. He’s been beaten pretty badly, but he is going to be all right, so you relax, okay?”

 

Bailey nodded her head and allowed the driver to assist her in climbing into the back of the ambulance. “We are going to Methodist, is that okay?”

 

“Yes, that’s great,” Bailey managed to say as she pulled her arms through the jacket.

 

The driver closed the door and ran around to the driver’s seat, and the ambulance pulled carefully out onto the street.

 

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