I woke up a little confused as to where I was, but everything quickly came flooding back. My apartment was on fire. Axel came for me. I can feel my right hand was trapped underneath something and so I used my left hand to touch my face gingerly. A nose tube was placed to provide me with oxygen. I blinked several times and then tried pulling my right hand out from underneath the weight only to feel someone shift beside me.
“You’re awake.” Axel breathed, a smile appearing on his face.
His face was covered in dirt and ashes. His unkempt hair was unusually unrulier then I am used to. He moved to stand up and I noticed he was still wearing his work attire. Yellow fire pants and a tight black t-shirt. His bicep muscles strain against the sleeve as he moved to touch my face.
“Are you thirsty? Are you okay? How do you feel?” He asked with concern.
I want to answer him but there I couldn’t believe he was here. Axel came back for me even though we didn’t end on good terms. My eyes stung, and I knew I’ll be crying again.
He cupped my face, ”Hermosa?”
He looks worried now. His eyes connected with mine and what he saw worried him.
“What is it?” He prodded further. “Are you hurt? Should I get the doctor?”
A tear slipped from my eyes and I shook my head in his hands. I shouldn’t have done that. My head pulsed in pain and I closed my eyes tightly.
“I’m getting a doctor.” He started moving away but I grabbed onto his wrist before he could leave.
“Stay,” I whispered a little hoarsely. My eyes opening to focus in on him again. He looked hesitant.
“I’m fine,” I replied. “Just a headache.”
He nodded, “I’ll ring for the nurse then.”
He pressed the calling button on the bed. A second later a nurse came on the speaker. He told her I was awake, and the nurse said she will swing by to check in on me.
The nurse checked over my vitals and told me the doctor was okay with me to take some pain relievers to help with a headache. She seemed happy that I have recovered with no burns or anything just a bad case of carbon monoxide inhalation.
An hour later, Axel and I were alone again. He never left my side. It was bittersweet. There was so much I wanted to say to him, but I didn’t know where to start. I risked a glance at him. He was sitting on the sleeping sofa in the room. His eyes were on me but I couldn’t read the emotions in his eyes. He was hiding from me.
“What happened?” I asked.
His jaw clenched, “Renter downstairs from my apartment. He fell asleep with a lit cigarette. It lit up his whole apartment.”
My eyes widening, “Is he okay?”
Axel scoffed, clearly not happy.
“He got a few burns but fucker will live.”
We went silent for a while and for the first time it was awkward between us. As if we didn’t know each other or haven’t spent a whole month together, sleeping in one bed. I couldn’t look at him any longer. It was killing me inside. I turned away from him and instead focus my attention at the white ceiling.
“Thank you for being there,” I said, my eyes stinging with tears. “If it wasn’t for you, I will be dead by now.”
He stood up immediately and walked over to my side. He sat on the edge and grabbed my left hand in both of his to get my attention.
My eyes flitted back to him. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed hard. He opened his mouth to say something but there was a knock at the door. We both turned to see Javier coming inside.
Javier is a handsome devil. He is part Hispanic and part Caucasian. Axel and he are the same height and carried almost the same body built. Javier was just slightly muscular in the upper body. He also had the craziest and lightest color of green eyes. I must admit, it is what pulls women to him. Those eyes are entrancing. However, even with all that he couldn’t compare to Axel. In my eyes, Axel is everything.
“Oh, did I interrupt something?” Javier didn’t sound surprised or apologetic. He smirked as he continued to walk into the room carrying a brown bag. He tossed it at Axel before returning his attention to me.
“How are you feeling, babe?” he asked.
“Get lost, Javier,” Axel growled.
Javier chuckled before jutting a finger at Axel, “He is on suspension by the big boss.”
I glanced at Axel who looked away. He scratched the back of his neck. I looked to Javier again.
“Why?” I asked.
“He ran into a burning building. The boss told him to wait until they could control the fire. The dumbass went charging inside disobeying orders.” Javier explained. “Nobody could hold him back.”
Javier continued to update us on how badly damage the apartment was. My whole apartment including the renter below us and Axel’s was completely burnt. I lost everything.
“There is nothing left?” I asked running my mind through everything that was important to me.
Javier scratched at his temple, his midnight hair falling over his forehead.
“Everything is gone.”
Axel squeezed my hand and I turned back to him, “George and Raina were inside.”
“Who?” Javier asked in confusion. “I’m pretty sure we did a body count- ”
“It’s my teddy bears,” I told him.
Javier stayed with us a while longer but left shortly after receiving a phone call to get back to work. Axel and I were alone again.
“Axel...” I spoke first breaking the silence. “I’m sorry.”
My eyes connected with his and they softened. He inched forward and cupped my cheek, bringing his forehead against mine.
“I thought I lost you. When I saw your apartment going up in flames-I thought I lost you. At that point, I didn’t care what happened to me. I just needed to see you.” He admitted, tears glistening in his eyes. His lips were pressed into a thin line and he blinked furiously to ward off the tears. “When I heard your voice, it was like a jump start to my heart.”
“It was scary. I was scared.” I confessed, closing my eyes and leaning into his touch.
He chuckled, “Baby, I have never been more scared in my life. You don’t know how much you mean to me. I will die for you, Hermosa."
I gnawed at my bottom lips, the tears from early now spilled down my cheeks. He wiped them away with his thumbs.
“I’m sorry for hurting you, Axel. I pushed you away. I know it isn’t fair. I shouldn’t hold your past against you. The things you did-”
“I’m an asshole, Ryleigh. You don’t need to say sorry. I was an asshole back then but what I feel in here- “He brought a palm to his heart. “What I feel for you is not a lie. It as strong as the blood that pumps through my veins.”
“I saw you moved away. Your apartment was empty.” I said.
He sighed, “I couldn’t bear seeing the look of betrayal in your eyes. I couldn’t bear living next to you and not want to love you. So, I moved back to my mom’s place until I can find another place to live.”
“You were leaving me,” I started but it came out as a question.
“I didn’t know what else to do.”
I bit my bottom lips as I thought of a way to say what I wanted to truly say. I can’t allow my insecurities to hold me back. I have to take a jump and get the things I want. My eyes landed on his perfect lips and suddenly I wanted to kiss it. Feel it again. The urge was overpowering and I lifted one hand to the back of his neck. He must’ve seen what I was doing because he allowed me to pull him down. My lips found his soft ones immediately.
A small innocent brush first before I pulled in his bottom lips almost tentatively, but one taste was not enough, and my other hand came up to pull him closer. I tasted his lips with a desperate hunger. He seemed to meet me halfway each time until I felt him take control. Pressing me onto the bed. His tongue slipping in and taking what is his. I moaned in pleasure and clung to his body. My tongue found his and playfully touching it. It drove him madder and his hands snuck their way into my hair to control the kiss.
“Don’t leave me,” I whispered when he pulled back enough to give me air.
His lips came crashing down on me again. The need to feel him close. To cling to him and never let him go was an overwhelming force. My fingers dug into his shoulder. I didn’t care that he reeked of smoke. I didn’t care that he was still dirty. This was Axel kissing me.
When he pulled back we were both breathing hard. He pressed his forehead against mine.
“Don’t leave me.” I pleaded. “I need you.”
“I won’t. I’ll stay with you always.” His voice was husky from the kiss.
Several hours later, Axel took a shower in the connected hospital bathroom shower in my hospital room. He came out with damp hair and some new clothes. He walked immediately over to my side and sat down. The TV was on with a movie playing in the background. He took hold of my hand with one of his without saying anything. The contact was almost needed between us.
The doctor came in an hour later to look me over. He flipped through his tablet, writing a few things down.
“Your lungs seem to be working okay. It isn’t completely clear, but a few oxygen treatments will help clear it up right away. I would like to keep you overnight just for observation. If tomorrow everything is normal, you can go home.” He said after a while before looking up with a smile. “You are lucky to survive that fire. From the news, it looked pretty bad.”
After the doctor left, Axel left to go run some errands. I didn’t have anything to wear for tomorrow. So he made a trip back to his mom’s place to grab his clothes for me. Still exhausted from everything that has happened and the last couple of days of no sleep, I took advantage of his absence and fell asleep immediately.