He opened her car door then went around and got in on his side.
“No, really, I only want to say hi. I’m not on call this weekend. I don’t want to be that asshole who second-guesses the doctors working that day.”
He kept looking over at her as he drove the short distance to the hospital. Her eyes were closed as she leaned back in the seat, her hand in his, her thumb lazily stroking his palm. He liked the way she could give herself up to enjoying things like car rides on a sunny day, her morning coffee, lying in the grass at Dolores Park. Being around her made him enjoy all of those things more, too.
He pulled into the hospital parking lot and squeezed her hand.
Her eyes widened. She didn’t take her seat belt off.
“Shouldn’t I just wait here? Confidentiality and all? I don’t mind waiting. I have books on my phone.”
She was only here for the weekend, and he’d already missed time with her the night before.
“No, come inside. I can show you all the toys. Just step outside the room if I give you the nod.”
He didn’t reach for her hand on the way into the hospital; there were too many eyes around a hospital. He already knew he’d be getting questions on Monday morning about who the girl he brought in on Saturday was. He didn’t need to make the questions even more pointed.
They went straight up to Jack’s room on the pediatric floor. Both of Jack’s parents were there, looking exhausted. Jack’s cheeks were too pale, and he was unusually silent, but he was sitting up in bed.
“Hey, Jack!” Drew said as he walked in. “How are you feeling today?”
Jack swiveled to the door when he heard Drew’s voice and giggled.
“Dr. Nick! You aren’t wearing your doctor costume.”
Drew laughed, moving close enough to the bed for Jack to give him a high five with his good arm.
“I know! I’m off duty for doctoring today. I just wanted to come by and check in on you since I was in the neighborhood.” He smiled at Jack’s parents. “Abby, Fred, how are you guys?”
“Hanging in there,” Abby said to him. He saw her eyes dart to the door, and he realized Alexa was still standing in the doorway. He lowered his voice.
“I was nearby with a friend. Is it okay if she comes in to say hi to Jack? If not, it’s no problem; she can wait in my office.”
“It’s fine. Jack’s been getting bored with just us for entertainment.”
He waved Alexa to his side.
“Hey, Jack, I brought a friend of mine to meet you. Jack, this is my friend Alexa. Can you say hi?”
“Hi!” Jack giggled again. “You’re not wearing a doctor costume, either.”
Alexa laughed as she offered her fist to Jack.
“No, but that’s because I’m not a doctor. Sorry, Jack.”
Drew picked up Jack’s chart from the end of the bed and checked it, satisfied with Jack’s status.
“How’s the pain?” he said in a low voice to Fred, as Jack chattered away with Alexa.
“He woke up a few times in the night. Abby was with him, but they seem to be managing it well.”
“Dr. Nick, Dr. Nick, Mommy said I couldn’t get out of bed yet, but I told her you would say I could, won’t you?”
He gave Jack his full attention and let himself get sucked into a conversation about Jack’s favorite video game before he realized they’d been there for longer than he’d intended. He looked up, expecting to find Alexa watching him and Jack, but she was over in the corner deep in conversation with Abby.
Huh. It wasn’t like he’d brought her here so she could see what a good doctor he was, but she could at least notice.
“Jack, I’m going to have to say good-bye now, but I’ll see you in a few days, okay?”
Abby looked in their direction.
“Say thank you to Dr. Nichols for coming by to see you, Jack.”
Alexa pulled something out of her purse and handed it to Abby, who hugged her. Alexa waved to Jack as they walked out of his room.
He took her hand as soon as they entered the parking lot.
“How did you get a hug out of Abby? She still calls me Dr. Nichols in that very formal voice,” he said.
“Oh, I was just giving her some advice about the kinds of services they could get. She told me about the accident and that it was a drunk driver.”
He dug in his pocket for his car key. What did she mean, services?
“They have good health insurance, I think. Fred works for one of the studios.”
She checked her phone and frowned at it before looking back up at him.
“I know, she told me, but good insurance only goes so far. I meant all of the crime victims’ services that they can get from the state. Counseling, compensation, help at home, stuff like that. She said she vaguely remembered being told about it right after the accident but had no idea how to access that stuff.”
No wonder Abby had hugged her.
“So you gave her your card? What’s the Berkeley mayor’s office going to do about a kid in L.A.?”
She looked back up from her phone and shrugged as they got in the car.
“I have a list at work of all of the right people for her to contact. I told her to email me, and I can send it all her way and introduce her to some victims’ rights advocates I know who can help her navigate it all. I can send them quick emails and cc her, just to speed things up a little.”
He pulled onto the road for the short drive back to his apartment.
“How did you get all of that out of her in ten minutes? Teach me your secrets, Monroe.”
Alexa grinned and put her phone back in her purse, thank God.
“I have a way with people, don’t you know? I work in politics.”
He put his hand on her thigh. She shifted her body toward him and smiled.
“Mmm, you sure do have a way with people. The way you dealt with the inquisition we got at the wedding was pretty impressive, I have to say.”
“Friendly deflection is one of my special talents.” She put her hand on top of his. “And Abby looked so worried. It’s good to be able to help, if you can.”
Oh Lord, he probably thought she was some bleeding-heart interferer now, butting into one of his cases when no one asked her to. But the look on that mom’s face had broken her heart. Was she not supposed to try to help?
Fine, she was a bleeding-heart interferer. It was probably in her job description.
When they got to his apartment, he stopped her just inside the door.
“Anyway, thanks for coming along to see Jack. And for being so nice to Abby. They’ve had a rough time.”
Drew pulled her into his arms, enveloping her into a hug that somehow felt more intimate than anything they’d done before. She leaned her head into his chest and relaxed against him. She felt him exhale a deep breath and tightened her grip on his back, the worn cotton of his T-shirt smooth against her fingers. He bent down and kissed her hair, her ear, and when she tilted her head to look at him, her mouth.
“I really appreciated you being there,” he said when he pulled away.
She moved her hands up and under his shirt, loving the way he tensed at her touch.
“Show me,” she said.
He slung her over his shoulder in one quick motion, making her gasp.
“Drew, no, I’m too heavy!” Ignoring her, he strode with her into the bedroom and tossed her down on his bed. She laughed when she bounced as she hit the mattress, but her laughter faded when he threw his clothes off and stood there naked in front of her.
“Oh my.” When he made a move to jump on the bed along with her, she held up a hand to stop him. “Don’t move. Just . . . just stand there for a minute.”
Despite all of the times they’d had sex so far, she had yet to really see him naked. It had either been too frantic, or too dark, or too early in the morning for her to really pay attention. But now he stood there, the bright afternoon light from his bedroom windows streaming in on his hard body, and she spent a moment in pure awe. She knew just from touching him the contours of his chest, and that light sprinkling of hair, but it was quite another to see it in front of her, golden from the sun, hers to look at as long as she wanted.