She’d grown frighteningly thin over the past few months, and he had this primal drive to fatten her up, to provide her with the food she obviously needed.
Self-hatred hit him hard as he pulled out a big dish of fettuccine alfredo his cook had left him. He should have made Sunny go to a specialist earlier, shouldn’t have let her dismiss his worries so easily. He should have known that her regular doctor was blowing her off, that her headaches weren’t simply from stress. After he poured the noodles and chunks of chicken into a large pot, he grabbed a wooden spoon and slowly stirred it.
“Hawk,” Sunny whispered from behind him. “What am I going to do?”
“We’re going to eat, then you’re going to take your pain pill.”
“I mean what am I going to do about this…thing in my head? Should I have the surgery?”
After turning down the heat on the stove, he slowly turned around and swallowed hard at the fear and grief lining her face. “Yes, I think you should.”
“But what if I’m…what if…” She made a choked sound and held her arms out to him.
Instantly, he came to her, wrapping her up in a tight hug, surrounding her frail body with his own. “Hush, beloved. We don’t have to make any decision tonight. Besides, even if the worst were to happen, which I’m sure it won’t, I would still love you.”
She cried harder for a little bit then took a shuddering breath. “You’re going to burn dinner.”
He quickly turned, then brushed away a few tears that had managed to escape. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”
His effort to make her laugh worked, and she let out a watery chuckle. “At least this time you didn’t catch your hair on fire. God that stunk.”
Grimacing at the reminder, he took out two blue earthenware plates and heaped the steaming noodles onto them. He really had no appetite, and his mouth tasted like it was filled with ashes, but Sunny needed to eat, so he’d force it down as well. After getting them both a glass of water, he gathered some silverware and the plates. Her red, dark rimmed eyes followed his every move, but her gaze was distant, like she was zoning out.
In an effort to distract her from her worries, he sat down next to her and handed her a fork. “Eat up, buttercup.”
She gave the plate a disgusted look. “Ugh, I can’t I have no appetite.”
Though he tried to hide it, his voice trembled slightly as he said, “Beloved, you’ll need all the strength your body can get. Please, eat.”
She searched his face before nodding and shoving a bite in her mouth.
Satisfied that she was eating, he managed to clear half his plate before his anxiety twisted stomach refused anymore. Sunny did a little better, almost finishing her portion before she set her fork down with a sigh. Her shoulders slumped forward, and her graceful, slender neck bent as if she carried the weight of the world on her back.
He took the pill bottle out of his pocket and shook two out. “Here, take these.”
Her lip curled, and she looked like she was about to argue, but she released a defeated sigh. “Fine.”
She gave out a little yelp when he stood and scooped her up into his arms. “What are you doing?”
“What I’ve always wanted to do.”
Lacing her arms around his neck, she arched a brow. “You’ve always wanted to carry me around?”
“Because it’s a privilege you don’t give anyone else. Allowing someone to have complete control over your body, to take it wherever they wish, can make people feel vulnerable and uncomfortable if they don’t trust the person carrying them. How do you feel right now?”
She rested her cheek against his chest. “I feel safe. Completely and utterly safe.”
“Exactly, which is why I love carrying you around.”
They entered the big den at the back of the house with its wide, deep gold leather couches and dark wood furniture. A large white and gray marble fireplace sat against the far wall, and a big TV dominated the space over the mantel. Pieces of high-end fantasy art hung on the walls, and a large bookshelf dominated the opposite side of the room. Green and gold crushed velvet curtains with gold tassels covered the windows, complimenting the colors of the throw pillows on the sofa.
His collection of acoustic guitars was carefully displayed as well, and he contemplated playing a few songs for her. She loved it when he played, and he loved the way she watched him as he created music just for her.
But they had to talk first.
Sunny was the kind of person who needed to feel she was in control of her life. He understood and respected that, even if it made dealing with her a pain in the ass at times. For her, having her body betray her and being unable to do anything about it must be frustrating and scary as hell. He was much the same way, and it killed him that he couldn’t do anything to fix the situation. He could only make it as easy on her as possible.