Eva awoke the next morning to the smell of fresh coffee and…Wait. Was that cinnamon rolls? She started to sit up but was blinded by an ice pick feeling in the base of her skull. “Ugh…” she said and flopped back down, hands on her forehead. “How much did I drink last night?” She thought for a minute and realized what had happened. She shot bolt upright and made to get off the couch before nausea overcame her and she vomited on the carpet. “Oh, god…not the…” and heaved again in mid-sentence.
Daniel was at her side an instant later, his hand on her back. “Are you alright?” She shook her head very slowly and dry heaved. Daniel had to turn away before he followed suit, slightly gagging in the process. He rubbed her back gently, making soothing noises. “I’ve called the hospital and checked on Sadie. She’s doing well this morning, the nurse said,” He reassured her. “There’s some bruising and she’s sore as hell, but all in all…better than twelve hours ago.”
“I want…” Eva dry heaved, again, and waited for the room to stop spinning. “I want to go see her.”
Daniel held her firmly beside him. “We’ll go over in a bit. You need a shower, handful of Advil and about…oh, three gallons of coffee. Plus,” he looked at the carpet, “I need to clean this up so it doesn’t stain.”
Eva rocked to the side, and he pulled her upright beside him on the deep couch. Her stomach rolled. “Uh huh,” she agreed.
Daniel said, “Okay, baby, this is what we’re gonna do.” He took the blanket off her shoulders and draped it over the back of the couch. Eva started to shake immediately. He rubbed her back and arm. “It’s the Valium and wine leaving your system. Pretty nasty hangover,” he said. “We’re going to go upstairs and get you a shower. Then we’ll figure out the next step, alright?” She nodded and laid her head on his shoulder.
He held Eva away from him and stood up, holding onto her shoulders. “Okay, baby, let’s do this.” His hands trailed down her arms and he gently took her hands in his, and pulled her up. She swayed quickly and tried to sit back down. He caught her and protested. “Oh, no you don’t.” He bent down and picked her up in his arms. “You will have a shower one way of another.” Slowly he made his way up the stairs and into the bathroom to clean her up.
Daniel and Eva walked into Sadie’s hospital room, where Sadie lay in her bed sound asleep. Daniel offered to go get more coffee. Eva silently thanked him and sat in the roughly upholstered chair near her. She took Sadie’s hand in hers and couldn’t help but feel angry at the person who put her baby in this position. A slight sob escaped her and Sadie turned her head. “Mom?”
Eva felt the tension leave her body, and held Sadie’s hand even tighter. “I’m right here, babe. How are you feeling? Is there anything I can get for you?” she asked in rapid succession, and moved the hair from Sadie’s face.
Sadie shook her head slowly, and asked “Where’s Dad?”
Eva glanced out the door and said, “He went for coffee and should be back any minute.” She tried to hold back the emotion threatening to overwhelm her but it was useless. She began crying in earnest, the sobs wracking her body. “I’m so glad…you’re…alright” she cried.
“Shhh…Mom, I’m okay. Sore, but okay,” Sadie reassured her mother.
Daniel stood in the doorway and watched the exchange between Eva and their daughter. His throat tightened a little as he imagined for a single moment how different his life without these two amazing souls in it would be. Slowly he walked in and greeted Sadie with a smile.
“Mornin’, babe. Feeling better?” Daniel asked, and handed Eva her coffee. “You gave us quite a scare last night,” he chided and sat at the foot of Sadie’s bed.
Sadie nodded and smiled. “They gave me good drugs.”
Daniel chuckled. “Oh, I’m sure they did, babe,” he said and took a sip of his coffee.
Eva looked up and admonished them both. “You get badly hurt and you’re joking about the pain meds they gave you?” She sat back in her chair and sipped her own cup. “Shame on you both, actually.” Sadie looked at Daniel, who winked at her. She smiled and winked back. Eva sighed. “Y’all are nuts.”
Daniel and Eva went to get a quick lunch and gather some of Sadie’s things from home to take back to her. Every few minutes, Eva’s phone would vibrate. Daniel would look at her expectantly. She shrugged and refused to answer the calls or texts from Louis. “I need time,” she said. Daniel held up his hands in surrender.
They were standing in the kitchen when Susan came in through the garage entrance. “I see you’re still here,” she said to Daniel. He ducked his head and blushed. “Uh huh. That’s what I thought,” She responded.
Eva reached for Susan and gave her a hug. “Thank you for getting me home last night,” she said. Susan hugged her back and nodded. “We got some of Sadie’s stuff to take back. She asked for the usual things, and I threw in some extra I thought she needed,” Eva explained.
Susan put her hand on Eva’s shoulder and said, “No worries. And, really, no need to explain to me.” She paused and looked between Eva and Daniel. “Besides, y’all are adults,” she said with a smirk.
Daniel rolled his eyes. “I’m gonna put this stuff in the car.”
Eva said, “Thanks, Daniel. Oh, hey. Can you put your bike in the garage, please?” He nodded. “Thank you,” she said with a smile and watched him go out to the garage. Susan slapped her playfully. “Oh, no. It’s not even like that,” Eva said, blushing.
Susan got a ginger ale from the fridge and leaned against the edge of the sink. “Hey, I’m not judging, chica,” she said with a smile. “On a different note, have you talked to Louis, yet?”
Eva shook her head. “No, I’m avoiding him like the plague right now. Don’t need his bullshit,” she said and rolled her neck. “Ugh…I so slept wrong.” Susan snorted. Eva let out a laugh and said “Shut up.”
Daniel came back in and said “All packed and all moved. I’m ready when you are.” He rubbed his hands together in anticipation. “Come on, girls. I need to see my baby.”
Susan hugged Eva and Daniel and told them she and Michael would stop by later. They thanked her and watched her pull out of the driveway. Daniel looked at Eva and couldn’t resist hugging her. She pulled back in surprise.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it,” he confessed.
She watched him for a minute and slowly leaned into him, hugging around his waist. He sighed and wrapped his arms around her. Neither spoke, nor moved, for several minutes.
By the time Daniel and Eva got back to the hospital, the staff had moved Sadie and Dani into the same room. They noticed Sadie’s color had returned some since before lunch, and were thankful she was on the road to recovery. Daniel and Eva gave Dani gentle hugs. Daniel pulled the rolling table over to Sadie’s bed and Eva laid out all of Sadie’s requirements: iPod, laptop and the latest novel she was writing, along with her portfolio.
Eva asked Dani, “Have your folks been in yet today?”
Dani nodded. “Yeah, they’ll be back after dinner. I swear y’all should take shifts. One set leaves. One set comes.” She smiled and said, “It’s pretty cool, actually.”
Eva rubbed her arm gently, the one not in a sling. “Good, I’m glad. We’ll be here until they get back. You’re stuck with us until then.”
Sadie frowned and looked at Eva. “Mom?” she asked. Eva turned to face her. “Why do you smell like Dad?”
Eva’s face blanched. “We shared a hug moment in the kitchen before coming back,” she replied simply.
Sadie looked at Daniel and he smiled. “Really? A hug moment?” she asked. Daniel nodded. She sighed, “Alright. Whatever.” The doctor chose that moment to knock on the door frame.
Daniel caught Eva’s eye and said, “Saved by the doctor.”
“Good afternoon, you two. Our girls are doing well today. Both are responding favorably to pain medication and diet,” he assured Daniel and Eva. “Dani’s parents have placed you on the information list. You’re allowed to ask about her condition,” he explained.
Surprised, Eva said, “That was rather thoughtful of them. We should do that for Sadie in case something happens and we’re not here.”
The doctor nodded and said, “You can take care of that at the nurse’s station.” He scribbled on Sadie’s chart and excused himself.
Daniel said, “Oh! I have a surprise for you two.”
Sadie and Dani looked at each other, then at Daniel.
He smiled and handed Sadie a piece of paper. “My Netflix info so you can watch something good,” he said with a smile.
Sadie smiled really big and said, “Cool, thanks, Dad.”
Dani smiled, too, and said, “Yeah, thanks, Dad.” Then she giggled. Sadie tried to sit up, and grimaced. Daniel rushed to her side and helped her. When she got situated, she smiled and thanked him. He smiled back and said, “Anything for my baby girl.”
Dani watched Daniel move about the room with interest. She felt a pang of jealousy. Her own father wasn’t nearly that attentive, and, if she was truthful, she was starting to resent Sadie for it. She looked at her cell phone and saw she had a bunch of missed texts, and she busied herself with replying to them.
Eva went to Dani’s side and laid a hand on her shoulder, concern showing in her eyes. “You okay, hon?” she asked.
Dani looked up and smiled thinly. “Yeah, I’m okay. Just a bit tired is all.”
Frowning, Eva said, “Alright.” She moved away from the bed and looked at Daniel. “Perhaps we should let the girls rest?” she suggested.
Daniel nodded and said, “Yeah, we should.” He kissed Sadie on top of the head, and moved to give Dani a soft hug. “We’ll be in the waiting room if you need us. Just shoot one of us a text, okay?” Both girls nodded. Daniel smiled and said, “Okay.”
Eva hugged and kissed Sadie and Dani, and walked to the door. She blew them each a kiss, and walked out with Daniel. Once they rounded the corner, Eva leaned against the wall and looked at Daniel. He was watching her from the other side of the hallway, seemingly lost in thought.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
Daniel nodded slowly and said, “Yeah. I think so. Or, at least, I will be.” He smiled at her. “Want to grab a snack in cafeteria with me? You can catch up on work stuff and I can call Mom and have her adjust her flight out. How’s that sound?” he asked.
She thought for a moment, and finally agreed. “Yeah, okay. A snack sounds pretty good. Let me just tell the girls where we’re going.” Daniel nodded. Eva stuck her head in Sadie’s room and saw they were both sound asleep. She snuck in and wrote “Gone to cafeteria <3” on a sticky note and put it on Sadie’s laptop, and quietly left without disturbing them.
Louis was starting to get pissed. Eva wasn’t answering her cell, and Susan and Michael wouldn’t tell him anything. He had no idea what was happening in Ellsworth. He tossed his cell on the bed and stared at the itinerary. There was still a week left until the conference was over. And, if he bailed now, Steve would think he was a pussy and couldn’t handle the responsibility. “Screw it,” he said out loud. “I’m just gonna do what I want while I’m here. Nothing can be proved anyway.”
He moved his black travel toiletries bag to the side of the vanity in the bathroom, making room for Emily’s things. They had talked about sharing a room, his room, this morning. She was paying her own way this trip, and when Louis learned this, he offered his room for her use. She had been hesitant given Eva’s call last night, and answering his phone by mistake – their phones looked so much alike. Emily and Louis had laid some ground rules and agreed to them. For the next week, he would be sharing his room with a corporate raider. A hot corporate raider.
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