A smile spread across Craig’s face the moment he opened his eyes. “Hey,” he whispered.
“Hi honey,” Grace answered, smiling at him from where she sat on the edge of the bed.
“What time is it?” he yawned.
“A little after four.”
“In the morning?”
“You can go back to sleep if you want,” she said. “I didn’t mean to wake you. I just wanted to sit here for a while and look at you.”
“Have you been sitting there for long?”
“A few minutes.”
“You should have woken me,” he pouted.
“No,” she smiled softly. “You looked so peaceful. Besides, I just needed to be beside you for a little while. I was perfectly happy watching you sleep.”
“Maybe so, but it’s hardly fair, is it? I mean, you get to see me but I don’t get to look into the face of an angel.”
“Flatterer,” she grinned.
“Truth teller,” he corrected. “You look spectacular.”
“Hardly. I look absolutely awful. I’ve been working for nearly twelve hours and…”
“Weren’t you supposed to be working a double shift?” He frowned. “I wasn’t expecting you to be back here until lunchtime.”
“I was. I mean, I am. I just…I needed a break so I asked Dr Roland to cover for me.”
“Did something happen?”
“House fire.” She flinched as she spoke the words.
“Three, plus their parents.”
“The father’s in critical condition, but the mother and the kids…”
“Oh God, no wonder you needed a break,” he groaned, sitting upright and taking her hand in his. “Are you ok?”
“It’s always harder when there are kids involved,” she said. “I guess it shouldn’t be. All life is precious; at least, that’s what we doctors are supposed to believe. Even so…”
“They’re kids,” he stated. “Whether it should be different or not doesn’t matter. It is different. They’re innocents. They’ve had no time to really live, to make mistakes, to be corrupted by the world. I’m not saying there’s no such thing as a bad kid, but…it’s just different. Don’t apologise for feeling that way.”
“I know, I just…I needed some air,” she said, squeezing his hand. “I was planning to just take a walk in the hospital’s rose garden, but one minute I was heading out the door and the next I found myself here.”
“I’m glad you came,” he smiled. “How long can you stay?”
“A few minutes. I wish…more than anything I wish I could just climb into bed with you right now. I want to curl up in your arms and sleep long into the afternoon, then make love until it’s dark again.”
“You could always call the hospital and tell them you’re sick,” he suggested. “It’s a lie, they’d know it’s a lie, but do you think any of them would blame you?”
“Probably not, but I can’t.”
“I know,” he sighed. “Got to get right back in that saddle.”
“I love you.” She smiled. “I don’t think you know just how much I love you.”
“To the stars and back?”
“And then some.”
“Same here,” he grinned. “You sure you can’t climb in here with me? There doesn’t have to be any funny business. We can just cuddle up here for a few minutes.”
“You have no idea how much I want to,” she answered. “Thing is, if I did I wouldn’t want to leave again, and I have no choice about that.”
“I know,” he sighed again.
“You should go back to sleep.”
“Nuh-huh,” he groaned, shaking his head. “I’ll grab some clothes and walk you to your car, then maybe I’ll…”
“No,” she said, softly but firmly. “The sun’s not even up yet. Just go back to sleep.”
“Are you sure?” he frowned. “I really don’t mind…”
“Sleep,” she instructed, leaning over him, her hair caressing his cheeks. “Just close your eyes, go back to sleep, and I’ll see you at lunchtime. Doctor's orders.”
“Who am I to argue?” He closed his eyes. “Just one little request before you go?”
“What’s that?” she asked, her voice hushed.
“A goodnight kiss?”
Many thanks, as always, to Alicia for editing this story. She is my Grace.
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