“And do you remember all of the exercises we discussed?” Emma asked as she removed the oxygen tube from my nose.
“Yes,” I answered, wanting nothing more than to get out of this hospital and back to Madison’s apartment.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of him,” Madison smiled as he laced our fingers together and kissed my cheek.
“I know you will, Madison,” Emma laughed as she unclipped my heart rate monitor. “But I need you to remember, Noah, no rough physical activities. You can use creams on your ribs for irritation and pain, but make sure not to wrap them because that restricts their movement and no matter how much they hurt, they need to move, okay?”
“Copy that,” I said as I sat up in my bed.
“Good. Well I hope you boys get your justice. If you have any questions feel free to call back. Take your time getting ready to go, there’s no rush and I hope you two have a good day.”
“Thanks you too,” I said.
“Thanks for everything, Emma,” Madison added, causing her to smile.
“No problem,” she said before she disappeared out the door.
“I’m so ready to go back home,” I sighed as I leaned my head on Madison’s shoulder and looked at my clothes that were in my lap and frowned. “But I don’t want to move.”
“I can help you if you want,” Madison slyly stated, gently nudging my head with his shoulder in a suggestive way.
“In your dreams, Williams,” I chuckled before I sighed and forced myself to sit up. “How about this, you go bring the car around and by the time your done with that, I should be done.”
His eyebrows knitted together and he frowned. “Are you sure about that, Noah? I don’t mind waiting.”
“I know you don’t,” I said as I affectionately cupped his cheek. “But if you get distracted by my sexy naked butt then we’ll never get out of here.”
He laughed, causing me to as well. “I can’t argue with that. You’re culo (butt) is rather sexy and very distracting. I might need a distraction right now.”
“Nice try, Madison. But it’s not working this time,” I laughed causing him to frown.
“You’re no fun.”
“Not at all,” I agreed. “But let’s stop wasting time. The sooner we get out of here, the sooner we can get home and cuddle properly.”
His lips turned up before he kissed me. “I like the sound of that. I also like the sound of you calling my place home.”
For some reason, a blush stained my cheeks, causing his grin to grow before he kissed my cheek then he stood up and made his way to the door. “Call me if you need anything,” he called over his shoulder before he disappeared.
I sat in the same spot for a few moments before I forced myself to my feet. I stumbled a bit before I fell back onto the bed. Though I’d walked around a bit during my stay, I’d simply been to weak or too tired to walk around for long periods of time. I took a deep breath before I willed myself up once more, this time using the side of my bed to help me up.
I slowly stripped out of my hospital gown and stepped into my street clothes, thankful to be fully clothed once more. I was in the middle of sliding on the sandals the hospital provided me, since I’d arrived in soccer cleats, when there was a knock on the door. “Noah, are you still in there?” Emma’s voice called from the other side of the door.
“Yeah,” I answered, my ribs slowly starting to ache.
“Are you dressed? You have a visitor.”
My eyebrows furrowed. Why was Connor back? I told him to spend time with Abbi and to not worry about me. The rest of the soccer team wouldn’t visit me. Well, maybe Riley but I didn’t count on it.
Curious, I said, “Come in.” The door slowly cracked open and in walked Nona. My heart dropped and my mouth became dry. Why was she here? What did she want? My heart raced and my palms became sweaty.
“Oh miele (honey), what have they done to you?” She whispered as she approached me and tried to cup my cheek, but I moved away so she couldn’t, confusion and anger fighting for dominance in my head.
But I had to admit that I missed her.
She frowned and retracted her hands as she looked me over. “Noah, I…”
“Why are you here Nona?” I softly asked after she hadn’t finished her sentence for a few moments. I tried to seem indifferent but I was failing miserably.
“I wanted to see you, of course,” she said, almost seeming offended. “Why didn’t the hospital call me? I’m your legal guardian. Why didn’t you call me?”
“I’m eighteen, Nona. I’m technically my own legal guardian. And I didn’t tell you because...I thought you wouldn’t care or think I deserved it or whatever,” I mumbled making sure to avoid eye contact so I wouldn’t see the hurt look that was inevitably in her eyes.
“Noah, baby, of course I care,” she said as her hand came into contact with my cheek, causing me to look her in the eyes though I made no move to pull away this time. “I’m sorry, it’s just...I needed time, you have to understand that right?”
“So did I,” I said. “I mean, realizing that you’re gay after hearing for years that it’s supposed to be wrong, then hearing your church and your own family saying homophobic stuff as if who I love dictates my relationship with God, which it doesn’t...it hurts Nona. Then when I came out to you, the look in your eyes was so disappointed and ashamed, then you didn’t say anything...do you blame me for distancing myself?”
“Of course I can’t blame you, but can you blame me for being confused and needing time to process? It’s not that I was ashamed, I was just trying to understand, that’s all.”
“So tell me this Nona, can you accept me and my relationship with Madison?”
“I...I do, Noah. I just still need to understand. Are you willing to help me understand?”
I found a smile grow on my face as tears of joy filled my eyes and nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll help you understand.”
She smiled too before she kissed my cheeks. “Now, Miele, tell me what happened please.”
I shook my head. “I’ve told this story so many times in the past two days, I think I’ll go crazy if I relive it again. How about when I come home?”
“You’re coming back?” She asked with a hopeful tone in her voice.
“Not tonight, but I’ll stop by in the morning.”
“Are you staying with Madison?” She asked and I nodded.
“Don’t worry, Nona. Nothing’s happening, we’re just looking after each other, that’s all,” I quickly said before she lost her mind.
“Okay, Noah. I’m trusting you on this, but I will intervene if needed,” she warned, causing me to laugh a bit, ignoring the pain that branched out through my ribs due to the simple action.
“Noah, um, do you really love this boy?” She genuinely asked.
“With all my heart,” I instantly answered. She nodded.
“He seems like a good guy, and I can trust that he’s treating you right?”
“He’s treating me better than right,” I said, unable to contain my smile.
Nona grinned. “I’m glad. But I’ll let you go, I heard that you were getting discharged today and I know Madison is probably waiting for you. I’ll see you tomorrow, miele. I love you.”
“I love you too, Nona,” I said as she kissed my cheek once more before she got up to get out. I would’ve helped her but it wouldn’t do any of us any good if my knees gave out and I fell on top of her.
Just as she got to the door, it opened, revealing a concerned Madison. “Noah, are you okay? I’ve been waiting-” he started before he noticed Nona there.
“Oh, uh, hello Ms. Bruno,” he said before he looked at me, trying to figure out why she was here. I just gave him a nod letting him know everything was alright.
“Such a handsome boy,” Nona mused as she playfully pinched his cheeks. “You better treat my grandson right or you’ll find my knitting needles places they shouldn’t be.”
Madison chuckled as he put his hands up in surrender, though there was a blush on his cheeks. “Of course, Ms. Bruno.”
She smiled and looked back at me before she slid past Madison and disappeared out the door. Once he was sure that she was out of ear shot, he walked over to me and said, “Why was she here?”
“She wanted to reconcile, so we did. She accepts us, and wants help understanding,” I reported.
“Ah,” Madison said with a nod. “I was worried that you’d fallen and you couldn’t get up.” I punched his shoulder. “Hey! I’m just a concerned boyfriend, and have you seen those commercials? They’re very scary and convincing.”
“I hate you,” I said narrowing my eyes.
“You love me,” he corrected.
“You’re right,” I said rolling my eyes.
“I know. Have you met me? I’m always right.”
“Just shut up and give me your arm so we can get to the car.”
“I have an even better idea,” Madison mused before he turned around, signifying a piggyback ride. I smiled before I carefully situated myself on his back, careful not to put too much pressure on my injured ribs. “You on tight, babe?”
I placed a gentle kiss on the back of his neck below his hairline as an answer. “Ride like the wind bullseye!”