We Were Once - Page 77

It’s not the phone that gets my attention, though. Something sparkles nearby. “Chloe?” I rush, fighting against my body wanting to stall. Just beyond the shoulder’s edge, drenched in moonlight, I find my sweet angel. “Chloe. Chloe. Can you hear me?”

Her breath is even, her expression fixed in peace. If I weren’t mistaken, I’d think she was asleep, but my eyes must be playing tricks on me. I caress her, taking in the blood streaking her face and then kiss her forehead, nose, cheek, and lips. Her eyes don’t open as I scan for the source of blood smeared across her skin. A cut below her eyebrow appears minor, but her unconsciousness has me worried.

Leaning down again, I hold my ear under her nose just to feel her breath again. “Chloe?” I whisper, silently begging her body with no life inside to wake.

A tear drips from my chin onto her cheek as I repeat her name through my punctured pleas.

Pressing my ear to her chest, I can hear her heartbeat. It’s subtle but there. “Baby. Chloe? Hang on. Please stay with me. Please,” I plead to whatever will bring her back to me. I’d make a deal with the devil if he let her live.

Sirens ring through the trees, the distant sound still too far to count on. The dark night surrounds with little light to keep us company. Worried I might hurt her more than she is already. My ripped jacket is still protecting her torso, so I straighten the fabric to cover her leg, and I lie down next to her.

Taking her hand, I weave our fingers together, the act so simple, but when the anchors press together, I can feel her with me once again. The guilt that bears down clenches my heart as I look up at the stars. I try to speak, but liquid filling my throat has me coughing. I’ve never died before, but I recognize the feeling. Why does it have to happen when I’m finally happy?

The sirens sound closer but still too far for my liking. With my heart beating outside my chest, the dull thrum fills my ears. I lift myself onto an unsteady elbow. Beauty like hers should never be touched by fingers with grime under the nails, but I lean over and kiss her, trying my best to breathe life into her again.

“We almost made it. We almost caught the moon.”

The ambulance arrives, and chaos erupts. Stuck in the blinding brightness of the headlights, I whisper, “Hold on for me, baby. Hold on.”

A paramedic has me lie back just as everything goes black.

* * *

My eyes open, and I gasp for air, needles pricking the rawness of my throat. My heart is heard outside my body, sending a rush of fear through my veins.

“You’re awake, Mr. Evans.” A nurse pushes through the door and rubs her hands before messing with the knobs on the monitor. “This is good news.”

“I—” Speaking hurts, and the attempt sends me into a dry coughing fit. I look around the hospital room, and the blue blanket covering me, trying to tamp down the panic coursing through me by grabbing my throat.

She’s quick to grab the pitcher beside the bed and pour a glass of water. Tucking the straw between my lips, she says, “Drink slowly. Coat your throat.”

I swallow several sips before she returns the cup to the tray. The small action even hurts before she takes a gentle hold of my arm. “Be careful not to pull out the IV when you move.” Her voice is kind, her eyes matching her tone.

She’s not that tall, but her hair stacked in curls on her head gives her a few extra inches. “Dolly,” I read her tag aloud.

Tapping it, she smiles. “I’m Nurse Dolly.”

Despite feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck, I ask, “Where’s Chloe?” The tone of my voice sounds foreign, so I try to clear it unsuccessfully.

“Miss Fox is stable—”

“Thank fuck.” I gently scrub my hands over my face, wanting to wipe away the murky brain. Seeing her disapproving twist of lips reminds me of my mom. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Her eyes do a scan of my face as her fingers rub over a small bandage I can feel tugging next to my eye. “Don’t worry about Miss Fox. She’s got the best care. Just like you.”

“Can I see her?”

Sympathy shapes her smile. “You’ve both been through a lot.” She pats my leg. “Try to focus on your healing first. Your mom just stepped out for coffee.”

When she turns to leave, I push up, but my strength escapes me, leaving me pressed to the bed without control of my muscles. “I need to see Chloe.”

“You need food, liquids, and healing. That’s the best medicine to recover. I’ll have a meal brought in.”

“She’ll want to see me too. She’s probably worried.”

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