And how is he even a partial match? I couldn’t figure it out. The way that Cole had put it, there was a snowball’s chance in Hell that a pair of viable lungs would appear, especially within the small window of time he had left. It seemed illogical, and I wanted to know more…

There was so many questions, and I was caught in an endless loop: it was too painful to focus on Cole’s condition pending a possibly lethal surgery, but the only other thing I could dwell on instead was Larry’s untimely death. That in itself was horrible to contemplate, so I could only switch my thoughts back and forth.

And on it went.

Alphonse Megami did his part to keep me as calm as he could. For all his bluster and stone faced attitude, he seemed to be genuinely compassionate of my plight. After our debate on the rooftop and Cole’s subsequent flare-up, the elderly businessman was troubled and grave, but he tried to keep me preoccupied. Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to discuss even the most generalized details about myself, nor specifics about how I met Cole, but I did appreciate him trying to keep my mind off of things.

The night dragged on. It was over six painful hours before Doctor Greene reappeared, stepping outside of the operating room to finally give us the official news.


I dabbed at my tear-filled eyes as he spoke the best damned words he could have told me: “Your husband is going to live, Mrs. Andrews. It’s too early to tell, but signs point to his condition normalizing. It will be a long recovery, but we are as optimistic as we can reasonably be at this time.”

* * *

Cole was still mildly delirious when he was finally released from the hospital twelve long days later. Alphonse had canceled countless meetings to remain in New York for the duration. He was there as Cole’s driver Gregory arrived to bring us back to the hotel. When we passed through the lobby with our ill survivor, the staff present gave a cheerful but reasonably muted cheer. Alphonse and Gregory helped me guide Cole into the elevator, and at the rooftop manor, they assisted me in helping him to bed, where he began his longer road to full recovery under my watchful care.

When I woke up later that morning, Cole was sitting up in bed, reading a book from his nightstand.

“You…you’re awake,” I murmured quietly.

“I am. Welcome back, darling,” he replied warmly.

“But I…how long have you…?”

“Only about an hour…but enough about me. That doesn’t look terribly comfortable,” he indicated the chair that I found myself in. It appeared that I had dragged a chair into his room and fallen asleep at his side. “Why don’t you get some proper rest? You look like you’ve had a few long nights.”

“Oh, that’s rich,” I smiled.

“I find it suits me.”

We shared an exhausted laugh and, seeing his longing gaze, I climbed into bed beside him. I was careful to stay off of him, simply nuzzling carefully against his shoulder. He shifted position slightly, allowing him to slowly and painfully put an arm around me.

“How did I get here?”

“Alphonse and your driver half-dragged you in your pain medicated state.”

“Gregory? Remind me to give that man a pay raise…”

“And what about Alphonse?” I asked.

“Remind me to take his money. So, tell me, what did the good doctor say about my condition?” Cole asked solemnly, bracing himself for bad news.

“He said that there’s a good chance that it will not reoccur now that the effected tissue has been removed.”

“I…I see,” Cole nodded carefully. “I feel strange Kiona, as if I I am breathing through a fire hose.”

“The doctor said you were down to thirty percent lung capacity before the transplant. It was a miracle you were able to function,” I replied gravely.

“And I think I have you to thank,” he told me, gazing deep and longingly into my eyes. “I’d given up. I had resigned myself to this malady, this abomination inside me. My impending, early grave was already inevitable. I was making the proper arrangements to leave things as well as I could before I died and I had no intention of accepting a lung transplant.”

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