“Yes we do, Ty. You’re our family. My parents were here for a while, and they’ll be back tomorrow. My mom will probably bring you food, so just eat it and save yourself the argument.”
“Thank you,” I whisper.
“She’s going to be okay. She’s strong.”
I nod and brush Lo’s hair off her forehead, barely grazing her warm skin with my thumb. “I pray you’re right.”
“Good morning.” Cara pokes her head in the doorway two days later. “Zack and Jill just left, and Josh and I are here.”
“Come on in.” I’ve been staring at the same article in the newspaper for the past thirty minutes. I still have no idea what it says.
“You look like shit.” She sits across from me on the other side of Lo. She offers me a hot cup of coffee, which I take gratefully.
“I feel like shit.”
“Well, you look like it.”
“If this is your idea of a pep talk, you can just go now.”
She shakes her head and looks down at Lo. Tears fill her hazel eyes. “I’m so sorry about this.”
“It’s not your fault, little one.”
“Jack’s being charged with attempted murder, Ty.”
My head jerks up to meet her gaze. “Not just an assault charge?”
“No. He beat her with the intention of killing her.” Cara shakes her head and takes a sip of her coffee. “He’s crazy.”
I swear under my breath and rub my fingers over my mouth as the doctor and nurse that just came on shift walk through the door. In the days since the incident, little has changed in Lo’s condition.
I haven’t left the hospital since I got here. Have barely left Lauren’s side.
I want to be here when she wakes up.
The girls have taken turns sitting by Lauren’s side, reading to her for hours on end. I’ve managed to tune out their voices, concentrating only on my girl, willing her to recover as quickly as possible.
“Mr. Sullivan,” Dr. Shay nods at me and peruses through Lo’s chart. “There is definite improvement on this morning’s CT scan.”
The doctor nods again and glances up at a monitor before making notes on the chart. “Her swelling is going down. I’m hoping to lessen the medication keeping her asleep today to see if she’ll wake up on her own.”
“Hear that, sweetness? You’re doing great.” I lean in and gently kiss her cheek. Her face is still battered, but the swelling there is going down too. Now she’s just a riot of color, almost everywhere. When they gave her a sponge bath last night, pulling up her nightgown, it took everything in me not to run out and beat the shit out of Jack.
I don’t give a shit that he’s in jail.
“In fact, let’s not give the next dose and do another CT scan this afternoon.”
The nurse nods, takes notes, and they both smile at me before leaving the room.
“This is good news.” Cara has a wide smile on her face. “Oh! I almost forgot! I have Lo’s phone.” She pulls it out of her bag and passes it to me. “Someone named Emily has been blowing it up.”
“Shit, she’s going to be worried. They talk just about every day.”
I wake up Lo’s phone and dial Emily’s number.
“It’s about damn time! Just because you’re having naughty sex with the hot lawyer doesn’t mean that you can just ignore me!”
My lips twitch and I clear my throat. “This isn’t Lauren, Emily, this is Ty.”
I relay the story to her, and by the time it’s over, she’s crying. “I’m so sorry,” she murmurs.
“It’s not your fault, Emily. I thought you should know why she’s not been responding to you.”
“I’m coming out there.” I hear her clear her throat and begin shuffling papers around. “I make a ton of money, there’s no reason that I can’t just pack up and come out. Let me talk with the nanny and my husband and make the arrangements and I’ll call you back.”
“You don’t have to—”
“Yes, I do. She’s my best friend, Ty.”
I look over to Lo and realize that she can use all the friends she has here with her. “Okay. Let me know when you’ll be flying in and I’ll make sure someone picks you up.”
After we hang up, I see a few missed calls from a contact labeled “Mr. Darcy’s nurse.”
I dial it and am patched through to a nurses’ station here in this hospital, in the extended-care wing, and it occurs to me that Mr. Darcy must be the family friend that Lo visits at the hospital.
“Oh, I’m so glad you called,” the nurse replies when I tell her who I am and why I’m calling. “Lauren missed her standing appointment with Mr. Darcy this week, and he’s been worried sick.”
“Is there any way that someone can bring him to ICU so he can visit with her when she’s feeling better?”
“Of course. Just call us and we’ll bring him down to you.”
“Just gonna surround her by people she loves, aren’t you?” Cara asks, watching me carefully.
“She needs all the love she can get.” I don’t meet Cara’s eyes as I set Lo’s phone on the nearby table. “Will you please bring me some clothes? I’m going to take a shower here, shave, and change so I’m not such a mess when she wakes up.”
“Look at me,” Cara murmurs softly, and I raise my eyes to hers. “It’s okay to love her, Ty.”
“I do, with my whole heart.”
“None of this is your fault.”
“I wasn’t there,” I reply softly. “I should have been there, and instead I was home, not sleeping because we’d had an argument. I was lying in bed, overthinking a stupid disagreement while the woman I love was being brutalized. I may not be at fault for putting her here, but I am at fault for not keeping her safe. Just bring me the clothes, please.”
“Okay.” Cara nods and rises from her seat. “This conversation isn’t over. I’ll be back in a while.”
Cara leaves and I’m left with Lo. I caress her hand, as I’ve done for the past two days.
I was lying in the comfort of my bed while the woman I love was being brutalized. The enormity of the past few days, the lack of sleep, the fear and dread, all come crashing down on me.