Guilt and anger stirred through him at his failure to take proper care of her, but he pushed it away. The past was the past, nothing he could do about it now and he couldn’t afford to dwell on it. Sunny needed him, and he was determined to not let her down.
Dressed in one of his blue t-shirts, she curled up on the couch in the media room, her expression contemplative as she chewed.
“Penny for your thoughts?” he said after he washed down a bite with some water.
She set her plate down, half of the enormous sandwich he’d made her gone along with all of her chips. “Well, this may sound kind of morbid, but I was thinking that climate change might not be a big worry for me anymore. I mean, if I’m dead, I guess I don’t really have to be too concerned about the world going to shit.”
His appetite vanished and he put his plate on the coffee table. “Don’t say things like that.”
She sighed and pulled her legs up, then she rested her chin on her knees. “What? I told you it was morbid. Or practical…depending on how you look at it.”
“I don’t want to…” He swallowed hard, his careful control slipping. “Just please…don’t.”
Her dark eyes softened as she set her fork down and held her arms out. “I’m sorry. Come here.”
When her arms wrapped around him, he had to fight back the thick knot in his throat. Yesterday, he’d been in an odd state of shock that insulated him from his feelings. Well, not all of his feelings, just the negative ones. Now that his mind had time to process all that happened, he struggled to keep his shit together.
A tear escaped, then another. He buried his face in her neck, inhaling her scent, glorying in the warmth of her living body.
The idea of losing her terrified him in a way he’d never experienced before. The thought of her death redefined misery for him and made him feel helpless. He fucking hated feeling helpless, hated not being able to control the world. To protect the woman he loved. But how could he fight God? Why would God do this?
He must have said the last part aloud, because Sunny answered, “I don’t know why God decided I should be sick, or if it was even an action on his part. Maybe if God is health, the Devil is the embodiment of sickness. Maybe there is no God, but I think there is. I don’t know why this happened to me, but I don’t think God is malicious. Deep in my heart, in the same place that my love for you lives, I believe that He cares about us in a way we can’t even fathom.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispered as he struggled against the emotions wrecking him. “I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I’d do anything to stop it.”
“Shhhh,” she murmured as she stroked his shoulders, “I know you would.”
For a few more brief moments, he allowed himself the luxury of grieving before he took a deep breath and gently pulled out of her embrace. He rubbed his face with both hands, scouring away the evidence of his tears. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to lose it on you. I’m supposed to be the strong one.”
Sunny shocked him when she snarled, “Strong one? Don’t be an idiot.”
Startled, he stopped scrubbing his face and frowned at her. “What?”
“Don’t be an idiot. Sometimes I take care of you; sometimes you take care of me. We’re in a partnership, Hawk. We support each other.”
He took her hand in his, kissing the ring on her finger. “You’re right.”
“Of course I’m right.” She huffed and held his hand in her own. “I’m sure I’ll have, like, a billion and one breakdowns, but right now, I’m okay. And I love that you trust me enough to come to me for comfort. I know how intensely private you are, how you loath displaying your inner self to a world that is always watching. I’m—this sounds dumb when I say it out loud—but I’m honored that you trust me enough to be honest with me. It makes me feel good to know I’m making you feel better. Like…being there for you makes me feel stronger. Gives me a purpose. Does that make any sense?”
“It does.” He traced his fingers up and down her arm, physically unable to stop touching her. “That’s kind of the attraction for me being a service Top. I like to help. I like to make people feel good. I like to help them deal with their pain and give them an outlet.”
“An escape,” she said suddenly. “You give them an escape from the real world and all its pain. When we were…you know…” She blushed adorably, and he had to resist the urge to kiss her pink cheeks. “When we were going at it hot and heavy, all I could think about was you. All I could feel was you. The world with all its problems and heartache vanished. Everything, all my worries, and it felt so good to just let go and enjoy the exquisite experience of being yours. If the subs you’ve Topped for feel the same thing I felt, it’s no wonder you’re in such high demand. You make the pain stop. That is a powerful gift.”