“Sunny?” a familiar man’s voice reached her, drawing her attention from her throat.
Her eyelids felt gummy and stiff as she tried to open them, and it took her a minute to get them to actually work.
As her eyes focused, she took in the sharp, chiseled features of the handsomest man she’d ever seen. His hair was back in a thick braid, and a faint dusting of facial hair gave him a sexy five o’clock shadow—something she knew he only got if he hadn’t shaved in a couple days. Feeling like she was drunk, she tried to sit up, but was immediately pressed back into the bed by a couple sets of hands.
“Sunny?” a blonde woman in scrubs and a white jacket smiled at her. “Are you with us?”
“Hawk,” she managed to whisper, turning back to look at the man starting at her with tears in his eyes. “Thirsty.”
“Here,” the woman who her mind now identified as Dr. Muller said, “you can have a few ice chips.”
She frowned, wanting a drink of water, but her head hurt so she obediently took the chips and let them melt on her tongue.
Someone tickled her toes and she jerked her feet away, confused when Hawk said, “Thank fuck.”
The ice seemed to help her wake up a little, but she still felt like she was drunk. “What happened?”
“You had surgery for a brain tumor,” Hawk said as he carefully took her hand without the IV in it and kissed it. “Do you remember?”
“Kind of. I feel weird.”
“You’re on some medicine right now that will make you feel tired and a little out of it,” Dr. Vanti tapped the center of her palm, making a happy sound when Sunny clenched her fist in response.
She turned her attention back to Hawk as he said, “We have good news, beloved. Really good news. The mass wasn’t cancerous.”
It took a moment to penetrate, but when it did, she smiled. “No cancer?”
“None,” Dr. Vanti smiled as well. “You are one very, very lucky woman.”
Looking over at Hawk, she smiled. “I am.”
They talked for a little longer before the medical staff left so Sunny could rest and recover.
Hawk stroked her cheek, his relief so profound she could feel it as they gazed at each other.
As she luxuriated in the miracle of feeling his touch, she traced the lines around his eyes that seemed deeper than usual. “You look exhausted.”
“I was afraid to fall asleep,” he admitted in a low murmur. “I kept dreaming that my sister and your mom snuck into you hospital room and were filming a reality tv show in here that somehow involved flamingos.”
“That’s a weird dream.”
“Yeah.” He sighed, seeming to struggle with something before saying, “Your mom was arrested.”
“Today. She had a warrant for breaking the terms of her parole by flying out to Los Angeles and failing to appear for her monthly drug screening.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t have told you. Shit, I’m sorry. My mind is so overtired and stressed it’s basically useless. I should have waited to tell you.”
“No,” she said around a yawn. “It’s okay. I’m glad she’s in jail where she’ll be forced to be sober. Speaking of mom’s, how is yours?”
“Good, she still feels terrible about the video. My sister has taken off again, and my mom said this time she is done with Liberty and her bullshit. I don’t know if I believe her, but she seemed pretty adamant. Sooner or later Liberty will end up in jail again, and I think for the first time my mom’s first instinct won’t be to bail her out.” He lifted her hand to his face, resting it against his rough cheek. “But I don’t want to talk about them right now. I want to talk about you, and how happy I am that you’re going to be okay.”
“Not as happy as I am,” she mumbled through another yawn.
“Go to sleep, beloved. I’ll be here when you wake.”
“Always and forever.”
His chuckle followed her into dreamland. “Always and forever.”
Almost One Year Later
Sunny twirled her elaborate ruffled black floor length skirt as her ‘pirate’ husband chased her around a big circular wood table at Club Wicked’s Rum Bar.
The two-story bar had been changed into a 1600s pirate den, complete with plenty of drunken, dastardly pirates and comely wenches. Laughter filled the air as various pirates set about capturing their intended prey for a night of debauchery. Sunny was giving her own personal pirate a good chase, ducking under tables and darting around people. Not the easiest thing to do in a long skirt and a sparkly burgundy corset that made it hard to breathe, but provided excellent cleavage. Since her surgery she’d put on thirty pounds, and actually had decent breasts and hips for the first time in her life.
“Get over here, lassie,” Hawk, wearing pirate garb, yelled in a terrible accent.