“That’s all right,” she said. “As long as I can hold her.” She couldn’t help it—her eyes started to drift shut. “When can I go home?”
“Soon,” Dr. Wakefield said. He sounded as if he meant it. “We’ll start the process of releasing you to your next of kin.”
“That’s Jake,” she said, yawning. “Can you call him for me? I want him.”
“Of course,” Julie said in a soothing voice. “I’m sure it won’t be long—oh!”
At this, Skye’s eyes opened and there he was.
He looked so, so good. But...there was something off about him, too. Somehow, he looked older than she remembered—more fine lines around his eyes, thinner in the face.
“Skye?” He stood there, his mouth open. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say he was in shock. “Oh, my God—are you all right?”
“Jake!” she cried in pure joy. “Oh, thank heavens—I was beginning to think you’d forgotten about me. Where have you been? I’ve missed you so much.” She held up her arms, which took some effort. But he was worth it. God, she was so glad to see him.
He turned to the doctor. “Is she all right? I don’t want to hurt her.”
Julie gave Jake a warm smile. “Go on, you won’t hurt her. Just be gentle.”
“All right.” He walked to the side of the bed and sat in the chair, staring at her as if he’d never seen her before. He took one of her hands in his. “It’s good to see you.”
“We’ll leave you two alone,” the doctor said. Dr. Wakefield, she mentally corrected. So she wouldn’t forget. “Mr. Holt, when you’re finished visiting, my research assistant Julie here or one of the nurses can give you the list of things Skye will need to transition to a home environment. She’ll be ready to be released in a day or two.”
“Sure,” Jake said. He didn’t sound quite right. Why was he acting so...oh, what was the word? So—so aloof.
Then they were alone.
“I am glad to see you,” he told her, rubbing his thumb over his knuckles.
“I’m glad to see you. I dreamed of you all the time.”
“That’s...good.” He swallowed nervously as he stared at where their hands were joined. “What, exactly, did you dream?”
“It—well—I don’t know if I have the words. I lose words sometimes. Like aloof.” His eyebrows jumped up as he looked at her quizzically. “Just as an example,” she added, feeling silly. Jake wasn’t necessarily being aloof. She was pretty sure this was the first time she’d seen him, after all.
Then she realized what the problem was. “I must look awful,” she said with a grimace. “If I’d known you were going to get here today, I’d have done...something.” Point of fact, she couldn’t actually remember the last time she’d showered and there was a section of her hair that had been shaved off.
“No, no—you look fine,” Jake said. He gave her an off-kilter smile. “Feels like it’s been a long time.”
“I’m sorry,” she said as she held out her other hand to him and, after what felt like two beats too many, he took it in his. “I’ve been asleep for so long...”
“Don’t be sorry. It was an accident,” he said firmly. “The important thing now is that you’re awake. How are you? Is there anything I can do for you?”
“I haven’t seen Grace. Is she okay?”
“Yes,” Jake said. “You’ll get to see her soon. But tell me more about how you are. What did you dream?”
“Really, just a bunch of images, you know? Things we did.” She grinned at him. “Where we did them.”
“Oh.” His cheeks shot a deep red. “Those were good things. And good places.”
She leaned toward him. He did look different from how she’d seen him in her dreams. Had he always been this thin? She couldn’t be sure.
Well, that didn’t matter. She was awake and he was here. Soon, they’d get Grace. That was all that counted right now. It wasn’t that she wanted to spend more time in bed—there’d been enough of that—but if she remembered right, they could do just fine without a bed. “When you talk to the doctor, ask how long before I can do certain things, okay?” She waggled her eyebrows at him.
“Sure.” He squeezed her hands and gave her another tight smile. Then, finally, he leaned over and did what she’d been waiting for—he kissed her.
Except it was a small kiss, a mere brushing of his lips against hers. Not a passionate, soul-consuming kiss. Not the kiss she’d dreamed about.
“I’m going to go check on Grace,” Jake said when the too-short kiss was over. “Your sister has her.”
“Yes, Lark. Because you weren’t here?” She shook her head, which was not the best idea she’d ever had. Her head began to hurt. “I missed something, didn’t I? You had a job in New York, right?”
“New York?” He looked at her as if she’d sprouted a second head. Or maybe a third one. Oh, what she wouldn’t give for a haircut—a good one—right about now. She wanted him to look at her with the love he’d always had in his eyes. “I did have a job there.”
Oh, good—she’d gotten that part right. Suddenly, she was tired—the excitement of Jake’s arrival had worn off, apparently. She yawned and tried to hide it behind her hand, but she didn’t do a very good job. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “I’m just so tired of being asleep.”
Finally, Jake looked at her with the tenderness she recognized. “Well, I’m here now. I’ll talk to the doctor and do what I need to in order to get you set up.” He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “You rest up. Grace needs you to get better.”
“Okay,” she agreed, having trouble keeping her eyes open. “But you’ll come back for me, right?”
There was another one of those long pauses as he stared at her. “I will always come back for you, Skye.” He squeezed her hand. “Now get some rest. I’ll see you soon. I promise.”
“Good,” she told him as she squeezed back. Then his warmth was away from her.
Jake was here, she thought as she drifted. He was going to get Grace. And he’d come back for her.
Everything was going to be perfect.
“What’s wrong with her?”
Both the doctor and his research assistant looked at Jake with raised eyebrows. Okay, maybe that had been a little gruff—but seriously?
She was different. Or rather, she was the same as she’d once been—but not the same woman she’d been the last time he’d seen her. Skye hadn’t looked at him with that kind of adoration in a long time. And when was the last time she’d wanted sex? When was the last time she’d wanted him?
Jake had only taken one job in New York. And that had been two years ago. It’d been a small job, but it’d led to bigger and better things.
Two years ago. That’d been the last time things had been good between them. After Jake had started getting those bigger and better jobs, things had begun to fall apart.
“Skye had a traumatic brain injury,” the doctor explained. “I’m her surgeon. Dr. Lucas Wakefield,” he added, sticking out his hand.
Jake shook it. “But what does that mean?”