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|Throttle Me(Men of Inked #1) by Chelle Bliss|
I sat down next to her as the nurse started to unhook the machines. “Hey, sugar. How are you really feeling?”
“Sore.” She winced as she moved her limbs. “Can you find a mirror? I want to see my face.”
Oh god. Her face was swollen with a small amount of dried blood in the corner of her mouth. I didn’t want her to see herself all bruised. “I’ll find one soon, wait until you’re moved.”
“You can follow, sir. We’re taking her to the second floor for the night.” The nurse removed the brake on the bed as I stood and moved out of the way.
“I’m not leaving her side, ma’am.” I said as Suzy laid her head on the pillow and smiled at me. I wouldn’t leave her tonight.
The trip to her room was quick and the nurse left us alone and didn’t ask any questions. I sat down in the chair next to her as she yawned. My eyes felt heavy and my mind cloudy.
“Will you sleep up here with me? I mean, there isn’t much room, but I want you to hold me tonight. I need you.”
How could I say no to anything she asked? I’d stand on my head all night if it made her f**king happy. “Anything you want, sugar.” I kicked off my shoes, climbing in the small twin bed before lying on my side, pulling her face to my chest. “Try to sleep. I’m not going anywhere.”
The tiny bed was perfect as I cradled her in my arms. She gripped my shirt, resting her face against my shoulder. I enveloped her in my arms, I wanted her to feel safe and I needed to know that she was okay.
Listening to her breath as she slept, I smelled her hair, but it had the scent of the cigarette smoke from the bar and dirt. Her body twitched as she whimpered in her sleep. I wanted to crawl inside her dream and rescue her.
Flexing my hands, the stiffness from the bruises and small cuts made me wince. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t felt before, but I couldn’t work for a couple days until they healed. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I adjusted her body without waking her and sent Anthony a message. My other siblings would be in a panic and the entire crew would be here, but Anthony I could count on to keep the information low-key at least for tonight.
Me: Won’t be in tomorrow. Tell Mikey to reschedule my appointments. Thanks, bro.
Anthony had a gig in Clearwater and he was a sure bet to get the information. He read the message and began to respond.
Anthony: I told him, he’s with me.
Fuck. Might as well have put it on the evening news or taken out a f**king billboard. Mikey would have a million questions and would want details.
Anthony: What the f**k happened? Not like you to not work.
I didn’t want to give them the details but I had to give enough to get them off my back. I didn’t have a f**king choice in the matter. I’d have to cancel dinner with the family. My mother will want to know why – no one got out of dinner without a legitimate excuse. I wanted to stay with Suzy for the weekend and make sure she was okay before I let her be alone.
Me: Situation at the bar tonight. I need to stay with Suzy. Tell Mom I can’t make it and clear my schedule for a couple days at least.
Anthony: WTF happened? You okay?
Suzy didn’t move as I typed with one hand trying not to break the embrace.
Me: Beat the shit out of some f**ker that attacked her. She’s in the hospital for the night and I want to stay with her after she’s released. Don’t tell anyone. I don’t want them to flip out.
Anthony: Gotcha, but Mom is going to want details. Which hospital?
Me: County Hospital, but we’re okay. My hands are just swollen. I’ll be fine.
Anthony: Gotcha. Mums the word.
Nothing stayed a secret in my family. It was like the mafia party line. I knew Mikey had probably read over Anthony’s shoulder and soon the entire brigade would be on high alert. I set the phone above my pillow and closed my eyes, wrapping Suzy in my arms.
I tried to think about happy things; Suzy’s laugh or how she kissed me, but all I could think of was her limp body and bloodied face in my arms. I kept opening my eyes to remind myself that she was okay. I waited for exhaustion to take me and wipe that vision from my mind.
The sound of plastic squeaking against the tile floor woke me early in the morning. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” she said as she moved to the IV stand.
I grunted and waited for her to leave before closing my eyes again. Hospitals aren’t the place for rest. The movement outside the room is constant, alarms and announcements echo through the halls, and people talk loud enough to wake the dead. I felt like a Mack truck had hit me. My back was stiff, my eyes burned and my hands throbbed. I wanted to get the f**k out of here and crawl in a real bed with her.
A quiet knock caused Suzy to stir and my mother stood in the doorway. Fucking brothers – always mama’s boys.
“Hey,” she said, smiling.
I held put my finger to my lips hoping not to wake Suzy as my ma entered the room. “It’s early Ma, what are you doing here?” I whispered.
“Your brother told me something happened and that you were here with Suzy. You know I can’t sleep good when I worry about my children.” She stood next to the bed, looking at Suzy’s face against my chest.
“I’m fine, Ma. I couldn’t leave her and I want to stay with her when she gets out for a couple days. I didn’t think Mikey would put out an all-points bulletin.”
“Always so quick to blame Michael, aren’t you Joseph? It was Anthony that texted me. I just wanted to stop and see if you two were okay.” She shook her head at me.