“Oh. I’m not his girlfriend,” I corrected. “His girlfriend is in New York.”
“No. We’re just…” I hesitated. What were we? “We were friends years ago. Now we live together in a house we both inherited.”
Dr. Danger looked utterly confused then asked, “You’re not dating each other then?”
“No,” Justin was quick to answer.
“No,” I repeated.
“Do you live locally, Amelia?”
“Yes. I live about ten minutes down the road.”
“I’ve actually just moved here from Pennsylvania. Perhaps, you’d like to show me around the island sometime?”
He’d really caught me off guard. Dr. Danger—Will—was definitely attractive in a clean-cut semi-older way. With his dark hair and large brown eyes, he was handsome enough. I couldn’t say my body had anywhere near the reaction to him that it did for Justin. But maybe it would be good to accept his offer.
“Sure. That would be nice.”
“Great.” He fished inside the pocket of his white jacket for his phone. “Give me your number? I’ll program it here.”
Justin looked miffed as I recited my digits.
“The nurse will be back in to check on him soon. I’ll call you.” He winked.
“Okay.” I smiled, offering a small wave.
After Will left the room, Justin looked over at me from the bed and huffed, “What a fucking loser.”
“Loser? Why? Because only a loser would be attracted to me?”
“What kind of a doctor picks up a patient’s friend like that on the job?”
“Oh, now we’re friends?”
Ignoring my question, he said, “Seriously, that was lame. He’s a cheeseball.”
“I happen to like cheeseballs, especially if they come in the form of good-looking doctors. Cheeseballs are better than downright mean people.”
A nurse then came in to tell us that the other room was ready. She walked us into an elevator to the second floor where Justin was placed in an overnight suite. Still hooked up to the IV, he finally fell asleep. Soon after, I followed suit, conking out on the cot next to his bed.
About an hour later, it was sometime early in the morning. I woke up before he did and marveled at how even though he was so sick, he was still handsome as ever with his matted hair and especially with his overgrown stubble. Then, Justin unexpectedly opened his eyes. When he saw me lying on the makeshift bed next to him, he looked surprised.
“I thought you would have gone home.”
“No. I couldn’t leave you.”
“You really didn’t have to stay.”
“It was fine. I would have been worried.”
He didn’t respond, but the look on his face softened.
The nurse walked in and checked his vitals and temperature. “Your fever is still high…one-hundred two point five…but at least it’s responding to the medicine and going in the right direction. I’m going to check with the doctor on call about your being discharged.”
“Thank God,” Justin muttered.
When we arrived back to the beach house, Justin settled into his bed once again. Thankfully, the vomiting part of the illness seemed to have passed, even though the fever hadn’t. Jade would text from time to time, and I would continue to give her updates.
The nurse had said it was important for him to eat something and stay hydrated, so I boiled him some chicken broth and brought it upstairs. He was sleeping, and I didn’t want to wake him, so I opted to take it back downstairs until he woke up. He must have heard the mug moving against the saucer because as I was heading back out the door, his voice stopped me.
“What are you doing?”
“I made you some broth. The nurse said you need to eat.”
Returning to his bedside, I handed it to him as he scooted up against the headboard and began to sip it. I turned around to head out the door again when I felt his hand grab my arm.
“You don’t have to leave.”
“I’ll just come back for the mug.”
As I headed out the door, his voice stopped me again. “Patch.”
My body froze. His calling me by the old nickname had totally stunned me. I never thought I’d hear it again.
“Turn around,” he said.
When I did, his face reflected a sincerity that I hadn’t seen in years.
He placed the mug and saucer on the table and said, “Thank you…for everything. Thank you for taking care of me.”
So caught off guard and overcome with emotion, I simply nodded once and continued out the door, unable to stop thinking about his words for the rest of the night.
Two days later, Justin’s fever had finally broken, but he still wasn’t feeling up to performing. I was watching television downstairs when he sat down on the couch next to me. He put his legs up on the ottoman and crossed his arms. It was the first time he’d ever chosen to hang out in the living room when I was lounging.
He’d just showered and smelled like aftershave. My body immediately reacted to the closeness of his legs to mine even though we weren’t touching.
I wished he were mine.
Where did that thought come from?
“What’s this crap you’re watching?”
“Some reality show. I can change it if you want.”
“No. I invaded your space.”
“I’m just glad you’re feeling better.”
Throwing the controller at him, I said, “Seriously, take the remote.”
He handed it back to me. “Nah. I owe you. You put up with my shit when I was sick and whiny. The least I can do is sit through listening to these whiny bitches.”
“Well, if you really want to thank me for nursing you back to health, there is something else you can do.”
He lifted his brow curiously. “Alright…”
God, I just realized how that sounded.
“You can talk to me.”
He let out a deep sigh. “I really don’t want to open up an old can of worms. We both know what happened. It’s not gonna change anything.”
Not beyond begging, I looked into his eyes. “Please?”
He suddenly got up.
“Where are you going?”
“I need a drink for this,” he said, walking toward the kitchen.
“Can you get me one, too?” I hollered after him. My heartbeat began to accelerate in preparation. Was this really happening? Was he going to talk about what happened or just listen to me ramble?
He returned with a bottle of beer for himself and a glass of white wine for me. It surprised me that he knew exactly what I wanted, even though I hadn’t specified. It proved that he’d been observant even when pretending to ignore me.
He took a long sip then placed his beer on the coffee table. “We have to set some rules.”
“Rule number one, if I say we’re done talking, we’re done talking.”
“Rule number two…after tonight, we don’t talk about shit that happened in the past. This is it. One night only.”
“Okay. I can handle that.”
Grabbing the bottle again, he downed half of the beer before slamming it down on the table. “Alright. Go.”
Where would I begin?