“I’ll get you something for that.” She inflated the blood pressure cuff, and I watched Gavin pace in a tight circle between the door and his chair.
The nurse tugged the cuff off. “I’ll be back in a minute with something for you.”
The minute she left, Gavin rushed to the bed and bent over me, holding my face with both hands. “Oh my God, Corabelle, you scared the shit out of me.”
“Do you remember going into the water?”
“And I got you out.”
“Yes, in the sand.”
“Jenny called an ambulance.”
“I remember that.” My head was exploding with pain, so I relaxed back against the pillow.
He settled on the edge of the bed. “You seemed fine at first, but they wanted to keep you overnight.”
I thought back. Yes, I could recall now being put in a room.
“You got very sick during the night and they had to suction one of your lungs.”
I had no recollection of that, thankfully. I closed my eyes, reveling in the relief from fighting against the pain of the light. I focused on taking several calming breaths. “Have they asked why I was in the water?”
“I wouldn’t tell them anything. I didn’t know what you wanted to say.”
“Does it matter?”
“A social worker was here. Tall woman with weird glasses.”
I swallowed, my throat a little more soothed after the drink, but achy and hot. Still, we had so much terrain to cover. His vasectomy. My guilt. I wasn’t sure how we could go back to that place where we’d drawn a line in the sand and stepped away from our tragic past. Or if we should.
“I don’t want them to admit me to psych,” I said.
“You think they’ll do that?”
I shrugged my shoulders, sending another shower of pain up my neck. I really needed to sleep again, but I fought it. I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to go home, to my own apartment with the butterflies fluttering outside my window and the hula-girl lamp undulating with light.
Gavin’s phone beeped, so I opened my eyes. “Where’s my phone?” I asked.
He reached beside the bed to open a drawer, pulling out a plastic bag filled with rice. “We’re trying to salvage it.”
“Has Jenny called?” My best friend had been with us on the beach just before I walked into the waves. I could still picture her worried look as I was carried to the ambulance.
“Yes, she’s asked me for updates. She had my number first, remember?” He grinned, and the expression was so spontaneous and charming that I had to smile. We were going to be okay. Despite everything, we were going to get it all back.
Except Finn. I listened to the subtle beep of the monitor that seemed so loud upon waking. I concentrated on the sound, aligning it with my memory, and could see Finn’s Isolette, a clear bubble, his little face against the pillow inside. Sometimes his fingers would twitch, or his arm jerk, and that was the only way I could tell that he was real, and not a doll inside a case.
“Well, hell,” Gavin muttered. His happy smile was gone, lost to dismay and then a flash of anger.
“What is it?”
He sighed. “Your parents. They just landed and they don’t want me to pick them up.”
“Why not?” I tried to sit up a little straighter, but my body wouldn’t obey, and I sagged back into a slump.
“I can think of a lot of reasons.”
I held out my arm, the movement sending a shock wave though me. “Give me that.”
“You calling them?”
“I’ll try a text first. They might not answer a call from you.”
“Then let me type it.”
I sighed. “Okay. Say, ‘This is Corabelle. Remember when I told you I was pregnant, and I said to trust me, that I would be okay? Well, I’m saying it again. It will be okay. Gavin will meet you outside baggage claim.’” I no more got the sentence out when the coughs erupted. I couldn’t calm them down, turning to my side to manage the pain and the frightening wetness of each breath.
Gavin clutched me, fear all over his face. “Should I get the nurse?”
“It’s…stopping…” I managed to get out, gasping, forcing my body to relax.
“Your parents are going to kick me out.” He leaned in to rub my back. “I guess they’ll be sleeping here instead of me.”
I curled up tight, relieved the coughs had subsided. “I’m surprised they let you, but I’m glad.”
“I don’t take no for an answer. Not when it concerns you.” His face warmed over with that beautiful grin again, and even though I was exhausted and in pain, my heart sped up, and I felt that need for him that had ruled my youth.
“I never stopped loving you,” I said.
He lifted my hand to his lips. “I think I love you more now than I did before.”
His phone beeped again. He glanced at it and frowned.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I think your dad just told me to go to hell.”
Corabelle was out again. One minute she was upset at her father, the next, asleep.
The nurse set the cup of water on the side table and said, “Buzz me when she wakes up.”
“I will,” I said. “Hey, is she supposed to cough like her guts are coming out? She hadn’t been doing that before.”