I stiffened, unable to relax when all I thought about was him passing into a coma if he went back to sleep.
“I’m okay.” He pressed the sweetest kiss on my shoulder. Heat spread like blooming tendrils, disappearing down my back.
I shuddered and sighed, unable to hide the watery sound of my concern.
Arthur squeezed me closer, his strength undiminished even if his head was broken. “Honestly, Cleo. I’m fine. Just need a few days to rest, that’s all.” Kissing me again, he whispered, “Now, can you please stop thinking and let me hold you without fearing a panicked rabbit lives in your chest?”
I laughed halfheartedly. He’s right.
My heart raced to a supersonic beat while Arthur’s pounded slow and sure behind me. I forced myself to take comfort from the strong, steady tempo.
That was all I needed—for now.
“Just another hour, shokay? Then … we’ll …” His voice slurred a little as he slipped quickly back into sleep. He drifted.
“Okay, Arthur. I can wait another hour before interrogating you.”
Counting down minutes in my head, I lay still and silent.
I should’ve been comforted in his embrace, but instead all I suffered was fear.
A day passed.
One moment it was dawn, the next it was dusk.
How did one hour turn into ten?
I’d remained unyielding and unsleepy in his arms for his requested hour. Once time had run out, I’d tried to rouse him but failed—he’d succeeded in swatting me away like an annoying bug, rolling himself up in the blankets. He was out again before I could poke him from his greedy dreams.
Another hour had passed.
I’d learned from my past mistakes and didn’t make the same again. Rolling him onto his back, I’d given him no room to hide. I’d slapped him. Gently at first, but harder until he rose from the clingy existence of sleep and opened his eyes.
And there, I’d trapped him.
I didn’t let him sink again. I caught him in my net and chatted and questioned and became so annoying he laughed and shoved me playfully.
Even when he climbed from the covers to shower, I followed and gossiped and became a hyped up version of the weather channel, shopping network, and self-help station all to keep his mind here with me and not in the abyss of concussion.
And it worked.
After his shower, he was alert.
We snuggled back into bed after raiding the kitchen for cornflakes and fruit, and spent the day side by side. We didn’t move far from the bedroom, but we turned the space into our haven, and for the first time since I’d woken tied in the back of the van with a scary biker battle as my welcome, I found a slice of ordinariness.
I adored it.
Arthur lost the argumentative snappiness from last night and we both ignored our unfinished argument in favor of pliancy and togetherness.
By the end of the day, my headache had faded to a gentle throb and with the aid of a few painkillers it disappeared entirely.
I’d never spent a full day in bed before. I could never stay still long enough or tolerate my own company for long, as it only highlighted my lack of a past. But the movie marathon we indulged in, laughing at others’ misfortune and relating to lovers in the midst of trouble, was rare and cherished.
Occasionally, Arthur would roll over and gather me close. His nose would nuzzle into my neck and we’d watch the flickering scene with nothing between us.
Those were my favorite times.
The brief moments when we were nothing more than a man and woman snuggled up in bed watching other people’s lives for a change. It made me glow and ache all at the same time.
To have this with him, after all this time was … indescribable.
But to have missed out on this for so long was … unbearable.
The last episode of the show we were watching ended and Arthur turned his green eyes on mine. The strain hadn’t left and he looked hollow almost—empty from the vibrancy I was used to.
He looks lost.
Cupping his cheek, I willed my panic to remain hidden. If he wanted to talk to me about his symptoms, then he would. I couldn’t force him. I didn’t want to make him face things he might not be ready to face. But at the same time, it was all I could think about.
The longer we stared, the more lust thickened. My nipples hardened and his arms bunched on top of the sheet.
My fingers moved from his cheeks to his lips. His mouth parted, eyes shadowing from bright green to forest. I leaned in to kiss him. Eager for his taste. Desperate to connect.
Then … his stomach rumbled.
The noise turned a sexually charged moment into a comedic one.
Dropping my hand from his face to his stomach, I rubbed his sculptured abs. “Hungry?”
He smirked, looking younger than his years and nowhere near as scary as he did in leather and windswept dust. His perfect teeth were sharp and dangerous against his tanned face. “I’ve been hungry for the past five hours.”
“Then why didn’t you say something?”
“Because I didn’t want to get out of bed again.” His leg rubbed against mine. “I enjoyed having you in my arms too much.”
My heart melted. “And you were willing to suffer starvation for me?”
His gaze turned serious. “I’d be willing to suffer anything for you, Buttercup. I thought you knew that by now?”
His fingers trailed down my side, then skated across my chest. “I’m hungry for other things, too.” He rolled my nipple with delicious pressure.