Liam and I had been waiting for almost an hour by the time we were allowed back to see the doctor. By then my head was pounding right along with my shoulder. After all he had done that night, I wasn't surprised that Liam stayed and escorted me back to the exam room.
Once again, I had to strip off my shirt so the doctor could exam my shoulder. Liam sat in the chair across from the bed, watching the doctor while I watched him. He was careful to keep his eyes up, glancing from the doctor to me with that concerned look of his but never did his eyes drop to my chest as so many of the other guys would have. Finally, the doctor seemed satisfied and I was able to slide the hospital gown back over my shoulder.
"Well, you're right," the doctor stated. "It's dislocated. We can pop it right back into place. I'll give you some pills to take the pain away before we do."
My gaze shot up to the doctor who had come around to face me, "No." I shook my head vehemently, "I don't want any pills. You do what you have to but I won't take any pills."
Liam cocked an eyebrow but I kept my gaze on the doctor, letting him know I was serious about this. With a shrug, the doctor sighed, "If you're sure."
"I am," I kept my voice even, not betraying the sudden fear of the pain to come.
The doctor took position beside me, grasping my arm in one hand and holding my shoulder in the other. Liam also stood and came to my other side. He offered his hand and I took hold of it. I hoped my hand wasn't too sweaty. As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I rolled my eyes, annoyed with myself. What did I care if my hand was sweaty? It's not like we were on a date or anything.
And then all thoughts were replaced by pain as the doctor relocated my shoulder in one quick, painful jerk. I couldn't help but cry out as I clenched Liam's hand. The tears that threatened all night rolled down my cheeks and for a long, agonizing moment, all I could see was the white hot pain.
Then I gulped in a breath and panted as the pain eased to a throb. I opened my eyes to find Liam crouched before me, his brow wrinkled with concern, his free hand stroking my cheek.
"It's all over now," His voice was soothing and calm.
Suddenly aware that I still had his hand in a death grip, I let go and swiped the tears away. "I'm fine," My voice cracked, betraying me.
The doctor began securing my arm in a sling when the curtain across the door was pulled back and a man stepped in the room. Hugh Killian. His typical two henchmen bodyguards were at his heels. Icy cold eyes swept over the situation, noting Liam who had quickly returned to his seat before focusing on me.
"How's the patient?" Killian asked the doctor without taking his eyes off me.
I wanted to groan. It figures that the closest hospital had spies that would snitch to Killian the second one of his people shows up with an injury.
"Mr. Killian," The doctor nodded a greeting. So the doctor was the snitch, eh? "She's going to be fine once she gets some ice on that shoulder, gets the swelling down. It will be sore for a week or two. Keep it in the sling for four weeks then I want her to come back and have a follow up so we can see how well it's healing. Then we can see about getting her into some physical therapy."
Annoyed that he was suddenly ignoring me and discussing my medical condition with Killian, I narrowed my eyes, "What are you doing here?"
Killian waved a hand, clearly dismissing the doctor before replying, "When one of my people gets injured, I like to know how their doing."
"I'm fine," I replied curtly.
"Hm," Killian didn't seem impressed, "Tell me what happened." He turned to Liam, clearly wanting him to answer.
With a glance at me before he began, Liam told how he had made sure Mikey, who was drunk off his ass, made it home safely before heading home himself. As he was walking, he saw a car speeding down the road, intent on running me down. He explained that he reacted without thinking and tackled me to get me out of the way then brought me to the hospital to get checked out, leaving out the part where we went to my apartment.
As Liam spoke, Killian's lips disappeared in a thin line of displeasure. We all knew he was thinking the same thing we were: the Russians were making a move and Liam foiled their plans. Things were only going to get ugly from here.
Killian turned to me, "Get some rest. If you need anything, let me know." Meaning if I needed drugs to kill the pain or to forget my troubles, he'd hook me up. No thank you. "I'll even let you have the rest of the week off." I bit back a reply. That was his way of saying he still owned me; he loved throwing it in my face whenever he could.
Turning to Liam, he continued, "Get her home, make sure she's safe."
Liam nodded and we both were silent as Killian turned and left, his bodyguards falling into step beside him. I let Liam help me with my coat and escort me out to my car. Once we were on the way back to my apartment, Liam broke the silence.
"Why did you refuse the pain pills?" He kept his eyes on the road and his voice low as if he was trying not to upset me with a sensitive topic.
After all that happened that night, I figured it couldn't hurt to tell the truth. "My mom was an addict. She was constantly popping pills while I was growing up. I lost track of how many times she checked into rehab only to fall off the wagon a week later." I had long ago come to terms with how I grew up, so my voice was steady and level. I glanced out the window, suddenly feeling the weight of my fears. My voice was softer when I continued, "I read somewhere that addictions are genetic. I didn't believe it until my brother became an addict. One pill. That's all it took and I lost my brother forever."
Liam glanced over at me, "I'm sorry."
His sincerity was strange after being around Killian, but it also made it that much more distinct. Where Killian offered me a chance to heal to show he owned me, Liam provided comfort without asking anything in return.
Taking a deep breath and pushing all the fear of addiction, of Killian, of the uncertainty my life had become, I declared, "I'll never be like that."
The city was still in the crisp morning air. It was too early for most of the inhabitants to be up and moving around which made it the perfect time for me to slip away and met Detective Jarek Wysocki to report on my assignment. We met down by the pier, far enough away that we didn't run the risk of one of Killian's or Gibbons' men seeing us together. When going up against the strongest men in the city, we had to be careful.
Wysocki's partner waited several yards away, keeping an eye out. Wysocki joined me, his eyes scanning the area looking for any activity.
"What do you have?" He asked, getting straight to business.
I glanced across the softly rolling surface of the water, still uncertain about what I was about to tell him. Not that I didn't believe Colleen could help us, but if she did, we'd be putting her in as much danger as I was in if anyone found out I was a cop. "There's a bartender at Killian's pub, I think she could help our investigation."
Wysocki cocked an eye brow, "A confidential informant?"
I nodded, "From what I gather, she's been working for Killian for three years but the rumor is that she never wanted to join. I can't figure exactly why she did, but I think it might have something to do with her brother. As the bartender, she's probably heard more than one incriminating conversation between Killian and a handful of other criminals throughout the city, including Alderman Gibbons."
For a moment, Wysocki seemed to be mulling it over, "I'll talk to Teresa about it, but I'm telling you right now, I don't like it. This could be a way for Killian to sniff out snitches and cops. If, and I mean if, we even consider this, she wouldn't know that you're undercover. She'll deal with me. It's too risky to have her know you're a cop and we've invested way too much in this investigation to let it fall through because some flossy let herself get in your head."
Clenching my teeth, I retorted, "She's not a flossy. And I haven't let her get into my head. She'll hardly even talk to me or any of the other guys. She doesn't act like the other girls associated with Killian and I think we can use that to our advantage."
"Fine," Wysocki ran a hand over his face. "I'll talk to Teresa. We'll think about bringing her on, but like I said, she'll be in the dark about you being a cop."
I sat in my car for a long time, gazing up at the austere walls surrounded by tall metal fencing. Clouds seemed to hang over head like an omen over the building. It was like the sky itself didn't want the inmates to have even the slightest glance at freedom. Most days, I found my situation to be not much better than my brother's. We were both prisoners. Only Killian was our true warden and he would never grant us freedom.
With a heavy sigh, I threw open the car door and got out. It had been almost six months since I had come to see Tommy, but I was already wishing the visit could be over. Seeing his cage only made mine that much more real.
It took longer to get through security than normal with my sling. They had to double and triple check it for any weapons or contraband and had to question me thoroughly before they were convinced I really did injure myself and I wasn't trying to sneak something passed them. Finally, I was led down the hall to the visitor's area where Tommy was waiting for me on the other side of the glass.
His easy smile greeted me, though his eyes were blank with that look I knew all too well that meant he was high. I picked up the phone and tried for a half smile in return.
"Hey, Tommy," I greeted, choking on the words because as much as I loved seeing my little brother, it killed me to see him high even more than it did to see him in prison. It was like nothing we'd been through together mattered.
"Hey, Collie," His eyes drifted down to my sling and his mouth fell open, his eyes widened. "What happened?"
I tried to shrug it off, "It's nothing. I just fell and dislocated my shoulder."
Tommy sat up straighter and his eyes came into focus, "What do you mean you fell? Did someone do this to you? Is Killian not taking care of you?" His voice got low and threatening. It was almost good to see him get so protective, like my brother was still there somewhere, buried under the drugs.
"He is," I reassured. "There's just been some trouble with the Russians. One of his guys was there to get me out of there with just this scratch."
"Does this have anything to do with that chick that got run over?" I was surprised by Tommy's question. Rumors and updates made it to the prison all the time but I didn't think there was time for these latest events to reach them.
I nodded, "Yeah. Karkovich is out for blood this time. After he tried running me down, he tracked down the guy that ran over his daughter, O'Malley, and shot him. Left the body in front of the bar to send a message to Killian."
Tommy shook his head, "I should be out there protecting you."
"Yeah, you should," I couldn't help but take the jab. "If you hadn't taken that wrap for Killian, you wouldn't be here right now."
"I had to," Tommy declared. We'd had this fight before, so he didn't say any more on the subject. "I want you to stay close to Killian and his guys. They'll look out for you. What about the guy that was there to save you? What did you say his name was?"
I hesitated before answering, "Liam. He's a new guy, hasn't even been on a big job yet."
Tommy nodded his understanding. We both knew it wouldn't be long before Liam was put on a big job. Big jobs were like initiation. At first, they gave you little jobs to bring you in on the scam. They built up trust and when you were ready, you got a big job. Then they'd have you. No turning back after a big job.
"Stay close to him, then," Tommy was saying. "And, sis," He added just as I was about to hang up and leave. Our eyes met and I saw the Tommy I remembered, the one that I hid under the table with and promised to look out for. The one that promised to look out for me as well. "Thank him for me, will you?"
I furrowed my brow, "For what?"
"For looking out for my sister when I couldn't."