I want Lo.
The tears come again, and I lean in and bury my face in her neck, careful not to jar her, but needing to feel the connection to her.
“Wake up, baby,” I cry. “I miss you so much. I need you to open those gorgeous blue eyes of yours so I can tell you how much I love you.”
I hear the door open, but I don’t look up as Josh takes the chair that Cara vacated not long ago.
Finally, when the sobs subside, I sit up and wipe my eyes, then glare at Josh. “If you say one word—”
“Hey”—he shakes his head slowly—“I would have broken long before this.”
I nod and firm my lower lip, pissed that it’s still quivering. Josh and I sit in silence until Cara returns with my clothing and some essentials.
“Will you two stay with her? I won’t be long.”
“Of course,” Cara assures me as Josh nods. I step out of Lo’s room for the first time in two days and walk down to the nurses’ station to ask for directions to a shower.
The hot water feels like heaven. I shave and dress quickly and shove the dirty clothes into the duffel bag Cara brought with her. I’ve been gone less than thirty minutes, but it feels too long. I need to get back to her.
When I return, Lo isn’t in the room. “Where is she?”
“They took her for more tests,” Josh responds. “They’ll be back in a few.”
“They took the ventilator out.” Cara grins. “She’s breathing fine on her own.”
“Did she wake up?” I ask anxiously.
“No,” Cara replies. “But hopefully she will this evening.”
I nod just as they wheel Lo back into the room. “How did it go?” I ask worriedly.
“The doctor will be in with the results in just a few minutes, but she seems to be doing really well. There are no breathing issues, and she’s reacting normally to stimuli, so that’s all really positive.”
Dr. Black bustles through the door with a smile on his face. “The swelling is going down further. We’re not quite out of the woods yet, but this is a great sign. Now we just need her to wake up.”
I sit back in my chair in relief, my body sagging as though the weight of the world has been lifted. “Thank you, Doc.”
“It’s all her, Ty. Your girl is strong. I hope you do actually ask her to marry you.”
I look up in surprise, and Dr. Black laughs. “She’s not wearing a ring, son. I wasn’t born yesterday. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.”
He chuckles as he exits the room, leaving Cara, Josh, and I staring at each other. Finally, we all break out into laughter.
“You guys go ahead and go,” I suggest as I lean over and kiss Lo gently on her uninjured temple. “We’re good here.”
“Are you sure?” Cara asks.
“Yes. Go eat and get some rest. I’ll call if there are any changes.”
They both nod and kiss Lauren on the cheek before leaving the room. With her hand in mine, I lean in to talk to her, to hopefully ease her out of sleep.
“I’m so proud of you, sweetness. You’re doing great. Now just open those eyes for me and wake up.”
“Need water,” she croaks.
“Baby?” I lean in close to her face, speaking softly. “Lauren, are you awake?”
She tries to move and scowls. “Fucking hurts.”
“I know. Don’t try to overdo it.” I reach over and press the red call button.
“Can I help you?” a faceless voice asks.
“Lauren is awake. We need the doctor, please.”
“Happened?” Lo opens one eye, trying to focus on me.
“I’ll tell you everything. Just relax for now and rest, beautiful. You’re in the hospital, but you’re going to be okay.” I kiss her forehead and gently caress the hair at her temple. “I’m so relieved to hear your voice.”
“That was quick,” Dr. Black murmurs as he bustles through the door with Dr. Shay on his heels. “Please stand back, Ty.”
The doctors take over, taking vitals, checking her pupils, asking her questions. A nurse stands at the end of the bed taking notes.
Finally, Dr. Black addresses me. “This is very encouraging, Ty.”
“How is she?”
“She’s going to be sore, and we’re going to keep her for a couple more days to watch that head injury, but I think she’s going to be just fine. We’ll do another CT scan tomorrow morning to monitor the fluid on her brain.” He grins down at Lauren and pats her hand. “You’re a very lucky woman, Lauren.”
“Don’t remember anything,” she whispers, and licks her lips.
“She asked for water,” I say.
“I’ll go get her some ice chips,” the nurse offers, and hustles out of the room.
“You’re going to be sleepy for the next day or two because we’re going to keep your pain meds up,” Dr. Shay informs Lauren. “You’re going to be very sore for a few days, so be careful when you try to move around.”
“Ty,” Dr. Black says, “why don’t you step out and make some calls while we remove her catheter and make her comfortable?”
“I don’t want to leave her.” I take her hand in mine.
“’S okay,” Lo whispers. “Call everyone. I’ll be here.”
I kiss her forehead. “I’ll be right back.”
I hurry out into the hall and call Jill, then Josh and Zack, informing them that Lo’s awake. By the time I’ve called Cary and Emily, I’m itching to get back into that room to her.
I have things to say before she falls back to sleep.
I knock and wait impatiently for the nurse to open the door for me. Dr. Black is helping Lo back into bed.
“Why is she up?” I rush to her side.
“Had to pee.” She winces as she eases back against the bed. “My ribs hurt like hell.”
“How is your head?” I ask softly.
“Sore. Did I get hit by a truck?”
“No.” I shake my head and press my lips to her forehead.
“Call if you need us. We’ll be in for the next round of meds in about an hour.”
The doctors leave and I drop into the chair beside Lo’s bed, watching her carefully. “God, baby, I’m so happy that you’re awake.”
“What happened? All I remember is e-mailing my editor, and then waking up here.”