Miley stirred and heard the sound of whispers going on around her. She sat up, rubbing the back of her neck and opened her eyes. Doctor Balding was standing by the side of her mother’s bed with a clipboard in one hand, while he wrote with the other, and he said something to her mom. Her mother moved her head up and down and whispered something back.
They both quieted when Miley muttered a slurred “good morning” before she got up and went to the other side of her mother’s bed to hold her hand.
“How’s she doing?” she asked with a more awake voice.
“Better and better. I was just telling her she would have to take it easy once she leaves the hospital.”
The crude reminder of her conversation with the doctor about having to move her mom today to another hospital because of the money made her press her lips tight. She gave both of them a brave smile, before the doctor continued his examination.
When he was done, Miley promised her mother she would be right back and followed the doctor outside, closing the door to her mother’s room behind her.
She rubbed her arms up and down, the chill of morning seeping to her bones.
“So, when are you going to transfer her? I just need to go back and shower and…..”
“That won’t be necessary, Miley.”
Miley put a hand before her and asked.
“What do you mean that won’t be necessary? Are you just kicking her out? Because I don’t think she’s fit to go home just yet.”
“On the contrary, I’d like for your mother to stay for a couple more days so we can monitor her progress. We can discuss about when to discharge her, tomorrow.”
She pulled her hair back from her face with both hands and breathed out.
“A couple of days? But I thought you said…..”
“Don’t you worry about it. It has all been taken care of.”
Miley stared at the doctor in puzzlement, expecting to either wake up from this very bizarre dream or for him to shake his head, laugh and say he was just joking, that of course her mother had to be transferred from this hospital right away. Though by the kindness dancing inside his tired eyes, she feared she was in option number one.
“I don’t understand. You said yesterday the board didn’t approve my mom’s case to be pro-bono. Does this mean they are giving me more time to pay them?”
“No. Rick took care of it.”
The sound of Miley’s phone interrupted their conversation.
“Rick?” Her voice shook when she pressed answer and put the phone to her ear. Doctor Balding excused himself and headed for the nurses’ station leaving Miley in the middle of the hallway, to shocked to attempt to move.
“Good morning, Miley. I didn’t want to wake you but I had to leave early. There was an urgent matter I had to take care off. How’s your mom doing?”
She swallowed back the shock and replied.
“Fine. Rick, you didn’t have to do this…..wait, you stayed the whole night?”
“I did. I took the other sofa in the room.” Miley could almost see him moving his head from side to side, trying to ease the same stiffness she still felt on her own neck from having slept in a bad position all night.
“You didn’t have to.” And Miley was certain he knew she wasn’t only referring to him having stayed the night.
“I did.” He replied and Miley almost jumped out of her skin when his voice came from behind her, the phone on his ear but his eyes all on her, as if nothing existed around them. The same way he had looked at her when they had made love.
He put his phone away and put his hands on her shoulders.
“Why didn’t you tell me about your mother at the beginning?”
She closed her eyes and opened them again, the gesture enough to settle her nerves so she could tell him the truth.
“I had the best time at that function you took me to. It was the first time in days I felt like I could breathe again, enjoy myself. I was being selfish, I guess. I didn’t want what we were starting to have to be dragged into this dark cloud that had descended upon me when my mother first fainted. I didn’t think it was fair to just dump all of this on you.”
“You’re not selfish, Miley. You’re the most loving, loyal, heartwarming woman I have ever met. I guess that is why you confused me so much. I had never met anyone like you before. I was so used to people wanting something from me all the time. You actually were offended when I implied you were the same. At first, I was set on leaving it at that one night but you took a place in my mind and I couldn’t get you out.”
If she was still in this crazy dream, then she didn’t want it to stop. She wanted to keep on sleeping and be with Rick and hear him say these things to her. The man she had given her heart to from the very first day.
“I made a mistake. I should’ve asked you about the dress before I took it back.”
He surprised her by laughing and circling his arms around her back. Her head rested on his chest and she could smell the clean scent of soap. He’d probably also gone back and taken a shower. She sighed because she must look like a wreck. Her hair all messed up and her clothes all wrinkled from having slept in them.
“My God, that is why I love you. I should be the one apologizing. I was taught to expect nothing from anyone, to always assume the worst. I didn’t give you a chance to explain.”
She shook her head vehemently from side to side but he silenced her reply with a soft kiss before he continued.
“Adam told me about your situation. And that’s when I knew I had to help. You never came to me for money, yet I accused you of it. You made me laugh and you made me think I was missing out on something just because two people chose not to show it to me.”
“Rick, this isn’t your problem. I don’t want you to feel obligated by what happened yesterday with my mom. She is fine, really. I can pay you back, or we can still transfer my mom to another hospital.”
“If only I feel humbled by your strength, Miley. You’ve made sure your mother is taken care of and yet you never asked for help. You’re not alone, anymore. Though, I am starting to feel like an idiot.”
“Why?” She said in an alarmed voice.
“Because I just said I loved you and I still don’t know how you feel. And if you recall, love is something new to me.”
He searched her face, as if expecting her to say she didn’t. She flung her arms around his neck and said.
“I do, I do love you. I knew when I stepped into your office my life wasn’t going to be the same. I kept daydreaming I would see you again after the function and when you went to my place I just couldn’t believe it. You also gave me something very precious, Rick. You gave me that man who was afraid to be who he really was. A loving, caring man who is willing to pay the hospital bills of a woman who is a total stranger.”
“Nonsense, how could my future mother-in-law be a stranger?”
She gasped and took a step back to gape at him. Only she had no time to process her jumbled thoughts for he was crushing his mouth down on hers and erasing all thought from her mind. The kiss contained so much promise, so much love, that she lost herself in it and gave him the same with her own lips as they met his, taste for taste.
The sound of chuckles brought them apart, and Miley noticed a couple of nurses glancing at them and applauding at them.
“Now, why don’t we go and say hi to your mother and then we can all have a belated Christmas celebration, so I can ask you to marry me in a proper way?”
Miley took his offered hand and leaned against his shoulder as she said.
“I say this is the best Christmas I ever had.”