Twice Loved

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Chapter 3: Mason

I knocked twice before opening the door to the room Liv and I had put Noah in, announcing my arrival. I stepped in and found him running a hand over the bandage covering his eyes, and I just knew he was thinking about the possible vision loss.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it. You seem like you have a pretty good chance at bouncing back fairly well.” I made sure my voice was strong, positive. Unlike all the thoughts running around in my head. I hadn’t told either Olivia or Noah, but there was a possibility that he would go blind and never be able to recover his vision. I didn’t even want to say the possibility out loud, for fear that it would give the outcome life.

“I seem to recall that I usually heal pretty fast.” His mouth turned to a frown. “Although I can’t seem to remember much else.”

“Have you been trying to remember things?”

“Yeah. I can’t seem to recall my whole name, or what I do for a living, or what I was doing before this all happened,” he said with a weak wave of his body. “I can’t remember how I ended up in the fucking mountains of all places, since I don’t seem to feel any particular desire to spend time here.”

“More of a city slicker, eh?” I set the water down and moved to help him sit up a bit, my hands wary but firm in the guidance.

“Maybe.” He broke of with a slight groan, and I winced knowing what kind of pain he had to be in.

“Sorry, I know this isn’t comfortable. Just drink this and you can pass out, I promise.”

“As long as you promise,” he quipped back, surprising me with his humor.

I let out a chuckle, moving to pick up the glass and help him hold it as he drank. He took a few gulps, and then pulled back to take a some deep breaths.

“Tell me something, distract me from the pain,” he grunted.

“What would you like to know?”

“Anything. Latin medical terms, the position of the stars, what you do in your spare time.” He paused. “Or about you and Olivia.”

I smiled though he couldn’t see it. I tipped the glass back to his mouth, noticing for the first time how full they were and how they plumped around the rim of the glass.

Clearing my throat and mind simultaneously, I did as he asked. “Liv and I have been friends for a long time, and about five years ago we decided we wanted to escape. We’d both been living in the city, but we wanted something quieter, less busy. So we found this place, quit our jobs, and moved up here together.”

“Just friends?”

“Uh, well, mostly.” He snorted into his water at my response, and I figured I might as well elaborate. “It’s kind of a really casual friends-with-benefits thing. I love her, she loves me, but we tried being a couple and it didn’t work out for us. We don’t have jealousy issues, it just didn’t feel right. Something was missing, I guess.”

“So you agreed to stay friends who fuck sometimes?”

A surprised laugh burst out of me, not expecting the forwardness. “Yeah, pretty much. You’d think it would be awkward,” I mused. “But it works for us. We’re always honest with each other, and as long as we keep that intact then we’ll always be friends no matter what.”

He finished the last of his water and I sat the glass down in order to help him lay back down.

“That seems like a pretty good arrangement,” he commented after getting comfortable again.

“It’s definitely interesting sometimes,” I said with a grin. He had no idea. “Get some rest. One or both of us will be within shouting distance at all times, so don’t hesitate to let us know if there’s anything you need.”

“Thanks again, Mason.”

“No worries, man.” I patted him gently on the shoulder, then stood to leave. Before I took a step, his hand was on mine, gripping it tightly. Heat flared in my body, and I told myself to cut it out. Not the right time.

“I mean it. I’m sure you haven’t told me everything, but I can’t thank you enough for saving me.”

He released my hand and settled into the bed. I could tell he wasn’t expecting a response so I left the room in silence, a weird ball of emotion caught in my throat. Usually Olivia was the emotionally back-and-forth one, but over the last few days I’d been on a roller coaster myself.

I walked straight to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of whiskey, downing the first glass in just a few swallows. I covered a cough at the burn. I poured a second glass and went to the front room, falling down onto the couch and spreading my legs out. I cradled the glass in my hands on my stomach, spinning it slowly as I contemplated the situation.

I was confident Noah would get his memory back. His eyesight, I was hopeful for but not sure of. Everything else would heal just fine as long as he took it easy. He was good on blood now that Olivia and I had taken turns donating as needed. His color was much better, and he had woken up for a decent amount of time.

What was interesting to me was the sparks of attraction I’d started feeling for him. Even under all the bruises and blood, I had instantly been able to tell that he was a good looking man.

I snorted to myself, taking a small sip of liquor. That was putting it mildly. He had been nearly as tall as me at my 6′5" height, packed with trim muscles that told anyone looking at him that he was strong, though not in a bulky way like I was.

His jaw was firm, dark hair growing in a thick beard that matched the waves on his head. When I’d opened his eyes to check the pupils and other damage, I’d been able to tell that his eyes were a gray tinged with blue, like the sky right before a thunderstorm in the summer.

“What the fuck are you now, a poet?” I muttered the words out loud to myself, frustrated that I’d even taken notice when he was still basically bed ridden. I was professional, and I’d always been able to stay that way with a patient.

Despite my attraction to both men and women, I had never had a problem with keeping my personal and professional lives separate. Something about Noah tested those boundaries for me, and I knew I’d have to keep this attraction to myself. Not only did I have no idea about his personal preferences, but I didn’t want to make the injured and confused stranger any more uncomfortable than he already was.

Determined to stick to that decision, I finished off the last of the whiskey in my glass and set it down on the side table with a firm clink.

I steered my mind towards more boring things, like a checklist of everything that we’d have to work on in the morning. And if a stray thought of Noah’s taught body and firm lips crossed my mind, they were shoved out of the way without regret.

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