I've Got You

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Ashe answered his phone on the third ring. Riley heard the sounds of people talking around him, the clink of plates and cups and Ashe saying, Excuse me, I have to take this call.

"I hope this isn't about climbing that tree just yet," he said in a low voice.

"Gareth's here," she murmured.

There was a pause. "Is he all right?"

"He's okay now."

"And you?"

"I'm doing much better than he is. He drove all the way from Nashville."

"I'm just down the street," Ashe said before muffling the phone with his hand as he spoke to his companion, "I'm sorry, but I have to cut this interview short. If you call Lance Purefoy tomorrow, we can continue the interview by phone. Here's his number."

"What about Miss Williams?" asked the interviewer.

"All interview requests will be referred to Lance from now on. I apologize, but I have to leave. There's an emergency." Then he turned his attention back to Riley, his voice back to its normal volume on her phone. "I'll be there in ten minutes. And, Riley—"

"Yes?"

"Thank you for letting me know," he said as Riley felt relief flooding over her. She wondered if she should have called Ashe the moment Gareth had arrived. But wouldn't that have meant that she thought he didn't trust her?

But he did trust her. Riley heard it in his voice.

As she hung up the phone, she felt a calm descend. It would seem strange to have two men she loved in the same square footage she called home, but it might be cathartic—her past and her present in one room, and maybe her future too.

When she returned to the living room, Gareth had curled up on the couch and was asleep. He had removed his boots and tucked two throw pillows under his head, the way he used to do when he'd fall asleep on the futon, back when they lived in that small apartment. He'd also taken the blanket draped over the back of the couch and pulled it over him, reminding Riley of the vulnerable little boy who used to sleep on the top bunk of her bed when they were children.

Gareth's eyes were closed, his breathing soft and relaxed. The lines on his face had faded and in its place was the boy Riley had known all her life, the one who had rescued her more times than she could count. Yet she had saved him, too, and she had never realized it.

She knew then that she was going to be fine, that, even though the last forty-eight hours seemed to have been one crushing disappointment after another, there had also been amazing discoveries. She would see the triplets soon, maybe even sit down privately with Paige and Clint armed with a list of things she needed to discuss so that she would remember everything she wanted to say to them.

Riley would tell them that she needed time to deal with her feelings about what had happened and insist that nothing be done behind her back ever again, even if it was supposedly for her sake. She wanted their relationship to be treated as a business company, with transparency and full accountability. Indeed, to some extent, it was one, as Clint was still her financial adviser until she found someone else.

It would be difficult to face them again, but she would do it for the triplets. Riley had loved them since the day they were born prematurely, taking turns with Paige and Clint to hold them long before the nurses had told them that touch was crucial to improving the babies' immune systems and growth. She would have done it even if studies hadn't proven that touch was so beneficial to the development of premature babies.

Riley accepted that most of all, she needed to grow up. Even if events seemed to be happening so fast that she had no choice in the matter, she could handle it. She'd figure it out.

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