“You can’t,” David snapped at me. “Get that through your head. Do you have a better choice? Your mother? I’m not putting Samantha through that. I’m aware of the disdain Helen has for Sam. Analise? Is that a better choice?”
I closed my eyes for a second, pressing my hands against them. A headache was raging in me. Fuck. I was always the cold one. I remained calm when everyone else panicked, but not now. I couldn’t get a grasp on that old Mason, but David was right and it was killing me. I relented, I had no choice. “I get to see her at night.”
“That’s the only deal. I sleep over.”
“She’s my daughter.”
“She’s the love of my life.” My heart was pumping so damn fast. I needed to see her.
David was searching my eyes.
I let him see the truth. I needed her. That was the only way.
“Fine, but only you. Logan can’t start sleeping over, too.”
David groaned. “You two, you just storm your way in—”
“We’re family to her. We took her in when you let her go. We protected her from that woman.” I was relentless. I knew it was hurting him, but I kept throwing it in his face because it was true. I forced myself to think rationally and I knew what David Strattan was saying was the best thing for Sam. Logan and I couldn’t skip school to take care of her, and I didn’t want her close to either mothers. I didn’t know Mark’s mom, but Mark was an okay guy. If Sam wasn’t okay around that woman, I would stop everything. I’d hire someone, or hell, I’d take her to Nate’s house. She could heal next to Nate. His mom would love Samantha.
David looked away.
I saw it was hard for him to accept. Then he nodded. “Fine. You and Logan can both stay the night—”
“Where is she?”
He lifted his defeated eyes to mine. “Follow me.”
After being admitted to the hospital, they gave me pain medication that put me to sleep. It was later that night when I woke. No one was there except Mason, who was sleeping in the lounge chair beside my bed. An opened pizza box was on my tray table along with a plastic water pitcher and a bunch of plastic cups. It hurt to talk, but after reaching for his hand, I didn’t need to. He woke up and offered me a smile. The worry and love in his gaze made my stomach jump into my chest. I’d never get used to it. Never. When he realized I couldn’t talk, he did most of it for me.
Logan had been there earlier and refused to leave, but Mason made him go. He wanted alone time with me when I woke. He said he pulled Boyfriend Rank. It would’ve been nice to see Logan, but I understood. The pain medication was wonderful, but there was an ache inside of me. I felt hollow, and it had nothing to do with my physical pain. Mason was the only one that could fill that emotional void, and I needed him. I needed him badly. When I patted my bed, he hesitated. I patted it again and scooted as far to the side as possible to make room for him.
“You have two fractured ribs, a dislocated jaw, and you look like a truck ran over you. I can’t, Sam.” His was gruff and his throat closed off on the last word. After he took a moment, he continued, “I just can’t, Sam. I’m so scared I’ll hurt you.”
I narrowed my eyes and tried to show him my determination. I couldn’t do much else, so I patted the bed again with a hard slap.
He still hesitated.
Then I hit his arm before moving onto my back again. I had to go slow, but I couldn’t stop the tear that formed and trickled down my cheek. When I lifted my hand to brush it away, my skin felt like it wasn’t mine. It was an uncomfortable feeling, an unwanted one, and I needed his support even more to push it away.
The bed dipped under his weight. He paused with one foot before shaking his head and mumbling, “I’m not going to be able to sleep. I’m going to be so damn scared that I’ll hurt you.”
It didn’t matter. None of it mattered. When he shifted to his side and then reached for my hand, I closed my eyes. I could sleep now. Everything would work out. Our hands were tucked between us on the bed. I clung to his, while he seemed scared to hold mine back. That didn’t matter either. I just needed to be held, a mere touch from him. It anchored me, and as that feeling of being centered came back, the heaviness of exhaustion folded back over me. It wasn’t long until I fell asleep.
The nurse checked on us, but she didn’t ask him to leave. When he started to get up, I gripped his hand harder. She caught the movement and only waved for him to stay. “Looks like you don’t have a choice.” As she headed back out, we heard her mutter to another nurse in the hallway, “They grow them like that nowadays? Sign me up to be a cougar. Holy crapola.”
Mason chuckled next to me. He had moved so his mouth rested against my shoulder and his breath teased me. It warmed me even more when he yawned. “They’ve been coming in every hour to check on you. You wouldn’t let me go the first time either.”
I couldn’t talk, but I tried to smile. I couldn’t even do that so I rested my head against his. Sleep overcame me again. The rest of the night was spent like that. I was in and out of it. Mason was always there. I think one of my nurses took pity on Mason. She snuck another hospital bed into my private room and lowered a rail on one side of it and one side of mine, then pushed them together to make almost a full size bed. Mason gifted her with a smile and I thought she was going to pass out in my room. When the other nurses came in, their gazes went immediately to him; it didn’t take a genius to figure out that the word had spread. We even heard one comment as she checked my vitals, “They weren’t kidding about the hottie.”