My left arm felt funny and I figured out why when I saw the tube taped to it, which led straight up to the IV bag hanging on one of those poles on wheels.
I sat up in the bed, looking for the clock to check the time. How long had I been asleep? The clock read just after ten-thirty. The afternoon’s events came crashing back in a blasting wave and I braced myself for more pain and suffering, but it never came. I guess all the running and crying and puking had sucked all of the reacting out of me. Instead, I was warm in a soft bed with Ethan watching over me with an IV in my arm. Okay, that was a little scary. I must have been in terrible shape when Ethan brought me here if I needed intravenous liquids.
I settled back down into the covers and indulged in watching him sleeping in the chair. It couldn’t be very comfortable for him. Poor guy. He had to be exhausted from everything that had happened, and everything we had done in the last day and a half.
I wasn’t ready to face it all yet, but I did feel much better than I had in hours, and . . . safe. Very safe in Ethan’s care, the way he’d made me feel since the night I’d met him and he took me home in his car. I let myself drift back to sleep again, content with the knowledge that, at least for now, I wasn’t alone.
When I woke the next time, Ethan’s chair was empty. The bedside clock read a little after one-fifteen in the morning, so I surmised he must have gone to bed. Another bed. Somewhere else. I took a deep breath and tried to suck it up. Turning into a puddle of jelly wouldn’t help me a bit. But it sure felt good to fall apart sometimes, especially when you had someone to catch you. Like Ethan . . .
I realized I needed the bathroom, so I flicked the covers back and gingerly crawled out of bed. Feet were a little shaky and muscles very sore, especially my legs and abdominals, but I had to smile at the socks on my feet. Ethan must have put them on me. He really has to love me. I truly believed that he did, but I guess I was afraid that a pregnancy would kill that love, in all its newness and fragility. We were moving way too fast for this to possibly work. Right?
The IV pole had to be rolled along with me, or I would risk ripping out the needle imbedded in my wrist. I shuddered at the look of the ugly thing, glad I didn’t remember getting stuck with it in the first place. The pole was a little awkward, but I managed to get in and take care of business.
The first thing I did afterward was brush my teeth. I actually moaned at the divine taste of toothpaste and the feel of a clean minty mouth after far too many revolting spells of barfing. It’s the little things . . .
Next I tackled my hair, which I have to say looked pretty damn horrific. I didn’t even want to think about what might be dried in there. I really wanted a shower, but I knew there was no way to navigate it out by myself when I was still hooked up to an IV. Brushing and braiding my hair into one long rope on the side improved things somewhat, but I still looked like hell. I eyeballed the bathtub.
“What are you doing out of bed?” Ethan barked from the doorway, a heavy scowl on his beautiful face.
“I had to go to the bathroom.”
“And are you finished?”
I nodded and looked longingly at the magnificent marble bath.
His eyes followed mine to the bathtub. “Don’t even think about it. You’re getting back into bed.” He pointed, still glaring.
I raised both brows. “Are you telling me where to go by pointing?”
“Yup. And it’s thataway.” He jerked his thumb for emphasis and stalked over, lifting me off my feet with no trouble. “Grab onto the pole, baby, it’s coming too.”
I squeaked and grabbed the pole. His clothes felt cold as he pressed me against him.
Ethan wasted no time in getting me back into bed and my IV organized. “Why do I need this, anyway?” I asked.
He leaned in, bringing his lips very close to mine. “Because according to Fred you were so severely dehydrated you would’ve been admitted to hospital in your condition when I found you.” His eyes were hard and his voice was soft as he told me the brutal truth.
“Oh . . .” I didn’t know how else to respond and was beginning to feel emotions rising up that threatened to overtake my fragile grip on keeping it together. I brought my unfettered hand up to the side of his face and touched him, the stubble of his beard a mixture of soft and rough, well familiar to me by now. Ethan closed his eyes as if he was savoring my touch, and that made me sad. He needed some comfort too.
“You were outside smoking, weren’t you?”
He nodded and I saw something flicker in his eyes like regret and maybe even shame. I felt even worse. He certainly didn’t need my judgment right now. I’d put this poor man through the ringer in the last day and night, and he was still here by my side. He’d come to get me, and told me he loved me, and took care of me when I was sick. He’d done all of that and what had I done? I’d run off in self-pity and gotten myself so ill I would be in a hospital right now if not for Freddy being a licensed physician.
“I’m so sorry . . .” I whispered. “I hurt you again . . . and I’m so, so sorry for doing it.”
“Hush.” He brought his lips to mine and kissed me sweetly, smelling of mint and spice, and letting me know he was still right with me. My rock of strength.
“I’m glad you’re here—I woke up before and saw you sleeping in the chair . . . and then the next time you were gone . . .”
“Where else would I want to be, baby?” He brushed his thumb over my lips.
“Away from me?”
He shook his head slowly. “Never.”
“But I still don’t know what the test says, because I never looked.” I started to crumble.
“Neither do I,” he said right back, smoothing my hair.
“How can you not know?”
“I don’t,” he answered softly. “When I pulled your jeans off you it fell out onto the floor.”
“And you didn’t look at it?” I asked incredulously.
He shook his head and smiled. “Nope. I wanted to wait for you and do it together.”
I flung my arms around his neck and lost it. I tried to be quiet about it at least. Ethan just held me and stroked my back. He really was too good for me and I did honestly wonder what I’d ever done to deserve someone like him.
“Get in bed with me,” I said against his shoulder.
“Are you sure that’s what you want?”