25. Wake up.
Veronica was attacked, Liam took her home and she argued with Mason.
They made up but agreed to talk about her job in private later on.
Mason was in an accident at work.
We arrive at the hospital and rush through the maze of a building to find someone who can point us in Mason's direction. Fortunately, because of his job and the fact Henry is of a higher rank, we're told where to find him. When we're directed to his room, I can barely keep up with my feet. Someone speaks, but I can't hear them. All I know is that Mason is behind the door in a private room and I need to be in there with him immediately.
I'm drawn closer to Darla's side.
The words are lost on me.
"Miss? Sorry, how do you know Mr Argent?" the male nurse who walked us to Mason's room asks, his kind blue eyes looking down at me.
"My name is Veronica Halloway. I'm... a friend."
"She's a lot more than his friend. I'm sure his sister won't mind if you let her in." Henry says, towering over the three of us.
"Please," I beg. "I have to see if he's okay."
My eyes start to fill with tears. I can't bear to think about what waits for me on the other side of the door.
"I will go and ask Miss Argent." he pushes himself through the private room's door but before I get the chance to peek through the gap, it shuts.
Mason's job is extremely dangerous.
How have I only just realised that?
I turn on my heel to face Henry head-on, "What if she doesn't let me in? This-" I clutch my stomach, "This is horrible. I feel sick..."
Having been in this exact hospital a few weeks back with James, I recognise the sense of dread that falls over us. Like a dark cloud following me around. The shake of my hands that I can't stop no matter how tightly I squeeze my fists. An overwhelming amount of nervousness.
Darla wraps her hand around mine, "She will-"
The door opens with a creak.
I turn towards the nurse, "Yes?"
"You can see him."
It's as though the words ease my aching heart. I thank him, throw Darla and Henry a thankful look and step through the door.
Mason is propped up in bed, a thin, green sheet up around his chest with his arms laid above it. An oxygen mask covers his mouth and a thin, clear tube leads to the monitor on his finger. His blonde hair is smothered in grey ash and his skin is too pink. It shocks me to see him like this, considering how well he looked a mere two hours ago.
To the left of the bed, his sister stands up. She looks nothing like him and I remember that their parents adopted Mason and his twin when they were babies. Lou's black hair is perched on top of her head in a messy bun and her brown eyes soften as they meet mine. Her face is clear of make-up and a scattering of freckles cover her nose and cheeks.
"You're Veronica. It's nice to meet you," she steps forward and offers me her hand, "I'm Louisa."
"It's nice to meet you too, though I wish it were in under better circumstances." I look towards the bed, my eyes hovering over his chest as it falls and rises. "Is he okay?"
"He is. Thank god. His team got him out before any permanent damage was done. The doctors have him on oxygen right now to help with his breathing."
"Has he been awake?"
"You can get closer." she offers, moving out of my way so that I can reach the bed. "He fell asleep half an hour after I arrived. I thought I'd let him rest, but I'm sure he'll want to know you're here."
I stare down at him, "Should I talk to him?"
"Definitely. I will give you two some time alone. I take it Henry and his wife are here? I'll go and fill them in on his condition."
I immediately get a sense that she is much more than his older sister, she cares for him like a mother would their child. It's unmissable. It's in the way her eyes linger on his face before she drops her gaze.
"Are you sure? I could come back when he's awake." I say, despite wanting nothing more than to hear his voice immediately.
"If I know Macy, he'll want to see you much more than he'll want to see my old mug," she smiles, the lines of her forehead becoming more defined, "I will leave the two of you to it."
"Thank you, Lou."
She sees herself out.
Then it's just me and Mason. The silence is terrifying and so I pull up the seat Lou had previously been sitting in. Wrapping my fingers around his hand, I sit down.
"I'm going to need you to wake up, Macy," I shut my eyes to stop my tears from falling. "Please just wake up."
It seems like an eternity passes before the hand that I cling onto squeezes back. My eyes dart to his just in time to see his eyelashes blink open. His hazel eyes search the room before they find mine. He reaches up to pull the mask aside.
"I've told you not to call me Macy." his voice is hoarse.
"You're right..." I push the hair on his forehead back gently, "You scared me half to death, you realise that right?"
A gentle laugh escapes his parted lips, "I apologise."
"Firefighters die all the time on the job, it never crossed my mind that you-" I start. His hand cups my cheek and I press my face into it, "I was so scared, Mason."
"I'm alright, darling. I promise."
"Are you sure? You sound like you've been huffing cigarettes for twenty years."
I nod slowly, "What happened?"
"The fire was much worse than we first thought and an elderly woman was trapped inside. We got caught on our way out by a falling beam. My only option was to give her my remaining air. All I remember is being carried out and blacking out in the ambulance. I don't even know if the woman got out."
"That sounds horrific. Henry said you were inside the building for quite some time."
"I must have been," he coughs, a great heaving one that rattles through his chest.
"Okay, enough talking out of you. Put that mask back on."
"Is that a command?" a slight raise of his eyebrow proves to me that no matter how bad his chest sounds, he's not feeling too unwell.
I take a hold of the mask and pull it up over his mouth, "I'm going to get your sister."
He holds my hand with no intention of letting it go and shakes his head.
"Fine. Ten minutes and then I'm getting her."
The two of us remain silent, simply holding onto each other. I study the rise and fall of his chest and he watches my face with a content smile on his handsome face.
Mason returns home from the hospital the next day after the doctor had him promise to take it easy for the next week. I've been at his apartment since eight this morning making sure he had a clean place to come back to. I changed the sheets on his bed and prepared some food. The usual omelette with plenty of ketchup.
He's now perched up in his bed, looking a whole lot healthier than he did yesterday. The coughing fits haven't gone away yet, but the doctor promised that they would soon subside as long as he rests.
Lou had to get back to her son, so I promised to stay with Mason for the week and the twins are staying with Darcy at our new place. She's excited to teach Rowan how to plait her hair and to beat James in as many card games as they can remember how to play. I trust Darcy completely, so am happy to have let them move into the new place earlier than myself.
"I smothered it in ketchup," I say as I place the plate on top of the cushion that rests on his lap.
He pushes the sauce away with his fork, "Was that to cover up the burnt edges?"
"Something like that... It's terrible, isn't it? Want me to order something in?"
"I will eat anything that isn't hospital food. This is fine, honestly."
"You're sweet to lie," I sit at the edge of the bed next to him. "Are you glad to be home?"
"I am and I'm especially glad to have you here."
"Well, I couldn't just let you come home to an empty apartment, could I?"
He swallows the food that's in his mouth, "That's true."
"Oh! That reminds me. I got you something. Wait here!"
Quickly, I'm back on my feet and rush towards the door of his bedroom. As I reach it I hear him chuckle.
"I have nowhere to go."
I glance back, "That's true."
When I return to his bedroom, I hide the long-stem flower behind my back.
"What are you hiding?" he watches me as I approach him.
I hand him the sunflower.
"You bought me a flower?"
"I did, not just any flower. The flower of adoration and loyalty." I repeat his words from our date. "Do you remember?"
He takes it from my hand, the sincerity in his voice knocking the air out of my lungs, "Of course I do. Thank you, Veronica."
"For the flower?"
"For being here."
"You don't need to thank me for that again. I want to be here."
He puts his plate on the bedside table, followed by the flower and draws me towards him. I tuck my legs up onto the bed and let my head fall to his chest. Once I'm there, he wraps his arm around my shoulder.
"Should we talk?"
"About Han or my job?" I ask.
I glance up at him, "Not today. I just want to lie here with you."
"Are you sure? I don't want it hanging over our heads."
"And I don't want you to go through any more stress than you've been through."
"We're going to have to talk about it one day."
I hug him,
"I know. Just not now."