Through the weekend, sleep wasn’t one of my priority, especially when your younger sister was hospitalized. Not only it was stressful, but also emotionally draining. And my mother was also experiencing the rollercoaster of distress.
After her visit on Saturday morning, I received a call from my father in the evening. She got a mild stroke. Mercifully, she made a quick recovery, but that’s not assuring for me. She was emotionally in pain after hearing about what happened to April. Any mother would be heart-stricken to hear such news.
In the afternoon, before my father’s call, April was released in the hospital yet she was still under observation for symptoms of her concussion. I offered my little apartment, which no one disagreed. It was painful to come up with an excuse and lie through my teeth in order to leave her side and visit mom.
My apartment was crowded. Zoey was lying beside April on my bed. In the living room, Julian was silently working on his laptop in a comfy shirt and jeans (something I thought the man didn’t own, which is normal people clothes). I was hesitating to leave even with the support my sister got at the moment. Dean walked me to the door, whispering in reassurance that they’ll watch April while I’m gone.
“She’s in good hands, Amy,” Dean said one more time as I hesitated by the door. He too looked hesitant to leave me. “Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you there? I do have my motorcycle downstairs.”
I nodded. “I’ll be fine, Dean.” Yet I didn’t believe my own words.
Without a word, Dean ran back inside and grabbed our helmets. “Yeah, I’m going with you. Zoey and Julian will be fine.” He stated and peered towards him. He then called out. “Julian!”
He looked up from his laptop. “Yeah, what’s up?” he nonchalantly asked.
“Amy and I are going up for a while. Would you be okay on taking things from here?” Dean asked.
“Sure.” Julian waved his hand in dismissal. “I’m going to call Jeffrey to get us some dinner. Will you be back by then because I’m ordering now?”
Dean looked at me, and I shook my head. “No, we’ll just get something to eat on the way back.”
“Got it. And how long will you be gone?” Julian asked. This time he glanced at me.
I sighed and shook my head. I was uncertain.
“It’s okay, Amy. Take your time. And, Amy, you won’t mind us staying a bit longer, right?” Julian looked sheepish, a rare expression on him.
It nearly made me smile. “Of course, Mr. Hawksley. Please make yourself at home. If you need something around the apartment, let Zoey text me.”
“Right. Thank you, Amy. Will do. And you two take care.”
With that, Dean and I left the apartment. This was one of the time I’m glad Dean had certain skills, and credentials. If we drove like this on downtown Chicago without an FBI badge, we won’t get away with it.
Once we arrived, I jumped from the back of Dean’s motorcycle, popped off my helmet, and ran towards the main lobby. I couldn’t even wait for him to tell me to go ahead. I was impatient. And who wouldn’t be?
By the time I got to my mother’s room, which she shared with three other patients, I was almost out of breath. My father looked astounded once he saw me.
“How did you get here quick?” he asked as he walked up to me.
“Dean has a motorcycle and an FBI badge, which wasn’t necessary from how fast he’d gone.” I lightly stated and gave him a quick hug as greeting.
As he let go, he gave me a knowing look. “Sweetie, I know you’re worried. But I would feel better if you didn’t risk yourself like that. You know how prone motorcycle are to accidents,” he scolded. “Maybe I should talk to Dean. He should at least know better. Plus, I want to get a look at that ID badge if it’s real. Any normal abiding citizen doesn’t see that every day,” he cheekily added.
I chuckled and shook my head. “Well, you go ask him since I’m not doing it for you. I don’t want it to get over his head and start using it against me.”
“Well, in terms of legality, he could use it against you…” he trailed off and looked up as I heard someone entered the room behind me. “Dean! Thank you for being here. I know it’s late, and Amy said you drove here as your life depended on it. I hope you would be more careful on your way back. I have two of my girls on a hospital bed on one day. My heart may not take it if my eldest baby girl would get into an accident as well.” The look my dad was giving Dean gave me a bit of goosebump. He wasn’t lighthearted on his threat.
Dean saw it too. And his whole demeanor suddenly changed. “Of course, Mr. Nolan. I would never put Amy in any sort of danger. You can trust me.” His words had weight into them.
It made me blush to hear him say it.
My father stared at him for another second and nodded. “Good to know. I’ll hold you to it. You won’t like me when you break that promise. You’re not the first one who’d dated my daughters. And those boys haven’t set a foot back in my neighborhood since.”
“Dad,” I lightly warned, feeling like the other patients and their visitor was starting to eavesdrop.
He met my gaze and smiled. “I know, Amy. I’ll stop now. I’ve said my piece.” He turned back towards my mother, who was sleeping throughout our conversation.
My father had to calmly shook her arm, waking her up from her little nap. I was against it since she needed the rest. However, he insisted she know I would be visiting and ordered him to wake her up if I’ve arrived – which he did.
“Mom, how are you?” I asked.
She smiled. “I’m fine, Amy. It was just a bit of hiccup on my part. My heart just overreacted.”
I pursed my lips. “Mom, your condition isn’t a joking matter.”
She reached up and grabbed my hand, giving it a squeezed. “I’m sorry. I know it isn’t honey. But I will be more careful next time. And how’s your sister?” she averted the topic.
I shook my head and sighed. “April’s at my place. And Zoey and Julian are taking care of her.”
“Good to know,” she replied and glared at me. “Amy, I already said I’m fine. Stop frowning and staring at me like I’m on my deathbed, dear.”
I let out another deep breath. “I’m sorry, mom. I’m not aware of what expression I have on my face. I’m just…” I trailed off. It wasn’t the right moment to say it.
“Just what, dear?” She urged me to continue.
I peered across from me, where my father sat by the foot of her bed. I could feel Dean’s unwavering gaze beside me. They were also anticipating what I was going to say.
But it wasn’t the place or the time.
“Nothing, mom. I’m just fine. I’m only worried about you and April. It’s not a crime to look worried for my family.” I said evasively.
She stared at my father and darted her eyes at Dean, then looked back at me. “Whatever you say, dear,” she patted my hand, which she still held, before letting it go. “How about you get something to eat with your father? He’s been with me since we got here and haven’t got dinner. And Dean could accompany me for a moment.” She slyly offered. Her eyes gleam with mischievous plans.
I arched my eyebrow, seeing through it. “How about Dean and I get something and come back here with food?”
It was then my father got up and pulled me away from mother’s bed. “Leave them be, Amy. At least give your mother the doubt and play along sometimes.” He sighed and continued dragging me out of the room before I could object.
We were already by the lobby when my father let go. Luckily for him, I no longer have the urge to go back and intervene.
“Dad, you know Mom’s going to hound Dean with a lot of things, and Dean’s particularly fond of asking his own question as well. You’re helping them dig my own grave.” I pouted in defeat.
He chuckled. “I know. So let them have that conversation because I will be asking her what she finds out about him.”
I sighed. It was a tag-team effort, which I always underestimate with my parents in situations like this. “I’ll never win against you and mom when you’re together, plotting like this.”
“Honey, when you’ve married your best friend, and spend your waking day and night with her, things like these don’t need planning. Your mind will be in sync enough to understand what the other one is thinking.” He sounded so proud of that admission.
I chuckled, forgiving them for tricking me. It’s better to see my parents still in love. It was heartwarming to see them so connected. They understood each other without much a word or signal being said between them. It showed how pure and special their bond were after all this time.
When we got back from getting dinner for me, my father, and Dean (since the hospital provides a meal for patients), we ate and chatted for a couple of hours without my mother or Dean hinting what they were talking about. Though I tried sliding that conversation in at some point, my mother was wise enough to find a different topic to talk about.
By the time we were had to leave, I was unable to get my questions and decided to get it out of Dean later – if I had the energy. Because, one, I was too exhausted. I didn’t realize I fell asleep on our way back. It took nearly a minute for Dean to wake me up.
We were gone for nearly six hours, and it was almost midnight when we arrived. With the day I’ve had, and the lack of sleep yesterday, my exhaustion would slowly surface. However, as we got to the door of my apartment, I remembered the guest I left. I made sure we kept quiet as we entered, but to my surprise (though it wasn’t much of a surprise), Julian was still awake. In contrast, Zoey and April were fast asleep and took my bed.
“I wanted to pry Zoey out of there, so you can stay with your sister, but the two of them had been talking. I didn’t want to interrupt. Then, before I know it, they were already asleep. So that made it more difficult getting Zoey up…” Julian trailed off and gestured towards sleeping bad on the floor. “But don’t fret, I got you a comforter in there if you’re okay with it. And Dean and I can camp here,” he pointed on my living room.
“Are you sure you want to stay overnight, sir?” I inquired. “And where did you find the sleeping bags? And did you say that there’s a comforter on my room?”
He nodded. “Yes, though an air mattress is the better term for it rather than a comforter. And Jeffrey provided the sleeping bags.”
“That’s kind of him. But I don’t feel right if I let you sleep on my floor on a sleeping bad, sir. Please take the mattress instead.” I said and headed towards my room, to check whether he wasn’t bluffing.
As Julian replied, I snuck a peek. He wasn’t lying. “No, Amy. You need good sleep. And if the sleeping bag won’t work, the couch looks comfortable for the night.”
I turned back around and close the door. “Mr. Hawksley, take the mattress, please. The couch is too small for you. And I would feel better if you stay in there with them. My living room gets chilly at night.”
“Amy, really, I don’t…” Julian was about to object when Dean interjected.
“Just do what she says, J. She’s stubborn, and will probably win this argument in the end,” Dean said.
Julian met Dean gaze for a moment and grinned. “Okay, I’ll take the mattress. I hope you two have a lovely evening and see you in the morning.”
With the last wave, Julian entered my bedroom quietly. Once he was gone, I let out a sigh of relief and slumped down on the couch feeling the day catching up to me. Dean joined me by the couch. He tucked me underneath his arms, cradling me close to his chest.
“Everything will be fine, Amy.” He stated.
“How do you know it would be fine, Dean? What made you so sure?”
“Because everything that happened has its place, all the good and the bad, they happened in order for us to be better people. I know some of the things that are bad may seem unfair, and I never wish for anyone to experience such grieve. But those darker days are there to compare when the sun will shine, and everything will be fine. Maybe, it would be better. And tomorrow would be better than today. That’s all we can hope for in the end.” He caressed my arm lovingly.
I closed my eyes and internalized what he said. I took a deep breath and balled my hands into a fist. Dean quickly noticed it and grabbed my clenched first, lingering our fingers.
“Dean, I can’t,” I said in exasperation, “I can’t feel at all. Everyone that happened today just feels like I’m on the edge of a cliff.”
“I’m here. I won’t let you fall.” He interjected.
I opened my eyes and saw him staring intently at me. I reached up to cup his face and closed my eyes again. “I don’t want you to fall with me.”
He chuckled. “Well, it’s too late for that now.” I opened my eyes and still found him gazing at me. But this time, his eyes were filled with emotions. “I have already fallen for you the moment you approached me at the bar on your 30th birthday, Amy. So if you feel like you’re in the dark right now, then I’ll be there with you and I shall help you find the light again.”
I giggled unconsciously.
“I feel a bit insulted that you’re laughing at my poetic confession right now.” He playfully placed a hand on his chest.
I pulled up our linked fingers towards my lips and kissed the back of his hand. For a second, I was Dean’s eyes widen in surprise before composing himself and lean down to kiss my forehead.
He sat there for another moment, while I laid my head on his lap, watching the lights on my window flashed every few minutes as a car drove by. The silence was comforting. It gave me time to pull my mind out of the gutter. And if not with him, I know I won’t be able to recover this quickly.
“Thank you for being with me, Dean.”
“There’s nowhere else I want to be but here.”
Thank you for reading! There are three more chapters left for this story. I’m so sad to end the series. But I will end this in a good note, and possibly a wedding od some sort. Who’s wedding? Well, I think that’s obvious at this point. I hope so.
Have a lovely weekend everyone!