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Knocked Up By The Billionaire

By:Tasha Fawkes

oken at seven o’clock with stiff joints and a throbbing headache. I grimaced as I clambered out of bed over my books and made a mad dash for my bathroom. I couldn’t be late for class again.

The bathroom was tiny, and that was being generous. Barely enough room for the camper-sized shower stall, a chipped and stained porcelain sink jutting from the wall, and beside that, an equally dinged porcelain toilet. Muttering, I reached into the shower and turned on the faucets, knowing exactly how far to turn each one to get the temperature I wanted—if I were lucky.

The piping made a groaning sound and shuddered inside the wall before the showerhead spurted unsteady bursts of water until pressure stabilized. I quickly pulled my T-shirt over my head and pulled off my sweatpants, naked underneath, and stepped under the running water. I inhaled sharply as cool water pelted my skin and then gradually warmed up. If no one on my floor flushed a toilet, which usually resulted in a sudden drop in not only water pressure but temperature, I’d count my blessings.

I was in and out of the shower in less than five minutes, probably a world record for me. I quickly yanked the towel from the rack and towel-dried as I stepped into the studio, scanning the clothes strewn on the floor, looking for something relatively clean.

The morning had gone downhill from there. I’d barely made it to my microbiology class, dull and challenging under the best of circumstances, but with lack of sleep and my pounding headache, I was barely able to concentrate. Spring finals were coming up, and I needed to focus. I closed my eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, and made a conscious effort to sit straighter and to listen to the monotone drone of my professor, who, if possible, made microbiology even more mind-numbing than it already was.

I glanced up at the clock again. Thank God, five more minutes of this torture and I could escape, at least for twenty minutes before my next classes—Fundamentals of Patient Care followed by Developmental Psychology.

The phone in my back pocket vibrated. I ignored it at first. Probably Charlie, my brother. At twenty-one, Charlie was one year younger than me, although most of the time, he acted like an adolescent teen. I loved him dearly, but he could be challenging, especially after the death—

I surreptitiously slipped the phone out of my pocket, glanced down at the screen, and frowned. Not Charlie. I didn’t recognize the number. I never took calls from numbers I didn’t recognize. If it was important, they’d leave a voicemail. I slid the phone back into my pocket, quickly jotted down the assignment the professor wrote on the board, heavy-handed with his chalk, causing goosebumps to rise on my arms. He did that on purpose. Likely his own brand of revenge on his class full of uninterested students.

I headed out of class without speaking to anyone, not that I usually did. I had often been told that I was anti-social, but I wasn’t. Not really. I was friendly and liked socializing. I make friends easily, but truth be told, I’m just too busy. Besides, I don’t like the melodrama of which many of my peers seemed to thrive. If they only knew how petty their whining about stupid things was compared to the really tragic things that could happen in life… Anyway, between studying and my crappy job at the diner just around the corner from my studio apartment, and trying to keep track of Charlie, I barely had enough time for myself, let alone friends.

I stepped onto the quad and stood for several moments bathed in warm sunshine, heaving a sigh of relief. Thank goodness, I didn’t have classes all day today. The phone in my pocket vibrated again. I pulled it from my pocket and glanced at the screen. A text message. I opened it.

This is Mercy West Hospital. Charlie Sommer requested that we notify you that he has been admitted following an accident. Please contact hospital for information.

My heart skipped a beat. A cold chill swept down my spine despite the warmth of the morning. Charlie! “Oh Lord, what now?” I headed for the south side of campus where the buses stopped regularly, but a quick glance at my watch made me pause. A bus going in that direction wouldn’t be coming along for another twenty minutes. With a breathy curse, I turned around and headed for the quad again. I couldn’t wait for a bus. I would have to take a taxi. An expense that I rarely indulged in, but this was an emergency.

I half-walked, half-ran through the quad and toward the nearest corner along University Avenue. Traffic was steady, but after a few moments, I spotted a yellow cab and lifted my arm and waved. The cab merged with traffic on the street and pulled to the curb.

I opened the door and clambered inside. “Dallas University Hospital!”

I barely sat down before the taxi took off, meter running. Keeping one eye on the meter and the other on the street, I couldn’t help but imagine the worst. What happened? Had Charlie been hit by a car? How bad was he hurt? And, although I was ashamed to admit it, how much was this going to cost?

Heart pounding in dread, I prayed that Charlie wasn’t hurt badly. That he didn’t need surgery. That he wouldn’t die. I had dealt with enough heartbreak in my life. Charlie might have his problems, but he was my brother. I’d do anything for him.

By the time the taxi pulled up in front of the entrance doors of the five-story hospital complex, I trembled with anxiety, so much so that when I glanced at the meter and dug into my pocket for the twenty I always carried on me, I nearly ripped the bill. I told the cabbie to keep the change. Five dollars wasn’t going to make or break me, and I knew that like me, cabbies relied on tips to make it by. I barely heard the cabby’s mumbled thanks—was that sarcasm or appreciation—before I scrambled out, slammed the door, and trotted toward the front doors. They swished open as a middle-aged couple exited, and I hurried through. Direc