A whirlwind of motion flooded the hospital emergency room when the four of them entered. The staff tried to take Danny from Gunner, and he growled like some wild beast. They backed away. Saint said something quietly to him. Gunner’s shoulders sagged, and he nodded as Saint backed up and the attending moved in with a gurney.
“Sir, please. You’ve got to let him go. He’s in good hands.” A male nurse said, approaching inch by inch. Gunner’s gaze lasered in on the nurse. The guy didn’t back down. Danny didn’t make a sound when Gunner set him down gently. The staff moved at warp speed after that.
“Sir you can’t come in here. It’s better you stay in the waiting room.”
“Try and fucking stop me. Where the boy goes, I go.”
Sienna’s focus sharpened on the big man holding Danny until she realized the tears streaming down her face. She blinked.
“Sienna, honey let’s get you into emergency too.”
“What?” She looked up, Saint’s fingers wiped her streaked cheeks. He guided her into a wheelchair a nurse parked in front of her. “Oh.” She still clutched his hand when they started to roll her away. Sienna struggled to keep hold of him, not wanting him out of her sight after what she’d let happen. She tried to turn in the chair. A hiss of pain made Saint’s eyes narrow. She gripped him harder, but he slowly slipped away, the release causing a chill to mark her skin. She’d told him she loved him but would he still want her after all she’d heaped on Saint?
“I’ll be here. I’ll come back to you as soon as the doctors let me,” Saint said.
The nurse nodded at him. “As soon as the doctor says it’s okay,” the nurse told her. “Not a second before,” the older woman scolded.
Sienna reached out to him again and moaned from the pain.
The nurse patted her shoulder to still her. “You’ll be done in no time.” Sienna glared at the nurse and winced. She wanted to hate the older woman pushing her, but she seemed nice if she looked beyond her bossiness.
“Mmm, mmm, that man is hot. You’re one lucky lady. If my Reggie had a face and body like that, I might have overlooked his wandering eyes. And hands. If you know what I mean. With a man like that, it would have been worth it.” The nurse kept chattering on and on, and Sienna toned her out thinking about what she could say to Saint to make up for pushing and yelling at him. What if the result of his fall was a cracked skull? She was lucky that all he had was a sore head and some stitches.
Going through the stark double doors further away from Saint felt like a chasm had opened up, like he would forget about her, disappearing like every other good thing she’d tried to hold onto in her life. The last glimpse was of Saint staring at the floor. What did that mean? Was he rethinking being with her? Had she ruined everything?
After being poked and prodded, a few hours passed. Sienna finally drifted off to sleep, her injuries not as severe as she’d thought. X-rays revealed her ribs were bruised but fine. She was battered badly and would heal in time. Sienna knew she’d be fine, at least she thought she would. But more so, she was worried about what Saint was thinking. Even before they’d reached the hospital, he’d been terribly quiet in Gunner’s SUV.
The arms of the clock slowed as if sculpted with concrete, and Saint still hadn’t made an appearance. Even the nurse came by more than a few times to check on her. The shift even changed. When the nurse stepped up to her IV bag and switched it out with another, things started to blur. She didn’t want to fall asleep without seeing Saint.
“Where’s Saint,” she thought she’d asked. The nurse’s lips moved, but all she could hear was a jumble of noise. Her eyelids kept slipping closed. “Saint?” She struggled to stay awake. Everything had to be alright between them, she was frantic to see him. But her limbs fought against her and became heavier. She eventually succumbed to the drugs dripping into her system and sleep washed over her.
Voices woke her with a jolt, unexpected words entering her mind. Her eyelids hung heavy, and she struggled to open them.
“Three of Danny’s ribs… I thought…lung…punctured but he got lucky.”
Sienna opened her eyes, things still a little fuzzy. Two figures stood by the window in her room. She blinked.
The forms finally cleared and one started to speak again, Gunner, she thought, emotion ripping through his voice. “He…when I found him…God dammit!”
Was he crying?
“When I found him, his pants were around his ankles.”
“Sienna, you’re awake.” It was Saint’s words that drew her attention.
She tried not to read into what Gunner had just revealed. Did Marco rape him? She whimpered. “Where’s Danny? What did that fucking bastard, Marco, do to Danny?” Her words were small, the pain for what Danny endured too large to make it past her aching throat. And then she remembered the blank stare of her mother when Marco had carted her into that small shack. Sienna didn’t know how long her mother had been dead before she had arrived. “Ohh,” she groaned.
Saint came to her side and took her hand. The relief she felt from the contact making her sharp breaths ease only a little. Sienna had to focus on something else. She couldn’t think about her mother yet. She’d known it was going to be bad. She pinched her eyes closed and tried to shift her thoughts to something else.
Her eyes flicked back up to Gunner’s his arm bandaged where he’d gotten shot. He continued speaking. “The doctors said there was no evidence of sexual violation. Thank God. But until I talk to Danny…” His words trailed off, and he took a deep breath. “He was so dirty by the time I got to him,” he took another harsh breath, “that I didn’t notice the cuts in his abdomen. Christ!” Gunner rubbed his face with rough, jerky movements. “The doctor said he cleaned and stitched the wounds. There were no serious internal injuries. He’s bruised more than anything.”
“He’ll be okay right,” Sienna asked.
“Physically? Yeah, mentally, I won’t know until he wakes up.”
“You haven’t talked to him yet?” She said. “What time is it? How long have I been asleep?” Her words tripped over one another, pain sliced through her lungs with each breath, her ribs taking that moment to reintroduce themselves as the medication disappeared.
“Calm down, baby,” Saint said. “Danny’s asleep. He’s going to be fine.”
Sienna watched Gunner’s eyes move to the floor, and his body shake, with what? Anger? Fear? Guilt? She couldn’t know.
Gunner interrupted her thoughts. “I’m going to head out.”
“But, what about…”
The man steamrolled over her. “Don’t worry about Danny. I’m taking care of him when he gets out of the hospital.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. Why would Gunner do that? He didn’t seem very child-friendly.
Saint asked what had stuck in her throat. “You are?”
“I know a few people,” he grimaced.
“But the woman I spoke to with social services said she’d try to have Danny placed with me,” Saint said. Gunner shook his head.
“It’s nothing against you, man, but I think I’m better equipped to deal with the boy than you are.”
“How so?” Saint asked as he stood up and crossed his arms facing Gunner.
Gunner just smiled, it not reaching his eyes. “Just know that I have his best interests at heart.”
“Yeah, now you do,” Saint whispered just loud enough, and Gunner grimaced.
Silence trickled on for long seconds, and Gunner finally said, “I’ll let you know when Danny’s released and where we’ll be.” And then he turned around and exited the room, his stride sure and quick.
Sienna was so focused on the doorway that she jumped when Saint sat on the edge of the bed.
“How are you feeling, baby?” She couldn’t speak. “Sienna? Are you hurting? Do you need me to go get the nurse?” He stood up. She grabbed onto his shirt not caring about the pain, and her forehead fell against his chest, and she let loose her tears. Saint enveloped her with his arms forming a cocoon of warmth, holding her close.
“I’m fine.” She breathed him in. The memory of hearing him yell out for her, storming into the small shack, him taking the too tight blindfold off her face. “God, I’m fine. I love you! I love you so much. I’m sorry I said all those nasty things. I didn’t mean them. I didn’t mean to push you. When Danny told me, you’d fallen…” Her words rolled right over each other and Saint seemed to hold her tighter.
“I know, Sienna. I know you didn’t mean what you said or did,” he replied. “I love you too.” He kissed her temple and then her lips, barely a touch. She wanted more, and she needed more. Her fingers curled in his shirt, pulled him closer and took his lips. He moaned in surprise and gently pulled her back and looked down at her.
“Saint, please kiss me. I need it. I need you.” Lifting her head and leaning in again she tried to reach him, but he held her off.
“Sienna, you’re hurt. You need to rest.” He smiled down at her.
She pouted, trying not to wince when she figured out her lip still really hurt where Marco had hit her. Saint chuckled and gave her a quick peck on the lips. Sienna exhaled and linked her fingers tightly in her lap and tried to lean back on her own but Saint was there to help relax back onto the bed.
“See. You need to heal.”
Silence lingered. “What now?” Sienna asked.
“Now, we wait until you’re released and make sure Danny’s okay with Gunner. I’m still not positive he should go with Gunner.” He looked toward the window.
“What’s wrong with Gunner? He saved us both by killing Marco.”
“I don’t know. Gunner’s got secrets. I don’t like it.”
“Well, I think it will be okay,” she said and closed her eyes. “If Social Services believes he’s the upstanding guy they think he is then we should let them be.”
“How can we do that when I know for a fact, he didn’t help Danny in that damn house. He let Danny’s mother beat the shit out of him. It’s not right. I want him with us.”
Sienna’s eyes snapped open, but she couldn’t look at him. Not yet. She focused on her fingers the red skin mottling to a white as she gripped harder and harder. Hope bloomed in her chest making her heart ache. Was what he felt worth more time than just a few weeks they’d spent together? He told her he loved her but did he mean more than the passion they’d shared so far? She wanted to grab on tight to the word ‘us’ and never let it go. But she was scared to ask him what he meant directly, so she focused on Danny instead. “Danny and I don’t get along. How well do you think he would handle me helping take care of him? Especially when you’re living above your garage, and I live at my house?”
Saint gently lifted her chin with his fingers and caressed her jaw back and forth, back and forth. When Sienna’s eyes met his, she fell into the depths of love there wanting to stay forever.
He shook his head and smiled one side lifting up knowingly. He kissed her and held his lips over hers for too long. When he didn’t move away, his next words tickled her when he spoke. “You’re worried I don’t love you enough.” His lips lingered on hers, and his tongue slipped out softly to slide across hers. She moaned, and his smile felt good against her. “Don’t. ‘Us’ means you and me forever, Sienna.” Saint’s kisses brushed across her jaw as he leaned in closer. She lifted her chin, and then his lips met the soft spot below her ear, and he nipped her there leaving his mark. Then he slowly came back to her lips for another drawn out soft kiss. “Even though our time together has been short, I know you’re it for me. I knew it when I carried you to your bed with that migraine. I surely knew it when I didn’t know if I’d reach you in time when Marco had taken you. I love you, Sienna.”
He wiped her cheeks again and she laughed. “I’m a mess.”
“You’re a beautiful mess. My beautiful mess.” He took her hands. “I don’t care how we do it. The ‘Us.’ Just as long as we’re together. You can move into the apartment above the shop.” He laughed when she wrinkled her nose. “Or I can move in with you. It doesn’t matter as long as I’m with you.”
He gave her some much-needed tissues.
“What do you say?”
“I say, yes.”
Saint smiled, and she started to giggle as he crawled onto the small bed with her and he replied, “I can’t wait.
Coming in January Hot Turns in the Hot Blacktop Series